Today's verses are Mark 13:1,2: "And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples siad to him, 'Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what a wonderful buildings!' And Jesus said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.'" Chapter 13 begins Jesus' teaching about the end times. He focuses them and us on being ready, being prepared, the suffering that will come and the need to trust God in all things.
Before the specifics of this teaching about the end times occurs, one of Jesus disciples, in a moment of spontaneous outburst, marveled at the magnificence of the temple's construction. He should have! Herod the Great had spent much time, money and labor on its construction. He wanted it to be as beautiful a building as could be found in the world, exceeding in splendor most of the seven wonders of the world.
It was twice the size of Solomon's temple and the Acropolis in Athens. It enclosed a space that amounted to one-sixth of the entire city of Jerusalem. One stone measures 45 by 11.5 by 12 feet and was estimated to weigh 570 tons! There were tapestries, gold and bronze doors, golden grape clusters and many other valuable, gaudy, ostentacious decorations throughout the building. That's why one of Jesus' disciples erupted in marvel at its construction. We would have too!
Jesus' response to the disciple's outburst was shocking. He prophesied the future destruction of the temple. This destruction was not going to happen because of the end times but would come by the Romans some forty years later. They would not only destroy the temple in 66-70 A.D. but also ransack the entire city. Jesus' statement about there not being one stone upon another that will not be thrown down is exactly what happened!
Jerusalem's and the temple's destruction was going to occur because of the leaders' misuse of the temple. Jesus had already cleansed it once. It had become a money-making machine instead of a house of prayer for all the nations. Also, the temple sacrifices would be unnecessary after Jesus' death on the cross. These sacrifices of animals would be an insufficient atonement for the forgiveness of our sins. Only the blood shed by Jesus, the Savior of the world, would be sufficient for the forgiveness of sins forever.
Interestingly, approximately 2,000 years later, the temple still hasn't been rebuilt. For believers we know it's not necessary. Why?
1. Jesus' death on the cross replaces all the animal sacrifices. They are no longer necessary. His blood shed on the cross forever forgives and sustains us.
2. We are now the temple of God. Our bodies now house the Holy Spirit, God's presence (see I Corinthians 6:19).
Our bodies, forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit, are far more beautiful in God's sight than Herod the Great's construction of the the second temple!
Ponder this reality all day long.
And sing praises to our great God all day long!