TEMPLE OUTSIDE, KINGDOM WITHIN

…grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he (Christ) is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom

                                                                    (from the Church in Wales Collect for 17th Nov)

‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ (Luke 21.6)

JOHN’S GOSPEL COMMENTS on Jesus’ teaching about the impending collapse of the stone walls outside the Jerusalem Temple that, “ the temple he had spoken of was his body.” The non-dualistic, spiritual/physical texture of John’s Gospel contextualizes the teaching in the verse before, when Jesus says: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” With this in mind, we can read between the lines of Luke’s context for what is probably the same original saying or teaching. When Luke was writing his Gospel, the early Jesus Movement was undergoing persecution, both within the Judaic environ from which it was emerging and from the powerful ruling Empire. He uses a contemporaneous apocalyptic literary style for dramatic effect (possibly present in Jesus’ original teaching) but focuses on the resolve of the suffering early church to use the present moment as an opportunity to testify to the truth. Apocalyptic wars and disasters may well be happening and about to happen, but the Jesus Movement is to hold fast to the teaching of Jesus and not be distracted by any charismatic or powerful alternative leadership. No matter what is going on, locally, globally or cosmically, the kingdom of heaven is present right here, right now. Here and now is where kingdom of heaven being and kingdom of heaven work is to be done.

John wrote his Gospel at least 30 or 40 years later and so had time to work the spiritual and theological aspects of Jesus’ teachings and “signs” through. However, stripped back, both these Gospels, and Matthew and Mark also, reveal essentially one central teaching: No matter what seems to be going on, however powerful or indestructible the given conditions, politically, systemically etc apparently are, Christ calls us to live in the present moment, knowing and trusting the kingdom of God that exists already within and among us, and which is coming into its fullness of being in God’s time and God’s way. We connect through our spiritual practice (John) and respond, from the kingdom in us, to the manifest world (Luke).

 

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on November 16, 2019.

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