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The Third Temple, the Body of Christ, Old Zion Church, Nov. 19, 2006 (Partly German)

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Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity – Nov. 19, 2006

Daniel 12:1-3 Psalm 16 Hebrews 10: 11-25 Mark 13: 1-8

The Third Temple: the Temple of Heaven

 

Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in the Gospel lesson. It was the second temple, a wonder of the ancient world. Herod refurbished it from 37 B.C. to 4 A.D, right around the time of Jesus’ birth and then it was destroyed by the Roman legions in 70 A.D., when the Jews rebelled against Rome. That is just a little history.

One starts to marvel at Jesus when we hear about his prophesies, just like Andrew, Peter, James, and John, sitting quietly beside him on the Mount of Olives and gazing at this massive structure of the temple, the religious and political center of Judaism at the time.

The disciples question Jesus. They had heard right. Jesus reaffirmed that not one stone would be left resting on the other; everyone would be thrown down! The disciples probably shuddered and in history we discover that the Roman general Titus tried to save the temple in the siege of Jerusalem, but his troops set it afire. Then the gold melted and ran between the stones. When the soldiers and others quarried the gold from between the stones, they did not leave one stone on top of the other. They would hold a torch under the keystone of the arch and it would explode and then they would take all the stones apart for the gold.

We found out about that from our visit to the so-called “Holy Land” with church groups. Another thing you discover there is that the Moslems built their Al-Aqsa Mosque and their golden Dome of the Rock right on top of where the temple stood, the Temple Mount, so that to rebuild the temple would mean to destroy the silver and golden mosques of Islam, which is of course unthinkable to Moslems. This is an age-old custom really. Old churches were built on pagan temples and Christmas was set on the pagan Saturnalia to stop people from celebrating pagan holy days and making Christ central to worship.

Stop and think. If Solomon’s Temple was the first and the second temple was destroyed after Jesus’ lifetime, what is the third temple? The answer is in our Hebrews text, which explains why we do not have to fight and start wars anymore when our holiest of holies are tread under foot by Grobians, as we say in German, or Philistines, as we sometimes say in English.

Jesus said, if you tear down this temple, I will rebuild it in three days. He was referring to his own body and that after his crucifixion he would rise up from the dead in three days. Thus I believe that Christ and his body is the third temple. To the Samaritan woman at the well, who asks him about the real temple in which to worship, he answers: it will neither be in Bethel as you Samaritans argue nor in Jerusalem as the Jews argue, but “the hour is coming and is now here, where true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Yes, God is spirit and those who worship him must do so in spirit and truth” (John 4: 23-24 ).

And Hebrews takes it a step further: Christ is now our high priest, seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, washing us in the pure waters of baptism, putting the law of love into our hearts, and writing the words of scripture in our minds, and then forgiving us all our sins. So we enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us the curtain, the curtain that was torn when he died, and the curtain that separated the holy of holies from the place worshipers were allowed to be. Only the high priest and only once a year could enter the Holy of Holies.

And Hebrews says, Jesus opened that curtain and that curtain was his flesh. What does his “flesh” mean here?

Luther was such a great teacher of the church because he was one of the few who also knew Hebrew. “Flesh” in Hebrew means a human being. “All flesh is grass” means “all human beings are like grass, who die and wither away.” But not the Word of God (Isaiah). So the curtain and we ourselves are the flesh of Christ, we are the people who belong to Christ. When Christ lives in our hearts, our own bodies, too, become God’s holy temple and because the curtain has been opened for us, we are all now a royal priesthood, a priesthood of all believers, called to declare the praises of Christ, who called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

We are all the body of Christ and Christ is the third temple and wherever two or three gather together in his name, he is in the midst of us, really present in Word and Sacrament.

Now in the old days, in the time of Christ, the priests ruled and the Roman governors humbled them by taking away their right to high justice, relegating capital crimes solely to their judgments. So they took the real power into their own hands. In earlier times, when Samuel ruled for instance, Kings were an affront to God, who ruled directly through the high priest and the priesthood of the temple. Now in modern times we have specialized farther and farther so we have some who work in civil government, some who are our religious leaders, some are lawyers, and others are medical doctors and psychiatrists. At one time the priest was all these things. A shepherd also stood for a king and a priest.

Thus Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right hand of God and is waiting until his enemies are made the footstool for his feet. Because he ascended up to be in heaven, to be the Son of Man, Son of David, with the government upon his shoulders for the Reign of God forever and ever.

Do you know the German song?

1. Jesus Christus herrscht als König.

Alles ist ihm untertänig.

Alles legt ihm Gott zu Fuss (repeat).

 

2. Alle Zungen soll’n bekennen,

Jesus sei der Herr zu nennen,

Dem man Ehre geben muss (repeat).

(My translation)

1. The Lord Christ Jesus rules from heaven,

To him all power and glory is given.

His dominion he shall rule (repeat).

 

2. Let all tongues on earth confess him.

He comes to us with crowns of blessing.

The whole world is his footstool (repeat).

 

So you and I have to proclaim and spread the Reign of God to which we belong. This beautiful sanctuary that the dear Christians built in this place finished in 1891, as wonderful as it is, is only a museum, if we do not proclaim that the House of the Lord is the Reign of God through our right-hand-man, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And it is quaint to say the Kingdom of God! We live in a democratic republic and we are accustomed to presidents, governors, mayors, chancellors, senators, and congressional representatives, but no longer kings and kingdoms. So we have to proclaim that the Beloved Community is near at hand. A state is at hand under the guidance and direction of heaven. Last time Bob Ross made me aware that Pennsylvania is not a state, but a commonwealth like Massachusetts. So we have to shout that the commonwealth of Christ is near at hand; it’s right around the corner, if we get down on our knees and pray to our Father in spirit and in truth.

Let me use Luther that faithful servant of Christ once more. We need to preach the Word of God. What is that Word? It is the Good News of Jesus Christ preached in such a way that you hear your God speaking to you! We ourselves confess our sins. Jesus forgives us and we are promoted to be the suffering servants of God, as much as the world sees it as a demotion. Let’s make a commotion, because this commonwealth is one enthroned on grace, coming into being through faith, and ruled from the temple in heaven, where our great high priest, Jesus sits at the right hand of God and moves through this land.

So we have to proclaim the Word of God: “For the word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the world” (from Luther’s Bondage of the Will). Thus we are changed into suffering servants and that really lifts us up, and those in high offices in the eyes of the world, find that they have to take a humble secondary place in the eyes of God.

The wonderful life of worship opened up by Jesus is a heaven full of grace, is a world of love and sharing that introduces an economy of abundance, because the Table of the Lord is the economy of the House of the Lord, because we cannot confuse a temple made of stone with the living temple, Christ Jesus, nor this beautiful stained-glass, wood-carved architectural testament here on the corner of North Broad and Mt. Vernon, with the House of God. We the people are the House of God.

Let me just say a word about the first lesson in German, because Michael is the Archangel who is the patron and guardian of Germany. He is also the patron angel of the Jews as well, but I will explain in German that that is no conflict. Christ can belong to you and me and we could wish that more people would own him. Then I will say that Michael is really the messenger, the angel sent by Christ and there is a note of the resurrection in this passage and the chance to become teachers of righteousness again as bright as the morning sky and as bright as the stars at night, when we become the people of God, the true church of God.

So viele Deutsche Kirchen waren nach dem Erzengel Michael genannt, auch unsere Michaelis und Zions Kirche damals. Das ist weil dieser Fürst unter den Engeln die Aufgabe hatte die Deutschen zu schützen und bewahren. Er ist von Christus gesandt ihr Hüter und Hort zu sein. Die Juden und Israel hatten auch den Erzengel Michaelis als ihren besonderen Boten von Gott. Das bringt aber keinen Konflikt, denn, wie gesagt, Christus kann mir und dir gehören, und wir können ihn ruhig teilen und hoffen dass auch andere Christus haben wollen.

Luther meinte das Michael eigentlich Christus war. Vielleicht können wir sagen das er seinen Auftrag bekam in Christus Namen, dass er als ein Bote von Thron des Christus ausging, um dem Menschensohn und sein Reich zu dienen. Wie Christus von Gottes Rechten zu uns hinabschaut, so schaut er auch aus der Ewigkeit, wo die Zukunft schon gewesen ist, auf uns zurück. Wenn wir durch die Trübsal, hier vorausgesagt gehen, werden wir geschützt werden, und das Volk Gottes wird gerettet werden, all die die ihren Namen im Buch des Lebens geschrieben stehen haben. Dann werden alle von unter der Erde aufgeweckt werden, einige zum ewigen Leben und andere zur Schmach und Schande, sagt der alttestamentliche Prophet Daniel.

Die Deutschen sind wie Lehrer gewesen und durch Gottes Gnade können wieder Lehrer der Völker werden, wenn wir bei Gottes Wort und Luthers Lehr bestehen. Dadurch können wir alle Menschen und moderne Völker vom Himmelreich des Gottes Sohnes und seiner fröhlichen Wirtschaft etwas bei bringen und durch Gottes Gnade die Welt etwas weiter bringen. Wie dann bei Luther, werden wir wieder wie der Himmelsglanz leuchten und durch unsere Glaubens Rechtfertigung wie die Sterne am Himmelszelt glänzen immer und ewiglich. Das heisst aber glauben, beten, studieren, und Wege finden unsere Nächsten, unsere Mitmenschen, zu lieben und helfen. Luther hat uns den Weg gezeigt weil er ein treuer Diener Jesus Christus war.

Amen.

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Written by peterkrey

November 18, 2006 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

One Response

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  1. The Temple of Heaven is located in Beijing.
    Its in a huge park so you can walk around
    and enjoy the fresh air whilst exercising. Its a very nice park and
    you will see many Chinese
    locals walking around there. Also there is lots of Chinese
    tourists visitng the site
    just like you. Its nice to spend a few hours there and balance
    it with something else in Beijing.
    You will be amazed by the site and the style. Its is truly remarkable.

    If you are interested to have a guided tour of this site
    feel free to contact me.
    I have around 12 years experience in guided tours with people from
    all over the world.
    I am a professionally licenced guide. Welcome to my hometown Beijing.

    the temple of heaven

    November 29, 2015 at 11:08 am


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