Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” 7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”
He has finished His last sermon to the crowd - ending with a strong warning to the people about the direction their false leaders are taking them, and a blistering condemnation on the religious leaders themselves. He has nothing more to say to the crowd.
And so He leaves the temple. And as they're leaving, the disciples are looking back at the temple and talking about it. It was an amazing temple - in total an 85 yr building project begun by Herod the Great to immortalize himself. It was likely the most beautiful building in the world at that time.
And the disciples were fully aware of what this building meant to them, and what it meant to their history and the effort that had gone into it. And that the whole sacrificial system and the religious system dominated their whole lives. They had been to the Passover and other feasts and festivals every year of their lives. And Jesus has unmasked it as full of hypocrisy and wretchedness and death and it’s coming down. Stunning
I think Jesus has just had it. I think He's repulsed by the beauty of this temple that was built to immortalize a human, but that was portrayed as the presence of God. He's had it, and He lets them know it. He's going to destroy it.
The disciples can understand the idea that judgment is coming. They expected Messiah to come to save them, to bring judgment, to restore. But if He's going to destroy the temple, they're expecting a really quick restoration. And so they ask Him, when will this happen?
They weren’t waiting for the Messiah to come, He was present. In fact, in Matthew 24:3 where it says, “What will be the sign of Your coming?”coming is really a little bit of a misleading translation. The word in the Greek is parousia, it means presence...presence. And it really was used of a king who had arrived and would continue to dwell among his people. So what they’re really asking is this, “Now that You are here, what are we looking for that will inaugurate the work that You’ve come to do?” They don’t see Him there and going away and coming back several thousand years later. They see His parousia, His presence, and they want to know You’re here, what sign are we looking for that’s going to inaugurate all our Messianic expectations? That’s their question and it comes in response to His statement about the tearing down of the temple in verse 6, that not one stone will be left upon another that will not be torn down.
And then Jesus gives them the answer - and it's the longest answer to any question that He's asked. And it's not the answer they were expecting.
But back to the destruction of the temple for just one more moment.
Do we have anything like that in our lives? Something we've built that looks holy but it was built with the wrong motives or for the wrong purpose? Do we have anything in our lives that God would be repulsed by and determine to destroy?
Or have we brought everything we have, all that we are, to the altar, and laid it at the feet of the cross?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 21:8
Sunday's passage: Ezekiel 19-20
Monday's passage: 1 Peter 3, Ezekiel 21-22