The Bible Echo


October 1, 1894

Dedication Sermon


[Preached at Prospect Church, N.S.W., September 16, 1894.]

“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen, sheep, an doves, and the changers of money sitting; and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise.” BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 1

These were the words Christ spoke at the first cleansing of the temple; and at the second cleansing, just prior to His crucifixion, He said unto them, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” That was a very decided statement of condemnation. Why was it that Christ's indignation was stirred as He came into the temple courts?—He saw in it the dishonour of God and the oppression of the people. He heard the lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the sheep, and the altercations between those who were buying and selling. In the courts of God even the priests and rulers were engaged in traffic. As Christ's eye swept over that scene, His appearance attracted the attention of the multitude, and suddenly every voice was hushed, and every eye was fastened upon Him. When once their attention was called to Him, they could not withdraw their eyes from His face; for there was something in His countenance that awed and terrified them. Who was He?—A humble Galilean, the son of a carpenter who had worked at His trade with His father; but as they gazed upon Him, they felt as though they were arraigned before the judgment bar. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 2

What was it that He saw as He looked upon that temple court converted into a place of merchandise? They were selling oxen and sheep and doves to those who would offer a sacrifice to God for their sins. There were many poor among the multitude, and they had been taught that in order to have their sins forgiven, they must have an offering and a sacrifice to present to God. Christ saw the poor and the distressed and the afflicted in trouble and dismay because they had not sufficient to purchase even a dove for an offering. The blind, the lame, the deaf, the afflicted, longed to present an offering for their sins, but the prices were so exorbitant they could not compass it. It seemed that there was no chance for them to have their sins pardoned. They knew that they were sinners, and needed an offering, but how could they obtain it? Christ's prophetic eye took in the future, took in not only the years, but the ages and the centuries. He saw the downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the world. He saw how priests and rulers and men in high position would turn away the needy from their right, and even forbid that the gospel should be preached for the poor. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 3

In the temple courts were the priests clad in their temple garments for display, and to mark out their position as priests of God. The garments of Christ were travel-stained. He had the appearance of a youthful Galilean, and yet as He took up the scourge of small cords, and stood on the steps of the temple, none could resist the authority with which He spoke, as He said, “Take these things hence,” and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and drove out the sheep and the oxen. The people looked upon Him as though spell-bound; for divinity flashed through humanity. Such dignity, such authority shone forth in the countenance of Christ, that they were convicted that He was clothed with the power of heaven. They had been taught to have great respect for the prophets, and the power displayed by Christ convinced many who had not closed their hearts against conviction, that He was one sent of God. Some said, “He is the Messiah,” and those to whom He revealed Himself were indeed convicted that He was the Teacher sent of God. But those who stifled the voice of conscience, who desired riches, and were determined to have them, no matter in what way they were to be obtained, closed the door of the heart against Him. The money-changers, who were there for the purpose of changing the Roman money for the money that was to be used in the temple, were displeased at His action. Their merchandise was robbery of the people, and they had made the house of God a den of thieves. These men beheld in Christ a messenger of vengeance, and fled from the temple as though a band of armed soldiers were on their track, The priests, the rulers, and the traffickers in merchandise also fled in dismay. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 4

When Christ expelled those who had sold doves, He said, “Take these things hence.” He did not drive the doves out as He had the oxen and the sheep, and why?—Because they were the only offering of the poor. He knew their necessities, and as the sellers were driven from the temple, the suffering and the afflicted were left in its courts. Their only hope had been to come to the temple where they might present their offering with a petition to God that they might be blessed in their fields, in their crops, in their children, and in their homes. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 5

The priest and rulers fled in terror and awe; but after they had recovered from their fright, they said, “Why did we go from the presence of that one man?” They did not know who He was. They did not know that He was a representative of the Father; that He had clothed His divinity with humanity; and yet they had a consciousness of His divine power. Christ had looked after the fleeing multitude with a heart of the tenderest pity. His heart was filled with grief that the temple service had been polluted and had misrepresented His character and mission. In His pitying love He longed to save them from their errors. He longed to save the priests and the rulers, who, while claiming to be the guardians of the people, had oppressed them, and turned aside the needy from their right. But the priests and rulers, recovering from their dismay, said, “We will return, and challenge Him, and ask Him by what authority He has presumed to expel us from the temple.” BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 6

But what a scene met their eyes as they reentered the courts of the temple. Christ was ministering to the poor, the suffering, and the afflicted. These had cried in their anguish because they could not find relief from their affliction and their sin. They had heard of this man Jesus, they had heard a rumour concerning His compassion and love. They had heard how He had healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and made the lame to walk; and one cry for pity went up from their lips. One after another they began to relate the story of their affliction, and He bent over them as a tender mother bends over her suffering child. He bade the sick and the afflicted to come forth into health and peace. He gave the suffering tender comfort. He took the little ones in His arms, and commanded freedom from disease and suffering. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to the diseased, and comfort to the afflicted. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 7

When the priests entered the temple, they heard acclamations of joy, and songs of praise. They heard men glorifying God for the wonderful works that were done among them. They heard mothers bidding their children praise their deliverer, and give thanks to Him who had brought comfort and relief, health and peace. He gave them an evidence of His divine mission. He was doing the very work which it had been prophesied that the Messiah would do. He had opened the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, and had read the description of His mission: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 8

The priests and rulers and scribes ought to have known that He was the anointed of the Lord; for they claimed to be expositors of the prophecies. The Holy Spirit also brought the prophecies to the minds of those who beheld the wonderful works of Christ in the temple. But many of them closed the heart to conviction; for they did not like Him. They questioned, What business had He to interrupt their work? The stalls were their own, and they had paid a sufficient price to the temple authorities for the privilege of selling the sacrificial offerings to the people. When they returned, they asked, “What sign showest Thou, that Thou doest these things?” Had He not given them a sign?” Had He not flashed light and sensibility into the souls of these men? But they determined not to yield to conviction, but to close the door of their hearts against Jesus. On their way to the temple, they had given vent to their hatred, and had said that they would kill Him, and be rid of the troubler. When they asked for a sign, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Their hearts were full of avarice and selfishness; they had oppressed the widow, the fatherless, and the poor, and had refused to give them an offering at the small price which they could pay. When the poor had presented their affliction to them, they had turned away as unfeeling as though the afflicted had no souls to save. They had pointed the finger of scorn at them, speaking vanity, and charging the poor with sin, declaring that their suffering and poverty was a curse from God on account of their transgression. Men who could thus deal with the afflicted, were not above planning the murder of the Son of God. Whoever indulges an unkind, unmerciful, or envious disposition, is cherishing the very same spirit that put to death the Saviour of the world. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 9

When Christ said, “Destroy this temple,” He was referring to Himself; for they had just been talking of putting Him to death. Then said the Jews, “Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days?” They were speaking of the temple at Jerusalem, but “He spake of the temple of His body. When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” But the Jews did not believe on Him. They hated Him; for He had interfered with their gain getting, and they knew that He read their hearts as an open book. BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 10

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name when they saw the miracles that He did.” He gave them Heaven's evidence of His divine mission; but He “did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and He needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man.” He had to watch them continually; for they were ever on His track, seeking for something by which they might accuse Him. The question is today, How is it with the inhabitants of the world? How do they treat the house of God? Have they not filled the churches with sacrilegious things? Have they not failed to learn the lesson of Christ, and made His Father's house, not a house of prayer, but a den of thieves? BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 11

As Christ talked with the scribes and Pharisees, His prophetic eye was taking in the future. He heard the tramp of the Roman army, and saw Jerusalem given up to their avarice. He looked forward to the time when the protecting care of God would no longer be exercised for the rebellious city. He saw that the angel of mercy would fold her wings, and take her departure. Christ looked even beyond this, He saw the inhabitants of the world just previous to His second coming, and declared that the condition of society would be similar to that of the world at the time of the flood. He said, “As the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What was it caused the destruction of the people in the world before the flood?—It was their own sin; for the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were only evil, and evil continually. They trampled upon the commands of God, as did the Jews, and suffered God's retributive judgment. “Even so shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” BEcho October 1, 1894, par. 12

(Concluded next week.)