Humble Hero


Financial Corruption at the Heart of God’s Work

Sharp bargaining, the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, the cooing of doves, mingled with the chinking of coin and angry disputing. The confusion was so great that the uproar drowned out the words directed to the Most High. The Jews rejoiced over their temple and regarded a word spoken in criticism of it as blasphemy, but the love of money had overruled their concerns for its honor. They had wandered far from the purpose of the service that God Himself had established. Wherever God reveals His presence, the place is holy. See Exodus 19:12, 13. God’s temple grounds should have been regarded as sacred. But in their hurry to get rich, all this was forgotten. HH 64.5

The priests and rulers should have corrected the abuses of the temple court and given the people an example of integrity. Instead of watching out for their own profit, they should have been ready to help those who were not able to buy the required sacrifices. But greed had hardened their hearts. HH 65.1

Those who were in poverty and distress—the blind, the lame, the deaf—came to this feast. Some were brought on beds. Many were too poor to buy the humblest offering for the Lord or even to buy food to satisfy their own hunger. The statements of the priests greatly distressed them. The priests boasted of their holiness, but they had no sympathy or compassion. The poor, the sick, the dying, stirred no pity in their hearts. HH 65.2

As Jesus came into the temple, He saw the unfair transactions. He saw the distress of the poor, who thought that without shedding of blood there would be no forgiveness for their sins. He saw the sacred, outer court of His temple converted into a place of unholy business. HH 65.3

Something had to be done. The worshipers offered sacrifices without understanding that they represented the only perfect Sacrifice. And among them, unrecognized and unhonored, stood the One that all their service symbolized. He saw that the offerings were perverted and misunderstood. No link connected the priests and rulers to God. Christ’s work was to establish an entirely different worship. HH 65.4

With a searching glance, Christ took in the scene before Him. With prophetic eye, He looked into future years, centuries, and ages. He saw how priests and rulers would forbid the gospel to be preached to the poor, how the love of God would be concealed from sinners, and people would put His grace up for sale. His face showed indignation, authority, and power. The people’s attention was drawn to Him. The eyes of those engaged in their unholy business were riveted on His face. They felt that this Man read their inmost thoughts and discovered their hidden motives. Some tried to hide their faces. HH 65.5

The sound of selling and bargaining stopped. The silence became painful. It was as if the assembly were arraigned before God’s court of justice. Looking at Christ, they saw divinity flash through humanity. The Majesty of heaven stood as the Judge will stand at the last day—not encircled with the glory that He will have then, but with the same power to read the soul. His eye took in every individual. His form seemed to rise above them in commanding dignity, and a divine light illuminated His countenance. His clear, ringing voice—the same that had proclaimed the law on Mount Sinai—echoed through the temple: “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” HH 65.6

Raising the whip of cords that He had gathered up on entering the temple grounds, Jesus ordered the bargainers to leave the temple. With a zeal and severity He had never before shown, He overthrew the tables of the money-changers. The coins fell, ringing sharply on the marble pavement. No one questioned His authority. None dared stop to gather up their ill-gotten gain. Jesus did not strike them with the whip of cords, but in His hand that simple scourge seemed like a flaming sword. Officers of the temple, priests, brokers, and cattle traders, with their sheep and oxen, rushed from the place with the one thought of escaping from the condemnation of His presence. HH 66.1