Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
The Jerusalem temple in Jesus’ day took decades to construct and was one of the most expensive building projects in the Roman world. It was six times larger than the famous Colosseum and was paid for by some of the heaviest taxes in the world. The stones used in construction could be as large as forty feet by twelve feet by twelve feet and weighed as much as five-hundred tons. Faithful Jewish people journeyed to this impressive structure multiple times every year.
And so, it would seem that there was nothing more permanent in their lives than this temple. Between its large size and all that the people had invested and its importance in day-to-day life, it seemed that it would have been impossible for the temple to ever be destroyed.
Yet in 70 A.D., destruction is exactly what happened. The Romans came in and destroyed everything, and the temple was no more.
While the temple and destruction were very real, it was an illustration of what is to come. Life is full of many things that seem impressive. Things that are “too big to fail” and seem to be so permanent that nothing will destroy them. Things that are daily parts of our lives and so it is impossible to imagine life without them. Buildings, organizations, knowledge, and culture will one day all come to an end, Jesus said. They will all be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth.
Jesus gives us these warnings not to frighten us but so that we might have confidence even as the world seems to be falling apart around us. Jesus tells us beforehand that what seems permanent in this world will eventually be gone so that we do not find our confidence in anything here and now. Instead, we look forward to the perfect world to come—the world Jesus won for us with his perfect life and innocent death, the world that will never end.
Heavenly Father, remind me that this life will soon be gone. Give me hope and confidence in the life to come. Amen.