Day 16

One Greater Than the Temple

from the The Presence of God reading plan


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

BY Bailey T. Hurley

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).

But how?

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.

Post Comments (35)

35 thoughts on "One Greater Than the Temple"

  1. Tammi Shank-Moore says:

    Churchmouse you are being used by God to speak to hearts. Thank you for your obedience and your words of insight.

  2. Maura says:

    Simeon always draws my attention. God had revealed to him that he would see God’s promised one. He is filled with the Spirit when he proclaims, “Mine eyes have seen your salvation.” The Holy Spirit through Simeon proclaims Jesus. By speaking what the Spirit reveals Simeon glorifies God through his faith. I wonder as he gazes into Jesus eyes all that he saw. Did he see the miracles of healing, did he see the crops, the resurrection, the grace, the mercy for the battered sin filled world? What awe I feel in Simeon’s words. Thank you Jesus for the sacrifice and salvation that your Spirit God could dwell in this heart. May my faith be as Simeon’s, may I go where you lead me and bring glory to you God. Fill me Holy Spirit, help me to speak your salvation O Holy God. What good news. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8 Hugs Sisters, He has you in His hands. You are dearly loved. Rejoice!

  3. Terri says:

    Struck me today how drastic a mind shift to take thoughts about God from doing something to relationship directly with Him. God is all about relationship with Him.

  4. Lady Carolina says:

    I still remember how liberating it was to realize I could walk with Jesus without having to go through religious rituals to get to him. Thankful for His great sacrifice!

  5. AZ Walker says:

    Thank you so much Kristen for recommending the Utube sermons by RC Sproul on the Holiness of God! So grateful for SRT.

  6. Kaydee Beedy says:

    To know that we walk with Christ, that He suffered in order to end the separation between us and God, how can we not draw nearer to his presence?

  7. Sara M says:

    In light of the struggle I felt with yesterday’s reading, today’s passages and reflection were even sweeter. More than ever before, the importance of the tearing of the curtain struck me. I absolutely love what Bailey wrote: “Even through 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…”. The older I get, the more I can identify with the Pharisees. They weren’t evil people, but people holding on to what they thought was the right way to relate to God, holding so tightly that they didn’t see God showing a better way. Even after the veil was torn, they held on to what was more comfortable to them- rules and regulations. Work and effort. I am too much like them. It is easier for me to understand the notion that God loves me for what I do (the things I can control) and to understand his unconditional love and grace. God, help me leave behind these rules and just enter your presence.

    1. Rhonda Wood says:

      I agree
      It is so easy to live behind the rules and feel comfortable trying to do it on our own and not entering into the holy of Holies and being still. I have been reminded again and again to be still and know that He is God and that He is for me and not against me

  8. Angela Sutherland says:

    I was listening to yesterday’s podcast and this quote stood out to me: “Our sanctification is less about what we are doing and more about who we are becoming.” Obedience over sacrifice. I can do easily fall into the trap of checking off all the proper boxes in the Christian life but failing to be truly obedient to the voice of the Lord. As I shift focus from what I’m doing (a byproduct of this Covid season!) to who I’m becoming and my relationship with Christ, I’m hearing more clearly when he’s calling me to obedience. It doesn’t mean obedience is always easy, but it’s always the way closer to Him!

    1. Tammi Shank-Moore says:

      Angela – Thank you so much for your encouragement today. Your words were such a blessing and God used you to speak right to me in a way I needed and could hear. Have a blessed day!

    2. Jennifer Anapol says:

      Amen!

    3. Jen Brewer says:

      Amen!

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