John 2:18-21 (ESV)
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.
The Jewish religious leaders were quite upset with Jesus. He walked into the temple like he owned the place. He drove out the thieving money-changers and price-gouging sellers of animals. He frightened off the customers. He even brought up the original purpose of the temple in the faces of those who thought they knew.
When the Jews asked Jesus to do something amazing to prove that he had the right to do what he had just done, Jesus told them something odd. He told them to tear down “this temple,” and he would have it back up in three days. Of course, this sounded impossible. It is impossible to rebuild a building that took over four decades, not to build but simply to renovate. No way could anybody do that.
But, as we see in the text, Jesus was not even talking about the physical temple building. Instead, he was talking about something even more impossible than the Jews understood. Jesus was talking about the fact that, in a couple years, the Jews would kill him, but he would rise from the grave three days later. This was more impossible, because, Jesus would die a death in which he wore the guilt of all of the people God would ever forgive. Jesus bore the wrath of God for all the sins that God would not choose to punish in people like you and me. For anyone to take the brunt of that punishment and then get up again, that is more unfathomable than a man rebuilding the ancient temple of Herod in less than a week.
What impossibilities do we face? It seems impossible for sinners like us to be forgiven. Jesus’ resurrection shows us that we indeed can be. Some hurts seem impossible to overcome. Jesus’ resurrection shows us that he can help us overcome anything. Some people seem like they would be impossible for God to save. Jesus’ resurrection shows us that God can do the impossible, even bringing the dead to life. Some churches seem like it would be impossible for them to grow and thrive. Jesus’ resurrection shows us that God can build up the body just as he brought up the body of Christ from the tomb.
Jesus showed the Jews that he had every right to own the temple because he could do what no person in the universe could do. Jesus did what only God could do. He died the death of the perfect Lamb of God. He rose from the dead. He is infinitely superior to the temple as he embodies and fulfills all of God’s promises. So, Christians, let us worship Jesus and find our hope in him.