Humble Hero


Jesus’ Last Visit to the Temple

This chapter is based on Matthew 23; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 20:45-47; 21:1-4.

It was the last day of Christ’s teaching in the temple. There stood the young Galilean, with no earthly honor or royal badge. Surrounding Him were priests in rich clothing, rulers with robes and badges, and scribes with scrolls in their hands, to which they frequently referred. Jesus stood calmly, as one holding the authority of heaven. He looked unflinchingly upon His adversaries who thirsted for His life. Their schemes to trap Him had failed. He had met challenge after challenge, presenting pure, bright truth in contrast to the darkness and errors of the priests and Pharisees. He had faithfully given the warning. Yet another work remained for Christ to do. HH 283.1

The people were charmed with His teaching, but they were greatly perplexed. They had respected the priests and rabbis, yet now they saw these men trying to discredit Jesus, whose virtue and knowledge appeared brighter with every assault. They marveled that the rulers would not believe on Jesus when His teachings were so plain and simple. They themselves did not know what course to take. HH 283.2

Christ’s purpose in the parables was to warn the rulers and instruct the people. But He needed to speak even more plainly. The people were enslaved through their blind faith in a corrupt priesthood. These chains Christ must break. “The scribes and the Pharisees,” He said, “sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” HH 283.3

The scribes and Pharisees claimed to take Moses’ place as expounders of the law, but they did not practice their own teaching. And much of what they taught was contrary to the Scriptures: “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Certain portions of the law they explained in such a way as to impose regulations on the people that they themselves secretly ignored or from which they even claimed exemption. HH 283.4

“All their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” HH 283.5

In such plain words the Savior revealed the selfish ambition that was always reaching for place and power, displaying a mock humility, while the heart was filled with greed and envy. The Pharisees were constantly scheming to secure the places of honor and special favors. Jesus rebuked this practice. HH 284.1

He also reproved the leaders’ vanity in coveting the title of rabbi, or teacher. Priests, scribes, and rulers were all brethren, children of one Father. The people were to give no man a title of honor indicating his control of their conscience or their faith. HH 284.2

If Christ were on earth today, surrounded by those who bear the title of “Reverend” or “Right Reverend,” would He not repeat His saying, “Do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ”? The Scripture declares of God, “Holy and awesome [“reverend,” KJV] is His name.” Psalm 111:9. How many who assume this title misrepresent the name and character of God! How often have worldly ambition and the lowest sins been hidden under the ornate garments of a high and holy office! HH 284.3

The Savior continued, “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Again and again Christ had taught that true greatness is measured by moral worth. In heaven’s view, greatness of character consists in living for the benefit of others. Christ the King of glory was a servant to fallen humanity. HH 284.4

“You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.” NRSV. By perverting the Scriptures, the priests and lawyers blinded the minds of those who otherwise would have received a knowledge of Christ’s kingdom. HH 284.5

You “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.” The Pharisees gained the confidence of devout widows and then presented it as a duty for them to give their property for religious purposes. Having gained control of their money, the wily schemers used it for their own benefit. To cover their dishonesty, they offered long prayers in public and made a great show of being religious. The same rebuke falls on many in our day. Their lives are stained by selfishness and greed, yet over it all they throw a garment of pretended holiness. HH 284.6