Forty-six…years under construction

Forty-six…years under construction

Years ago, I was waiting at the counter in a Christian bookstore in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, when a man came in and stood in front of me. He stared at the staff and said, “Stop making God’s house a place of business.” His paraphrase of John 2:16 most certainly took the staff by surprise. They were speechless, and he, being satisfied that he had issued his prophetic proclamation, turned on his heels and left. Jesus, of course, didn’t just talk. He delivered his message after driving the buyers and the sellers out of the temple courts with a whip. Those whom he had displaced demanded a miraculous sign as proof of his authority. All they got from Jesus was: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.” They scoffed at him: “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” (Jn.2:20). What was Jesus doing here? Believe it, or not, what he always did. He spoke in parables so that those who think they know what they are talking about will stay ignorant, but those who seek God’s ways will know and be saved (see Mt.13:10-17). Believers see what they are supposed to see: Jesus’ angry clean-out of the temple fulfilled Psalm 69:9 for the disciples—“Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection fulfilled this, his post-cleansing prophecy—“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.” God’s Words do not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). As for the unbelievers, they interpreted Jesus’ words and actions according to their earthly desires: ‘Jesus was bad for business and says stupid stuff about the temple.’ Later some glory seeking low-lifes tried to repeat Jesus words at his trial as evidence of blaspheme. They couldn’t even get that right (see Mark 14:53). Nothing will move a heart bent on self-fulfilment. I think that Gene Maclellan got the believer’s response right when he wrote: “For the buyers and the sellers were no different fellers than what I profess to be, And it causes me shame to know I’m not the man that I should be…So, put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.”

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