Believe and Live
Today’s reading: Ezra 3-5; John 20
12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. Ezra 3:12-13
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31
The presence of God among His people, Israel, in Old Testament times was symbolized by the tabernacle and later the temple. Because of persistent, unrepentant sin, God sent Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army to conquer Judah, capture the king, and destroy the temple. Now, in our reading, God is allowing the returned Jewish exiles to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem under a grant by Cyrus, king of Persia, but their joy is mixed with bitter sorrow when the elders see how small the new temple is going to be.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He fulfilled His prophecy to do so and to do so in three days. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” He told the Jews (John 2:19). He showed Himself again and again to the bewildered disciples and they began to understand and to believe. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” He said to Thomas, the famous doubter. And to all the world John says that he wrote his gospel so that we “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [we] may have life in his name.”
The temple brought temporary joy mixed with disappointment, but it was never meant to be more than a symbol of God’s dwelling place with us. God took on flesh and dwelt among us in His Son, Jesus (John 1:14). In Him, we have life by faith. It is real life that lasts forever because He finished the work of atoning for the sins of His people. Believe and live! We are nearing home.
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