18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
David Roberts 1850)
Thoughts: Jesus had predicted the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple elsewhere (Mt. 24:1; Mk. 13:1; Lk. 21:5). Here in John he subtley speaks of the Jerusalem Temple's destruction. This was misquoted by Jesus' accusers at His death (Mt. 26:61; 27:40). In John the Jews clearly thought he was talking about the destruction of Herod's Temple- which would be the ultimate cleansing of the Temple. They thought that for good reason for they were standing in the Temple, and Jesus had just driven the money-changers out of the Temple (which prompted the question that began this conversation with Jesus). I believe Jesus was really talking about destroying Herod's Temple, but raising his body as a substitute Temple. The Temple was a visible sign of the presence of God. Jesus' body was also a visible sign of the presence of God (Immanuel). Jesus was also predicting his resurrection in three days. Later Paul adds a third Temple. He said, "You yourselves are God's Temple and that God's Spirit lives in you" (1 Cor. 3:16). The structure of the Temple changed- from the tabernacle, to Solomon's Temple, to Zerubabbel's Temple, to Herod's Temple, to Jesus as the Temple, to our bodies as a Temple for the Holy Spirit. The meaning is all the same- God seeks to dwell with us, and wants us to receive Him.
Prayer: Lord, may my life be a temple for you. Dwell in me and may I dwell in you.
John Calvin Abridged: Christ spoke with obscurity and allegory because they were not worthy and unable to comprehend his words. No greater sign could be given however than the resurrection of Christ. In not offering them a sign he 1) shows that the resurection was enough to silent their questions; 2) He was unwilling to expose the power or miracles of God to their ridicule; and 3) He shows His power over the Temple. God dwells in us by the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 1 Cor 6:19; 3 Cor. 6:16) but the fullness of the Divinity dwells in Him (1 Tim. 3:16).