As I was recently preparing a talk on John 2:13-25, I heard the news – Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was on fire. I just couldn’t believe it but I saw the catastrophe on the Internet and on TV – the 13thcentury gothic masterpiece ravaged by ferocious flames bursting through the roof, the 93m-high spire collapsing in front of speechless bystanders holding their heads, crying, praying or singing hymns. The whole scene was just surreal. Fortunately, thanks to the courage of 400 firefighters, one of whom was injured, the main structure of the building was spared. “The worst has been avoided”, said Emmanuel Macron just a few hours after the tragedy. The next day, in an official address broadcast live on national TV, the French President declared that the Notre-Dame fire reminds us that “what we believe to be indestructible can also be touched.”
For once, I must say that I agree with Emmanuel Macron – maybe because he didn’t talk about politics! Whether it’s a magnificent cathedral, a giant tower or even human life, what we think is unshakeable can actually be destroyed and go up in smoke in just a few hours. That’s the terrible reality of the temporary world we live in. But the Bible reveals that there’s an eternal reality, “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28), a new temple that can’t be destroyed because its foundations aren’t made of wood or stone but of a living person that even death can’t destroy. In John 2:13-15, Jesus compares his body to a temple and claims that he’s the new temple, a temple which was destroyed and crucified on Easter Friday but raised again three days later on Easter Sunday. By claiming that he’s the new temple, Jesus implies that he replaces the old temple of Jerusalem which was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD and has never been rebuilt. As a result, the only way to come into God’s presence is to enter the temple of Jesus’ body by repenting of our sins and putting our trust in him. By doing so, we can become the living stones of a temple (the Church) that Jesus himself is building and that nothing can overcome, not even the gates of Hades of the fire of hell (Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:5). That’s the good news of Easter.