First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.’ John 2:19
On September 11, 2001, I was in class on the campus of Concordia College, Bronxville when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I knew nothing of the events until going to chapel and hearing a special prayer about it. Afterwards I went to the student commons, where a crowd was already watching the events unfold on television. I stood there for hours in disbelief. As I rode the bus home that day, everyone was in stunned silence.
Every year on the anniversary, when the specials run on various channels detailing the events of the day, as well as the science behind the collapse, I still am amazed when the time comes for first one and then the other tower to collapse. How can two towers of steel and concrete, be reduced to dust in less than two hours?
And if you had told me two weeks earlier exactly what would happen, I would have never believed it.
That is the reaction of the people in Jerusalem when Jesus says that He will destroy the temple and rebuild it. How can this be? How can this massive temple, built of stone, be torn down? And then not only torn down, but be rebuilt in just three days? It took 46 years to build this temple, how can you do it in just three days?
Buildings, whether they be financial office buildings, or temples, or even our own homes, stand as monuments of achievement. Just as those two towers stood as an example of American capitalism, and your own home is a sign of hard work and stability; the temple stood as a symbol of Israel, these people, being the favored of God. The people went to the temple to receive from God the many and various blessings that they always expected Him to shower upon them. To tear it down, was not just to rip the heart out of the worship life of Israel, but it was also to tear apart God and His people.
But of course, buildings can become idols; or worse yet, lose the very purpose for which they were constructed. The temple was built as a means for God to commune with His people in the daily worship life of the nation; but now with the coming of Jesus, that was all about to change, and for the better.
The people had tried on their own to change the arrangement on numerous occasions, always to accommodate their favorite sins, just as we try to come up with excuses today for not worshiping God in the way that He so desires. The people were punished, and that punishment was often losing that close personal access to God that they always had through the temple.
It is for their and our idolatry, and refusal to worship as we are called to, that Jesus now comes to us. The temple of His body will be destroyed in a most violent and shocking way, so that He, so that we, might be raised up to everlasting life with our Father in heaven.
Join us this Lententide on Wednesday’s at 7PM at First Lutheran, Plainville as we examine John 2:19 and the Jerusalem temple in our series Destroyed and Raised Up.
For your Lenten devotions, in addition to our midweek services, please also make use of the Lutheran Hour Ministries Lenten devotional books. I also invite you to join LCMS President Matthew Harrison, myself, and many others around the world in praying the Litany daily, it can be found on LSB p. 288 or TLH #661.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt