John 2:18-22 (NIV): Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
At the time that He spoke to them, Jesus’ words in answer to the Jews made no sense, even to His disciples.
The Jews were furious at Jesus for disrupting the temple and its commerce. Even the high priest and the scribes had no problem with the animal stalls and the money changers. It made things easier for the worshipers, and it was way over in the Court of the Gentiles, close enough for the people to get to it, but, in their minds, far enough out of the main stream of the temple traffic that it wouldn’t bother anybody.
They figured that if Jesus had a problem with something that even the high priest was okay with, He must think He was somebody pretty special, putting Himself in the place of God. So they asked for a miraculous sign that would prove that He had authority from God Himself to clear the place out.
They didn’t actually expect Jesus (or anybody else for that matter) to be able to do a miracle. They believed that the days of miracles was long gone. Their goal was to shut Jesus down publicly before He could do any more mischief. But Jesus would not be shut down. With eyes ablaze and locked onto His challengers, He spread His arms wide and declared, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
His answer completely blew away His inquisitors. It was incredible to them that anyone could destroy this massive complex in the first place. But for someone to claim that, if that happened, He could build it again in only three days was insanity! This temple had stood since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, right after the exiles returned from Babylon. Herod had begun a remodeling project on it, massively expanding the courts and beautifying the whole temple area. And the project had been going on for the past 46 years. How could this itinerate preacher possibly believe that He could rebuild such a magnificent structure, even if he had years to do it in?
After Jesus rose from the dead, the light came on for the disciples. The temple Jesus had been talking about wasn’t the building; it was His body! The Jews had indeed torn it down all the way to the ground. And Jesus had indeed rebuilt it in only 3 days. The miraculous sign had been asked for, and it had been performed, proving that Jesus had all of the authority He needed to clear the temple and refocus the people back to God’s agenda.
Father, even today many demand a miracle or a sign to show that Jesus is really who we claim that He is. But the truth is, the most amazing sign ever has already been given. And if people refuse to accept a self-orchestrated resurrection from the dead as a good enough sign, nothing will be good enough. Help us, Lord, to keep this miracle in front of the people around us, including the reason why it was so important – what it proved. Amen.