Gospel of John Sunday School | Week 8

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Notes from John 2:13-25

The temple is the focal point of John 2:13-25, but it isn’t as simple as that.

We can’t fall into the error of making the temple the ultimate expression of God. Throughout history, the temple has always been a picture: a picture of the presence of God among His people. It is the kind of presence that was lost when Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden. It is the kind of presence that dwelled in the tabernacle. But again, it is the kind of presence that was ultimately fulfilled in John 2.

The fulfillment of God’s presence among His people came in the incarnation. As God took on flesh and dwelt among us, He walked into the place where worship was supposed to be happening in a law-mandated manner. It isn’t to say that any other worship outside of Jerusalem was illegitimate, just that there was a particular form of worship that Israel was expected to engage in at the temple.

Jesus’ righteous indignation is indicative of this issue. His zeal isn’t necessarily directed at the type of business that the animal sellers and money changers are engaged in, rather that it is occurring within a space that has been divinely appointed for worship. Here, Jesus again reinforces His opinion of the law. It is good. It is to be honored. It is what points sinful people to a holy, redeeming God.

Those Jews present who didn’t see His logic asked for some justification for His actions. As Jesus often does, in His purposes of speaking beyond the expectations of this world, He tells them the ultimate justification. By saying “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (19), He indicates His authority over everything – including the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is the real presence of God among His people, and surpasses every requirement that something like an earthly temple could offer.

His words were not comprehended fully at the time, and John says that not even His disciples understood until after His resurrection (22). Although people weren’t being converted, many were intrigued. Thus, they followed Him. But Jesus was aware of their motives, and knew that they weren’t following Him.

This theme will be highlighted in John, and is still an issue today. Jesus is attractive to many as a teacher, a moral example, and an agent of social change. However, the gospel is unattractive to sinners who are at enmity with God. It is only through gracious, divine initiative that men are called unto repentance and faith.

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