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Jesus christ declares: “there’s no temple that is worthy”

The Wall of Lamentations in Jerusalem, the only remains
of the famous Temple that Jesus knew.


RACHEL We continue with our exclusive coverage of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Our microphones are today located alongside the famous Wall of Lamentations, the only ruins that remain of that great Temple of Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus in the year 70. You knew this Temple well, didn’t you, Jesus?

JESUS I knew it in all its splendor, Rachel. And look what it is today. Not one stone has been left upon another, … just a piece of wall…

RACHEL Did you visit the Temple often?

JESUS That last time I was there I had a whip in my hand. The priests had turned it into a cave of thieves.

RACHEL Was it that you preferred to pray in other temples, perhaps in simpler places of worship?

JESUS No, I already told you that to speak with God I used to go up on the mountain at night. I would watch the stars, the face of the moon … I never liked temples much.

RACHEL All the same, in your name hundreds, thousands of temples have been raised all around the world. There are churches, cathedrals, basilicas, sanctuaries, oratories, chapels, …

JESUS And you say they’ve all been built in my name?

RACHEL Of course. You’ve already seen some of them around here. They’re Christian temples, in honor of you and your mother Mary.

JESUS What a terrible memory the people who built them must have! In our movement we never used to go to the temples to pray. And my mother used to pray while she was cooking the lentils or fetching water from the well.

RACHEL But the first Christians must have had temples for celebrating the Eucharist, isn’t that so?

JESUS I don’t think so, not from what they’ve told me. The early Christians used to meet in their homes. There were no temples, no altars.

RACHEL Was it because they didn’t have money to build them?

JESUS No, it was because they had enough faith not to build them. Look, I remember one time we were returning to Galilee and passing through Samaria. Between the Jews and the Samaritans, you know, there were always disputes. The Samaritans claimed that God had to be adored in the temple of Garizim, but Peter, James and the others were arguing that God had to be adored in the temple of Jerusalem.

RACHEL And as a good Jew, you preferred Jerusalem.

JESUS Not at all. I said that it was neither one place nor the other. God does not live in buildings made by human hands. God cannot be contained in churches or in synagogues. I told them that all the temple veils needed to be ripped apart.

RACHEL I have to put to you a question that our listeners must be asking themselves do you realize that the largest of all the temples built in your name is the basilica of the Vatican in Rome, where the Pope lives, the successor of Peter and your principal representative?

JESUS And what’s that temple like? Bigger than the one that used to be here in Jersusalem?

RACHEL Much, much bigger. I’ve been there. The temple that you knew would be like a toy beside the Basilica of Saint Peter. Inside it there are statues, golden altars, jewels, museums, invaluable treasures, hidden riches, …

JESUS And you say that that’s the temple of Peter, my friend from Capernaum, the fisherman?

RACHEL That’s what they call it the Basilica of Saint Peter.

JESUS Well, on behalf of my friend Peter, who’s not here, I’d certainly like to speak with that fellow who says that he represents Peter and me.

RACHEL Would you be ready for a debate at that level?

JESUS Why not? In the course of these days I’ve discovered so many unusual things that I really need to ask that Pope some questions.

RACHEL Emisoras Latinas will organize that interview. It will be a journalistic coup! Stay tuned, listeners, we’ll inform you in good time. And while we await that moment, this has been Rachel Perez reporting for from Jerusalem.


ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.

*More information about this polemical topic…*

Sacred spaces
There are two types of sacred spaces: those offered by nature (a mountain, a river, a cave) and those built by human communities. A temple is a building that some religion considers “sacred” because it is special, “separated”, “consecrated”. It is sacred because “God is there” or because it is a place where people can communicate with God by saying prayers, performing sacrifices or practicing other rites. It is sacred also because the priests (“sacred” persons) carry out their activities there. The religions of the ancient world had temples; this was true in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and all the ancient civilizations. In Galilee, where he lived his whole life, Jesus was familiar with synagogues, not temples; synagogues were buildings that were also considered “sacred”, although not nearly so sacred as the great temple of Judaism, the Jerusalem Temple.

The synagogues
About 500 years before the time of Jesus the first Temple of Jerusalem, which had been built by King Solomon, was destroyed, and many people were deported from Israel to Babylon. As a result, the Jews began to build synagogues in the towns and villages; these were simple houses of worship where people could come together to pray and read the scriptures. No sacrifices were offered in the synagogues. In the time of Jesus, although there was already a new Temple in Jerusalem, there were a great many synagogues throughout the country.
In the synagogue all the people assembled on Saturdays to recite prayers and to listen to the rabbi or some other man who might want to make commentaries on the scriptural texts that had been read. In several gospel accounts Jesus appears in the synagogue of Nazareth or in that of Capernaum.
The synagogue was not much like present-day Christian temples. It was a place that was more informal, more unaffected, and more lay-oriented. There one could speak freely, and there was no need for a sacred minister to be preside.

The Temple of Jerusalem
The Jerusalem Temple that Jesus knew was a grandiose construction of King Herod the Great, which was built on the site of the Solomon’s first Temple. The Temple with its courtyards took up one-fifth of the area of the walled city. It was the nation’s religious center, but also its financial center, since the Temple treasury was located there, next to the great courtyard which women and Gentiles could enter; this was where the Israelites turned in their donations for the cult. The country’s most powerful people donated to the Temple incalculable wealth in the form of coins and precious objects. The treasury also provided banking functions, and many people deposited their possessions there for safekeeping, especially the families belonging to the aristocracy and the priestly caste. As a result, the Temple was the most important financial institution of the country.
In all the gospel accounts where Jesus appears in or around the Temple, he is portrayed as critical of all that went on there. At the end of his life Jesus performed the bold gesture of driving out of the Temple precincts the money-changers and others who carried on the economic operations that enriched the priestly caste. With that dramatic act Jesus signed his death warrant.

There shall not be left one stone upon another
The Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by the Roman legions of the emperor Titus in the year 70 CE, when the Romans ferociously quelled the rebellion of the nationalist Zealot movement. The whole city of Jerusalem was razed as a result of that violent confrontation. Jerusalem’s definitive destruction took place about 60 years later, during the final insurrection of the Zealots.
Jesus did not actually “predict” that this would happen (There shall not be left one stone upon another, Luke 21,5-11), but since the gospels were written after this devastation took place, the “prediction” was put on Jesus’ lips by the evangelists, in order to lend more authority to his outspoken criticism of the opulence and power of the Temple. Today the only part of that grandiose building that has been preserved is a piece of the western wall, called the Wall of Lamentations by the Jews. Before its immense stones faithful Jews come together daily to pray.

God is not in any temple
About four centuries before the time of Jesus, the Samaritan community separated itself decisively from the Jewish community and built its own temple on Mount Garizim. This separation was the culmination of a religious schism that divided the two peoples from one another. From that point on tensions increased, so that by the time of Jesus the enmity between them was quite strong. It was expressly forbidden that a Jew marry a Samaritan, because the Jews considered the Samaritans impure, pagan and even foreign, despite the fact that both peoples came from the same bloodline.
The temple of Garizim was a rival to the one in Jerusalem, and around 129 BCE it was destroyed by the Jewish king John Hircanus. About the time that Jesus was a boy, the Samaritans took revenge by scattering the bones of dead people in the Jerusalem Temple to defile it. It was with this background of religious tensions that Jesus spoke freely and cordially with a Samaritan woman (John 4,1-30), a conversation that caused scandal among those of his movement.
On that occasion Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God was not to be adored in any temple, but was to be experienced in human relations of justice and equality. This principle of worship is rejected even in our present day by the hierarchs of the Christian churches, who continue to build costly temples and to teach that they are sacred spaces where people may find God. Naturally, since those temples are also the places where alms and tithes are collected, donations are received and consciences are controlled.

Neither temples nor altars
Following the teachings of Jesus, the first Christians had no temples. Stephen, one of the first leaders of the Christian communities, taught that God does not dwell in buildings made by human hands (Acts 7,48-49). In early Christianity there were no temples and no altars; rather, the people gathered together in their own homes around a simple table. Paul insisted that Christians themselves were the true temples of God (1 Corinthians 3,16-17), and even in the third century – according to the Didascalia — the Syrian Christians held that widows, orphans, the poor and the elderly were “the only altar of God”.

The Vatican Basilica
Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the center of the Vatican state and the largest and most visited temple of the Catholic world. It was built over the course of several centuries and finished in 1626. It began simply as a monument commemorating the place where Peter was buried, according to tradition. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century, the emperor Constantine had a basilica built in that place, designed after the buildings dedicated to the worship of the Roman gods. In the fifteenth century the Popes decided to demolish that first temple in order to raise a much larger one, which would be in accord with the ecclesiastical power exercised by Rome, which by that time dominated all of Europe.
The funds to construct the enormous basilica that we know today came from the sale of indulgences which people bought to have souls released from purgatory; such indulgences were sold throughout Europe. Outstanding architects and artists took part in the construction of the Vatican Basilica: Bramante, Raphael, Sangallo, Michelangelo. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the gigantic plaza and the colonnade.