Revisiting God’s Temple

One of the most notable moments in Jesus’ narrative was the overturning of tables, revealing a rage that His contemporaries could not comprehend. It remains uncertain whether this was His first visit to the Temple or if the act held prophetic meaning. Jesus was referred to as the bread of life. It, therefore, might be reasonable to infer that everything associated with Jesus carried prophetic importance. The Temple, a symbol of worship, warranted reverent treatment.

So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him because all the people were astonished at His teaching (Mark 11:15-18 NKJV)

Did Jesus suggest that thieves had chosen the Temple as their place of activity, rather than designated areas? A temple is a structure dedicated to religious worship, often stemming from the veneration of a deity or deities across various religions. The term “temple” is derived from the Latin word for time, signifying its importance to the Romans for timing their sacrifices. In Christianity, however, places of worship are commonly referred to as “churches.”

Typically, the conduct of thieves and other malevolent figures is not associated with Temples or places of worship. Associating a Church or Temple with the presence of thieves is unconventional. While some may perceive Jesus as simply a physical being capable of anger, John’s account implies that Jesus’ body represented the true Temple of God. After the Temple incident, the Jews asked Jesus a profound question.

So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 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 had said (John 2:18-22 NKJV).

The Jews recognized that Jesus’ actions were not merely an outburst of anger, leading them to inquire about the signs he would show. He responded, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” indicating that his actions were indeed a sign that later helped the disciples to believe the Scriptures and Jesus’ teachings. If Jesus represented the Temple of the Lord, it meant that his physical form was not the Lord, but rather that the Lord dwelt within him.

Jesus demonstrated that the Lord’s Temple had been defiled, becoming a den of thieves, and needed cleansing. His physical body symbolized the Temple of the Lord that would be destroyed and raised again after three days. The forceful manner in which Jesus cleansed the Temple foreshadowed the treatment He would receive before His death. The act of cleansing the Temple prophetically signified the destruction of His body, representing God’s Temple.

The act of cleansing the Temple was among the collective deeds of Jesus, symbolizing the patterns of his ministry. His crucifixion symbolically represented the violent end faced by those embracing Christianity. Every Christian, following Jesus’ example, should understand that embracing Christianity means subjecting oneself to a metaphorical cleansing of the temple. Jesus conveyed that his followers were no different from him in this regard. Paul emphasized this concept in his communications with the Corinthian Church.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful, “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!” (1 Corinthians 6:12-15 RSV).

The body of a Christian is the Temple of the Lord, just as Christ’s body was the temple of the Lord. To mistreat a Christian is to mistreat Jesus Himself. It remains a challenge to convince ordinary people that true Christians are indistinguishable from Jesus. Christians ought to be perplexed by the tendency to invalidate or adulate individuals based on status and rank, which stems from a lack of recognition that God dwells among them.

In the same vein, a Christian’s body represents God’s Temple, and collectively, the members of a Church constitute God’s Temple. The Church of God, although it consists of many members, is not spoken of in the plural. Individual members do not constitute multiple Temples; rather, the Church is signified by the collective members who form the Temple of God. Jesus’ sacrifice was for the entire Church, implying that the crucifixion of Jesus is mirrored in individual members throughout history. To mistreat a member of God’s Church is akin to siding with those who crucified Jesus.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:18-21 RSV).

The promise referred to does not pertain to Christ’s second coming, as some may infer from that Scripture. The second coming of Jesus is an event where He will be visible to all nations, including His foes. However, the Scripture in question indicates that Jesus will manifest Himself to those who love Him. This implies that the actions associated with Jesus will manifest in the lives of those who genuinely love Him. This holds true, despite the scepticism of nonbelievers regarding those Jesus calls His brothers. The brothers of Jesus will undergo experiences similar to those of Jesus, as He will dwell within them.

The cleansing of the Temple was an act performed by Jesus, symbolizing the peak of His suffering. Those who possess the Holy Spirit collectively represent Jesus, a lineage stretching from the original apostles to the present day. Often, the world overlooks such individuals, similarly to how they overlooked Jesus. The crucifiers perceived Jesus as merely human, yet He was in the Spirit, making Him unseen to the ordinary eye.

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:9-17 RSV).

Paul asserts that Christians are joint heirs with Christ, on the condition that they are prepared to endure suffering as Jesus did. Those who believe Christianity guarantees an easy life must reconsider. The saying, “You cannot have your cake and eat it too,” applies even to those dedicating their lives to Jesus. Christians symbolize the mistreated body of Christ on the cross.

The cleansing of the Temple by Jesus should not be taken lightly. Thus, it is misguided to believe that the Temple cleansing was confined to the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. The mistreatment of Jesus persists to this day and will continue until the end of time. Genuine Christians are identified by their shared experiences of mistreatment with Jesus, spanning across history. Jesus Himself made this clear when He spoke of what would transpire on the Day of Judgment.

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:34-40 NKJV).

A common misconception among many preachers is assuming those blessed by Jesus’ Father would be Christians. This implies that Christians should emulate those considered righteous, which is a misinterpretation. In reality, Christians are those who would have received help from righteous individuals, even without knowing they were aiding Jesus’ brethren. Wrapped up in the doctrine of the Trinity, many Christians struggle to see themselves as kin to Jesus.

The belief that showing benevolence towards others fulfils all Christian duties is a misconception held by some individuals. Regrettably, this mirrors a common delusion within Christianity. Those whom Jesus directly recognized as His brothers, indistinguishable from Him, are His true representatives. Trinitarian adherents might deem this view controversial, but an in-depth review of the scriptures supports it. The truth stands firm, independent of theological affirmation.

In the dramatic event of the Temple cleansing, Jesus referred to His body when He declared, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it.” This prophecy was indeed fulfilled. However, the broader prophetic fulfilment encompasses all of humanity, including those who would be resurrected after three thousand years. This era is primarily made up of Jesus’ brethren, who are, in essence, no different from Him.

The brethren of Jesus are prophesied to reign with Him during the millennium. This concept of three thousand years is inferred from Peter’s statement: “But, beloved, do not overlook this one fact, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8 NKJV). Approximately two thousand years have passed since the ascension of Christ. Jesus was interred midweek, culminating in His resurrection at the close of the weekly Sabbath.

The three days Jesus spent in the tomb are symbolic of the three thousand years, with the initial two thousand encompassing the era of Christian grace. The following thousand years are portrayed in Scripture as the Lord’s Day. In Revelation, John predicts a millennium during which Jesus and His saints will reign (Revelation 20:3-6). The resurrection of Jesus occurred post the weekly Sabbath. As depicted in Revelation, John’s revelation anticipates the inauguration of God’s Kingdom once all is accomplished.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:2-4 NKJV).

The Lord’s Temple was initially embodied in Jesus, who was later crucified. It was represented by first-century Christians, including the twelve apostles and others, and continues to be represented by many to this day. Without embracing Christ’s purification, none who call themselves “Christians” can be part of Jesus, who offered His body for crucifixion. Paul also recognized the Lord’s Temple as God’s Household.

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:19-21 NKJV).

Currently, God’s Temple stands intact among those acknowledged as God’s children, similar to Jesus’ body. While Jesus hinted that only a select few would be associated with it (Matthew 7:13), the process of becoming part of it is straightforward. The essential requirement is the forsaking of all that pertains to worldliness. God’s children are identified with forsaking worldly reasoning, reflecting God’s mentality and wholeheartedly adopting His perspective in every endeavour.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99

 

 

 

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