Parents often feel compelled to bring souvenirs home for the kids. As a kid, I always hoped for something awesome, but I came to expect the last-minute purchase from the airport. Once in a while, however, we would get something specific and relevant to the country where they traveled. For example, my parents traveled to the Promised Land in Israel when I was young. They passed out several gifts upon their return. When I received mine, I remember my father’s proud face as he handed it to me. It was a small package, not bigger than a handful and heavy for its size. The simple paper wrapping pulled away easily revealing a polished stone. It had clearly been broken off something, as one side was unfinished with jagged edges. I am sure that my bewilderment prompted my father to explain, “now BJ, that is really special. That piece of marble that you are holding is a piece of Solomon’s temple.” What, seriously?! My response was something like, “no way, dad, you got ripped off!”
Maybe it was the audacity of my dad’s claim, that earned small, polished and broken rock a piece of real estate on my desk for the last 30 years. Seeing it gives me pause, prompting me to think about the Temple that Solomon built. Based on the last several day’s reading, the Temple’s size and opulence were second to none. Far beyond what I can imagine. When I try, I wonder where this particular chunk of marble was. Perhaps my rock was part of the many great columns, or maybe the flooring, or even a toilet. Could it have been more important to the Temple’s purpose near the altar? It may have been any of these things, but it doesn’t matter. Solomon’s temple is irrelevant. It’s gone. Time and men reduced all of that work and splendor to this small, broken and useless rock.
This small rock also serves to remind me of the temporal nature of this world. Nothing we build or accomplish, no matter how noble the purpose, will last. Yet, there is hope. Today, Luke 22 begins to document the origin of our hope. No longer do we need an opulent temple to sacrifice countless animals so that we can get close to God. Jesus is doing that work instead. Jesus, now arrested, goes willingly. Jesus goes because of his great love for each of us. He goes to pour his life out so that we can live ours. It is not temporary, it is eternal.