John 2:19
High purposes were subserved by the exercise of the Saviour's authority both at the beginning and at the close of his ministry. If there was in this conduct an evidential meaning for the Jews, there was also a symbolical meaning for all time.

I. IN WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE CONSISTED.

1. The true answer to this inquiry is to be found in the language of the Lord himself. The temple was his Father's house. It was the building which was originally erected in a measure upon the model of the tabernacle of the wilderness, the pattern of which had been communicated by Jehovah in some way to Moses, the servant of God. It was by Divine command that a certain special locality and building were set apart and consecrated to the service of him, who nevertheless "dwelleth not in temples made with hands."

2. The holy memories of national history gathered around this sacred edifice. The original tabernacle was associated with Moses and Aaron; the first temple at Jerusalem with the great kings - David who prepared for it, and Solomon who built it; the second temple with the great leaders of the return from the Captivity; and this restored edifice, in its costly magnificence, with the royal Herodian house.

3. The sacrifices which were offered, the priesthoods that ministered, the festivals which were observed, the praises and prayers which were presented, in these consecrated precincts, all added to the sanctity of the place.

4. And it must be remembered that the house of the Father was the house of the children; that our Lord himself designated the temple "a house of prayer for all nations. This may not have been acknowledged or understood by the Jews themselves. Yet there were intimations throughout their sacred literature in its successive stages that they, as a nation, were elected in order that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. The width of the counsels of Divine benevolence is apparent to all who study the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament Scripture; and our Lord's language connects those counsels with the dedicated house at Jerusalem.

5. To our minds the temple possesses sanctity through its devotion to a symbolical use, for by anticipation it set forth in emblem the holiness of our Lord's body and the purity of the spiritual Church of Christ. The temple at Jerusalem should be destroyed in the crisis of Israel's fate; the sanctuary of the Lord's body should be taken down; and the holy temple, consecrated to the Lord, should grow in stateliness and beauty until all the living stones should be built into it for grace and glory eternal.

II. BY WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VIOLATED. There must have been an infamous desecration in order to have awakened such indignation in the breast of Jesus. We can see two respects in which this was so.

1. The building was abused and profaned in being diverted from sacred to secular uses. Where there should have been only sacrifices, there were sales of beasts and birds; where there should have been only offerings, there was money changing.

2. The sanctity of the temple was violated by the cupidity of the rulers, who, it is well known, made a sinful and scandalous profit for themselves by the transactions which awakened the indignation of Jesus.

3. Nor was this all, injustice and fraud were added to cupidity - the temple became a den of thieves."

III. IN WHAT WAY THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VINDICATED.

1. By the interposition of One of the highest dignity. Christ was "greater than the temple;" he was the Lord of the temple; nay, he was himself the true Temple appointed to supersede the material structure.

2. By the exercise of just and manifested authority. The demeanour and the language of Jesus were such as to preclude resistance, to silence murmuring. The Lord came to his own inheritance, to the house of his Father.

3. By the comparison of the edifice at Jerusalem to his own sacred body. In the language he used in his subsequent conversation with the Jews, he "spake of the Temple of his body," and in so doing he attached to the sanctuary a holiness greater than was conferred upon it by all the associations of its use and of its history. - T.







What sign showest Thou?
I. THE DISPUTE WHICH FOLLOWED HIS PROCEEDING IN THE TEMPLE.

1. The remonstrance addressed to Him by the Jews. The parties were the authorities of the Temple who, by their question, espoused the cause of the traffickers. "The Jews require a sign," and for the want of one to their liking, the Gospel was here as ever a stumbling block. There was nothing unreasonable in the request. The cleansing bore a Messianic stamp; but the request was made in anger at the disappointment that their gains had been interfered with, and not with desire to receive information. The very cleansing ought to have been a sufficient sign.

2. The reply of Jesus might be understood to mean the Temple itself, or what He intended: the temple of His body. They misconstrued it into speaking against the sacred fabric, which became one of the fatal accusations against Him afterwards. In the true sense Christ only is the temple of God, although in a secondary sense believers are also, and the universe. The death and resurrection of this temple was to be the sign both for them and for believers. "He was delivered for our offences an d rose again for our justification," by which "He was declared to be the Son of God with power."

II. THE PRESENT AND REMOTE EFFECTS OF CHRIST'S REPLY ON THE MINDS OF THE DISCIPLES.

1. As to the effect at the time there seems to have been none. Of many things, including Christ's death and resurrection, they were ignorant, and remained so up to those events, and even then they were slow to believe. This was owing to their secular views of the Messiah. And how often is such obtuseness the case with believers now. Theirs was removed by experience, so must ours be.

2. The remote effect was on the fulfilment of His Word, most blessed (ver. 22). The spirit eventually quickened the seed sown in good ground (John 14:26). Exactly similar is the experience of the Church at all times. The truth may lay dormant for years, but when the Spirit comes it germinates. What an argument for teaching the young whether they understand or not.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

It would have been a great one in their sense of it. Zerubbabel and Herod had raised the Temple, and other great persons buildings as great. But the temple of the body, if ever that were down, all the temple builders that ever were would never get it up more. So great, indeed, was it that he in hell could not desire a greater (Luke 16:30).

I. CHRIST'S BODY IS THIS TEMPLE. The Pharisees mistook the term. Christ could not have meant God's house, the zeal of which consumed Him, and which He had just purged. Only polluted temples are destroyed. Christ, who knew His own meaning best, has interpreted it, and perhaps then pointed to His body.

1. A body a temple? How? Because God dwelleth there. There are temples of flesh and bone as well as of lime and stone. Our bodies are called houses because tenanted by souls, temples when tenanted by and used in the service of God.

2. Christ's body a temple seems only such by some gift or grace, but in Christ dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead (1 Corinthians 2:9), and always pure and employed in the Father's service.

3. Christ's body "this" temple.(1) The two temples began alike at Bethlehem (Psalm 132:6; Matthew 2:1).(2) Both were destroyed and reared again. The Chaldees destroyed the one and Zerubbabel raised it. The Jews destroyed the other, and Christ Himself raised it.(3) Both were consecrated to like uses. There, the only true holocaust of His entire obedience, which burnt in Him bright and clear all His life long (Leviticus 6:9). There the only true trespass-offering of His death, satisfactory to the full for all the transgressions of the whole world (Leviticus 5:6). There the meat and drink offering of His blessed body and blood (Leviticus 2:1).

II. THE DISSOLUTION OF IT BY DEATH.

1. The saying.(1) Death is a dissolving, a loosing the cement with which body and soul are held together.(2) This temple drops not down from age or weakness, dissolves not of itself, but by force and violence.(3) Violent on their part, voluntary on His. He could have avoided it, and must have said it, or they could not have done it.

2. The saying no command, which would have been an order to commit sacrilege or murder; but —(1) A prediction to warn them of what they were now casting about.(2) A permission which is always in the imperative; permitted for a greater good the destroying of sin by destroying this temple; for a greater good still to raise it again.

3. The doing. He said dissolve; they said crucify. The roof of this temple, His head, was loosed with thorns; the foundation, His feet, with nails; the side aisles, his hands, both likewise; the sanctum sanctorum, His heart, with a spear. They did more, they violently loosed the temple. And remember it was one of flesh and bone, not of lime and scone. Yet the ruins of a temple of senseless stone will excite pity; how much more the sensible temple of His body which, even before its dissolution, was strangely dissolved in bloody sweat, nor was it alone dissolved.(1) The veil of the material temple split from top to bottom, as it were, for company, or in sympathy with Him.(2) The great temple of the universe in a manner dissolved: its face black, the earth quaking, the stones rending, the graves opening.

III. THE REARING IT UP AGAIN BY HIS RESURRECTION. The saying was spoken by way of triumph over all they could do to Him.

1. The act.-1ἔγερω is a raising from sleep, and sleep we know is not destruction. It is to show us that He would turn death into a rest in hope, both His and ours.(2) They should therefore miss their purpose. They reckoned to destroy Him, but would only prepare Him a short rest.(3) The ease with which He would do it — with no more difficulty than waking from sleep, or tying an unloosed knot.

2. The person rising. Not "destroy you and some other shall raise," but I will do it. An argument of His Divine nature. None could do it but God.

3. The thing raised. The same and no other.(1) In substance.(2) But not in quality; in a far better estate than before (Haggai 2:9). In the morning after sleep the body riseth more fresh and full of vigour. So His body and ours (1 Corinthians 15:42, 43) and henceforth this temple, dissolved in death, should be indissoluble by reason of resurrection.

IV. THE TIME TO DO IT IN. Within three days; and He did it within the time. Our duty then is —

1. To rejoice. At Easter we celebrate the feast of dedication, which was ever a feast of great joy.(1) His dissolution means the loosing us from our sins and their consequences.(2) His resurrection is a promise of what He will do for another temple: the temple of His body mystical, of which we are parts — living stones.

2. To templify our bodies, which in many are far from temples; houses of trade, pleasure, idolatary, which must be dissolved to be made God's houses. Then God must come in and sanctify them.

(Bp. Andrewes.)

I. LIFE THROUGH DEATH.

II. CONSTRUCTION THROUGH DISSOLUTION. III. THE USE OF THE NEW THROUGH THE FALL OF THE OLD.

(Bp. Westcott.)

The metaphor was not dragged into conversation, but the temple He had just purged was shown to be a figure of something greater than itself.

I. THE ENIGMA. Christ cast a shadow over truths, the full disclosure of which might have altered the conduct of the Jews and the character of His mission. His hearers were puzzled and their after thoughts excited. What good man could propose such a destruction? What sane man could promise such a restoration? Yet it made such an impression that it was misquoted against Christ in the high priest's palace, and as He hung upon the cross (Matthew 26:60, 61; Mark 14:57, 58; Mark 15:29, 30).

II. THE TYPE. The tabernacle and temple were significant preparations for the time when God would become flesh and tabernacle among men. Christ knew and proclaimed Himself to be the antitype; this new temple, in which the fulness of the godhead dwelt bodily, was consecrated when Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost.

III. THE LESSONS.

1. Christ foresaw clearly that the Jews would destroy this temple. To this He was reconciled and longed for it, inasmuch as His sphere of influence was now circumscribed; but the destroyed temple would be rebuilt on a scale more glorious, and all nations called to it.

2. The words, "I will raise it again," are significant —(1) Of the identity of the body in which Christ rose with that in which He suffered. No doubt the transformation was great. The conditions of an incorruptible body are not known to us. But these words prove the link of continuity, and if there was such a link in the case of Christ, so also there will be one in the case of the saints whose bodies are to be like unto His.(2) Of the power Christ had over His own future. His authority to cleanse the temple had been called in question. He affirmed that He had power not only to do this, but to raise up one which men could destroy but could not construct (John 10:18).

3. As He is risen Christ is a temple for all nations. In Him God dwells accessible to all: anywhere, irrespective of sacred times and places.(1) The place of reconciliation, the refuge for sinners.(2) The home of communion, the resort of saints; a temple that shall never be subverted.

4. The epistles carry this view of thought further.(1) Every Christian is a temple of the living God; a motive for holiness far higher than moralists have dreamed of in their theories of the dignity of man, and the elevating power of self-respect (1 Corinthians 6:15, 19).(2) More frequently Christians are living stones which collectively form a great temple or "habitation of God in the Spirit."

5. A local church, also, as representing the Church Catholic, is also a temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21, 22; 1 Peter 2:5).

6. The life which animates the stones, and so pervades the temple, emanates from the living foundation stone — the risen Christ. But this cannot now be fully manifest, just as our Lord was not understood at Jerusalem. The inner life of Christians is not seen. The Lord's body is not discerned in the Church. But the temple is so being built that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

7. In such a world as this the holy temple encounters risk.(1) The traders desecrated the Temple, worldly Christians secularize and degrade the Church of God; but such, sooner or later, the Lord will drive out and disown.(2) Greater still is the fault of those who by strife and schism tend to destroy the temple; against this Paul lifts a stern warn. ing (1 Corinthians 3:17).

(Donald Fraser, D. D.)

A word —

I. ENIGMATICAL, conveying one thing to unbelief and another to faith. Under the figure of a destroyed and rebuilded temple Christ announced that His death, brought about by them and His resurrection effected by Himself, would legitimize His recent action and demonstrate who He was. The same sign was subsequently given in Galilee (Matthew 12:40).

II. MISUNDERSTOOD.

1. By the Pharisees through —(1) Slavish adherence to the letter of Scripture (2 Corinthians 3:6).(2) Spiritual blindness occasioned by hypocrisy (Mark 3:25; Romans 11:25).(3) Positive aversion, arising from inward moral corruption (John 3:20; John 8:43, 44).

2. By the disciples. They had begun to see the light, but, like men with eyes only just opened, they were unable to discern accurately the objects the light revealed (Mark 8:24).

III. MEMORABLE. Hid away, this word was never afterwards lost. It recurred after the Resurrection illuminated by the fact to which it pointed, and thus helped to seal their faith (Acts 4:10; Acts 26:23; Romans 1:4; Romans 4:25; 1 Peter 1:3). Lessons:

1. The complete ability of Christ to justify all His ways to God and man. Christ's readiness to furnish a "sign."

2. The irrefragable certainty of Christ's death and resurrection, attested by the knowledge and experience of His disciples.

3. The veiled secret of Holy Scripture; the testimony of Jesus.

4. The blessedness of faith, however immature.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. THE DIGNITY OF OUR LORD'S BODY. The bodies of believers are called temples because God dwells in them by a communication of grace, but the humanity of Christ is God's temple by a substantial inhabitation, immediately and personally — "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead." God dwells in the Church as a King among His subjects, in Christ's humanity as a King in His royal palace.

1. In the Epistle to the Hebrews Christ is the mystery shadowed forth by the outward sanctuary: The similitude will appear if we consider —

(1)They were alike in building; both under the immediate and special direction of God.

(2)In the ornaments by which they were beautified.

(3)In Him the import of the sacred vessels is fulfilled.

(4)Christ's body was like the Temple, as it regards those religious services which were performed in it.

(a)In the Temple was a standing oracle; in Christ's humanity dwelt the true and living oracle of heaven.

(b)In the Temple was the altar of sacrifice and the atonement for sin. Both derived their efficacy from Him who His own self bore our sins.

(c)The Temple was the house of prayer: in the days of His flesh what prevailing supplications Christ offered, and He now even liveth to make intercession.

2. To this temple must every acceptable worshipper approach.

(1)The Spirit of Christ must inspire their prayers.

(2)His name must authorize them.

(3)His merit must perfume them.

(4)His advocacy must recommend them.

II. THE VIOLENCE AND DISHONOUR WHICH THE TEMPLE WAS DOOMED TO SUFFER AT THE HANDS OF HIS ENEMIES.

1. The nature of His passion was a dissolution, a full and complete death.

2. The extent of this passion. Death severed soul and body, but this was all — the union of the Godhead with the manhood was indestructible.

3. The circumstances by which this event was accomplished and wherein their aggravation consists.

(1)Violence and wickedness on man's part.

(2)Voluntariness and love on His.

III. THE GLORY TO WHICH IT WAS TO BE RAISED BY HIS ALMIGHTY POWER.

1. The agent, "I." Dead men were raised by others. Christ by Himself. He is a quickening spirit for Himself and for us.

2. The subject — the self-same temple.

3. The state.

(1)Substantial — "A spirit hath not flesh and bones," etc.

(2)Entire — nothing wanting to its perfection.

(3)Glorious.

(J. Styles, D. D.)

I. THE DWELLING-PLACE OF GOD. As soon as the first temple at Jerusalem was built. "The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." This splendid manifestation passed away, but the Lord did not depart. To the very moment when the building was destroyed a shining cloud constantly abode over the mercy-seat as a symbol of Jehovah. The second temple was without this, but still God was there, dwelling unseen within it. And this fact was in our Lord's mind, for He calls the Temple "His Father's house." He dwells indeed in His Church and in every soul which He has redeemed, because He is continually acting by His Holy Spirit. But when He speaks of dwelling in the Man Christ Jesus, He means much more than this. There is an actual passing of the Godhead into that frame of dust, a union so close and entire, that wherever that human frame is, there is God. Is this mysterious to you? It was mysterious to Paul. Great is the mystery of godliness; to angels. We cannot explain it; but Scripture, which calls on you most plainly to believe it. "God was in Christ." "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," not by a figure; but really, substantially. God dwells in His Church as the light of day dwells in our houses; He dwells in Christ as the same light dwells in the sun. He dwells among His people as the ocean dwells in the rivers whither the swelling tide carries it; He dwells in the incarnate Jesus as that ocean dwells in its bed.

II. A MANIFESTATION OF GOD. And herein also the resemblance between Him and both the Jewish temples holds good. When God entered that, He entered not spiritually only, but visibly; a bright cloud was the symbol of His presence. To understand the application of all this to Christ we must bear in mind —

1. Though we ourselves are spiritual beings, we can form no conception of any being that is purely spiritual. This incapacity arises from the constitution of our nature. God is a spirit. It will follow, then, that unless something is done to help us, we can never have any right idea of God. We may form some conceptions of His attributes; but as for God Himself, He can have no place in our minds. But He meets this weakness of our nature. We cannot get into that spiritual world which He inhabits; He comes, therefore, within our range, into the world of matter, and embodies Himself in the human nature of Christ, and then says to an astonished universe, "Behold your God!"

2. We can form no adequate idea of the character of any being, unless we see him in action, or are made acquainted with his actions. Now, had God merely embodied Himself in a human frame, and then just shown Himself to the earth and disappeared, we should not have been advanced materially in our knowledge of Him. Hence He "dwelt among us," spoke and acted; and in so doing made a revelation of Himself. By the truths Christ taught, by the powers He exercised, by the dispositions He manifested, and above all, by His sufferings and death; He has unfolded to us the Divine character. Something was known of God before. The heavens had declared His glory. His law too had asserted His authority and holiness, and His providence had borne witness to His justice, His goodness and truth. But what was all this? Nothing, when compared with the person, and work, and cross of Christ.

III. A MONUMENT TO GOD'S PRAISE. We wonder not that lofty structures were raised to the gods of the heathen, and that the heathen thought they honoured their gods by raising them. They did honour them. Their gods were men like themselves. But as for building a temple to the living Jehovah's glory, the thought of it seems at first confounding. We think of Him who has heaven for His throne and the earth for His footstool Yet God did allow a temple to be built to Him, and that temple did show forth His praise. It was a public acknowledgment of Him. Christ's human nature glorifies God while it reveals Him. He is "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God," "the brightness of the Father's glory."

(G. Bradley, M. A.)

I. THEIR ONE PURPOSE (cf. Psalm 68:29; 2 Corinthians 6:16). The essential idea of a temple is that of a place where God manifests Himself to man, and where man dedicates himself to God. The first of these is realized by the Shekinah; by the power and character of Christ; by the holiness Of Christly souls in each of the three temples respectively. The second is attained in each: by the altar of the Jewish Temple, by the cross, by consecration.

II. THEIR SIMILAR HISTORY. In their —

1. Origin. There was silence and mystery in each. The temple noiselessly built, Christ obscurely born, the Christian spiritually quickened.

2. Materials: Glorious in each. In the Temple gold, precious stones, fragrant woods. In Christ a specially prepared sinless body. In Christians fearful and wonderful elements.

3. Sufferings. One besieged, the second crucified, the third hated by the world.

4. Divine desertion. The first was "left desolate," the second "forsaken," the third often loses God as in eclipse.

5. Destruction. The Temple was more than once destroyed; the Saviour gave up the Ghost; the Christian descends into the grave.

6. Restoration. The first was restored and may be again, Christ rose again the third day, Christians shall rise so that the temple shall be completed and the top stone laid with rejoicings. "Grace, grace unto it."Lessons:

1. For those who refuse to be identified with the Temple: What glory you lose; what a destiny you miss.

2. For those who are identified with the Temple: Be enduring; be pure; fulfil your high end.

(U. R. Thomas.)

I. A CERTAIN DEMAND. It is shown —

1. What they required — a sign, often requested in our Lord's day and afterwards.

2. Why they required it — because of the extraordinary cleansing of the temple.

II. A SIGNIFICANT ANSWER. There is here —

1. An exalted claim. The temple was the abode of God.

2. A striking prediction.

3. A wonderful declaration.

III. A GROSS MISREPRESENTATION.

1. How it originated; in applying literally what was only meant figuratively.

2. The feeling it produced — ridicule or contempt.

3. The explanation which the Evangelist supplies.

IV. AN IMPORTANT RESULT. "When therefore," etc. From this we see —

1. That the words of Christ were not forgotten.

2. The effect such remembrance produced.

(Miracles of our Lord.)

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