John 2:18-22 : The Jews therefore answered him, “What sign do you show us, seeing that you do these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! Will you raise it up in three days?” But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
These Jewish leaders didn’t really want a sign from Jesus because when they asked Him to provide a sign and He responded, they mocked His answer. They thought that He was bragging about His ability to rebuild the temple building.
The fearful thing is that they were mocking one who was talking about bringing the dead back to life. It’s easy for me to understand that a person who can bring the dead back to life has authority. It would be a frightening thing to be fighting against a person who cannot die and that is exactly what they were doing. Their minds must have been cloudy because we will see that they continued this behavior to an even greater degree when an impressive sign was done later on.
Bible History: The temple at that time took 46 years to build. This was, evidently, Herod’s temple project we know from other sources. Talking about it this way may have made him angry and King Herod wasn’t someone that you would like to fight against you, on top of that he was to become paranoid about Jesus (Mark 6:16). The Herod family had very bad history and Jesus was already protected from being destroyed by an earlier king in that family (Matthew 2:16). This was also the one who would kill John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-29). This argument was later to be used as an accusation before Jesus’ execution (Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:58). Jesus not only had authority, He had courage too.
Important Bible Fact: The Bible says that Jesus’ body died and came back to life. The reference here is to a physical resurrection and disproves the argument that Jesus came back only as a spirit as some say. To disbelieve the physical resurrection is to disbelieve the Bible. John’s other Bible book: 1 John, has even more to say on this topic.