Sabbath, March 14, 2009
“In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. Darkened and defiled by evil, the heart of man no longer revealed the glory of the Divine One. But by the incarnation of the Son of God, the purpose of Heaven is fulfilled. God dwells in humanity, and through saving grace the heart of man becomes again His temple.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 161.
GOD’S HOUSE DEFILED
1. What did Jesus encounter when He entered the temple during the Passover week? Why was this so foreign and painful to Him?
John 2:13, 14 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
“… During the Passover week large numbers assembled, coming from all parts of Palestine, and even from distant lands. The temple courts were filled with a promiscuous throng. Many were unable to bring with them the sacrifices…. For the convenience of these, animals were bought and sold in the outer court of the temple. Here all classes of people assembled to purchase their offerings. Here all foreign money was exchanged for the coin of the sanctuary.…
“And it was required that all foreign coin should be changed for a coin called the temple shekel, which was accepted for the service of the sanctuary. The money changing gave opportunity for fraud and extortion, and it had grown into a disgraceful traffic, which was a source of revenue to the priests.
“The dealers demanded exorbitant prices for the animals sold, and they shared their profits with the priests and rulers … Thus a high price for the animals could be secured; for after coming so far, the people would not return to their homes without performing the act of devotion for which they had come.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 154, 555.
JESUS’ LESSON IN CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
2. How did He act to rectify this situation?
John 2:15 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.
“A great number of sacrifices were offered at the time of the Passover, and the sales at the temple were very large. The consequent confusion indicated a noisy cattle market rather than the sacred temple of God.… So great was the confusion that the worshipers were disturbed, and the words addressed to the Most High were drowned in the uproar that invaded the temple….
“With searching glance, Christ takes in the scene before Him as He stands upon the steps of the temple court…. He sees how priests and rulers will turn the needy from their right, and forbid that the gospel shall be preached to the poor. He sees how the love of God will be concealed from sinners, and men will make merchandise of His grace. As He beholds the scene, indignation, authority, and power are expressed in His countenance.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 155, 157.
3. What clear, touching message did His words to the sellers of doves convey?
John 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
“Slowly descending the steps, and raising the scourge of cords gathered up on entering the enclosure, He bids the bargaining company depart from the precincts of the temple. With a zeal and severity He has never before manifested, He overthrows the tables of the money-changers. The coin falls, ringing sharply upon the marble pavement. None presume to question His authority. None dare stop to gather up their ill-gotten gain. Jesus does not smite them with the whip of cords, but in His hand that simple scourge seems terrible as a flaming sword. Officers of the temple, speculating priests, brokers and cattle traders, with their sheep and oxen, rush from the place, with the one thought of escaping from the condemnation of His presence.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 158.
4. What thought came to the disciples as they saw His interest in and zeal for the house of God?
John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
“In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin– from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul. ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.’ Malachi 3:1-3.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 161.
5. Instead of acknowledging their grave sin in defiling God’s holy house, what did the Jews say to Jesus? What should characterize all who serve and worship in God’s house?
John 2:18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
“The Jews were exceedingly proud of their piety. They rejoiced over their temple, and regarded a word spoken in its disfavor as blasphemy; they were very rigorous in the performance of ceremonies connected with it; but the love of money had overruled their scruples. They were scarcely aware how far they had wandered from the original purpose of the service instituted by God Himself….
“The priests and rulers were called to be the representatives of God to the nation; they should have corrected the abuses of the temple court. They should have given to the people an example of integrity and compassion. Instead of studying their own profit, they should have considered the situation and needs of the worshipers, and should have been ready to assist those who were not able to buy the required sacrifices. But this they did not do. Avarice had hardened their hearts.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 155-157.
PURIFIER AND REBUILDER
6. Explain the significance of Jesus’ answer to the Jews who asked Him for a sign of His authority to cleanse the temple.
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.
“Jesus had shown them a sign. In flashing light into their hearts, and in doing before them the works which the Messiah was to do, He had given convincing evidence of His character. Now when they asked for a sign, He answered them by a parable, showing that He read their malice, and saw to what lengths it would lead them. ‘Destroy this temple,’ He said, ‘and in three days I will raise it up.’
“In these words His meaning was twofold. He referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death–the destruction of the temple of His body….
“It was for the sake of those who should believe on Him that these words of Christ were spoken. He knew that they would be repeated. Being spoken at the Passover, they would come to the ears of thousands, and be carried to all parts of the world. After He had risen from the dead, their meaning would be made plain. To many they would be conclusive evidence of His divinity.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 164. 165.
7. From the perspective of the spiritual reformation which was the purpose of His coming to earth, what was the ultimate result of Jesus’ work?
John 2:22, 23 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. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
“… From the rent sepulcher of Joseph, Jesus came forth a conqueror. ‘Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them.’ Colossians 2:15. By virtue of His death and resurrection He became the minister of the ‘true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.’ Hebrews 8:2. Men reared the Jewish tabernacle; men builded the Jewish temple; but the sanctuary above, of which the earthly was a type, was built by no human architect. ‘Behold the Man whose name is The Branch;… He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.’ Zechariah 6:12, 13….
“While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth. He is withdrawn from the eye of sense, but His parting promise is fulfilled, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ Matthew 28:20.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 165, 166.
“‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’ 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.’ Revelation 3:20.
He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them;… and they shall be My people.’ ‘He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16; Micah 7:19. His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit.’ Ephesians 2:21, 22.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 161, 162.