THEOLOGY ON HOW WE BECAME THE TEMPLE OF GOD
It all began when our Lord Jesus Christ at the age of twelve, began to fall in love with the Jerusalem Temple. He was so much in love that even at the age of thirty, he continued visiting this Temple for a passover feast. It is a sacred feast that witnesses the exercise of Jewish Faith expressed in the offering of sacrifices and worship to God in the Jerusalem Temple.
Why Jesus cleansed the Temple?
In order to facilitate this religious ritual, the high priest in the Temple called Caiaphas established a system that he thought, will improve their Spiritual exercise. It was a system of buying and selling items for sacrifices as well as exchanging the currency to be used in the Temple. This system that was carried out in the Court of Gentiles right inside the Temple, instead of facilitating the worship of God as they thought, started to impede the worship, in such a way that every attention including those of the priests who make sacrifices were channelled to the profits made at the court of Gentiles. Against this backdrop, our Blessed Lord who was so much in love with the house of his Father, had to condemn such system, so that the Institution would retain its dignity.
Hence, the reactions from the disciples and from the Jewish elders
The disciples understood the courageous role played by Christ by recalling Psalm 69:9 – zeal for my father’s house had consumed me. But the Jewish elders who should have appreciated Jesus for redeeming the dignity of their Temple, on the contrary, lending credence to Deut.18:21, demanded a sign from him, in order to prove that he has the authority to destroy a system that has enabled them to make money in the Temple of God. Our Blessed Lord however, with special reference to Matt. 13:13, gave them a sign that confused them even more. “Destroy this Temple and in three days, I will rebuild it”. Too much confusion 😃😃😃 because they could not reconcile how the son of a wretched carpenter could rebuild in three days, a Temple that took them forty-six years to build. This is also the pitiable situation of all those who try to give a literal interpretation of everything they see in the scripture.
But what did Jesus meant by rebuilding the Temple in three days?
In simplest words, Jesus was referring to his death and resurrection. And so by implication, he was challenging the Jewish elders, you who defile the structural Temple of my Father, will destroy the bodily Temple, but I will prove my authority for cleansing the structural Temple that you have defiled, by raising in three days, the bodily Temple that you will destroy. Besides, it’s only the disciples who were open minded to the gospel, were able to understand this, after the resurrection of CHRIST. So the Jewish elders, championed by Caiaphas, in an attempt to destroy the mystical body of Christ, succeeded in the destruction of their own Temple. This prophecy became a reality in 70 AD, when Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple and the same Rome became the headquarter of the mystical body of Christ, the Church. This is indeed 😊👍 marvelous in our eyes.
From a shadow to a substance
The Temple in Jerusalem was actually the one place on earth where God dwells to receive the sacrifice and worship of his people. However, Col. 2:17 tells us that it was only a shadow in anticipation of the substance which is the body of Christ. Hence he is Emmanuel, God with us.
Therefore, we Christians, in union with the body of Christ, are built into his, as the Temple of God. No wonder Matt 18:20, tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in his name, God dwells. Hence we could observe the conversion from structural to ecclesiological Temple.
In addition to this ecclesiological Temple, St Paul would say that we are not just the Temple of God, as the community of Christians (ICor. 3:16), but also as individual members, our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (ICor.6:19). And so, we recognize the Institution of our body as Spiritual Temple of God.
It is both ecclesiological and Spiritual Temple that God prefers over and above every prodigious structure. The essence of the structural Temple is to create an enabling environment for the building of the ecclesiological and Spiritual Temple. If we do not allow our life to be an act of worship to God and love for others, then the aim of the structural Temple is defeated. The Cathedral Church in Nsukka Diocese, for instance, gains more relevance when it unites us to love ourselves as one body in Christ and also strenghten our Spiritual life to always recognize that God dwells in us in such a way that no power can torment us and no request or petition made in faith could go in vain or unanswered. That is the Faith that Jesus has instituted with his mystical body.
Let us therefore guide this body jealously, by not allowing our clothes to expose more than they conceal or pursuing pure pleasure for it. Let us not infringe on the sanctity of that house of the Lord which he treasures and cherishes to dwell in.
Peace be to you 😊👍!