“Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
Thursday, 11 March 2021
But, I hear you say (those of you who have travelled with me thus far), “It’s all very well talking about this stuff about challenging illegitimate authority like Jesus, but what do you replace it with?”
Once again, a very fair question. History teaches us how successful revolutions have led to situations where things either stayed the same apart from leadership changes, or got worse. Wonderful claims, some not unlike a promise to rebuild the temple in three days, have often not been met – whether through incapacity, incompetence or self-interest.
Let’s look at Jesus’ claim a little closer. Put aside for a moment any possibility that his promise was of a miracle to rival any of the documented ones.
Two things strike me. First, one might see this statement as a rhetorical device deliberately sidestepping the authorities’ question. For Jesus, the corruption of the temple and genuine worship has already destroyed the temple. It’s almost as if he is saying, “The temple is better off gone. It is not worth saving!”
I think this resonates with a lot of us. There are institutions and organizations that have lost their way and seem beyond redemption.
Second, Jesus speaks here of his own death and resurrection. And if we think of the Resurrection event as a process for the rest of the disciples, we can see that three days is a symbol. New life, change, comes after death. Thus just as Jesus seems unperturbed by the ‘death’ of the temple and his own possible death, so too the lesson for us is the same. We should let what is dead die and prepare for renewal.
Ask yourself: what institutions, organizations, and practices need to die so that something new can emerge?
More importantly: Why am I still frightened by this?