Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it again in three days?” But the temple he spoke of was his body. John 2:19, 20 (NIV)
As Easter approaches I recall a sad story that again proves truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Years ago I read a newspaper account of how a dying Christian man told his family that God would raise him from the grave three months after his death. The account related how three months following the funeral the family had the grave reopened on the day the man had said God would raise him from the dead. The story sadly stated how the man’s casket was disinterred at the family’s request. As they gathered around the casket one of them tapped it with a shovel handle and called to their beloved husband and father to come out. He never did. The family left the cemetery that day with the finality of his death firmly before them as the cemetery personnel prepared to reinter the man’s mortal remains.
I had read today’s verses for years and the astounding meaning of Jesus’ words always seemed to glaze over my understanding. Then one day as I read His words I was stunned. Wait a minute I remember thinking, Jesus said He would raise himself from the dead?! “I will raise up this temple in three days,” displays a Power behind the Pronoun that is not merely a mirror reflection of the Profound, it is the exact nature and essence of the Father. From the very lips of Jesus comes the confession that He and the Father are One (John 10:30). Everything we believe about Jesus Christ revolves around this central event; that is, that Jesus of Nazareth said He would raise Himself from the dead and was witnessed after He did so by hundreds of persons. Hallucinations are rarely shared and the same hallucination is never shared by hundreds of folks at different places and times. These people eye-witnessed the risen Christ and the evidence cannot be explained away as mere hysteria. If the resurrection of Jesus is removed from belief the wheel of Christianity flies apart for us. Our faith is just another ordinary religion of rules and regulations.
It’s been centuries since that first Easter morning and our Profoundest Pronoun, Jesus Christ, continues to be as powerful and actively interested in us. This personal interest is about to finish in our triumph. This same friend who raised Himself from the dead also says, “Behold, I am coming soon.” He is the Power and the Glory forever. On the day He comes to get us no one who died believing on Him will leave the cemetery disappointed. They’ll be out of there in the blink of an eye. And the rest of us who are still standing will be right behind them. Wow, now that’s profound.