This statement by Jesus comes in response to one of his disciples being amazed at the buildings in Jerusalem:
“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will remain upon another that has not been torn down.” (Mark 13:2)
Later as he left the Temple one of his disciples said to him, “Master, what kind of stones and buildings are these?” Then Jesus answered him, saying... (Mark 13:1-2)
The end of the world?
Jesus' statement here has been confused by many who claim that Jesus is predicting an end of the world scenario that includes the Temple of Jerusalem being destroyed.
This hoax of the end of the world scenario has continued to this day, even though so many people have inaccurately predicted the end of the world through the centuries even through today. So many sectarian teachers have predicted the end of the world, yet it still hasn't occurred. Here are just some of the notable dates the world was supposed to have ended:
- Hilary of Poitiers: 365 AD (the date predicted)
- Saint Martin of Tours: 375 to 400 AD
- Sextus Julius Africanus: 500 AD
- Gerard of Poehlde: 1147 AD
- John of Toledo: 1179 AD
- Joachim of Fiore: 1205 AD
- Pope Innocent III: 1284 AD
- Melchior Hoffman: 1533 AD
- Benjamin Keach (Baptist): 1689 AD
- William Whitson: 1736 AD
- The Shakers (Ann Lee): 1792 AD
- Charles Wesley (Methodist): 1794 AD
- Margaret McDonald: 1830 AD
- Joseph Smith (Mormon): 1832 and 1891 AD
- William Miller (Millerites): 1843 and 1844 AD
- Ellen White (Seven Day Adventists): 1850, 1856 and "early 1900s" AD
- Mother Shipton: 1881 AD
- Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses): 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1994 and others more recent.
So what was Jesus referring to?
There are two lessons that Jesus is imparting to his student simultaneously with this statement
The first is that the disciple was awed by the large buildings in Jerusalem. Jesus was trying to tell the disciple that the buildings were all temporary. They are made of matter and they will - just as the rest of the material world - collapse and fall apart at some point.
Just consider so many of the ancient buildings that were constructed thousands of years ago. Today most of them have been flattened into rubble. Or they are barely standing and have to be reconstructed in order to resemble the original building.
Jesus is trying to let his disciple know that he should not be in awe of things that are temporary, in other words.
Rather, Jesus wants his students to be focused on the eternal elements of life. That is, the Supreme Being and the eternal souls He created.
Even though our body will die at some point, our soul is eternal. Our soul is, in fact, who we are. We don't have a soul. Each of us is a soul.
The soul is a transcendental, eternal personality. For this reason, we cannot see the soul with the physical eyes. The soul is made up of another composition. The composition of spirit. We are spiritual beings, not physical bodies.
This is why, when we see a dead body, all the matter is still there. The body is lying there. The head, the arms, the legs, the fingers, the ears - all the body parts are still there.
But the element of life is missing. The body doesn't move because there is no living soul within the body anymore. The soul has left.
When we are focused on the temporary things of this world, we are not happy. The temporary things of this physical world do not fulfill us. This is because the spiritual being needs spiritual food. Jesus taught this clearly:
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, please eat.” But he told them, “I have food to eat that you do not know.” Thus his disciples were saying amongst themselves, “No one brought him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do what pleases Him who sent me and to complete His work." (John 4:31-34)
In John 4:34, Jesus is describing spiritual food. Spiritual food is love for God. Love for God means doing what pleases God.
This sort of spiritual food relates directly to the lesson that Jesus is trying to impart upon his students with regard to their focus. In this world, most of us are focused on feeding our bodies (and our relatives' bodies), clothing our bodies, giving our bodies shelter (e.g., buildings) and so on. These are all bodily concerns.
And because these physical bodies are temporary (they will die within a few decades), such a focus is on the temporary.
Jesus wants his disciples to focus on the enteral soul and the eternal soul's mission in life.
This means developing our love for the Supreme Being - and all His children.
What about the Temple being torn down?
Some remain convinced that Jesus was somehow making a prediction about the Temple being torn down. And there is some indication in context that Jesus was also, at the same time, referring to the fall of Jerusalem in the next few decades at the hands of the Romans. Yes, Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans and they did indeed burn down the temple.
But this reference has also been confused with Jesus' statement about the temple being torn down and raised within three days. However, in that statement Jesus was not referring to the physical temple building:
The Jewish officials then said to him, “What sign do you show us as your authority for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jewish officials then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. (John 2:18-21)So this is a completely different conversation, and Jesus was not referring to the temple building at all in that statement. He was referring to the temple of the body. What is the "temple of the body" anyway?
The "temple of the body" is the soul. It is a metaphor. When a person considers that the body is like a city, and cities back then were built around a temple. In other words, the temple was the heart of the city in those days.
Thus the temple of the body Jesus was referring to was his spiritual self - his soul. He, the soul, was returning to the spiritual realm to be with God:
"Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me because I live and you also will live. At that time you will know that I am with my LORD..." (John 14:19-20)But before Jesus' spiritual self was going to leave, he would visit with his disciples before returning to the spiritual realm:
This was now the third time Jesus manifested himself to the disciples after he had risen from the body. (John 21:14)