Ellen G. White Writings

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Humble Hero, Page 121

and women appreciate the great salvation Jesus has provided, their lives will reflect the self-sacrifice of His life. Wherever He leads the way, they will follow.

The call of Matthew made many people angry. For Christ to choose a tax collector as one of His closest companions was an offense against religious, social, and national customs. By appealing to prejudice, the Pharisees hoped to turn popular feeling against Jesus. But Jesus’ choice created widespread interest among the publicans. In the joy of his new discipleship, Matthew made a feast at his house and called together his relatives, friends, and former associates. Not only were tax collectors included, but many others who were shunned by their more scrupulous neighbors.

External Distinctions Meant Nothing

The feast was given in honor of Jesus, and He did not hesitate to accept. He knew very well that it would give offense to the Pharisees and their followers and would also make the people question what He was doing. But no political concerns could influence His movements.

Jesus sat as an honored guest at the table of the publicans. By sympathy and social kindliness, He showed that He recognized the dignity of humanity, and people longed to become worthy of His confidence. His presence awakened new impulses and opened the possibility of a new life to these outcasts of society.

Many people were impressed who did not acknowledge the Savior until after His ascension. When three thousand were converted in a day, many of them had first heard the truth at the table of the tax collectors. To Matthew himself, the example of Jesus at the feast was a constant lesson. The despised publican became one of the most devoted evangelists, following in his Master’s steps.

Attempt to Alienate Disciples

The rabbis grasped the opportunity to accuse Jesus, but they chose to work through the disciples. By stirring up their prejudices, they hoped to alienate them from their Master. “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” they questioned.

Jesus did not wait for the disciples to answer. He replied Himself: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. ... I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The Pharisees claimed to be spiritually whole and therefore to have no need of a physician, but they regarded the tax collectors and Gentiles as dying from diseases of the soul. Then was it not His work, as a Physician, to go to the very people that needed His help?

Jesus said to the rabbis, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ “They claimed to expound the Word of God, but they were completely ignorant of its spirit.

The Pharisees were silenced for the time but were only the more determined in their hostility. They next tried to turn the disciples of John the Baptist against the Savior. These Pharisees had pointed with scorn to the Baptist’s simple habits and coarse

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