As we conclude our study of Mark 11, we want to highlight four points that Jesus makes in the remaining verses (22 through 25), which indicate that a new temple is being instituted.
First, the old temple is condemned.
If we have not gotten the picture yet, Jesus further pronounces judgment on the temple. In verse 23a, he says “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea.’” What is this mountain? What mountain is Jesus referring to? The best way to answer this question is to see it in its context. What has Jesus been addressing this whole time in the passage? The temple. Thus, we can observe that Jesus is directly referring to the temple mount, that mountain where the temple was situated. Jesus is saying that this mountain where the temple lays will be thrown into the sea. That is judgment language. Not a literal overthrowing into the sea. Jesus has condemned the temple.
Second, faith transforms people into the new temple of God (verse 22).
Since Jesus has judged the temple for its lack of fruit, since the temple is not fulfilling its God-given purpose, if people have faith in God, God will transform them into a human temple. The community of God, the people of God will replace the temple. That’s what Jesus says in verse 23. It will be as if believers are casting the temple into the sea. The temple is metaphorically thrown into the sea so that God can reside with people. By trusting in God by faith, God will come and dwell within people. The old temple will be done away with, and believers will be the new temple. We know this to be true because of what happens at Jesus’ death. In Mark 15:37–38, two things actually die at the cross – Jesus and the old temple. When Jesus dies, the curtain of the temple is completely torn, thus signaling the end of the old temple. Now, this side of the cross, the community of faith becomes the temple of God. God’s presence now resides in believers. This is radical and revolutionary. This is why the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead. So it is faith, and faith alone that transforms people into temples of God. It is faith in God and what He has done through Jesus that makes us temples of God.
Third, the community of faith becomes the place of prayer.
Look how verse 24 emphasizes “you”, meaning “believers”. The old temple was the place where prayer was supposed to happen. We say that back in Mark 11:17 when Jesus says “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” But the temple did not fulfill this, which prompted Jesus to condemn it, and since the old temple has been condemned, Jesus makes believers the new place of prayer.
Fourth, the Christian community becomes the place of forgiveness (verse 25).
Not only did prayer take place at the old temple, its primary function was to offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. The temple was the divinely instituted place for sacrifices. However, Jesus has now become the divinely instituted place where forgiveness is found. Jesus is the source of forgiveness. His sacrificial death on the cross secures forgiveness for sins. The old sacrificial system is no longer needed. Jesus is our once and for all Passover Lamb.
Now what’s astonishing is that Jesus states that forgiveness extends through His disciples. In other words, disciples offer forgiveness. Jesus is most definitely the place of forgiveness, but He also suggests that His disciples are the place of forgiveness. It is not that believers die for peoples’ sin. Rather, it does mean that as believers forgive others and speak about Jesus’ sacrificial death, they offer forgiveness. Let us repeat that again. Believers offer Christ’s forgiveness by forgiving others who have sinned against them, and furthermore believers offer forgiveness by speaking the gospel. Therefore, we discover that the Christian community becomes the place of forgiveness. These four points indicate that the people of God become the new temple. Believers are the new temple! Amen?