Lent Devotional: Matthew 12:6 and 16:21-23
by Jonathan Haefs
Matthew 12:6 and 16:21-23 (click here)
I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (Matthew 12:6)
We can scarcely imagine how central the temple was to Jewish life. It was a massive structure, able to be seen from anywhere within the city of Jerusalem (and from a long way off when approaching the city). It literally loomed over life. You couldn’t escape the presence of the temple, this massive reminder of the presence of the one and only massive God.
And oh the beauty! Precious stones, gems, carvings, sculpture, stone work, and lots and lots of gold. It was quite a sight to behold, constantly reminding the people of the infinite beauty of the invisible God!
All Israel would journey to Jerusalem multiple times a year for various festivals which all centered around the temple! It was the place where heaven met earth…where God’s presence was made manifest! Nothing and no one was greater than the temple.
This untrained rabbi from Nazareth, who was constantly making outlandish claims, struck at the very heart of Jewish identity with the words, “…something greater than the temple is here.”
How could that be possible? How could anything be greater than the temple?
How could anything manifest the presence of God more? How could anything do a better job of connecting heaven and earth? How could anything else be at the center of Jewish life?
The only way that could actually happen would be if God himself showed up outside the temple! The only thing better than the temple, was the God who dwelt there! He’d have to show up personally in order for the temple to be second best…and that is what he did.
Jesus was and is God in the flesh. He was and is like a walking talking temple. He connects heaven and earth. He is the “place” you go to meet with God! He is the one greater than the temple!
If you want to know God, meet with God, see God, hear from God… you no longer go to the temple… no… something greater than the temple is here…
If you want to know God… you go to Jesus.