Jesus had just chased the pigeon sellers and money changers from the temple. He overturned their tables and used a whip of cords to drive out the animals from the temple. In his zeal for the temple as being a house of prayer and not a place for commerce he brought order and reverence back to this holy place.
But there were many who objected to these actions, not the least of whom were those who were driven from their lucrative trade. The Jews sought to know by what authority Jesus did these things. His answer is interesting.
Jesus says to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Verse 19) the Jews thought he spoke of the temple building, which took forty six years to build. However as we see in verse 21 he was speaking of the temple of his own body.
Quite often we hear people today speak about their bodies as temples, particularly those who are concerned about health and fitness. In essence they are referring to not putting anything that may harm their body condition such as drugs, booze or junk food. What they probably don’t know is that his principle comes from the bible.
Paul writes, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) In the scriptures preceding these he talks about not indulging in sexual immorality as this would be defiling the body which is the temple of the holy spirit.
So we see it is quite appropriate that Jesus spoke in this way. And it was in his description we see him speak of his death to come and subsequent resurrection.
The Sign of Jonah
Jesus spoke elsewhere About his death and resurrection in this way. “But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39-40)
In this description we see again Jesus speaking of this same issue. He was telling the people in various ways that he would die and then be raised on the third day. And this is the essence and foundation of the new covenant, the resurrection of the dead.
Unlike the various destruct unctions of the Jerusalem temple, the temple of Jesus would not be destroyed forever. The Jews would put him to death and he would be gone for three days, just as Jonah was gone and lost for three days in the belly of the great fish, but whenhe came back he would preach a message that would lead many to life as Jonah led the people of Nineveh to repentance.
The Authority of God
Which brings us back to the question by the Jews and Jesus’ response. They asked Jesus by what sign he gave when he drove out the money changers and those who were selling goods from the temple. In essence they were asking about his authority to do this.
It is quite clear given the response of Jesus that he was doing this by the authority of God. The sign that he proposed, which was the resurrection of the dead, specifically himself, could have come only from God. No other authority in heaven or earth could do the sign that he told them would take place. So it is clear that the authority backing his actions was from God.
(Picture sourced from clip art at ChristiansUnite.com)
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