John 2:18-21 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six uears was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.
In this passage of scripture, Jesus and the Jews were standing in front the temple of Herod. The Jews demanded a sign from Jesus. Jesus' answer was vague and controversial. The Jews assumed that he was talking about destroying and raising up the temple of Herod. Christians thought he was talking about the death and resurrecction of his physical body. But it is neither of those things. It is deeper.
In 1 Corinthians 1:22, Paul said that the Jews require a sign.
Many preachers interpret this verse as meaning that the church needs to start walking in the miraculous before Jews can be saved, because Jews require a sign.
What kind of sign did Jesus promise to the Jews? Let's take a look here.
Matthew 12:39-40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus promised the Jews "no sign but one" - the sign of Jonah.
It's bizarre, but Jesus repeats this same statement: "No sign but one"- the sign of Jonah - when the Jews demanded a sign in Matthew 16.
In John 2 when the Jews demanded from him again, "show us a sign..." Jesus replies, "Destroy this temple and I will raise it up.."
John 2: 19-21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destory this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of this body.
Did Jesus raise himself from the dead??? No! According to Acts 2:22-24 and Acts 3:14-15, GOD raised Jesus up from the dead.
This is declared over and over in the book of Acts and other NT books - Jesus did not raise himself from the dead, GOD raised him from the dead!
So apparently, when Jesus said, "destroy this temple, and I will raise it up" he wasn't talking about his Jesus physique. He was speaking prophetically about another body.
So the question remains, who or what, is the temple?
But before we answer that question, we must ask this one: who was Jesus giving permission to "destroy this temple" to?
Jesus was giving permission to the Pharisees!
He wasn't just giving permission to the few Pharisees standing there before him at the time of the conversation. He was giving permission to all the Pharisees from that time until now, as well as everything that the Pharisees represent: religion, tradition, self-exaltation, and self-preservation.
So the mandate of the Pharisee, or the Pharisaical spirit, as given by God, was to destroy the temple, or the body of Christ.
Just as the Jews persecuted Jesus, so they persecuted the early church. Throughout church history, the powers of religion, tradition, self-exaltation and self-preservation have relentlessly attempted to pervert the true gospel message.
In another sermon we studied the death and resurrection of Jesus' friend, Lazarus. This story is laced with prophetic insights. Lazarus, whose name synchronize with the OT name "Eleazor", which means "surrounded by God," represents the Church.
The call of the Church is to be surrounded by God - to be IN Christ and surrounded by Christ. "For in him we live and move and have our being.." (Acts 17:28)
In John 12:9-10, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees consulted to kill him again along with Jesus.
Here we see perfect, angelic, blameless Pharisees, boiling over with a bloodthirsty vendetta to kill both Jesus AND Lazarus!
This is not coincidental. When Jesus said to the Pharisees, "[You] destroy this body..." he was literally giving permission to Satan. Satan entered the Pharisees just as Satan entered Judas immediately after Jesus handed him the sop of bread.
Satan entered Judas to fulfill the mandate of betraying his master. Judas was moved to bring about this betrayal. In the same way, Satan entered the Pharisees to bring about the tearing down of the Temple, or the Church.
This is the way it was supposed to be. Jesus prophesied it so. This is why, although the body of Christ is so far removed from Truth, God is not dismayed. It is so in order to fulfill prophesy.
The Jews require a sign and only ONE sign will be given to them... the sign of Jonah.
Let's take a deeper look at Jonah.
Jonah's name means "wine, dove." Just like Lazarus, whose name means "to be surrounded by God," Jonah also represents the spirit-led church.
Jonah has a call to fulfill. This is supposed to be the direction of the Church:
Jonah 1:1-2 Now the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Jonah is the son of Amittai, whose name means "truth and faithfulness." The Church is to be fathered by Truth and faithfulness!!!
Jonah's call is to go to Ninevah, the capitol of Assyria. Assyria means "a successful journey."
This is the call of the spirit-led church: fathered by Truth and faithfulness, its call is to go on a successful journey...
There is no successful journey except for the one path that God has called us to travel on. Christianity today has made its focus on self-improvement, self-refinement, and success. John Maxwell wrote a book called "Success is a Journey." But truth is, there is no success outside of the will of God. And the will of God is NOT merely the way of cleaning up your life, cleaning up your fleshly sins and habits. Its deeper than that. It can only be found by following the way of the Spirit. In the next blog we will continue this story of Jonah and the church...its death and ensuing resurrection...