Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The religious leaders then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" 2:21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body.2:22 After 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.
Notice here that John adds that it was only after the Jesus’ resurrection that the disciples remembered what Jesus had said and then they fully realised that Jesus meant the temple of his body. In Mark’s Gospel after Jesus’ arrest, he was brought before the High priest and chief priests and they had witnesses there testifying against Jesus. The witnesses referred to these very words that Jesus spoke they said, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ But even on this point they could not agree.
Jesus was building a new temple just as he was creating a new covenant with the whole creation. We are the temple of his body but not only us the whole creation is. Celtic Christians believed that not only does Christ suffer in the suffering of people, but the suffering of creation is also the suffering of Christ. As the human race we continue to hurt and destroy not only people but all God’s creation. The whole creation is calling out for liberation.
In the words of the Lord’s Supper Jesus institutes a new covenant, a covenant that is marked by his own blood and his own body, a covenant that proclaims Jesus’ endless and undying love not just for his followers but for all people, for all creation. Jesus could not be more committed, for he has given his life. He has laid down his life and he offers his life to us. The life he gives us is resurrection life. Even death cannot extinguish this life.
We are invited to share in Jesus’ supper, where he offers us his body and blood. The communion service reminds us that we do not literally drink his blood and eat his flesh, but we feed on him by faith in our hearts with thanksgiving.
In Mark’s Gospel on the very night that Jesus makes this covenant with his disciples, a covenant that involves the giving of his life; those very disciples betray him, desert him and deny him. They betray, desert and deny the very one who has laid down his life for them. We know what happened next. We know of Christ’s resurrection, but will we still betray him, desert him and deny him. How will we ensure that we don’t? Feed on me in your hearts with thanksgiving. Don’t just think about it take it into your hearts, the centre of your being, that part that is at one with God and live from there, be raised with Christ to live that life eternal, that everlasting life, that life in the everlasting love of God.
As we share in the Lord’s supper, as we take the wine and the bread, we too are being included in the new covenant. We are being built into the temple of Christ’s body and sustained within by Christ’s blood running through our veins. We are offered the totality of Christ’s life.
Photo: The Rock of Cashel, Coounty Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation