I hope you’re enjoying the start to your week, already. The sun is absolutely gorgeous here in RVA. I’m looking forward to getting out there and enjoying all of this glorious beauty!
Today’s inbox note is all about restoration.
In the 2nd chapter of John’s gospel, we find Jesus in the middle of a confrontation with some of his fellow Jews. Jesus had just completely disrupted the commerce that was taking place in the temple, and told the financiers and merchants who were doing business there to move out and not come back. The Jewish folks who were at the temple looked on with disdain and consternation. They demanded that Jesus prove his authority to take such radical action: “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” they asked him (2:18). Jesus replied:
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
As I was reading this, initially, I found it rather weird that Jesus would make this statement in this context. I asked out loud “what are you talking about, Jesus!?” The scripture makes it clear that the Jews had no idea what Jesus was talking about, either. Not only that, but his disciples also were puzzled about what he said all the way up to his resurrection. Why did Jesus choose this temple analogy?
He starts off with an astonishing supposition - “destroy this temple.” What is astonishing to us, was probably out-right offensive to Jewish sensibility. They thought Jesus was speaking of the physical temple where they worshipped. You can imagine how taken aback they must have been. “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” Why would Jesus say this?
The second time I read it over, I found some more clarity. Jesus’ analogy is actually assertion his authority based on his restorative power. Jesus restores!
There’s a connection between what was taking place in the temple and what Jesus was saying. The Jewish people were defaming the temple by turning it into a marketplace. They were desecrating the purpose of the temple. In casting out the vendors, Jesus restored the temple to it’s rightful place as a house of worship.
After he has restored proper order in the house of worship, Jesus makes his “Destroy this temple,” remark. Of course he isn’t talking about the building they’re all standing in. He’s talking about his body - the new tabernacle; the dwelling place of God. “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.”
If we look at what Jesus was doing and then pair it with what he was saying here, I think there’s a beautiful message for us about who Jesus is, and what he does in our lives. The fact is, our human nature is destructive. Sin is a part of who we are and it distorts, strains and ultimately annihilates our connection and right relationship to each other and God, too. Our natural human tendency is to destroy. Look around. You’ll see the proof all around!
After I read over this passage a few times I found myself truly overjoyed! What I see in this passage is Jesus saying: “your degenerative, destructive nature is no match for my restorative power!” Jesus restores - even in the most hopeless circumstances.
We’re human, full to the brim with inconsistencies and faults and doubt and meanness and self-centeredness and so much more ugliness than I could ever hope to put into words. All of this ugliness is constantly tearing away at the fabric of our lives. We do things to ourselves and to each other that are straight up wrong - even when we mean them not to be. We resist God and his direction. We go hard after our own interests without regard for others. Our intentions are often off center.
We are terribly destructive creatures! But Jesus stood in the temple that day, after restoring it to proper order and proclaimed that he is the ultimate restoration! “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” Jesus asserts that he can restore even those things that seem beyond repair.
What an amazing truth is this, that in him all things can be restored! Praise God for THAT!
- Are there things in my life that I’ve destroyed and believe are beyond repair?
- What does trusting Jesus for restoration look like? Am I looking for restoration on my terms or his?
- Are there examples of restoration in my life? Have I seen Jesus fix relationships or circumstances? If so, how does that experience help my faith, now?
- What am I trusting Jesus to restore in my life right now? Have I given the matter to him completely, or am I still trying to make it happen on my own?