As He was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, what beautiful buildings these are! Look at the decorated stonework on the walls.” Jesus replied, “Yes, look! For not one stone will be left upon another, except as ruins.”
Mark 13:1-2 (The Living Bible)
The grandeur and majesty of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem must have been amazing. We know from first century accounts, as well as from remaining evidence of his other architectural works, about his passion for building. Herod’s expansion and beautification of the Temple in Jerusalem certainly had less to do with any devotion to God than it did with appeasing the people and creating a legacy for himself. However, it’s easy to understand how one of Jesus’ disciples could be overwhelmed with wonder at the magnificence of the Temple.
Jesus was quick to point out that for all its beauty, the Temple was just a building; a building that would in just a few decades would be utterly destroyed. This structure, which had been designed and built as a place where the visible presence of God would shine forth, had become an empty husk. The extraordinary beauty of its exterior couldn’t conceal the deeper reality – the Spirit of the Living God had departed. What Jesus’ disciple failed to perceive was that One far greater than the Temple had come, and was walking right next to him!
It is so easy for us to be distracted by externals! In our desire to “build something beautiful for God,” we can easily lose sight of the very One who has called us to the work. Too often we end up by creating an idol to our own pride. No matter how beautiful it may be, the Lord refuses to supplanted by any work of our hands. All of our best efforts will eventually crumble into dust. The Psalmist reminds us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1a).
What are you building with your life? Is it a memorial to your own greatness? Are you trying to create something for God which, no matter how beautiful it may be, He has no desire for? Allow yourself to be used by Him, but be careful not to let the works of your hands become an idol in your life. Only He deserves our worship.