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. Chris Swan says:

    Just listened today this weeks podcast. It is a must listen too!! And you SRT ladies that put all this out for us are so appreciated! And those of you that post add so much to these studies! Thanks.

  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I know I can so easily fall into the trap of trying to be the perfect Christian, wife daughter, and mother. I am so hard on myself when I fail. So grateful for the reminder of God’s grace:)❤️

  3. Laura Beckom says:

    I can’t wait to do this reading every day it has brought me closer to God, closer to his presence. It is good to recall that Jesus came to save not condemn Jesus is greater than the temple.

  4. Pam Williams says:

    The glory of Israel, Jesus on the cross, brought light to the Gentiles, the first being the Roman Centurion, just as Simeon had prophesied.

  5. Taylor says:

    Hello everyone! I’m just getting settled after a wonderful long weekend with my two best friends in the mountains of Virginia. It was such a refreshing weekend to be in God’s creation with two people who mean so much to me. I will say I felt a little guilty not being at my church’s first in-person worship service since March this past Sunday, but this devotion and your comments have helped me see that God was still with me and was honored this weekend by the many conversations my friends and I had. God was even there, outside of cell service, where two or more were gathered.

    Quick God-moment from this weekend: We were chatting with our Airbnb host on Sunday and she mentioned that her daughter had recently passed away from cancer. What followed was a beautiful, Christ-filled discussion between our Airbnb host and my best friend who just lost her mom to cancer 2 months ago. I praise God that He ordained that encounter to happen, and they could share loving encouragement with one another as they grieve the loss of dear loved ones.

  6. Susan says:

    What a beautiful study this has been so far! We all need the reminder of G-d’s presence in our daily lives. He is not an absent or far off God. He is here with us. I have felt His presence in so many ways – driving down the highway singing, just He and I, in my home as I pray, precious intimate times of He and I together. I have also felt Him in the community of believers as I worship with others and hear His word spoken aloud. Have you ever been in a service where you have felt Him, like He walked into the room while the congregation is in song, or when His word is opened and read aloud? I have. The experience of that community worship is precious, and there is nothing like it. I say that to say this: I have seen comments on both sides of the argument on whether or not we should be gathering in person. Please ladies, do not assume that those who fight to gather are not concerned with the health of others. We need to also be careful that we do not belittle those who do not feel they can safely gather. Let us be a community of love. Not a divided community. When we allow ourselves to be divided we are also putting up walls in our spiritual lives. Jesus took down the wall of separation by His work on the cross, please, let us not put it back up by focusing on differing opinions.

  7. Mari V says:

    I sit here this early morning and thanking God that I can go straight to Jesus! No mediator. I visualize the curtain being torn from top to bottom and me walking through it. Straight to Jesus. He sacrificed it all, for you and I. And when I need to confess, I go straight to Him! Yes sometimes it does help talking to somebody about it but knowing that I can go straight to Jesus and I am forgiven.

  8. Courtney says:

    Angie:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful message.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *