So the other day in class we were talking about the glory of God talked about in John 1 and how that is like the shekinah that had descended upon the temple. Or something of the sort. I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about because my mind was wondering and captured by bigger things. But also, I have a feeling what I’m about to share is going to be one of those, “duh, Cam.” moments, but for some reason it all finally came together in my head for me. Sort of like I put all the puzzle pieces in the right place, I just never actually connected them.
So we’re talking about God and how in the wilderness his glory would descend upon the tabernacle, and when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem the cloud once again descends upon the temple. Then the temple is destroyed, Israelites go into captivity (suck!), and then they are released after 70 years and they start to rebuild the temple. Now this bit of the story is what started to capture me. They finish the temple and……..
Nothing happens. No cloud. No shekinah.
Okay, we get that. So fast forward a few hundred years. Jesus is walking around, as John tells us, gets baptized by John the Baptist who says,
Then John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him [Jesus]. And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have both seen and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.”
So now, as it did not happen at the rebuilding of the second temple, the spirit of God descends upon a “temple.” But this temple is not of mortar and brick and metal, but instead a temple of flesh. And then you jump ahead a couple of chapters and John has this little story:
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days. Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.
Some of that story didn’t need to be told, but I thought I’d just throw the whole thing up there so we get the context of it all. Unlike what I just said though, this story really isn’t a few chapters ahead, it is actually the chapter right after the baptism account. Now the Jewish leaders, not being aware of what is going on, scoff at Jesus when he talks about the temple, and John lets us know that Jesus meant his body. But why does John know it is his body? Is Jesus just talking in riddles? I always thought Jesus was just saying his body is a temple, or using allusion to temples and such. But then I got it; and had I been a good reader I would have gotten it a long time ago. Jesus refers to his body as the temple because it is the temple in which the shekinah had come to rest. And the Jews should have known that though they had a building that they called the temple, it was not the temple. It was not where the shekinah rested, but Jesus is saying that his body is where the shekinah now rests. He is the temple.
Once I realized that I felt like an idiot to some extent. There it was before me this whole time, and yet I never really caught why Jesus would refer to his body as the temple. Duh! Because that is where the spirit of God now rests: not in the temple that the Jews had built but now in the body of Christ. Ha! John was telling me all along and I was just blind to it. What a fool I am!