Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-22)
The Jews response to Jesus driving the greedy money changers and merchants out of the temple was “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”. Jesus, as he often did, answered with words they did not understand. Apparently, even the disciples didn’t get his message. But, Jesus was speaking about the temple which was his physical body.
It would come as no surprise for a religious leader to die for his cause. There have been scores of such people, some even in my lifetime. Dying for some cause is not that uncommon. What is exclusive to Jesus was his claim, “Kill me and I’ll be standing on the earth again in three days”. In other words, “I am greater than physical death.”
The Christian faith is a beautiful thing. And, it’s central figure, Jesus of Nazareth said some amazing things. The words he spoke in what is referred to as “the Sermon on the Mount” are some of the most beautiful ever said or written. The way of life Jesus laid out was staggering. “Love your enemies, Pray for them…?” “If you want to be great in the Kingdom be the most humble”. Many people never get beyond the things Jesus and his followers said about daily living, how to worship, when to worship, and many invented rules that in many cases have become more important than the work of Jesus for sinners.
Make no mistake about it, don’t miss the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The whole of Christianity and even the credibility of Jesus himself rest on this central fact, Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and after three days was physically raised from the dead. If there is no validity to the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity is a fraud. The great apostle Paul said it this way.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
“Your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” And, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Any presentation of the gospel that does not include the central fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus is not the gospel, but a lie.
I had discussions online with a preacher a few years ago who in no uncertain terms flatly denied that Jesus was raised from the dead in a physical body. Never mind that he walked along the road with his followers, ate shore lunches with them, and was seen by over 500 people at one time. That preacher was not a Christian, he was an impostor.
The disciples remembered Jesus seemingly odd prediction on this day in the Temple after he had been resurrected. It was not until Jesus’ closest friends and associates saw him alive after being killed and buried that they finally really believed. Never again did they ever show a hint of fear. And, you don’t need to either. Jesus will raise from the dead every person who believes on him.