By Jon A. Herrin
First United Methodist Church
Rio Grande City, Texa
As we did our fall cleaning around the house, my wife saw me with hands full headed for the garage and called out, “Please put the cat in the drawer!” What? We don’t have a cat? Huh?
“What was that?” I responded. “Please put that by the door.” Oh! Often we misunderstand, don’t hear clearly, or just get things confused. (It’s never my fault—other folks just don’t speak clearly.) Sometimes, we do hear exactly what is said and we still don’t get it.
That’s what happened on that day when some of the leaders of the people were taunting Jesus, calling for a sign in John 2:17-22. Jesus responded with a very clear but ambiguous pronoun—this. “Destroy this temple, and I’ll raise it again in three days.” Well, his enemies heard him alright, and they thought he spoke of the stone-and-mortar temple that was there before them in the city. He spoke of his body, and his coming death and resurrection.
John writes that Jesus’ disciples remembered his words only after everything had happened, after it was all over. Then, they remembered his words … and understood … and believed. They believed because they finally understood “this,” and they knew that he had done exactly what he had said.
Sometimes we have to go through things, experience suffering, or simply grow up in order to understand and make sense of things we hear in life. After walking the road of Judea with Jesus, hearing his teachings, and living through the suffering, death and resurrection of their Lord, then—and only then—could they make sense of it all.
Somehow, building a stone temple seems easier than bringing new life to a dead body. For any of us, either “temple” would be a superhuman feat. Yet, Jesus is the one who can bring new life, who can raise again what has been destroyed. May this Lenten season be a time that we understand words of Jesus that eluded us before; may this be a time when the Lord raises and restores something destroyed in our lives.
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes, open our hearts, open our minds that we might understand and grow in our belief, our trust, our confidence in You. Amen.
1. Do you remember something that confounded you as a child or youth but is perfectly clear today?
2. Can you remember a time in a sermon or Bible study when a passage you had read 1,000 times suddenly had new meaning?
3. What dream, relationship or hope has been destroyed in your life? Do you trust that Jesus can raise it up again even as he raised “this temple”?