Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. John 2:19-21
Jesus promised that when His body was destroyed, He would raise it up. The temple that Jesus raised in three days was His physical, resurrected body. But that was not the only body He raised. As a consequence of His death, burial and resurrection, His spiritual body of people was also set up: the church (Eph. 1:19-23). The church is also called a temple in the Scriptures (Eph. 2:19-22).
The enemies of Christ thought a gruesome death on a cross would not only end the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but also crush His following. They were enormously mistaken on both accounts. Jesus was resurrected and His followers were emboldened to carry out His work (Acts 2:32).
As Christ’s body today, the church embodies the activities of Jesus’ ministry while He was a man on this earth. The church is a saved people who imitate Christ their Lord in holy living and work (Acts 2:47; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). The temporary positions of apostle and prophet, that were given while the entirety of truth was being revealed in the first century (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 13:8-10), are ascribed to Jesus (Heb. 3:1; Acts 3:20-22). The positions that continue today also mirror the activities of our Lord. Jesus was a preacher (Mk. 4:23), a teacher (Jn. 3:2), a pastor or shepherd (1 Pet. 2:25), and even a deacon (Mk. 10:45). Those who occupy such positions in the Lord’s church today are to embody Jesus’ service in their respective areas.
As we have already mentioned, the church is also “an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). As the temple, the Spirit of God dwells in His people (1 Cor. 3:16). Jesus is the great High Priest (Heb. 8:1), who offered Himself as the once-for-all atoning sacrifice (Heb. 7:27; 9:26; 10:10). Christians collectively form a spiritual priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5), offering up spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15). The church does this through singing (Col. 3:16-17), praying (1 Tim. 2:8), giving (2 Cor. 8:5, 9:7; Phil. 4:18), preaching (Acts 20:7), and sharing in the Lord’s supper (1 Cor. 10:16). The church’s altar is in heaven where the worship is directed (Rev. 6:9; 8:3).
It is Christ who has raised this church (Mt. 16:18-19), purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20), and serves as its foundation (1 Cor. 3:11). The church, as His bride, wears His name and follows His will (Rom. 16:16; Eph. 5:23). Let us always remember we are striving to be consistent with what the Lord says in His last will and testament as we function as His body and temple (Heb. 9:15).