As they were leaving the temple, what did Jesus’ disciples’ point out to Him? See Mat 24:1; cf. Luk 21:5. What does their pointing out the temple buildings to Him and noting its beautiful stones and votive gifts indicate about the impression the temple had upon them and how they viewed it? In light of the immediately preceding context, why might they have wanted to point out the temple buildings to Him? See again Mat 23:38 and consider the magnificence of the temple that had already been 46 years in the making (Joh 2:20), would not be completed for almost another 40 years, and was the ultimate source of Jewish pride and nationality. In spite of its outward pomp and glory that was so impressive to the eyes of their flesh, what was its actual state that Jesus saw with the eyes of the Spirit, now that its real glory was departing? See again Mat 23:38 as well as Mat 21:13 and consider Jesus’ description in Mat 23 of those who governed it and whose unholy spirit filled it. Although they could not conceive of the glorious temple’s desolation and might plead with Jesus that His sentence against it be reversed due to its magnificence and all it meant even to them as Jews and to the Jewish nation as an emblem to the Gentile nations of the greatness of their faith, what does Jesus say in Mat 24:2 must be its fate?
In spite of all its magnificent glory and even its immediate proximity to true religion, in what way is Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction a reminder of what must be the eventual end of anything in this world that reflects its spirit rather than God’s Holy Spirit? See 1Jo 2:15-17. What does this teach us should be our attitude toward the things of this world, regardless of how magnificent and glorious they may appear to the eyes of our flesh? See note. What does it also teach us must be the things upon which we fix our eyes and invest our time and energies instead? See 2Co 4:18 and note. What is the significance that although the early church met in non-descript homes for worship (1Co 16:19, Col 4:15, Phlm 1:2) and was “spoken against everywhere” (Act 28:22) so that people dared not associate with the Christians (Act 5:13), because its focus was on unseen eternal things it was full of the hidden glory of God’s Holy Spirit and “turned the world upside down” (Act 17:6)? In what way is this like the church today in Iran and other persecuting nations where the church meets secretly in homes and yet is experiencing phenomenal growth? How does this contrast with Herod’s temple that was magnificent in appearance so that multitudes from all over the world came to worship there, and yet because its focus was on what was seen and temporal it became desolate of God’s Spirit, was soon destroyed and is now forgotten? How is this similar to many of the magnificent churches of Christendom that rather than reflecting God’s unseen, hidden glory came instead to reflect the outward pomp of a more worldly church? Might this also be true of today’s “megachurches”? What does this teach us about the inverse relationship between external and internal glory, and which is most important in God’s kingdom? Is it possible that where there is a waning of God’s unseen, eternal glories, and especially the hidden glory of His Holy Spirit, the deceptive nature of sin replaces that void with a commensurate waxing of external pomp and glory, which is the spirit of the world?
As Jesus quit the temple, forsaking it to those who admired its worldly allure over its heavenly glory, did His disciples remain in the temple and maintain their allegiance to it, or did they depart with Him in order that they might be where He was? Cf. Mat 24:15-18, Heb 8:13, 13:13-14. What does this remind us about the nature of true worship and where it takes place? Cf. Joh 4:21,23-24. Shall we ever cling to pompous forms of religion that God has forsaken, or shall we forsake that which He forsakes in order to always be where He is and worship Him in spirit and in truth?
Why was it that the religious leaders could not see the glory that was the true glory of the temple and discern that its glory was departing? Cf. 2Co 4:3-6. Is it possible that we could still today miss God’s true glory because our eyes are accustomed to those things the world calls glorious and we don’t see inside the humble jars of clay wherein His true glory resides? How much greater was the glory that was hidden inside the temple of Christ’s earthenware vessel (Joh 2:20-21) than that of the magnificent temple that seemed to the disciples to be so glorious? Cf. 2Co 3:10. What was it that allowed the greatness of His glory that was veiled from their eyes to shine forth with such a glory as to cause that which at first seemed to be glorious to have no glory in comparison? See Jdg 7:16-20, Phil 2:5-11. How is that an example for us? See 2Co 4:7-12. This is the way of the cross.
1. A believing foresight of the defacing of all worldly glory will help to take us off from admiring it, and overvaluing it. The most beautiful body will be shortly worms’ meat, and the most beautiful building a ruinous heap. And shall we then set our eyes upon that which so soon is not, and look upon that with so much admiration which ere long we shall certainly look upon with so much contempt? See ye not all these things? They would have Christ look upon them, and be as much in love with them as they were; He would have them look upon them, and be as dead to them as He was. There is such a sight of these things as will do us good; so to see them as to see through them and see to the end of them. Matthew Henry.↩
2. “If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving that upon tablets which no time will efface, but will brighten and brighten to all eternity.” Daniel Webster.↩