Temple Fascination and Relocation

(I was prompted to write this after Len’s comment a few posts ago about our too often exclusivist Christianity.)

Did you know that the rivalrous fascination surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem spawns a "news item" somewhere in the world almost every day? In fact there is a Temple Mount News site which is a kind of clearing house dedicated to all Temple News all the time.

It’s not my experience to know the depth of attachment that a Jew or Moslem may have for this ancient site. For my part whoever wants the Dome of Rock/Temple Mount can have it. I’m unconcerned. (Except of course over the violence that this "holy" site continues to foment.) No, what concerns me is Christian fascination with the Temple.

Let’s see…the Wailing Wall, Dome of Rock, Temple Mount…Oy Vey!


This is particularly the case with evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who because of dispensationalist or "end times" theology, believe that the Jewish people will build the Third Temple shortly before, or perhaps after, "true" Christians have been raptured, and just before the introduction of a popularly accepted messiah-figure, who of course is really the anti-Christ…and so on. (Oh, and then there’s the Millennial Temple prophesied by Ezekiel that will also be built.) So in the battle of who gets Temple real-estate Christians cheer for the Jews.

Jesus would have been part of no group–cheering, jeering or otherwise. So detached, so entirely free from temple-fascination was he, "that he was able to act out the prophetic gesture of the cleansing of the Temple thus making present an understanding of Jeremiah 7 and, more importantly of Zechariah 14, where there are no longer any traders in the house of the Lord "on that day" (James Alison).

Now of course Zechariah was still caught up in the cult of (temple) sacrifice but the trajectory of his prophecy is clear. "On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem…"

The "on-that-day" had come. Jesus’ clearing out the traders would have helped signal that. But the full revelation of his coming was only beginning to be sensed. Jesus’ opening of the Temple to "all nations" essentially nullified everything about the Temple. No more who’s in and who’s out. No more sacred and profane (literally, "outside the temple"). And no concern about whether the Temple stood or fell.

And if we didn’t catch the hints and implications about all this in the other Gospels, John makes it explicit. The Temple’s new location is Jesus’ body. The Jesus who desires mercy and not sacrifice, who has no party, belongs to no faction, just makes room for all, even we who exclude him by excluding others.

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