What Sign do You Show?
Building Up the Temple of God
17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written “Zeal of Your house has eaten Me up.”
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us since you do these things?”
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus has said.
Then His disciples remembered that it was written “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
Zeal means “Ardor,” “indignation,” “Jealousy.” But this is a quotation from Psalm 69:9 where it says, “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me.”
For the Psalmist the sanctuary is the object of the psalmist’s zeal. David showed his zeal in bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Mount Zion and in desiring to build a permanent dwelling place for the LORD in Jerusalem. He was denied the ability to build but was granted permission to collect structural material for the building and in instructing Solomon regarding the temple and its services.
When Jesus drove the money changers and bargaining merchants from the Temple, the disciples remember that it was written of Him, “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Jesus and David are trying to say that there is no place in God’s kingdom for lazy servants. God desires people with zeal and that their zeal be directed in service, not with pride but with humility. A servant with humility is teachable and trainable and this is what God is looking for in His disciples.
This is what He had hoped the Jewish religious leaders would have been but instead they were proud, unteachable, liars and cheaters. Cheating the people out of their money, their time, and more importantly their salvation. This culminated at this moment in Jesus cleansing the temple. He attempted to bring before the people the true reason for worship and to make His Father’s house once more a house of prayer.
But the religious leader’s hearts grew cold and hard. They were callous of the truths being told to them by the Creator of the world, who was now clothed in humanity.
“What sign do You show unto us since You do these things? Naturally when one is challenged, as a leader you demand evidence as to the other person’s authority to take control over you and the situation. This is what they demanded of Jesus.
Jesus disciples were fresh from the wedding at Cana and were eagerly sharing with all the fact that Jesus had turned water into the best possible wine. In fact all Jerusalem was abuzz over this and now Jesus had used His authority to cleanse the temple, returning it to the people to be used for worship instead of the laundering of money and sale of livestock.
So naturally the religious leaders wanted to know from Jesus by whose authority he had done this for they all new it did not come from any of the religious leaders who now saw their profits lying on the temple floor.
Jesus responds: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
This is the temple that Zerubbabel had built after the Babylonian captivity was over. Now it was in the middle of a rebuilding project that was being financed by Herod the king. All in all the rebuilding project took until the year 63 CE (AD) to complete, When these events took place, it was in the spring of CE 28. The area of the temple was beautified and enlarged until it became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Therefore for Jesus to say, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuilt it” sounded like a preposterous idea and un-comprehendible to the Jewish leaders.
Jesus by making this statement was beginning to shift the focus of the people away from the temple. You see, the temple was supposed to be the literal earthly dwelling place of God (see Exodus 25:8, 9). There above the mercy seat, appeared the Shekinah, the glorious symbol of the sacred abiding presence of God (see Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:17). Yet the Ark of the Covenant had never been in this temple. It was hid just before the Babylonia’s had captured Jerusalem and never again found. But as we have seen in John 1:14 this same divine glory now tabernacle (dwelt) in human flesh in the person of Jesus.
Jesus was therefore not referring to the temple in Jerusalem, but instead was referring to Himself and his upcoming death at Calvary.
Paul also makes use of this phraseology by stating in I Corinthians 3:16. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
The word temple was used by the ancient Greeks to describe the innermost cell or shrine in the temple, where the image of the heathen god was placed. In the New Testament, it distinguishes the temple building from the Temple complex – the Temple and related structures. But Paul turns his attention to those who constitute the spiritual building. Collectively they (all Christians) make up the spiritual temple of God were resides the Spirit of God.
Therefore it is important for all Christians to keep their temple clean from all things that are common or unclean, because like the temple in Jerusalem that Jesus cleansed it is easy to allow money changers and stock traders to take the place of God. Money changers and stock traders are symbols of the things in this life that we cherish more than God himself. They shout out to us and we trade our salvation for these things, thus losing out on the blessing we can receive by prayer and supplication, which is what Christ was trying to make room for in the temple in Jerusalem.
From the time God directed Moses to build a sanctuary that I might dwell among them, God’s only desire has been to dwell with his people.
Jesus attempted to clear the sanctuary of anything that would keep the worshiper from being distracted from the blessing that was there waiting to be imparted to them. The ceremonies were not the blessing, they only pointed to the blessing to come in the coming Messiah. God desired a relationship with his people then and he desires a relationship with his people today. Today there is no physical earthly sanctuary, instead the sanctuary God desires to be in is the hearts of all His disciples who have allowed The Holy Spirit to cleanse their hearts.
As the Jewish nation was to be an example to all the world, by drawing others to the wonderful message of Christ, so are all Christ’s disciples today to be the same because of Christ’s character being reflected from the temple of their heart.
The cord or whip was to show to the Jewish people and us today what happens when we choose not to cleanse our temple of all things that are unrighteous.
Today, what is your desire? Do you desire to allow your heart, your temple, to be cleansed of all things unrighteous so that you may partake of the great marriage feast in heaven when Christ will be united with His bride whose heart, temple, has been swept clean and filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit living out from within their heart?
May this be your desire!