This year has been full of sadness as we have watched fires injure and destroy some of the most beautiful houses of worship in the world. The fire at Notre Dame de Paris is particularly on my mind since the fire brought down so much of it during Holy Week. As I watched the flames, I couldn’t help but think of Mark 13.1-2:
“As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.'”
The Temple was vitally important to Jesus and to the early Jesus-followers, Jew and Gentile alike. All worshiped there in the various courts of the Temple. When the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 CE, the Jesus-followers had to find a new way to understand God’s presence in the world, they had to look for the new Temple, and they found it. They understood that we become the Temple.
When we join our story to Jesus’ story, when we follow Jesus through his whole life, death, and resurrection, we become living stones, build into a living temple (1 Peter 2). When the Temple was gone, our ancestors in the faith realized that we are the new Temple, we are Christ’s body in the world, enlived and lead by Christ’s spirit. The loss of the Temple is real. The heartbreak is real. The grief is real. The death is real. And yet, through the loss, the pain, the grief, and the death, the Jewish people survived, the Jesus people survived, and all because we are actually God’s people.
This Holy Week, we have lost a great deal, and Jesus tells us, “all will be thrown down,” but as God’s people, and as Jesus followers, we know that death and loss are not the end. We are not a Good Friday people; our story doesn’t end there. That truth does not negate the fact that we must walk through the Good Fridays. When we walk through those days, trusting in God, we will endure the loss. We will discover that we are the Temple and by God’s grace, we will not be thrown down.