THEME: JESUS, THE NEW TEMPLE OF GOD
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17/ 1 Corinthians 1:22-25/ John 2:13-25
3rd Sunday of Lent
Last Sunday, we reflected on the theme, “Jesus, the New Isaac”. In our reflection, we saw that the sacrifice of Isaac found full meaning and perfection in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. In like manner, let us reflect on Jesus as the new Temple of God. Thus, in today’s gospel reading, after Jesus had cleansed the Temple of Jerusalem, He referred to His body as the Temple that would be destroyed and raised up in three days (John 2:13-25).
This homily on Jesus as the New Temple of God considers the following five (5) points:
- What is a Temple?
- Jesus, the full presence of God
- Jesus, the very Word of God
- Jesus, the perfect Sacrifice
- Jesus, the Unique High Priest
WHAT IS A TEMPLE?
It is a sacred or holy ground or space reserved for the worship of God. Now, long before the Israelites built the first Temple in Jerusalem at the time of King Solomon, they encountered and worshipped God; and wherever they encountered God, the place was considered sacred, because of the presence of the All-holy God. Such sacred places were technically temples. For instance, Mount Sinai where the Israelites encountered God and received His Commandments (cf. Exodus 20:1-17; first reading) was seen as a holy ground because of His presence. Thus, Moses said to the Lord: “The people cannot ascent Mount Sinai because you yourself ordered us to put limits around the mountain, and set it apart as holy” (Exodus 19:23).
At the foot of Mount Sinai, the holy ground or Temple, God’s Word was heard, the people made sacrifices and offered their petitions through Moses and Aaron, the high priests. In what follows, we will see that Jesus, as the New Temple of God, offers us greater opportunities and higher blessings.
JESUS, THE FULL PRESENCE OF GOD
As mentioned, a temple is a holy ground because of the presence of the Holy God. Our Lord Jesus as the New Temple of God offers us something greater. This is because He is Emmanuel, God-with-us (Matt. 1:23: Isa. 7:14). That is, He is not just a temporal presence of God but the permanent presence of God. Moreover, Jesus is the full presence of God, for He is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God (cf. John 1:1-3; 10:30; Heb. 1:1-4; Phil. 2:6-11). Let us, therefore, always approach Jesus with the faith that in Him, whose body is the New Temple, we encounter the full presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy God of Hosts (Isa. 6:3-4).
JESUS, THE VERY WORD OF GOD
Whereas a physical temple is a place where God’s word is delivered, Jesus is the very Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). In Him, we have the fullness of God’s message of salvation (Heb. 1:2). Therefore, on the one hand, let us not look elsewhere or to other “masters” for God’s eternal Word. On the other hand, let us, through the Bible and His genuine servants, listen to only Jesus, who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
JESUS, THE PERFECT SACRIFICE
A physical temple, as mentioned, is also a place for sacrifice. Moreover, Jesus, in His body, sacrificed His very life on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of mankind. And His sacrifice is the one perfect sacrifice which pleases the Heavenly Father. It is perfect because the victim of the sacrifice is un-blemish; He is holy. His sacrifice replaces all sacrifices; and without His sacrifice no offering to God is acceptable (read Heb. 9:11-10:14). Therefore, whereas we should be ever grateful to Jesus for His one perfect sacrifice, let us make our offerings to God only through Him.
JESUS, THE UNIQUE HIGH PRIEST
A priest serves as a bridge – in the sense of a mediator – between God and his community. Moses, for instance, played a role of a mediator between God and the Israelites. However, on the global scale and across all generations of humanity, Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5-6). He is, therefore, the unique High Priest of God. On the one hand, it is only through Him that we received God’s full message and blessings. On the other hand, only through Jesus do our petitions reach the Father, on whose right hand He is perpetually seated to intercede for us (Romans 8:34). That is why Jesus exhorts us to make our supplications to the Father through Him (John 14:13).
Beloved, the Temple of Jerusalem which took 46 years to build under the reign of King Herod the Great was destroyed in 70AD. Sadly, it is almost 2,000 years since its destruction, but it has not been rebuilt. However, when the body of Jesus, the New Temple was destroyed, it was rebuilt in three days, exactly as He had predicted (John 2:19). This is because the New Temple was not conceived by human architects and engineers nor was it made by human hands. It was, rather, designed and made by God Himself. Obviously, then, Jesus, the New Temple of God, is far superior to any other temple. Finally, therefore, let us always enter this New Temple to experience God’s holy and assuring presence, hear His saving words, associate our sacrifices with that of Jesus and pray with confidence. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis