Destroy this Temple

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

By Joel A. Hess

Who would have thought that such a glorious building would go down in flames? Flames, of all things. Not an atomic bomb or any of our glorious manmade tools of destruction, but something as rudimentary and old as fire. All the hard work of well-intentioned men was destroyed in a day. It became rubbish, like when a toddler steps on an anthill. I pray for those affected by that destruction. Lord, have mercy on us all.

How sad it is to have this happen during holy week. Or how symbolic? 

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”

John 2

Jesus was destroyed by the hands of men, yet he rose again! Amazingly our worst sin, killing the Son of God, became our greatest gift from the same God. It is a gift not built by hands or achieved by good works. All those things will fall just like Notre Dame. We have a gift given to us by the hand of God, complete forgiveness and eternal life. It is a treasure unaffected by heat, wind, age, or anything we can offer. Destroy a church that gives this gift; God will just build another. Come every Sunday with a life turned to ashes, Jesus says, “Take and eat; take and drink. This is my body; this is my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins!” You can’t stop God giving out his grace. He’ll do it in a gigantic and gorgeous building. He’ll do it in the midst of rubbish. As Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it!”

What a terrible yet sufficient reminder that the hope and joy that built this great cathedral did not fall by the flame. It is alive and well. 

Maybe you are not mourning over the fall of Notre Dame. But maybe you are mourning over your own fall, your own hard work that turned to sand, your own hopes in your own building of self-righteousness. Maybe you today are standing in the rubbish of your life. Sometimes that’s what it takes for our Lord to slip our hands of our crumbling empires and place them gently upon His Life giving Word. Stop staring at your crumbling city and look up.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21

Kill your idols and find out which one rises again.