DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: The external gives way to the eternal
Are some of today's Christians like the followers of the Jewish temple who rejected Jesus when He walked the earth?
Christians all over the world are celebrating Easter this weekend. What a great time to be reminded of the resurrection of our Lord and Christ!
In John 2:18-20, after Jesus turned the tables and cleared the money changers out of the temple, the Jewish leaders asked Jesus, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken 46 years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?”
But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
In Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21, Jesus foretells both the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and His future return as the King of Kings and judge. Judgment came to Jerusalem just as Jesus prophesied. The time of his return will also be just as He prophesied.
In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Dutch Reformed minister J. Norval Geldenhuy summarizes the reason for the judgement that came upon Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple: "Through His personal advent to the people and to the temple, the Old Dispensation, in which God had to be worshipped by outward ceremonies and sacrifices in the temple, had come to an end. Six centuries before, in Jeremiah 31:31-33, it was foretold that God would make a new covenant by which religion would become an inward and spiritual matter. Because the Jewish leaders have rejected Him and the vast majority of the people do not believe in Him as Messiah … it is evident that they have chosen to continue with the old form of outward temple religion. For this reason, the temple will be destroyed as a judgment upon their spiritual blindness and as proof that the Old Dispensation is gone, once and for all and must make room to the New Dispensation."
Could today’s church be stuck again in an external form of religion – going to a designated place of worship, obeying demands of religious leaders and doing external works – while lacking real inward spiritual reality in Christ Jesus?
Beloved, we must seek and find the real, internal, spiritual Kingdom that Jesus came to initiate on earth. We must leave the old wineskin of finding comfort in our external practices and, instead, find the true inward life of Christ, which will grow in us to become rivers of living water flowing outward to a dry and parched world. This is the Father's plan for the bride who has made herself ready.
We must be like the wise bridesmaids in Matthew 25, who have oil in their lamps when the Bridegroom comes. This oil comes from being with God, in His presence. Each person must seek it on their own. We can't get it or buy it from someone else.
I encourage all the faithful to keep their lamps filled through personally abiding in the Lord, engaging in worship, praying and seeking the face of Jesus.
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:20-21).
He is risen!
John Arras is the Park Rapids campus pastor at Lakes Area Vineyard Church.