Creativity is an innate part of who Jesus is. Before his incarnation he created all things scripture assures us that without him nothing would exist (John 1:3; Col 1:16). When he came to earth he was born into a carpenter’s household—a home of building and creativity. As a child and young man he would have helped Joseph building everything from furniture to houses. Jesus is still actively building; building his temple; building his priesthood; building his people.
Over the next few days we’ll look at each aspect of Jesus as the Master Builder, using the two following scriptures for reference:
1 Peter 2:4f, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
The first one to look at is the holy edifice he is building of living stones. This edifice is a temple—a place where God’s presence is assured. Two important points are important: what he is building and what he is building with. Those reading the words of Peter would have witnessed the building of stone temples. They would be familiar with the hard work of cutting stones from bedrock, fashioning them according to plan and moving them into place. They may have even been hired or conscripted to work on such projects. They would have experienced the torturous work of raising walls one stone at a time with primitive tools and machinery.
Christ alone is building the temple of God. He is the architect, the builder, the foreman, and the construction crew. There is no structure that we as humans can build today to qualify as a temple. Since Jesus came as the son of David to build an eternal temple there is no other one possible. Many churches choose to buy land and erect a structure in order to hold meetings but this building can not and must not be seen as a temple. Only Christ can build, dedicate and consecrate the temple of the living God. The building he is building is his church—the corporate body of people, not a man-made structure with a steeple and a bell.
Of course scripture tells us that we individually are the temple of Christ, but this is a different lesson from the one in 1 Peter and I will address it at another time. The temple we are talking about today is not the individual believer but the one made up of all believers. In Ephesians 2:22 we see this temple: “And in him you too are being built to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
God promised David that a son of his line would sit on his throne and build an eternal temple for God. We know this was not Solomon because the temple he built did not last and the kingdom he ruled didn’t survive. The one to build this eternal temple for God has always been Christ. Every stone in this temple is a person upon whom Jesus our Master Builder has toiled. He builds this temple of the ones he chose and died for. He touches the hearts of all coming to him and fashions them into a stone tailor-made for their place in the temple of God.
There can be only one temple. This temple is the place where people go to meet God. When the Israelites left Egypt they were lead into the wilderness where God commanded Moses to build a portable tabernacle to carry with them and set up each place they stopped. This tabernacle proved God’s presence, giving evidence that he was among them. He still lived throughout the universe as omnipresent God, but they had a single locale where they could be assured of his presence and of a listening ear to their pleas.
Centuries later God allowed Solomon to build a beautiful stone temple in Jerusalem. Once complete God came upon it the same as before. We see no reference to the original tabernacle after that. The furnishings were brought in but the old housing was now rejected. The Temple became the one in Jerusalem and setting up any other—even the one they had used for centuries—was rebellious.
In Acts 2 we see God commissioning a new temple to replace the physical building in Jerusalem. People often note that he came upon those there in a way unlike any later: he came upon them with tongues of fire. Each time God consecrated a new temple he did so with a pillar of fire. The tabernacle, the Jerusalem temple, and now the last eschatological temple were all consecrated with the fire of God’s holy presence. This gave evidence to all seeing it that this new temple was acceptable to God. The old temple was rejected and only the new temple stands before Him. To give Israel as many chances as possible to come to Christ, God allowed the old temple with its Messianic imagery to stand for another generation before wiping it off the face of the earth.
Since the day the disciples received the Holy Spirit and God demonstrated their consecration, Christ has been steadily building his temple—the church. We as the church are that temple; there is no other. God has one temple on the earth, one place where people can go to meet him. That place is wherever his people gather.
Today there are no holy buildings, only holy people.
Tomorrow: Building his Priesthood