John 2

The Temple, His Body (John 2.19-21)

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. (John 2:19-21)

The Gospel of John focuses heavily on the blood and body of Christ, the wine and bread so central to the Christian gatherings of the first century. Overlapping with the apostolic imagery of the church as the Body of Christ, partaking of this bread and wine was (and is) a way for individuals to participate in the larger whole, for ‘members in particular’ to identify themselves with the entity known as the Body of Christ, remembering through these emblems, sacraments, or elements the sacrificial death which makes possible the eternal life perpetuated in them.

John’s gospel is liturgical in nature, created to facilitate church gatherings. Accordingly, John is amazingly interconnected to the core imagery of the New Testament, which is the lifeblood of the church. At every turn, we are presented with a new way to see and understand that which is otherwise familiar to even the newest Christian. In this case, we are reminded that the bread and wine which we consume is evidence of a new, holy temple built without hands, and of God’s Spirit now dwelling with us, as members of the church. All this passes under the bridge like so much water, creating a powerful thematic undercurrent which pulls us inexorably from the first glimpse at the cross to the final act of the crucified Christ and forces us to navigate the waters of life, often without even being aware of what is happening. For me, this is the sacred power of John’s gospel, in that it seizes the willing reader with a vision greater than any single mind, any single soul, and infuses it with a heavenly vision otherwise unattainable—we cannot always map out with perfect clarity the means by which John convinces us, but upon entering into its vision, we are persuaded of its truth.