The year is 2050, and Jesus has not yet returned. Things have radically changed. Muslim buildings have been completely removed from Palestine, the Jews have rebuilt a temple in Jerusalem, and the Mormons have built a temple of their own in Samaria.
What would Jesus say to them concerning the “hour”?
Can you imagine a Jew and a Mormon discussing whether either place was more appropriate to worship at? It’d be the first century all over again.
The words of Jesus two thousand years ago still ring true and relevant for today.
HankSaint asked, “Why Samaria?”, and Martin gave a great answer:
Possibly Aaron is referring to Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman (John 4:4-26) [Aaron’s note: exactly]. She asks Jesus his views on the Temple in Jerusalem, and He answers “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem (John 4:21-23).
We often intepret this as meaning that the worship of the heart is more important than the physical location of the worshipper Its a valid exegesis, but it goes from A to C whilst leaving out B.
What’s not immediately apparent from the text is that the Samaritans had actually built a Temple on Mount Gerazim to rival the one in Jerusalem. It had been destroyed by John Hyrcanus, one of the Maccabees, about 130 years earlier.
If we note the Jews’ dislike of their gentile neighbours, then the subtext of the encounter between Jesus and the woman becomes apparent. Jesus, a Jew, passes through a Samaritan town, and after a discussion about buckets and water, the woman confronts Jesus with the most important issue of her day; something like “We had a temple, but your guys came and ripped it down. Now we have to go to Jerusalem to worship, but when we do, you treat us like dirt.”
Here’s the important bit. If Jesus had been promoting a temple-building movement, he would have said something along the lines of “Your temple was illegitimate, but ours is the real deal” – kind of “our temple is better than yours”. He should have defended the Temple in Jerusalem.
But he doesn’t. In fact he removes both temples from the equation, stating that true worship doesn’t come from the Temple, it comes from the worshipper; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24).
So, Jesus did not consider the Jerusalem Temple to be an essential part of true worship. It was destroyed in AD 70, never to be rebuilt and I believe the early Christians saw this as God vindicating their message.