One Greater Than the Temple
Open Your Bible
John 1:1-3, John 1:14, Luke 2:25-32, Matthew 12:3-8, John 2:14-22, Matthew 26:57-66, Matthew 27:39-40, Mark 15:33-39
The presence of God came to earth and dwelt among people in Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we live in a post-temple world. It is difficult to fully comprehend a faith that required trips to the temple to sacrifice pure, spotless animals to atone for sin. But until Jesus came to earth, that is exactly what God’s people did regularly to appease God.
There were so many rules and regulations around temple worship depending on the type of sin committed, which animal you could afford to offer, and on what occasion. As time passed, the rules and regulations surrounding temple worship were manipulated as priests and “money changers” took advantage of those coming to offer sacrifices to God (see John 2:13–21). These misinterpretations and eyebrow-raising exchanges at the temple couldn’t possibly be what He’d originally intended—no, this system needed a lasting solution. A solution that could only come from God Himself.
Thankfully, God had a plan for His people that far exceeded a temple sacrifice: a person who was going to outlast a building, God Himself in the person of Jesus. “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). And as Jesus’s ministry grew, religious leaders became frustrated when He proclaimed that He could forgive sins.
The problem? No more visits to the temple. No more making profit from the people’s sacrifice. No more laws to twist and turn for their own power and control. Now, Jesus declared “something greater than the temple” had come: “mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 12:6,7).
Jesus Himself became the final sacrifice. As He took His last breath on the cross, the curtain that separated people from entering into God’s presence in the temple “was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). Instantly, through faith, we have access to God through Jesus who died for our sins and presents us “holy, faultless, and blameless before him” (Colossians 1:22).
Even though we live in a post-temple world, we often still cut ourselves off from the access we have to God through Jesus. We still put rules around our faith and offer up sacrifices of perfect church attendance, clean and uncomplicated relationships, and spotless pasts. Instead of graciously receiving Jesus’s gift of mercy and forgiveness, we try to earn it on our own and punish ourselves when we make mistakes.
We cannot forget that the presence of God came to earth and dwelt among humanity, not to condemn it but to save it (John 3:17). Instead of looking for ways to “[condemn] the innocent” (Matthew 12:7), Jesus had compassion for people. And He desired not just our physical sacrifice, but our entire lives.
For those who trust in Jesus, there is no more curtain in the temple separating us from God’s saving grace. Let’s turn to Jesus, who is greater than the temple, confess and repent of our sin, and give thanks for His everlasting sacrifice that has removed all barriers between us and our Creator God.
Writer and speaker Bailey T. Hurley is everyone’s favorite cheerleader for godly friendships. With a life-long heart for hospitality, Bailey offers simple friendship habits to help women build meaningful, lasting relationships. She’s written for publications like Deeply Rooted Magazine, Grit and Virtue, and Salvation Army’s Peer Magazine. She loves podcasts, and you can find her on Sally Clarkson’s “Life with Sally,” Kristin Schell’s “At the Turquoise Table,” and a dozen more. Bailey holds an MA in Leadership from Denver Seminary. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and kiddos, Hunter and Liv. Learn more at baileythurley.com.