18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
This is the place in Jesus’ ministry when He tells of the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Himself. Certainly we can see that it was quite odd. In fact, most prophecies are odd until they happen, aren’t they? I wonder if the disciples really knew what He was talking about at that time. They probably shrugged it off thinking they would understand it sometime. They did, as John mentions in verse 22. The interesting thing is that these words are what were used to condemn Him. Mathew 26, “ 59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” The Gospel is what was used to condemn the One who created it. Isn’t that ironic?
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about arguing the case for someone to believe. Since belief is not up to us, then what is the point in trying to convince someone of its Truth? In observing Christ’s example, we see here that He did not argue the truth of His words, but rather He stood by them and let people think what they want to think. How often do we follow Christ’s example this way?
I know I have done it myself: someone quotes a piece of scripture out of context or makes an assumption from the bible that isn’t in line with what it actually says. I get fired up and ready to fight, to teach someone the Truth. What does Christ do? He speaks the Truth and that’s that. We don’t have to defend ourselves because if it is the truth, then it is what it is. Later in John 8 Jesus tells us, “ 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
One might laugh at this given that even though Christ clung to the truth, He was crucified. However, we must recognize what kind of freedom He is talking about here. In regards to my own zeal, by clinging to the truth I know that there is nothing that can be done to me that He does not allow and therefore I am free from anything that will oppress me. Certainly, in the world’s view there are many things, but His “burden is light”. Look at the Apostle Paul’s freedom of mind and soul as he wrote all those letters from prison! He was an opportunist because he clung to the Truth.
What are you clinging to? Are you believing His words and the Truth? Are you worried about the world’s thoughts and desires? Do you follow Him with the faith that everything else is just a distraction and as long as we stay focused on Him, we will remain free?
Persecution will come and go, but His freedom will forever remain.