NewJanuary 31st, 2013 by Anthony Bosman
John the Baptist caused quite the speculation.
The religious leaders asked him, “Who are you?” And after a few false guesses questioned, “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:19-21)
I want us to pause and consider this question–”Are you the Prophet?” Notice, not a prophet, but the prophet. They had a particular prophet in mind. Someone they were expecting.
Jewish history explains. Long before Moses had prophesied, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (Deut. 15:18).
Recall Moses had led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery performing mighty wonders. He had been the one to receive the Law of God. A new Moses was something to be excited about! (Especially for a nation under Roman control.)
But John’s response is “No.” He is not the new Moses.
Yet Another is.
The gospel explains, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:18)
This is not a contrast (law vs. grace), but a comparison. The context is about revealing the Father (see John 1:19). Moses gave us a glimpse of God through His Law. Jesus gives us a fuller picture.
Jesus picks up where Moses left off. He’s the new Moses. The greater than Moses.
How do I know?
Consider the life of Jesus and that of Moses. Think of the king’s/pharaoh’s attempt on his life when he was a baby. Or the 40 days/years he spent in the wilderness. There are many more such parallels.
Let’s center our attention of John 2. Here we encounter Jesus’ first recorded sign–turning water to wine. I used to think it was an arbitrary act, but then I remembered Moses’ first plague on Egypt: water to blood. Through His actions, Jesus is announcing Himself as the new Moses. The fact that a few lines later the passage mentions the passover (John 2:13), Moses’ last plague, helps confirm this.
After the Exodus from Egypt, the Mosaic writings have a new key focus: the sanctuary. Moses headed the construction of this first version of the temple.
Perhaps then it’s not surprising that John 2 follows the story of water to wine with that of Jesus visiting the temple. Jesus is still walking the path of the new Moses.
But here, something interesting happens. Jesus, the new Moses, doesn’t come to build a new temple. Instead He declares, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
Jesus is identifying Himself with the temple. Not only is He the new Moses, He is also the true temple.
God had ordered Moses, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”
But the gospel records, “The Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14).
In fact, a literal translation of the Greek would be, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
I find this an incredibly attractive picture of Jesus.
Yet oddly, the story records a different reaction. In fact, the chapter climaxes in a controversy with the religious leaders. They should have been welcoming the new Moses and true Temple. Instead they reject Him.
“It has taken us forty-six years to build this temple, and You will raise it up in three days”, they scoff.
So focused on self, their own accomplishment of temple-building, they failed to see the new thing God was doing.
They failed to grasp the awesome act that was about to be done: “He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21).
They ignored the ancient command of Moses, “You must listen to Him.”
The new Moses offers us total freedom. The true Temple invites us to experience God’s presence. Yet we must keep our focus fixed on Jesus. We must listen to Him.
Then we will experience the joy of the wedding feast!