The temple system of the Old Testament fascinates me. It was believed that God resided in the temple. It was holy and revered. Only the high priest was allowed to enter its inner room, and only after a thorough cleansing ritual.
But, then came Jesus.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33
Christmas made Mary a living temple. For nine months, the young virgin became the space where God resided. No longer was God only in a temple building, He now found his temporary home in a womb.
A little more than three decades later, after the countless signs and miracles Jesus performed, He was crucified. The Savior of the world was mocked, ridiculed, and nailed to a cross. At His final breath, the earth turned to darkness, both literally and figuratively. His followers saw their hope dissolve on that cross. But, just as He foretold, Jesus Christ defeated death! On the third day, the tomb was empty! This is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. The Resurrection forever changed the world! It restored hope, faith, and love. Jesus IS the Messiah, the King of kings. But, what does this event, that happened so long ago, have to do with you and me?
If we have become one with Christ in His death, we will be one with Him in being raised from the dead to new life. Romans 6:5
Did you catch that? Because of the Resurrection, we can be one with Jesus. We do not need to go to a temple to be in His presence. We are united with Him, thanks to the restoration power of the empty tomb. Nothing can separate us from Christ!
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 1 Cor. 3:16
Christmas made Mary a living temple. Easter made it possible for all to be living temples. Easter made God personal, accessible, and relational. It is an invitation to the new life found in Christ!
So, how does this connect with the final statement of David’s psalm?
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6
If you had asked me five years ago, I would have explained that David was referring to the afterlife, and he used “the Lord’s house” to describe heaven. Heaven is where Christians go when we die. I used to see it is as black and white. There is earth, and there is heaven. You leave one, and go to the other. But, maybe it’s not quite that simple.
In His most famous sermon, Jesus taught us how to pray. And, in this prayer He said:
“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Perhaps Jesus was referring to an earth that was heaven-like. I don’t believe that earth is simply the place we have to endure so we can soon enjoy heaven. This means that eternity isn’t just about the future. It’s not just then; we can have it now. Because of Easter, because of the Resurrection, we are already dwelling in the house of the Lord! Eternal life begins when we become one with Christ. It begins when we say yes to following Christ, and our dwelling place becomes more like heaven on earth with each step with Him.
This isn’t just Good News…it’s the BEST news! You see, no matter what our earthly homes feel like right now, we have have the power of Christ within us. Some of our physical homes feel safe and secure. They are places of comfort and joy. Other homes are marked by uncertainty and chaos. But no matter what, we can choose to “dwell in the Lord’s house” by following the example of Jesus. Each time we offer grace and forgiveness. Each time we give comfort over condemnation, we are creating heaven on earth. That is the power of Easter.
Jesus, thank You for this day of celebrating the empty tomb! You defeated death in order to become one with us, in order to bring Your Kingdom to earth! Open our eyes in partnership with You. Guide us in creating a world of peace, even in the midst of a global crisis. Let Your light shine through Your people! Give us Your power and resolve. In Your perfect Name, Amen.