From Heaven With Love


Chapter 67—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, bearing no earthly honor or royal badge. Surrounding Him were priests in rich apparel, rulers with robes and badges, and scribes with scrolls in their hands, to which they made frequent reference. Jesus stood calmly, as one invested with the authority of heaven. He looked unflinchingly upon His adversaries who thirsted for His life. Their schemes to ensnare Him had been in vain. Challenge after challenge He had met, presenting pure, bright truth in contrast to the darkness and errors of the priests and Pharisees. The warning had been faithfully given. Yet another work remained for Christ to do. HLv 408.1

The people were charmed with His teaching, but they were greatly perplexed. They had respected the priests and rabbis, yet they now saw these men trying to cast discredit on Jesus, whose virtue and knowledge shone brighter from every assault. They marveled that the rulers would not believe on Jesus, when His teachings were so plain and simple. They themselves knew not what course to take. HLv 408.2

In the parables it was Christ's purpose to warn the rulers and instruct the people. But there was need to speak yet more plainly. Through their blind faith in a corrupt priesthood, the people were enslaved. These chains Christ must break. “The scribes and the Pharisees,” He said, “sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” HLv 408.3

The scribes and Pharisees assumed to take Moses’ place as expounders of the law, but they did not practice their own teaching. And they taught much that was contrary to the Scriptures: “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, 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 so explained as to impose upon the people observances which they themselves secretly ignored or from which they actually claimed exemption. HLv 409.1

“They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one Teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one Master, the Christ.” RSV. HLv 409.2

In such plain words the Saviour revealed the selfish ambition that was ever reaching for place and power, displaying a mock humility, while the heart was filled with avarice and envy. The Pharisees were ever scheming to secure the first attention and special favors. This practice Jesus rebuked. HLv 409.3

He also reproved the vanity shown in coveting the title of rabbi, or master. 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. HLv 409.4

If Christ were on earth today, surrounded by those who bear the title of “Reverend” or “Right Reverend,” would He not repeat His saying, “Neither be called masters, for you have one Master, the Christ”? The Scripture declares of God, “Holy and reverend 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 basest sins been hidden under the broidered garments of a high and holy office! HLv 409.5

The Saviour continued: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself will be exalted.” Again and again Christ had taught that true greatness is measured by moral worth. In the estimation of heaven, greatness of character consists in living for the welfare of our fellowmen. Christ the King of glory was a servant to fallen man. HLv 410.1

“You shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” RSV. By perverting the Scriptures, the priests and lawyers blinded the minds of those who would otherwise have received a knowledge of Christ's kingdom. HLv 410.2

You “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” The Pharisees gained the confidence of pious widows, and then represented it as a duty for them to devote their property to religious purposes. Having secured 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 piety. The same rebuke falls on many in our day. Their lives are stained by selfishness and avarice, yet they throw over it all a garment of seeming piety. HLv 410.3