30 March 2013

John 2:18-22

"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (v.19)


God's temple was the sanctuary in Jerusalem. This was the focus for longing and pilgrimage for the Jewish people down the ages. It was in the temple that God was met in power and glory by the pilgrims. It was at the heart of Jewish life and faith even after it had been destroyed and while the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem.

The temple in the Jewish Scriptures came into the New Testament as a human being. Jesus himself was the temple, the place where God was fully and personally present, living among the people and revealing God's power and glory.

John's Gospel has already told the story of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) so the word was out that Jesus was able to perform "signs" (the term used by John's Gospel when to the miracles). The people came asking for a sign to help them make sense of what Jesus had just done in driving the traders out of the temple. Jesus told them what the "sign" was but they did not see it.

In these few verses Jesus was speaking about his death and resurrection. But his audience did not hear what he was talking about. They could not see beyond the bricks and mortar of the building where they were having a conversation with Jesus. The disciples could not grasp the meaning of the image either. It was only after the experience of Jesus' death and resurrection that so much of what Jesus said became clear to them and they were able to believe that he was who he said he was.

On this day, Holy Saturday, the Church remembers the desolation of the disciples who could not see beyond the apparent failure of Jesus' ministry. It looked like death was the end of everything they had hoped for.

This passage reminds us that nothing is hidden in Jesus' ministry. The "sign" is foretold, there for all to see; if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

To Ponder

  • According to Paul we are called to be "a holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21): what is it like for you to be God's temple?
  • What signs can you see in the life of the word that God's kingdom is coming? Identify one and reflect on it. What response is Jesus asking for from you?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.