True Religion

Church Interior Building

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:1–2 (ESV)

1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6

Understanding and Applying the Word

The temple in Jerusalem was the center of Judaism. It reminded the people of their special relationship with God, who had chosen them through Abraham and brought them out of Egypt through Moses. It reminded the people that the land that they lived in was given to them by the Lord. The temple was the center of Jewish worship and was the place where God had graced the Jewish people with his unique presence. The temple was a grand building and was the pride and joy of the Jewish people. It is no surprise that Jesus’ disciples would comment on the greatness of the structure and be in awe of its size and beauty.

Jesus’ response to the disciples concerning the temple probably was surprising. As the disciples spoke glowingly of the greatness of the temple, Jesus told them that it was going to be destroyed. There would not be one stone left on another. The words of Jesus were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans entered Jerusalem to put down a revolt. The temple was destroyed in the process.

The disciples, and the Jewish people, saw the temple as the center of their religion. However, Jesus consistently taught that the religious leaders and the religious practices of Judaism had become empty and meaningless. There was no spiritual substance to their religion, only external ritual and show. The temple was going to be destroyed and religious practice would never be the same. This would serve as a reminder that our religion means nothing if it does not issue forth from the depths of our hearts. Our worship must come from changed lives and love for God. Fancy buildings and external rituals are worthless without a heart devoted to the Lord.

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