Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Last Visits of Jesus to the Temple

Matthew xxi: 18, to xxiii: 39; Mark xi: 12, to xii: 44; Luke xix: 45, to xxi: 4.

dropcap image N Monday morning, the second day of the week, Jesus rose very early in the morning and, without waiting to take his breakfast, went with his disciples from Bethany over the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. On the mountain he saw at a distance a fig-tree covered with leaves, and although it was early for figs to be ripe, he hoped that he might find upon it some figs fit to be eaten. Among the Jews, and by their law, any one passing a tree could eat of its fruit, even though he were not the owner; but he would not be allowed to carry any away.

But when Jesus came near to this tree he saw that there was no fruit upon it, neither ripe nor green, but leaves only. Then a thought came into the mind of Jesus; and he spoke to the tree, while his disciples heard his words, "No fruit shall grow on thee from this time forever." And then he walked on his way to Jerusalem. We shall see later why Jesus spoke those words, and what came from them.

You remember that when Jesus came to Jerusalem the first time after he began to preach, he found the courts of the Temple filled with people buying, and selling, and changing money, and he drove them all out. This we read in Story 116. But that had been three years before; and now when Jesus came into the Temple on the Monday morning before the Passover he found all the traders there once more, selling the oxen, and sheep, and doves for sacrifices and changing money at the tables.

And again Jesus rose up against these people who would make his Father's house a shop and a place of gain. He drove them all out; he turned over the tables of the money-changers, scattering their money on the floor; he cleared away the seats of those that were selling doves; and whenever he saw any one even carrying a jar, or a basket, or any load through the Temple, he stopped him, and made him go back. He said to all the people, "It is written in the prophets, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers!' "


Jesus drives out the traders

The Jews had made it a rule that no blind man, nor any lame man, could go into the Temple; for they thought only those perfect in body should come before the Lord. But they forgot that God looks at hearts and not at bodies. And when Jesus found that many blind and lame people were at the doors of the Temple he allowed them to come in, and made them all well.

And the little children, who always loved Jesus, saw him in the Temple, and they cried out, as they heard others crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

The chief priests and scribes were greatly displeased as they heard the voices of these children, and they said to Jesus, "Do you hear what these are saying?"

And Jesus said, "Yes; and have you never read what is written in the Psalms, 'Out of the mouth of babes and little ones, thou hast made thy praise perfect?' "

And all the common people came to hear Jesus as he taught in the Temple, and they listened to him gladly, for he gave them plain and simple teachings, with many parables or stories. But the rulers and chief priests grew more and more angry as they saw the courts of the Temple filled with people eager to hear Jesus. They tried to find some way to lay hands on Jesus, and to kill him; but they dared not while all the crowds were around him.

All that day Jesus taught the people, and when night came he went out of the city, over the Mount of Olives, to Bethany, where he was safe among his friends.

And on the next morning, which was Tuesday of the week before the Passover, Jesus again went over the Mount of Olives with his disciples. They passed the fig-tree to which Jesus had spoken such strange words on the day before. And now the disciples saw that the tree was standing, withered and dried, with its leaves dry and rustling in the wind.

"Look, Master!" said Peter.

"The fig-tree to which you spoke yesterday is withered!"

And Jesus said to them all, "Have faith in God, for in truth I say to you, that if you have faith, you shall not only do this which has been done to the fig-tree; but also, if you shall say to this mountain, 'Be moved away and thrown into the sea!' it shall be done. And all things, whatever they may be, that you ask in prayer, if you have faith, shall be given to you." Again Jesus went into the Temple and taught the people.

And Jesus gave another parable or story, that of "The Wedding Feast." He said:

"There was a certain king who made a great feast at the wedding of his son; and he sent out his servant to call those whom he had invited to the feast. But they would not come. Then he sent forth other servants, and said, 'Tell those who were invited that my dinner is all ready; my oxen are killed, and the dishes are on the table. Say to them, "All things are ready; come to the marriage-feast!" '

"But the men who had been sent for would not come. One went to his farm, another to his shop, and some of them seized the servants whom he sent, and beat them, and treated them roughly; and some of them they killed. This made the king very angry. He sent his armies, and killed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding-feast is ready, but those that were invited were not worthy of such honor. Go out into the streets, and call in everybody that you can find, high and low, rich and poor, good and bad, and tell them that they are welcome.'

"The servants went out and invited all the people of every kind, and brought them to the feast, so that all the places were filled. And to all who came they gave a wedding garment, so that every one might be dressed as was fitting before the king.

"But when the king came in to meet his guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. He said to him, 'Friend, why have you come to the feast without a wedding garment?'

"The man had nothing to say; he stood as one dumb. Then the king said to his officers, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him out into the darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For in the kingdom of God many are called, but few are chosen.' "

The enemies of Jesus thought that they had found a way to bring him into trouble, either with the people, or with the Romans, who were the rulers over the land. So they sent to him some men, who acted as though they were honest and true, but were in their hearts seeking to destroy Jesus. These men came, and they said, "Master, we know that you teach the truth, and that you are not afraid of any man. Now tell what is right, and what we should do. Ought our people, the Jews, to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?"

And they watched for his answer. If he should say, "It is right to pay the tax," then these men could tell the people, "Jesus is the friend of the Romans, and the enemy of the Jews," and then they would turn away from him. But if he should say, "It is not right to pay the tax; refuse to pay it," then they might say to the Roman governor that Jesus would not obey the laws, and the governor might put him in prison or kill him. So whatever answer Jesus might give, they hoped he might make trouble for himself.

But Jesus knew their hate and the thoughts of their hearts, and he said, "Let me see a piece of the money that is given for the tax."

They brought him a silver piece, and he looked at it, and said, "Whose head is this on the coin? Whose name is written over it?"

They answered him, "That is Caesar, the Roman emperor."

"Well, then," said Jesus, "give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and give to God the things that are God's!"


Jesus and the piece of money

They wondered at his answer, for it was so wise that they could speak nothing against it. They tried him with other questions, but he answered them all, and left his enemies with nothing to say. Then Jesus turned upon his enemies, and spoke to them his last words. He told them of their wickedness, and warned them that they would bring down the wrath of God upon them.

Jesus was in the part of the Temple called "The Treasury," because around the wall were boxes in which the people dropped their gifts when they came to worship. Some that were rich gave much money; but a poor widow came by and dropped in two little coins, the very smallest, the two together worth only a quarter of a cent. Jesus said, "I tell you in truth that this poor widow has dropped into the treasury more than all the rest. For the others gave out of their plenty, but she, in her need, has given all that she had."

And with these words Jesus rose up, and went out of the Temple for the last time. Never again was the voice of Jesus heard within those walls.


The poor widow drops in two little coins