Last week, while stuyding Mark 13, something struck me:
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Mark 13:1-2).
The grandeur of Herod’s temple astounded the disciples. The temple complex took up 1/6 of the entire city of Jerusalem. It doubled the size of the one Solomon built. It was a feat of greatness on behalf of Israel and, more importantly, Israel’s God. The temple and the temple complex impressed the virtually un-impressible.
But it didn’t impress God. Instead, God hated it, because in the midst of its grandeur, the religious leaders had made it a den of robbers (Mark 11:17), a vineyard that yielded no grapes to its owner. And so Jesus tells them: “He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others” (12:9). God would judge and dismantle the most glorious temple in the history of Israel.
The temple was really just a baptized tower of Babel, which God would destroy. In its place, God has erected a new temple. The new temple, the rest of the New Testament tells us, is Christ’s church, the temple Christ builds, with Christ himself as the cornerstone.
Often, leaders build churches that are simply another impressive Herodian temple. They impress the world, they shock the simple and the wise, they are ornate, beautiful city-shaking entities. And God, I fear, hates them. They have made God’s church (i.e. his new temple) a den of robbers.
This terrifies me, and gives me much pause as I seek to lead a church to grow and to build. May we build in such a way that pleases the Builder.