The New Temple
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” —Revelation 21:22
On this Maundy Thursday, as we celebrate the Body of Christ, receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we are reminded of the Love of Christ. Even as His time grew near to be crucified, He strengthened and nourished His disciples with His Body and Blood. We are being built up into the Holy Temple, and as St. John reminds us in the verse quoted above, “the Temple is the Lord”. We are being built up into the Body of Christ. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth, He is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and all of this begins with the rebuilding of the Temple, the Body of Christ.
But there will be opposition. As Nehemiah and the Jews began to rebuild the Temple after the exile in Babylon, Sanballat and others opposed their efforts. Nehemiah reports that, “when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel…they jeered at us and despised us…” (Nehemiah 2:10,19). While Jesus broke bread with His disciples in the upper room, “Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees” conspired to arrest Jesus (John 18:3). And we should not be surprised if there will be those who oppose us as we “seek the welfare of the people”, serving one another and loving our neighbors. When those opposing Nehemiah “plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it…” Nehemiah and the Jews “prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night” (Nehemiah 4:8). Jesus, knowing Judas had gone out to betray Him, instructed His disciples to “Pray that you may not enter into temptation…” and He, Himself, “knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’” (Luke 22:40-42). We must be earnest in prayer against the powers that would oppose us, that “nothing unclean will ever enter [the Temple], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false…” (Revelation 21:27). We must choose, and pray as Jesus did, for the Father’s will to be done and not our own.
This is Maundy Thursday, “Command Thursday”. On this night Jesus gave His disciples three commands: “Do this in remembrance of Me…” (Lk. 22:19); “wash one another’s feet” (Jn. 13:14); and “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 13:34). We are to cling closely to Jesus “in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers”, to serve one another, and to love as Jesus loved us. God is creating a new heaven and new earth, a New Jerusalem, and it all begins with the rebuilding of the Temple of God. In this New Temple, the “glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it…” (Revelation 21:23-24). The dismantling and rebuilding of the Church is not about you, and it is not about me. It is not about our parish or the CEC. It is about the Kingdom! It is about bringing the light of the Lamb to the nations. St. John says that the gates of the Temple will always be open, and the kings of the earth “will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations” (vs. 26).
On this Maundy Thursday, as we continue to be rebuilt into the Temple of the Lord, let us draw strength from the Body of Christ. Let us be cleansed by His Blood. Let us serve one another, washing one another’s feet. Let us love one another as Jesus loved us. And Let us worship Him in His Holy Temple, “for [the] temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”