At the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit in Cincinnati they had part of the temple wall on display. I think this was probably the most extraordinary part of the exhibit because the public could touch it. Visitors had written prayers on pieces of paper and slipped them between the stones, just as pilgrims to Jerusalem do. We overheard from an employee that the prayers would be taken back to Israel at the conclusion of the tour and placed in the wall there. It was lovely to think that these prayers written by people all over the world would be together at the Weeping Wall. The stones that we were allowed to touch were from the outer temple walls that fell during the Roman sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the destruction that Jesus foretold during His ministry. My mind reeled at the thought that I could touch something that was in Jerusalem at the time of Christ, when God walked earth as a man. Perhaps He had even laid eyes on the stones that seemed to pulse underneath my hands. What those stones could tell us if they could speak!
I thought of them today as we celebrated Palm Sunday. I wonder if they reverberated with the worship of the thousands that welcomed Christ into Jerusalem that day. Did bits of palm get stuck between the stones as the crowds waved branches and laid them down on the path? Jesus said that if the crowds had kept silence, those very stones would cry out in worship of the Son of God. Did they feel the agony that rocked the world as the Creator was crucified and bore the sin of the world? Did they tremble when the veil was ripped apart in the inner temple rooms? They bore silent witness to the moment when the world changed and a new creation was birthed in the blood and love of the cross. I thought of Christ’s words when He looked at the temple and said that upon “this rock (himself) He would build His church.” A new way was coming and a new cornerstone was laid.
In the years following Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the early believers would wrestle through the reality that God’s kingdom was the hearts of men, not an earthly domain. The new covenant with God was established; and as the gospel spread across the earth, the Jerusalem temple fell to the ground. Gone were the days when God would dwell in holy places, with the need for sacrifices to atone for sin. Temples are obsolete. God Himself had become the Sacrifice for all time and makes His abode in the hearts of those who trust Him. We are His temple, His stones, rising up all over the world as testaments of His grace and mercy, shouting “Hosanna! Glory to God in the highest!”
Blessings to you,