From Heaven With Love


Chapter 65—The Temple Cleansed Again

This chapter is based on Matthew 21:12-16, 23-46; Mark 11:15-19, 27-33; 12:1-12; Luke 19:45-48; 20:1-19.

At the beginning of His ministry, Christ had driven from the temple those who defiled it by their unholy traffic. His stern and godlike demeanor had struck terror to the scheming traders. HLv 392.1

At the close of His mission He came again to the temple and found it still desecrated as before—with the cries of animals, the sharp chinking of coin, and the sound of angry altercation. The dignitaries of the temple were themselves buying and selling. So completely were they controlled by greed of gain that in the sight of God they were no better than thieves. HLv 392.2

At every Passover and Feast of Tabernacles, thousands of animals were slain, their blood caught by the priests and poured on the altar. The Jews had almost lost sight of the fact that sin made necessary all this shedding of blood. They did not discern that it prefigured the blood of God's dear Son, to be shed for the life of the world. HLv 392.3

Jesus saw how the Jews had made these great convocations scenes of bloodshed and cruelty. They had multiplied the sacrifice of beasts, as if God could be honored by a heartless service. The priests and rulers had made the symbols pointing to the Lamb of God a means of getting gain. Thus the sacredness of the sacrificial service had been in a great measure destroyed. Jesus knew that His blood, so soon to be shed for the sins of the world, would be as little appreciated by the priests and elders as was the blood of beasts! HLv 392.4

Against these practices Christ had spoken through the prophets. Isaiah, seeing in prophetic vision the apostasy of the Jews, addressed them: “What to Me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats.” “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before My eyes.” Isaiah 1:11, 16, RSV. HLv 392.5

He who had Himself given these prophecies now for the last time repeated the warning. In fulfillment of prophecy the people had proclaimed Jesus king of Israel. He had received their homage and accepted the office of king. In this character He must act. He knew His efforts to reform a corrupt priesthood would be in vain; nevertheless, to an unbelieving people the evidence of His divine mission must be given. HLv 393.1

Again the piercing look of Jesus swept over the desecrated court of the temple. All eyes were turned toward Him. Divinity flashed through humanity, investing Christ with a dignity and glory He had never manifested before. Those nearest Him drew as far away as the crowd would permit. Except for a few of His disciples, the Saviour stood alone. The deep silence seemed unbearable. Christ spoke with a power that swayed the people like a mighty tempest: “It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” His voice sounded like a trumpet through the temple. “Take these things hence.” John 2:16. HLv 393.2

Three years before, the rulers of the temple had been ashamed of their flight before the command of Jesus. They had felt it impossible for their undignified surrender to be repeated. Yet they were now more terrified than before, and in greater haste to obey His command. Priests and traders fled, driving their cattle before them. HLv 393.3

On the way from the temple they were met by a throng who came with their sick inquiring for the Great Healer. The report given by the fleeing people caused some of these to turn back, but a large number pressed through the crowd, eager to reach Him. Again the temple court was filled by the sick and the dying, and once more Jesus ministered to them. HLv 393.4

After a season the priests and rulers ventured back to the temple. They expected Jesus to take the throne of David. Upon entering the temple, they stood transfixed. They saw the sick healed, the blind restored to sight, the deaf receive their hearing, and the crippled leap for joy. Children were foremost in the rejoicing. Jesus had healed their maladies; He had clasped them in His arms. Now with glad voices the children sounded His praise. They repeated the hosannas of the day before and waved palm branches triumphantly before the Saviour. HLv 394.1

The sound of these happy, unrestrained voices was an offense to the rulers of the temple. They represented to the people that the house of God was desecrated by the feet of the children and the shouts of rejoicing. The rulers appealed to Christ: “Hearest Thou what these say? And Jesus said to them, Yes, have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou has perfected praise?” Prophecy had foretold that Christ should be proclaimed as king, and God moved upon the children to be His witnesses. Had the voices of the children been silent, the very pillars of the temple would have sounded the Saviour's praise. HLv 394.2

The Pharisees were utterly disconcerted. Never before had Jesus assumed such kingly authority. He had done marvelous works, but never before in a manner so solemn and impressive. Though enraged and confounded, the priests and rulers were unable to accomplish anything further that day. The next morning the Sanhedrin again considered what course to pursue toward Jesus. For three years the rulers had evidences of His Messiahship. They now decided to demand no sign of His authority, but to draw out some admission or declaration by which He might be condemned. HLv 394.3

In the temple they proceeded to question Him: “By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority?” Jesus met them with a question apparently pertaining to another subject, and He made His reply conditional on their answering this question: “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” HLv 394.4

The priests saw they were in a dilemma from which no sophistry could extricate them. If they said that John's baptism was from heaven, Christ would say, Why have ye not then believed on him? John had testified of Christ, “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. If the priests believed John's testimony, how could they deny the Messiahship of Christ? HLv 395.1

If they declared their real belief, that John's ministry was of men, they would bring on themselves a storm of indignation, for the people believed John to be a prophet. The multitude knew that the priests had professed to accept John, and they expected them to acknowledge that he was sent from God. But after conferring secretly together, the priests decided not to commit themselves. Hypocritically professing ignorance, they said, “We cannot tell.” “Neither tell I you,” said Christ, “by what authority I do these things.” HLv 395.2