“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:1-8, 26-28)
– Jesus begins his discourse on the Temple Mount and then finishes on the Mount of Olives.
– The place where Jesus is talking of the end of the temple is also the place where his ministry will end in his betrayal
– Immediately post-resurrection the disciples will also be trying to find where Jesus’ body has gone
Although Jesus is talking here about the destruction of the Temple specifically this same imagery is also used by Jesus to talk about himself elsewhere (i.e, the temple destroyed and rebuilt in three days). The incarnate Son of God is God’s dwelling place, God’s temple in a more real way than the physical temple could ever be.
What strikes me today is the reminder that we look for Jesus in places where we think he is – in church, for instance. And I would add quickly that public worship in a sacred space is one of the surest ways to experience God’s presence. But Jesus’ presence is not confined to a building nor to the places and ways that I like, that I have experienced, that I believe are right.
The destruction of the Temple was a culture-ending, faith-shaking moment in Jewish history. And in the early church’s too. But it also symbolized the breaking of our narrow confining of God to our own prejudices and idols. God is not in the Holy of Holies any longer…
Today, Lord, may I find you where I am. May I recognize your presence in all that happens even when you are difficult to see clearly. The temple is gone… the Holy of Holies is a distant memory. But your glory and presence and power are as real if not more. May the presence of Jesus be real to me in the hours to come. Amen.