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The Word on the Week

Trips to the Temple

It had been a long wait but God had given Simeon great patience.   It had been revealed to him that he would live to see the Messiah.   The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon when he went to the Temple at exactly the time Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus, now 40 days old, to the Temple to be circumcised and to make the appropriate thanksgiving offering.

Simeon took Jesus in his arms, blessed God and declared that his life’s work was over.   He had seen the ‘bringer of salvation for Israel and the one who would enlighten the Gentiles’ (St Luke Chapter 2 verses 22-32).

The next visit to the temple was at Passover when Jesus was age 12.   He had now reached the age of accountability. He is responsible to keep God’s commands.   This was probably his bar mitzvah.  The boy would be brought to the Temple courtyard to receive the priest’s and elder’s blessings. We can only speculate, but perhaps the Bible accounts of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple were included, among other things, to show us that he passed through the traditional Jewish rites of his day.

In this case Jesus not only received blessing, but He was also a blessing to all who spoke with him.

His parents were three days without him.   One day’s journey before he was missed.   One day’s journey back to Jerusalem and one day looking in all the wrong places!

The three days with the teachers must have covered a lot of the Law! (St Luke Chapter 2 verses 41-49).

At the start of his ministry Jesus was in Jerusalem at Passover time.   He entered the temple and finding the place a market made a whip of cords and drove the traders out.   Instead of being fazed by this the disciples remembered the scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me” (Psalm 69 verse 9).

At the end of his ministry, it was again Passover time and he repeated his cleansing act referring to the temple by the name Isaiah used – “a house of Prayer”.

Possibly the first cleansing was a warning and the second a judgement on the leaders of Israel (Isaiah Chapter 56 verse 7; St Matthew Chapter 21 verse 12-13).

The final visit to the temple was by the Holy Spirit.  The visit coincided with Jesus breathing his last on the cross and yielding up his Spirit.   The temple curtain which was 60 feet high and 30 feet wide, was supernaturally torn in two from top to bottom opening the way to the Holy of Holies (St Matthew Chapter 27 verses 50-51).    Previously, entry was only made by the High Priest once a year carrying the blood of the animal sacrifice to make atonement for the people.

With the death of Jesus a new and living way was opened through his sacrifice on the cross.   Animal sacrifices were now made obsolete and the work of the priest altered to proclaiming the Gospel.   In his letter to the church at Rome St Paul writes that the fruit of this ministry is Gentile converts, duly sanctified by the Holy Spirit and offered up to God as acceptable offerings (Romans Chapter 15 verses 15-16).

There will be no more trips to the temple (rebuilt?) until the Lord returns.  In the meantime the priestly work continues culminating perhaps with a turning of the Jews to Jesus in your lifetime?    God willing it may be so (Romans Chapter 11 verses 25-27).