Our God is a God of purpose, and His divine life which is indwelling us is therefore a purposeful life (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11, 3:11). The purpose of the divine life is not merely to make our lives better or happier, as some have supposed; rather it is much deeper, higher, and richer (John 10:10). In John 2, an introduction to a Gospel that is wholly focused on life, the purpose of the life of God begins to be unveiled.
John reveals that the Lord Jesus, as the incarnated divine Word, was the living embodiment of the divine life and as such His actions expressed the desire and purpose of this divine life (1:1, 4, 14). When the Lord visited the temple in John 2, He beheld a fallen situation – the temple and its offerings had become a common thing filled with commerce. Rather than bringing their own animals to sacrifice at the temple as God had commanded, many Jews simply bought something from vendors within the temple to offer to God (2:14). When Jesus arrived and saw this situation, it offended Him to the uttermost. He expressed His zeal for God’s house by cleansing the temple: “And having made a whip out of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, as well as the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the money of the moneychangers and overturned their tables”(v. 15). Offended by this exposing of their degraded situation, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign. This afforded Him the way to reveal something marvelous regarding life’s purpose. He responded by saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). The Jews assumed He was referring to the physical temple and were incredulous. However, in verse 21 the Lord makes it clear that He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Through His incarnation the Lord had become the very dwelling place of God on earth, the reality of the physical temple in Jerusalem (1:1, 14; 14:10; Col. 2:9). The physical temple had been the dwelling place of God in the Old Testament, but when the Lord Jesus was on the earth, He became the reality of that temple as the dwelling place of God. His actions indicated that what God cares for is His building; God’s life is for His building.
When the Lord said He would raise up the temple, He was speaking of His crucifixion and resurrection (John 2:22). In His resurrection His mystical Body was enlarged (Eph. 1:22-23), becoming the church as the Body of Christ (3:6), the real, mystical house of God (1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 2:22), encompassing all the believers in Christ (vv. 14-16). Although Jesus cared for the physical temple, He cared even more for the spiritual house of God, giving up His life to bring it into being. Christ’s death and resurrection were for the formation of the building of God, the church. The life of God is absolutely set and focused on the building, the house of God. Life’s purpose is to build up the house of God.
Witness Lee, The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapters 5, 48 (Print).
Witness Lee, The Conclusion of the New Testament, Message 73 (Print).
(Most references in the Further Reading can also be viewed on www.ministrybooks.org.)