It’s one thing to tell people you’ll be back. It’s another thing when you’re talking about your own death.
When Jesus drove the moneychangers and businessmen out of the temple, it was certainly a controversial moment. It stirred a lot of different responses from the people. But the next passage in John 2 (verses 18-22) relay a conversation that was so strange, so significant that it hung in the minds of Jesus’ followers for a very long time.
[Take a moment and read John 2.18-22.]
The Jews—which would have been everyone in the place because they were the only ones allowed to enter this space—asked Jesus an interesting question. They asked what sign he could give for his authority to do such a bold thing.
Jesus pointed them to the greatest sign of His identity as God in the flesh. But He did it in a strange way, a way that would have to soak in over time, a way that would not make sense to most of them for a very long time.
Jesus said these words:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2.19)
He was standing in the great temple in Jerusalem that Herod had built for the Jewish people. This is the place that out of which Jesus had just cast the crooks who were defiling it. It had taken 46 years to erect this edifice. It was preposterous to suggest that it could be restored from ruins in 3 days.
Of course, for the One who caused the entire world to exist in 6 days, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
But John offers the commentary of perspective that we need to get the point Jesus was making. John explains:
“But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2.21-22)
John explains to us how Jesus stepped into this place where the people were to approach the God who longed to be known by His people and drove out those who had made a business of their system of worship. Jesus came into the mess of their intense but often insincere religion and brought the clarity of relationship.
And the authority by which He did so was signified in the sign that was yet to come—His own resurrection from the dead. The temple of His own flesh, the dwelling place of the Most High God as He came into our mess, would be destroyed. And three days later He would indeed raise it up.
So, many months before Jesus died on the cross, He pointed to it and said, in a sense,… “I’ll be back.”
But here’s the deal… the disciples remembered and believed.
Will we see Him as the God who stepped into our mess?
Will we believe Him—that He has the power to resurrect life out of the mess?
Will we know Him as the God who loved us enough to step into our mess, but too much to leave us there?
Father, open our eyes to see You, our minds to believe You, and our hearts to know You as God—even in the Mess.