“As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” Mark 13:1
As I sit here writing this, the news is on in the next room. In fact, it’s been on just about all day. And though the sound is low, I can gather enough in the reporters’ tones to know how they feel over what they are witnessing. The great cathedral, Notre Dame, is burning.
What a tragedy. Having had the opportunity to visit this magnificent building nearly a decade ago, I know what a historic treasure it is, and my heart goes out to all of the people in Paris witnessing this devastation.
Though Notre Dame’s picturesque spire has graced the Parisian skyline for over 800 years and the gothic relief has stood timeless through all those centuries as well, the flames seem to be showing no mercy in sparing any of it. Surely no one watching from anywhere in the world would’ve thought to see this historic monument so utterly destroyed in our lifetime.
The disciples—whose own likenesses were to grace this cathedral centuries later—during their own lives gazed with wonder at the magnificent buildings all around them there on Temple Mount. No doubt, they could not have imagined these buildings’ untimely demise either.
According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, some of the massive stones making up these buildings were as long as 37 feet, as high as 12 feet and as wide as 18 feet. Despite their massive size and seeming indestructability, however, Jesus—speaking to the disciples—foretells of these buildings’ utter destruction saying,
“Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:2b
No doubt this would have caught their attention. Curious to know even more. the disciples then ask about the timing of this destruction. Jesus doesn’t address their question directly. Instead, he warns his followers of many other things they might expect in the future. In the midst of this discourse, though, he holds out a promise seeming in contrast to the future tragedy of the fallen buildings. He says,
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13
As humans, we put a lot of stock in the historicity and grandeur of man-made things. When something as iconic as Notre Dame is destroyed, humans are overwhelmed with the grief of losing something so irreplaceable. And, no doubt, such a loss is very sad. The Jews, too, grieved at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
God, however, has a very different way of viewing things. He cares far more for God-made structures than anything man could ever make. Irreplaceable to him are the “buildings” designed to carry his image to the world—us. Long ago God gave up man-made dwellings and chose instead to make his home in us. Now he dwells in structures made by his own hand, and made perfect by his own Son’s precious blood.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Enlarge and purify the mansions of our souls that they may be fit habitations for Thy Spirit, who dost prefer before all temples the upright heart and pure. Amen” – A.W. Tozer
by Siara Borning