Raising This Temple Up, John 2:12-22


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“Raising This Temple Up”
John 2:12-22
April 21, 2019
Faith Presbyterian Church – Evening Service
Pr. Nicoletti

Our Scripture reading this evening is from the Gospel of John, chapter two, verses twelve through twenty-two. Please listen carefully, for this is God’s Word for us this evening.

2:12 After this [that is, Jesus’s first sign at Cana,] he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
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.

This is the word of the Lord.

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Lord, you have dealt well with us,
just as you have promised in your word.
Teach us now good judgment and knowledge,
for we believe in your word to us –
your commandments and your testimonies.
You are good, and you do good,
teach us your ways.
We know that your word to us in the Scriptures
is of more value for us
than thousands of pieces of gold and silver.
Help us now to treat it and attend to it as such.
Grant this, we ask, for Jesus’s sake. Amen.
[Based on Psalm 119:65, 66, 68, 72]

There are a couple surprising providences in coming to this text tonight.

First, is that in our reading through the Gospel of John we have come on Easter Sunday to Jesus’s claim that his body will be raised up three days after being destroyed.

A second is that we come to this text on the destruction and raising up of a significant house of worship on the very same week in which the Cathedral of Notre-Dame caught fire, and debates about its repair have begun.

It was Monday morning, our time, that a fire started in the attic of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The fire quickly spread across the roof. Within an hour the spire had collapsed, and the fire raged on. Five hundred firefighters worked to battle the blaze, but no one was particularly optimistic. Several officials made public statements that they expected nothing to remain after the fire had run its course. But then, a few hours later, to the surprise of many, firefighters were able to contain and eventually extinguish the fire – saving far more of the structure than had been anticipated … though the damage was still severe …

I have never traveled to France, and therefore have never seen Notre-Dame myself. But as I watched a livestream of the cathedral at the center of Paris burn on Monday … I was surprised by how much the scene hit me in the gut on an emotional level. It was a tragic loss in and of itself … a magnificent building that had taken centuries to build now up in flames … but it seemed like a larger metaphor as well. And I was far from the only person feeling that way.

Michael Brendan Dougherty, a senior writer at National Review Online, and a man who I went to high school with twenty years ago, and who had a pivotal role in my conversion, tweeted a link to an article he had written a year-and-a-half ago titled “Panhandling for Notre Dame.” The article from 2017 explained how Notre-Dame was in desperate need of long-overdue repairs and renovations. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, it pointed out, is owned by the French state, and the state knows that it is a major draw for tourists to Paris. But while the state kicked in funds for basic maintenance, pieces of the cathedral had been falling off it for years, but the French continued to ignore the need for larger repairs, which had not been attended to for over a century. Meanwhile, the archbishop of Paris had begun a fund-raising campaign aimed in significant part at Americans, to raise the 100 million euros needed to do the repair work.

And Dougherty suggests something of a link between the state of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the condition of the French people. Their eagerness to continue to profit, in some way, off of this cathedral they have inherited – this cathedral that points to transcendent realities – while refusing to reinvest in it, reflects something about the secular age we live in.

Dougherty ends the article from 2017 by wondering if he will get to visit Notre-Dame before this trajectory leads to its destruction.

And it’s hard not to meditate on that as we consider the events of the past week. The French continued to profit off this architectural inheritance that pointed to the transcendent, taking it for granted, refusing to reinvest in it. By the time renovation work began it was so long overdue that whatever mishap occurred could result in the raging fire that did such damage. As we think about it, it can feel like Notre-Dame is a picture of so much of Western secular society … profiting off the cultural inheritance it received from a Christian past while neglecting its roots … failing to reinvest in the underlying structure itself … until pieces of the edifice begin to fall off … and we all wonder if at some point a spark will set off a similar devastation …

Notre-Dame feels like a picture of French culture specifically, and Western culture in general …

While Dougherty pointed to that link with Western society, Ross Douthat, a Roman Catholic opinion writer for the New York Times, who came and visited us and was interviewed by Pastor Rayburn during the Sunday school hour several years ago, had his own take on the fire.

When the fire began, Douthat had written most of his first draft of his next column … which was on problems within the Roman Catholic Church. As the fire raged he could not help but see a parallel, and a major revision occurred for the piece that was published on Monday.

In the revised piece, Douthat explains how Notre-Dame was a result of Christian believers taking their different cultures, in its case Roman and Germanic, transforming each with the gospel, and then being willing to synthesize those two cultures that have been purified by Christianity and reoriented to point upwards toward the transcendent Christian God.

He contrasts this pattern of synthesis in the medieval church that built Notre-Dame, with the polarized factionalism of our culture today, which is not only found in our national politics, but also in the political divisions in the Church. What they built, we now neglect.

Looking at it all together, Douthat writes “it is impossible, as a Catholic, to be writing about this subject while the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is literally burning on Holy Week and not feel that everyone engaged in Catholicism’s civil wars is being judged, and found wanting, and given a harrowing lesson in what is actually asked of us.”

For Dougherty and Douthat two patterns emerge which will relate to our text this evening.

The first is that there is a symbolic link between a building and a people.

The second is that problems which are significant, though maybe not obvious, could lead to destruction in the long-run.

Let’s take a little time to consider those two points, and how they relate to our text.

First: Buildings … especially significant buildings … are symbolic pictures of the people they are linked to.

For Dougherty, Notre-Dame’s construction and its partial destruction represented what was happening with a people: the French specifically, and the Western world in general.

For Douthat it represented a rise and fall of a Christian way of working with others within the Church.

And we see the same symbolic link other places as well. While the greatest loss by far on 9/11 was human lives, both the terrorists and the surviving victims understood that the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center was a symbolic attack on an aspect of American and Western society. That fact was one of the reasons many were so set on rebuilding another structure on the same site. The building represented something about the people.

It’s also why in many CGI-filled action movies and shows today an attack on the Capital Building or the White House is so meaningful. The buildings are not just functional, but they serve as symbols of a people, and their destruction says something about that people.

A building is often a symbol of a people, and that is especially true in the case in the Temple of Israel.

In Israel, first the Tabernacle, and then later the Temple, represented the people of Israel, and along with that, the people of Israel’s relationship to God.

I think it can be argued that some of this was built into the architecture, but we see it play out in events surrounding the structures as well. When the glory cloud of God comes on the Tabernacle in the wilderness, or the Temple in Solomon’s day, it is not primarily an assurance that God dwelt in that physical structure, but it was a symbol of how God dwelt among the people of Israel.

When the glory of God leaves the Temple, as in Ezekiel 10, it is again, not primarily a statement about God’s relationship to the building, but to the people – it is a sign that God was going to withdraw from the nation of Judah.

Problems in the Temple or Tabernacle – whether defilement or wrong worship, are treated as symbolic pictures of problems within the people of God.

And then when the Temple was destroyed, it was a similar picture of the dismantling both of the people of God, and the way they had related to God.

The Temple, throughout the Bible, is a picture of the people of Israel and of their relationship to God.

That is the first truth we need to keep in mind when we see Jesus approaching the Temple in our text tonight.

The second thing we need to keep in mind as we come to what happens next is that problems which are significant, though maybe not obvious, can lead to destruction in the long-run – just as some have pointed out regarding Notre-Dame.

In verse fourteen Jesus enters the Temple. We then read:
14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus responds to what he finds in the Temple, and he responds strongly. One meme I’ve come across online points out how Jesus’s strong reaction here does not fit with the popular conception of how many tend to think of Christ. The meme says: “If anyone ever asks you ‘What would Jesus do?’ Remind him that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.”

This is a helpful reminder that the real Jesus is not as tame as the versions of Jesus we can tend to form in our minds and imaginations.

Jesus’s response to what he finds is strong and forceful. The question is: What is it that he found?

And we need to read carefully here. Because it’s not actually clear at first what problem Jesus is addressing.

He goes after those selling animals to be sacrificed and those exchanging currencies … but those were both necessary activities. Some people travelled very long distances to the Temple and they could not bring the right kind of sacrifices for their worship with them – they needed to purchase them when they arrived in Jerusalem. And since a specific type of coin was required to pay the Temple tax, Jews coming from other areas with different currencies would need to exchange their currency to pay it. [Carson, 178]

We should also notice that while many have supposed some sort of corruption in the way the merchants were doing business, there is no indication of financial corruption in the text.

Jesus does not condemn the sale of sacrificial elements in general. He also does not condemn the way the merchants are doing business. What he does condemn is their location: “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

The activities themselves are legitimate … but they do no belong in the Temple. They belong somewhere else – somewhere outside the Temple courts. [Carson, 179]

Why is that such a big deal? Why does it cause such a strong reaction?

Well … problems which are significant, though not obvious, can lead to destruction in the long-run.

While not obvious, the problem of moving these animal and currency markets into the Temple itself was significant – because it both reflected and affected a disordered set of priorities.

Such markets were not a bad thing in themselves … but they were not to be elevated to the level of inclusion in the Temple courts.

And when priorities are disordered – when they are out of the proper order or hierarchy or ranking that they belong in – a few things happen.

First, some things get more regard then they deserve.

But second, other things get less regard than they deserve, as unworthy things crowd them out.

In general, the Temple was to be a place of prayer and worship, and by taking a portion of the Temple courts and devoting it to business, that was one portion of the Temple that was not just being designated for business, it was being un-designated for prayer and worship. In that specific portion of the Temple business was more important than worship.

And the specific portion that was designated that way is also interesting to consider. Commentators note that the portion of the Temple courts that was “doubtlessly” converted from a place of prayer to a house of trade was the “Court of the Gentiles” – the portion of the Temple where non-Jews were permitted to worship.

In other words, in the Temple building, the leaders had decided that convenience for their fellow Israelites – allowing them to complete their business dealings necessary for proper worship right at the site of the Temple rather than down the street – that convenience for themselves, was a higher priority than the prayer and worship of non-Jewish believers who had come to worship at the Temple.

The presence of the merchants in Temple courts both reflected and affected a disordered set of priorities, where the people’s own convenience was valued over prayer, worship, and evangelism.

That is the offense in the Temple that evokes such a reaction from Jesus.

But as we consider the offense in regard to the Temple structure, we also need to remember that the Temple is also a symbol of the people. And so as much as Jesus is speaking of the ordering of the building, an action like this, seen through a Biblical lens, would also say something about the people.

The first-century Jews, and not every one of them of course, but in general, as a nation, as a social group, had similarly disordered priorities. Their own desires and conveniences had come to be placed in a higher place than things that should have mattered more. So, as we noted in this morning’s sermon, among some, their desire for political deliverance had come to outrank their desire for spiritual deliverance. Among others, like the Pharisees, their focus on their own moral reputation had come to outrank their love for their neighbor who was caught in sin. Among many, their desire to be seen as distinct from the Gentiles had outranked the Biblical call on the descendants of Abraham to be a blessing to all families and nations.

In both the building of the Temple, and in the people of Israel, there are disordered priorities … and while they may not be obvious at first, they are significant. They both reflect and affect the heart of the people … to such an extent that it might be more appropriate, to borrow a phrase from Augustine and to refer to these not just as “disordered priorities” … but as “disordered loves.”

And Jesus implies that those significant problems, that those disordered loves … will lead to the Temple’s destruction … and the nation’s destruction.

In verse nineteen, Jesus says “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” We tend to read the mention of destroying the Temple as an odd jump from what proceeded – as almost a challenge … but some commentators argue, I think convincingly in the context, that Jesus is not challenging them to do something, and saying how he would respond if they did, but he is instead telling them what he will do if they continue to do what they are already doing. He is saying something like “Go ahead and do this [destroy the Temple] and see what happens [next].” [Brown, 115]

In the Hebrew Scriptures, rebellion against God leads to the destruction of the Temple. And so, Jesus is saying that by disordering their priorities like this, they are rebelling against God in a way that will, in the end, destroy the Temple.

As Raymond Brown puts it: “Jesus is saying that they are destroying the Temple, even as the disobedience of their ancestors provoked the destruction of the Tabernacle at Shiloh and of Solomon’s Temple. If they do destroy the Temple, Jesus claims that he will replace it shortly with the messianic Temple of unspecified nature.” [Brown, 122]

And again, as we consider that, we need to remember that the Temple is a symbol of the people and their relationship with God. The people have disordered their priorities – they have disordered their loves. The result will be not only the destruction of the building of the Temple … but of the people, and most importantly of the people’s relationship to God.

When we take all of this together, the picture that emerges is that Jesus’s activities in the Temple in our text are a response to the disordered priorities in the Temple that will, left unchecked, lead to its destruction, just as the disordered priorities in Israel at that time would lead to its destruction and the dissolution of its relationship with God.

Disordered priorities – disordered loves – destroy the household of God – both the people and their relationship to God.

That is the problem that emerges from our text.

Where do we need to take that to heart?

Where are our priorities similarly disordered?

Where are our loves disordered?

A number of answers may come to mind, but if one does not, we might consider the elements we see in our text.

In the text, the first-century Jews have:
First: valued efficiency and productivity over prayer and worship, and
Second: valued their own comfort and convenience over the call to bless outsiders whom they should be inviting to draw closer to worship their God.

That’s what we see, right?

The Temple space that should have been devoted to prayer and worship was sacrificed for the efficiency of placing the market in the Temple, and the specific portion of the Temple courts designated for the distant Gentiles whom Israel was called to bless and draw to God was sacrificed for the convenience of one-stop-shopping-and-worship for the Jewish believers.

That was them. So, what about us?

What are the ways that you have valued efficiency and productivity over prayer and worship in your life? Or in your family’s life? Or in your marriage?

And what are the ways we have valued our own comfort and convenience over the call to bless outsiders whom we should be inviting to draw closer to God?

How do you prioritize comfort and convenience in your own life over blessing neighbors and inviting others to draw close to the Lord?

Here’s an uncomfortable question: How do we as a congregation prioritize our own comfort and convenience in how we do things together, over the call to invite and make space for outsiders to join us in drawing closer to God?

The thing that Jesus responded to by overturning tables, and pouring out coins, and driving out men and beasts with a whip – the thing he identified as what would lead to the destruction of the Temple and of Israel – was not some obvious immoral act. It was these kinds of disordered loves. Loving efficiency over prayer. Loving comfort over the call to gather others to God.

And destruction is the trajectory that Jesus pronounces on the Temple and the people. It’s the sentence he levels at the Temple and therefore the nation – a sentence he says they will bring on themselves.

Israel’s disordered loves lead them to value worldly things over what the Temple is all about: the connection point between God and man.

The result, we are told, will be destruction: of the Temple, of Israel, of Israel’s relationship with God.

But then the text takes an unexpected turn.

We should back up again to verse eighteen to appreciate it.

We read: “So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’”

This might strike us as odd. As one person mentioned to me this week, if one of us started overturning tables in the narthex, it’s doubtful that our first response would be “Hey … show us some proof that you have authorization to do that!”

The response makes more sense in its original context though. When Jesus effectively brought trade to a halt in the Temple court, he was not primarily viewed as causing a disruption, but as claiming authority to decide what happened and what did not happen in the Temple. He was claiming the authority that, outside of the priesthood, only a prophet or a king would have. By asserting special jurisdiction over the Temple, he would be seen as making a claim to be a prophet … and possibly even the Messiah. And his actions are clearly understood that way, because they effectively ask for proof – for a sign – that he is in fact a prophet or the messiah.

Then we read, starting in verse nineteen:
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.

Jesus basically says: “Go ahead and destroy this temple, and I will raise it back up in three days.” The Jews are understandably confused. John implies that at the time Jesus’s disciples were confused too – because it was only later, only after his death and resurrection that they realized that he was there speaking about his body.

We said that the Temple is a symbol of the people – and more specifically, that it is a symbol of God dwelling with his people. To this point, when we have said that, we have essentially meant that it was a picture of God dwelling with his people by his Spirit.

But of course, there is another sense in which God dwelt with his people – another sense which the Temple pointed to. The Temple pointed to the reality that God dwelt with his people in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was the ultimate point of connection between God and humanity. In his life he was God incarnate walking among his people. In his very being he was both fully God and fully man – God and humanity in full union.

The Temple not only pointed to Israel … but it pointed to Jesus Christ, the true Israel.

Jesus’s body was the ultimate Temple … and as the first-century Jews would destroy the stone Temple through their rebellion against God … and as they would destroy the people of Jerusalem through their rebellion against God … all of that would pale in comparison to the fact that they would also destroy the body of Jesus, the truest Temple, by nailing him to the cross.

We said earlier that the problem Jesus identifies in our text is that disordered priorities – disordered loves – destroy the household of God – both the people and their relationship to God.

But now Jesus hints at the reality that he, by his death, would receive the destruction due to the household of God. And Christ, by his resurrection, would make the household of God new.

Jesus, the truest Temple of God, the truest embodiment of the household of God, took the destruction on himself that the Temple and the household deserved. He was destroyed so that the household of God – those in it who would repent and trust in him – did not have to be destroyed.

And with his death and resurrection, the household of God dies and rises again with him.

In other words, there is still a connection between the Temple and the people of God … but the truest Temple is Christ.

And so, as Christ dies and is raised, so are the people of God – in more ways than one.

First, as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 6, each individual who belongs to Christ – who has trusted in him, has pledged their loyalty to him, has been baptized in his name – each individual Christian has also been buried with Christ and raised with him. The foundation of every Christian’s life is their union with Christ in his death and resurrection.

Second, we see something of a death and resurrection in the corporate people of God at this time as well. Some have over-stressed this and overplayed the discontinuity, when the continuity should also be stressed, but the historic people of God also undergo something of a death and resurrection in the first century. Before Christ’s death and resurrection, the household of God is ruled by the rulers of the people of Israel. When they reject Christ, the people of God are unmade, and then raised anew in the form of the Church. It’s not that one is done away with and something brand new is brought into being from nothing – that’s not how death and resurrection work. But a transformation does occur. On the other side of it, the Church is the New Israel, and Israel of the past is the ancient Church. There is a continuity … but also something of a death and resurrection.

In the history of redemption, we see that where destruction was due to God’s people, it fell instead, for those who would trust Christ, on Christ himself. We see in the history of God’s people, that when they rejected him, far from bringing his household to an end on earth, that household was transformed, dead and raised, as the Church.

And we see that the same pattern continues to be at work in the people of God today.

Christ, the truest Temple of God, by his death and resurrection makes the Church new.

What should we take from the claim that Christ, the truest Temple of God, by his death and resurrection makes the Church new … and what should we take from our text as a whole?

Let me suggest three things.

First, as the people of God today, we are what is pictured by the Temple. And so, let us repent where we are making the same mistakes we see in our text – where we are living according to disordered loves and disordered priorities.

Christ’s act in the Temple was a warning for the people to repent. For those who did, the destruction due to them fell on Christ.

But for those who did not … the destruction did come to them. The stone temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and Jerusalem was laid waste.

Christ takes the destruction for those who repent and trust in him onto himself … but those who persist in a defiant way – not struggling with their sin, not struggling with their disordered loves, but embracing them – those, like the stone Temple and the first-century people of Jerusalem … those face the destruction they have earned for themselves.

And so, the first thing for us to consider is that as the household of God, where have we become complacent with our disordered loves and disordered priorities? Where have we loved efficiency and productivity over prayer and worship? Where have we loved our own comfort and convenience over the call to bless outsiders and invite them to draw closer to worship their God?

Where do we need to let ourselves see the anger of Jesus at such disordered loves … and where do we need to turn and repent, lest we end up like Jerusalem?

That is the first thing for us to consider.

Second, following in our Lord’s footsteps, we too should be consumed with zeal for God’s house. We should be consumed with zeal for the Church. We should be consumed with zeal for the spiritual good of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Augustine makes this point as he preaches on this text. “Brothers and sisters,” he says, “may every Christian among the members of Christ be consumed with zeal for the house of God! Who is the one consumed with zeal for the house of God? The one who seeks to correct all the things he may see as evil there, who longs to have them changed.”

What does Augustine mean by that?

Well, he goes on to urge his congregants to confront their brothers and sisters in Christ who are living out of accord with their Christian calling. He urges them to see those who are drifting from Christ … or more overtly rebelling against him … and to confront them. He acknowledges that this should look different in different settings. Sometimes a harsh rebuke is in order. Other times gentleness is called for. Christ may have made a whip here, but most times when pursuing sinners, he did not.

“Do whatever you can, according to your rank and status,” Augustine says, “and you will fulfill the scripture, Zeal for your house has consumed me. But if you are cold and casual about it,” he goes on, “thinking only of yourself and almost sufficient to yourself and saying in your heart, ‘Why should I care about other people’s sins? I have more than enough with my own soul, keeping it whole for God.’ […] Do you not remember the servant who hid the talent and refused to invest it? Was he ever charged with losing it, and not rather with keeping it without profit?”

And then Augustine does an interesting thing … he says he was about to give them specific advice on where they might need to do this … but then he stops himself. He says: “I was about to give you some advice but let the one who is within you [ – he is referring to the Holy Spirit – let the one who is within you] give it. You know how you act, each one of you, in your own house with a friend, with a tenant, with a client, with an older or younger person; you know how God provides you with an opening, how he opens a door for his word. Do not rest in gaining someone for Christ, because you yourself were gained by Christ.” [Homily 10.9, p. 205-206]

And so, second, following in our Lord’s footsteps, we too should be consumed with zeal for God’s house – consumed with zeal for the spiritual good of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Third, and finally – we should not lose hope.

The household of God during the lifetime of Jesus was not in good shape. It was in many ways destined for destruction. Many saw the corruption. Many saw the destruction coming.

But none anticipated the death-and-resurrection transformation Christ would bring to the household of God – to the people of God. None saw the way he would raise the Church from what existed in the first century.

And so it has happened again and again. In the lives of individuals and societies. When admonitions and warnings failed … not always … but on more occasions than one … Christ transformed an individual or a portion of his household or portion of this world, through a pattern of death and resurrection. And so, we do not give up hope for those who reject God, or those who stray from God. We do not give up hope when we see the corruption of parts of the Church. We do not give up hope when we see the more discouraging conditions in the world around us. We do not give up hope when the culture we live in neglects its Christian heritage so that its structure begins to crumble … we do not give up hope even if a spark seems to burn away so much of Christian inheritance our society had received.

For our God transforms through death and resurrection – sometimes in the smaller forms of simple repentance … and sometimes in more dramatic ways.

It took more than forty-six years to build the Jewish Temple in Jesus’s day … and the work wasn’t even done at that point.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the damaged portions of Notre-Dame in five years. Experts quickly responded that this was impossible. One expert told NBC that the work was of such a specific nature, and the scale of the project was so great, that new specialists would need to be recruited and to undergo extensive training for the work. He said it could take a decade just to train the people who would do the work of rebuilding. [Bruton]

With two-thousand years advance in technology … it is humbling to see how limited our efforts in some areas still are.

But we serve the Christ who will raise the destroyed Temple in three days. And not a stone temple that any group of people with enough time could rebuild, but the Temple of his body – which no man or woman can restore from the dead.

We follow the Christ who is able to do such things. He is able to destroy … and he is able to bring to life. He is able to do it in individual lives. He is able to do it in the live of his Church. He is able to do it in our society and our culture.

Let us have zeal, then, for his house, in our own conduct and in the lives of others. And let us look to him to raise up that which is brought down.

For this is Easter Sunday – where we are reminded that whatever man is able to destroy, Christ is able to raise up again.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:
Augustine. Homilies on the Gospel of John 1-40. Translated by Edmund Hill. Edited by Allan D. Fitzgerald. The Works of Saint Augustine. Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2009.
Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John. vol.1. Anchor. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1966.
Bruton, F. Brinley. “Notre Dame fire: Macron’s five-year rebuilding pledge is unrealistic, experts warn.” NBC News. April 17, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/notre-dame-fire-macron-s-vow-rebuild-cathedral-unrealistic-experts-n995311
Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. PNTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.
Dougherty, Michael Brendan. “Panhandling for Notre Dame Cathedral.” National Review Online. September 1, 2017. https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/09/paris-notre-dame-cathedral-funding-problems/
Douthat, Ross. “From the Ashes of Notre-Dame.” The New York Times. April 15, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/opinion/notre-dame-fire-catholic-church.html
Jordan, James B. Through New Eyes. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1988.
Leithart, Peter J. A House for My Name. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2000.
Leithart, Peter J. The Four. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2010.
Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1971.
Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1996.