But Jesus meant his own body

John 2:13-22 [Jesus chased merchants and traders out of the Temple.] He told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” … But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” “All right,” Jesus replied. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Tempe, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

John is not writing a chronological account of Jesus’ life. Likely this “cleansing of the Temple” occurred at the end of his ministry, as recorded in the other Gospels, rather than at the beginning. So the two vignettes in chapter 2 bookend Jesus’ years of ministry. Why would John put them together?

A clue is the first phrase, “On the third day.” The “third day” references in Scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, are more than chronological notations. They signal important information about Jesus’ resurrection, his unparalleled, universe-transforming victory over death and sin.  

Suddenly, Jesus’ lavish miracle is not just about providing wine for a friend’s wedding. It’s a vivid commentary on his resurrection, about a transformation as radical and extravagant as water into wine; as shocking as the concept of rebuilding the Temple in three days. John spells it out for us: He meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered…

A lot will happen in Jesus’ life between these two chapter 2 vignettes. But John tells us right off the bat, though we may feel we’re trapped in the suffering of Friday or the seemingly endless waiting of Saturday, Sunday IS coming. Hold on to the hope and wonder of the third day. Jesus cites it as the source of his authority for restoring the Temple to its true function, forecasting the day he will set everything right.

For God has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man [Jesus] he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

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