With my recent posts on Isaiah and the Temple in Jerusalem, I am reminded that Jesus had some harsh words about the Temple. Solomon’s temple had been destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians. The temple was rebuilt in 515 BC but it was not as grand as the previous temple. King Herod had started a major rebuilt of the temple prior to Jesus’ birth.
Early in John’s Gospel, Jesus had a confrontation with the Temple leaders. After driving the money changers from the courtyard with a whip, he was asked, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)
Later in the gospel, Jesus had a conversation with a Samaritan woman regarding the proper place of worship. Samaritans worshipped on Mt. Gerizim while Jews claimed Mount Zion as the one true place to honor God. Jesus responded,
“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
Jesus redirected our understanding of worship away from rituals and places to the essence of worship, a transformed heart or spirit. When our spirit aligns with God’s Spirit worship becomes true and real.
Finally in John’s Gospel, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, he appeared to the disciples in the locked upper room. Clearly this is not the Temple. But Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22) The Spirit of God no longer resided in a building of stone, but in gathered human community. You are God’s Temple now. The temple of God has become the portable tabernacle again. Anyone have a tent?
Lord Jesus, send your Holy Spirit into my life today! Transform me into one who worships you in spirit and in truth.