John 2:18- 22
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
John’s account of Jesus cleansing the temple is a pretty well-known event. Jesus uses a whip to drive out men who are profaning a holy place by using religion for personal gain while disregarding the glory of God.
What I do not often hear taught is the response of the Jews to Jesus and of Jesus back to the Jews. The Jews want to know from our Lord just what gives him the right to do what he is doing. They ask what miracle he will do, what sign he will give, to show that he has the authority to command people to leave the temple of the Lord.
This is, by the way, a very good question. How can Jesus prove that he has the right to tell people how to worship God? How can we know that what Jesus claimed about himself was true? How can we know that Jesus is the only way to God as he claims elsewhere? If Jesus lacks the right to command people to leave the temple, he certainly lacks the right to tell people that he is the only way to God.
Jesus’ answer is simple and straight-forward. He declares that his resurrection is the proof-sign that he has the right to claim authority over the temple. If Jesus can claim authority over the temple, he has established his claim to be God, as the temple is, in fact, God’s. So, if Jesus’ body can be killed and then he rise from the dead, he is proving that he is God, that is claims are true, and that he has every right to tell us how to come to God.
And, of course we know, Jesus did die and rise from the grave. Because Jesus rose from the grave, he has proved that he has certain rights. He has the right to be called God—God the Son. He has the right to tell us how to worship God. He has the right to tell us that he is the only way that anyone is ever forgiven by God. He has these rights because he has shown that he is everything he claimed to be.
Christians, we often talk about the sacrificial death of Jesus. We love the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. But let us not forget that all such claims would be hollow were Jesus dead. If Jesus is not alive, we have no reason for any faith at all as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. But, because Jesus is alive, we have a sure gospel. Because Jesus is alive, we know he is the only way to God. Because Jesus is alive, we worship under his authority and under his direction. So let us remember to lay our hopes of the efficacy of Jesus’ death on the sure foundation of the resurrection of our Lord.