Ever lost a wallet or a purse? It's a terrible feeling, and it's not so much the loss of credit cards (cancel 'em) nor is it the lost cash (who carries it anymore?) as it is the loss of the tokens we carrie in our portable personal space we call a wallet or a purse. Pictures of our children, quotes, bible verses and statements that reminds us who we are, that motivates us to become more than we are, ticket stubs that reminds us of that "great night" we spent with the person we love most. It's those things that get to us, not the money, not the personal ID, and certainly not the wallet itself (ladies you might be attached to the purse and really be sad to lose it though.) Ever had your home broken into? That's even worse and again, it's not the stolen 61'HD LCD TV that bothers us as much as it is the stolen peace of mind. We all have things and places that remind us of home, that we care with us that makes us feel comforted and that we identify with and if they were gone it would feel like we've lost everything.
In our passage this morning Jesus pronounces the loss of the temple and not just it's loss, but it's total and utter violent destruction!! To 1st century Jews the temple was like a religious "living room" or "faith home" and without it the Jews would be utterly confused, lost and decimated....at least they felt so. Jesus' proclamation of the destruction of the temple was like someone from the 21st century standing before the World Trade Center, which had become somewhat of a temple to the god's of the market, and saying "all this will be brought down to it's very base and none of it will be left standing."....but only worse.
The temple was the sacred heart of the Jewish life and faith. It was the only temple, the only place were one could truly experience God. It's stones, walls, courts and furniture where themselves sacred. The Temple guided the way of life, it was at the center of the cycle of feasts, fasts and sacrifices, to pronounce it's destruction meant to pronounce the end of a way of life, away of life that had been in existence since 516 B.C!!! The thing is, Jesus understood that if the temple continued to stand the people would never realize who and where God was.
One of my favorite movie serious as a child was the "Indiana Jones" series. Harrison Ford plays the charming, intelligent and adventurous College Professor/archeologist/adventure seeker Dr. Henry Walter Jones a.k.a Indian Jones. He is cool and good with the ladies and always gets out of the tightest fits. One Indian Jones movie I remember vivedly from my childhood was the "Temple of Doom". It was scary to a 6 year especially that scene where the Temple Priest is ripping the heart out of a child!!! (GRAPHIC I KNOW!!!) That was a Temple of Doom for sure!! The existence of the temple in Jerusalem meant certain doom for most of humanity and unless it become a doomed temple things would remain this way.
Gentiles and women and Jewish men with genetic defects could not enter the temple, make sacrifice or participate in any of the other rites and rituals that were deemed essential for pleasing God. What Jesus did was point to himself as the new temple, as the new place to meet God and by doing so he also pointed to the rest of humanity as the new temples of God. God in Jesus, God is in those who are made new in Jesus, therefore God is everywhere we go! This also means that we have a responsibility as believers to represent God and to show people the way of and to God. If you notice Jesus never sends anyone to the temple for healing, restoration of forgiveness. He always goes to them or he always sends his disciples out to them. Why? Because the healing, regeneration and forgiveness the world needs is found in the body of Christ, the church, you and me and it is with that fact that the 1st century church found it's identity. It is this identity I'd like to share with you this week, the new teachings and rituals of the new temple, the Body of Christ.
The 1st century church taught it's new message in four components, the Kerygma, the Didache, the Koinia and the Diakonia. The Kerygma was the proclamation of the story of Jesus as it was passed down from the apostles. This is a change from from the old way in that the story of Jesus was proclaimed for all to hear. The Didache is the teachings of the church. The doctrines, beliefs and theology that are embodied in the church. The next is the Koinia. This is the ministry of the fellowship of the church, our life together and the love we have for each other. And finally the Diakonia. This is the service of the church, both service to humanity and service to God. The point of all this is, is that it's not about rituals, and rites and it is about a life being lived for God and for others. Our identity is about God and others