This passage takes place shortly after Jesus has performed his first public miracle, which is turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Jesus has just arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover festival, and he goes to the temple, where he sees people buying and selling goods. He is angry at what he sees as the commercialization of a holy place, and he overturns the tables of the money changers and drives them out.
In response to Jesus' actions, the Jewish leaders ask him by what authority he has done this. Jesus responds by saying, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The leaders are confused, thinking that Jesus is speaking of the physical temple, which has taken years to build, and they question how he could possibly rebuild it in three days. However, the author of the Gospel of John explains that Jesus is actually speaking of his own body as the temple, and that he will be raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion.
So, Jesus is using metaphorical language to speak of his own death and resurrection. He is referring to his own body as the temple, which will be destroyed and then raised again in three days. This passage foreshadows the events of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, which are central to Christian belief.
It is an important passage because it is one of the first times that Jesus speaks openly about his coming death and resurrection. By referring to his body as a temple that will be destroyed and then raised up again in three days, Jesus is using metaphorical language to describe the events that will soon take place.
This passage also underscores an important theme in the Gospel of John, which is the idea of Jesus as the ultimate source of truth and life. By speaking of his own body as the temple, Jesus is asserting his authority and divine nature. He is showing that he is the true temple of God, the place where God's presence dwells, and that through his death and resurrection, he will provide a way for people to be reconciled to God and experience eternal life.
Moreover, the passage also highlights the misunderstanding of the Jewish leaders and their focus on the physical temple. Jesus' response indicates that the temple was a symbol pointing to himself, and that his own body would become the true dwelling place of God. This sets up a contrast between the physical temple and the spiritual temple, and emphasizes that the latter is the more important and lasting of the two.
Overall, John 2:19-21 is a powerful and significant passage that speaks to the central beliefs of Christianity, including the death and resurrection of Jesus, his divine nature, and his role as the true source of life and salvation.
John 2:19-21. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! Will you raise it up in three days?” But he spoke of the temple of his body.