“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’”-Mark 14:58
When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, he was accused of saying he would destroy the physical temple in Jerusalem and build another temple “not made by hands.” This was a distortion of what Jesus actually said. He did prophesy of the temple’s destruction, which happened in AD 70. He also prophesied that when he was killed he would rebuild “this temple” in three days, referring to his resurrection (John 2:19-21).
What the false accuser actually got right was the second part—that he said he would build another kind of temple, a temple “not made by hands.” That verbiage refers to a spiritual work in contrast to merely a wood and stone building.
The phrase “not made by hands” here means “not made by human hands.” Jesus’s death and resurrection was the building of a spiritual work that no human could do. This is confirmed for us in Hebrews 8: 2 were Jesus is described as:
“…a minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that was set up by the Lord and not man.”
Jesus’s work is not an earthly work done by men. It is a heavenly work with earthly effects. We need this reminder because we are easily distracted by earthly work. The construction of buildings and making of companies and the pursuit of popularity and the amassing of riches are temporary pursuits. They are not the end all, be all of our existence. They cannot satisfy and will not last, because they are made by human hands.
But Jesus’ work is not made by hands. His work stands forever. His permanent, heavenly work impacts how we go about our earthly pursuits. Because his work is not made with hands…
- We can focus on Jesus’s purposes when we’re tempted to be consumed by earthly concerns.
- We can be assured of our forgiveness when we fail.
- We can move forward ministering the gospel with confidence despite hostility in our culture.
- We can endure massive changes in society without fear that Jesus’s work will fail.
- We can rely on Jesus in faith when we face personal trials.
- We can risk faith-driven obedience when we’re not confident in ourselves.
- We can rest with his peace even in the darkest of times.
Why? Because his temple isn’t made with human hands. It’s built to last, and it’s built to be shared with us. So we’re freed from fear that we may confidently focus on Jesus’s purpose for us. This is why the apostle Paul says,
“For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.”-2 Cor. 5:1