Temple as People


Since I figure that most of you don’t read Catholic Biblical Quarterly, I thought I’d risk a spoiler here of a forthcoming article there. And, for those of you who do so read, you can go there for the argument later this summer.

Here it is: in Mark, the replacement of the physical temple is not, as it is in John, Jesus.

The temple Jesus encountered was a mess. Well, if it weren’t a mess itself, at least it was the system that was upholding the mess that was the Jerusalem leadership. Mark anticipates that the Temple will be destroyed (Mark 13:1ff.).

So if the Temple is lost, what then?

The sacrificial system was the principal means for receiving forgiveness of sins.

Moreover, in Isaiah the prophecy is that the House of God will be “a house of prayer for all the Gentiles (or nations).”

Forgiveness and prayer. What will happen to these when the Temple is no more? What will God’s provision for the people be as the Kingdom of God continues to draw near?

Jesus responded to them, “Have faith in God! I assure you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’—and doesn’t waver but believes that what is said will really happen—it will happen. Therefore I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you will receive it, and it will be so for you. And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.” (Mark 11:22-25, CEB)

As Jesus’ prophecy against the Temple is fulfilled (the mount figuratively thrown into the sea as the city is razed by Rome), the people will not be lost in their hopes for a house of prayer for all peoples and a place to receive forgiveness of sins.

Jesus’ followers will fill this role.

They will pray and receive.

They will extend forgiveness–and receive it.

The new temple is not here Jesus, nor a coming building. It is the people who pray and forgive in the name of the Messiah who has come and is now enthroned.

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