Have you been to the Temple recently?
For the Jews the Temple in Jerusalem was a massive deal being at the very heart of their religion. Indeed, for the Old Testament worshiper of God, all of life- religious, political, economic- centred on the Temple. To the Jew their faith was so tied to the Temple that it would have been unthinkable to separate the two; a bit like eating omelette without eggs.
This raises an interesting question for us; what is ‘temple’ for us today?
One answer which has been traditionally put forward is to build massive cathedrals (after all, this is where God and man meet and get reconciled by what happens within) or, at the very least, whopping great church buildings with no expense spared- even if people were living and dying in poverty as they eked out a living within sight of what was considered ‘God’s house’. I would humbly suggest to you that this viewpoint represents a complete failure to grasp the world moving significance of Jesus’ coming.
To grasp what I am talking about let’s go to John’s Gospel chapter 2 where Jesus, true to form, does a few things in the Temple that drives the very religious people nuts- so much so, that they want to kill him! Not content with that Jesus drops one of his many ‘bombshell statements’; “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
What on earth was Jesus talking about? The very next verse makes His point clear; “But He was speaking of the temple of His body”. To one and all Jesus was making the fantastic claim that from here on in the Temple- where God met with people- was no longer going to be a ‘bricks and mortar’ building but the body of Jesus! Think of it like this- the Temple was where worshippers went to meet with God. They did this by bringing along a perfect lamb which they gave to a priest who killed it and offered it up as a sacrificial offering to take away the sin of the person.
Jesus’ point is that, from now on, all of that intricate and bloody temple business was going to be accomplished by his once and forever sin bearing death on the cross. The Cross was the altar and He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb taking away the sins of the world. In this way Jesus became, in effect, His people’s temple for all who would come to Him in faith.
So, my dear reader, to ask “have you been to the Temple?” is actually to ask “have you been to Jesus to receive from Him full forgiveness, peace with God and reconciliation?”! All of this and more- what no religious institution can offer- is freely available because of what happened at our altar (the Cross) from our Great priest (Jesus) who offered the Greatest sacrifice (Himself) so that all who come to Him presently receive full salvation.
Now that is a Temple worth having......