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    Chapter 3—Jesus and the Pharisees

    In building the temple of Solomon the stones were entirely prepared at the quarry, so that when they were brought to the place of building the workmen had only to place them in position; the hewing, squaring and polishing had all been done. “And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone-squarers. So they prepared timber and stones to build the house.” “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.”3SP 36.1

    Not an instrument was to be used upon the stone when it was brought to the place of building. One stone of irregular shape was brought from the quarry to be used in the foundation of the temple. But the workmen could find no place for it and would not accept it. There it lay unused, and the laborers passed around it or stumbled over it, greatly annoyed by its presence. Long it remained a rejected stone. But when the builders came to the laying of the corner-stone, for a long time they searched in vain for a stone of sufficient size and strength, and of the proper shape, to take that particular place and bear the great weight which would rest upon it. Should they make an unwise selection of a stone for this important place, the safety of the entire building would be endangered; they must find a stone capable of resisting the influence of the sun, frost and tempest. Several stones had been chosen at different times; but when subjected to the pressure of immense weights they had crumbled to pieces. Others would not bear the test of sudden atmospheric changes, and were therefore pronounced unfit for the place.3SP 36.2

    But there lay the stone so long rejected by the builders; it had endured exposure to the air and to the scorching rays of the sun without revealing a seam or the slightest crack. Storms had beaten upon it, yet it remained the same. The attention of the builders was finally attracted to this large stone, and they examined it closely. It had already borne every test but one. If it could bear the test of severe pressure they decided to accept if for the corner-stone. The trial was made to the satisfaction of all. The stone was accepted, brought to its assigned position and found to be an exact fit.3SP 37.1

    In prophetic vision Isaiah was shown that this stone was a symbol of the Saviour of the world. He says: “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” Carried down in prophetic vision to the first advent, the prophet is shown that Christ is to bear trials and tests of which the treatment of the chief corner-stone in the temple of Solomon is a symbol: “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste.”3SP 37.2

    God in infinite wisdom chose the foundation stone and laid it himself. He called it a “sure stone;” the entire world may lay upon it their burdens and griefs, yet it can endure them all. They may build upon this stone with perfect safety. Christ is a “tried stone,” and never disappoints those who trust in him. He has borne every test imposed upon him. He failed not in the wilderness of temptation when he endured the pressure of Adam's guilt and that of his posterity. He came off more than conqueror of the powers of evil. He has borne the burdens cast upon him by those who, falling upon this rock, have been broken. In Christ their guilty hearts have found relief. Those who make Him their foundation rest in perfect security.3SP 38.1

    Christ is represented by the chief corner-stone. Jew and Gentile must build upon this foundation, and their connection with Christ, this “precious stone” makes them living stones. Peter in the following figure clearly shows to whom Christ is a foundation stone and to whom a stone of stumbling:—3SP 38.2

    “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed.”3SP 39.1

    In revealing to the Jews their doom for rejecting the Son of God and making of him a stumbling-block, Jesus also addresses all those who are impenitent and do not accept him as their Redeemer. The fate of the unbelieving Jews will be theirs. The only safety is to build upon the right foundation. Millions are today building their hopes and prospects upon foundations that have not been tested and proven; they will soon totter and fall, bearing with them the flimsy structures built upon them.3SP 39.2

    Jesus had passively borne the abuse of sinners, just as the rejected stone had borne the abuse of the workmen who stumbled over it. But the time was to come when they would see him exalted, even as the despised and rejected stone was made the head of the corner. Then the rejectors of Christ were to be punished for their iniquity. The city and temple of the Jews were to be destroyed. The stone was to fall upon them by which all their glory would be broken and scattered as the dust which the wind driveth away.3SP 39.3

    Jesus has set before us the only true foundation upon which we may securely build. It is broad enough for all and strong enough to sustain the weight and burden of the whole world. To fall upon this stone and be broken is to give up our self-righteousness and to go to Christ with the humility of a child, repenting of our transgressions and believing in his forgiving love. All who build upon this foundation, which is Christ, become living stones by connection with Him, the chief corner-stone. Many persons are hewn, polished and beautified by their own endeavors, but they never will become “living stones” because they are not connected with Christ. When the rain falls, and the tempest rages, and the floods come they will fall in ruin because they are not riveted to the eternal rock, the chief corner-stone, Christ Jesus.3SP 40.1

    The stones were not prepared for their respective places just as they were about to be laid in the wall of the temple; all the fitting and planning was done previous to their being brought to the place of building. So it is that all the hewing, fitting and polishing of character must be done during man's probation. When Christ shall come again to earth it will not be to purify and refine the characters of men, and to fit them for Heaven. His work then will only be to change their corruptible bodies and fashion them like unto Christ's most glorious body. Only a symmetrical and perfect character will in that day entitle men to the finishing touch of immortality.3SP 40.2

    Earth is the quarry and the work-shop where men are to be fitted and refined for the courts of Heaven. As the stones composing Solomon's temple came together in the wall a perfect fit, without the touch of ax or hammer or any other instrument, so will the resurrected saints, and those who are alive at the time of his coming be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, each one fitted for the great change and taking his proper place in the temple of God's love.3SP 41.1

    But when Christ shall visit the wicked, his judgments will fall not only upon the Jews but upon all who have refused the heavenly benefits of the grace of God. The stone that was passive, bearing humbly all the abuse heaped upon it, will then lift itself in life and power above those who despised and rejected it. They will see in this their rock of offense, an avenging mountain falling upon and crushing them.3SP 41.2

    Hoping to entrap him in his words, the chief priests and rulers sent the most malicious enemies of Jesus to him, who pretended to be interested in his teachings and desiring to be profited by his divine wisdom. They expected Jesus would be deceived by their pious pretensions, thrown off his guard and led to speak that which they could take advantage of to condemn him. They were mortified and angry that they had been compelled to endure the penetrating address of Jesus, laying bare their true condition and condemning their wickedness, yet were utterly unable to refute his words.3SP 41.3

    They privately arranged with the Herodians to accompany them and hear the words of Jesus, that they might be witnesses against him when he should be arraigned on trial for his life. The Pharisees had ever fretted and chafed under the exaction of taxes or tribute by the Romans. They took the position that it was contrary to the law of God. They now laid a snare by which they thought Jesus would surely become entangled and offend either the Jewish laws or the Roman authority. The spies came to him in a most courteous manner and expressed great confidence in his teachings. After plying him with flattery as to his straightforward course, irrespective of the favor or frowns of men, they, with an assumed candor, asked as if for information, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?”3SP 41.4

    But their wicked device was plain to the Saviour, and turning upon them he answered them, “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute money.” Thrown off their guard by the unexpected manner in which Jesus met their advances, and which plainly showed that he was not deceived for a moment by their specious flattery, his questioners immediately brought him a coin bearing the image and superscription of the Roman ruler. “And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.”3SP 42.1

    The wily spies felt themselves baffled and defeated. The summary way in which their question had been settled left nothing farther for them to say. Their plans were all disarranged. They had expected Jesus to answer their question directly in one way or the other. If he should say, It is unlawful to give tribute unto Caesar, there were those present whose task it was to immediately bear the report to the Roman authorities, and have Jesus arrested at once as one who was creating rebellion among the Jews. This they hoped would insure his condemnation. But in case he should say, It is lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, they designed to call the attention of the Jewish people to his decision, and accuse him as one opposed to the divine law.3SP 42.2

    Jesus read their motives, and, holding in his hand the Roman coin, upon which was stamped the name and image of Caesar, declared that, as they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as it did not conflict with their duty to God. But that they should at all times render obedience to God, answering his claims, yet peaceably subject to the laws of the land. His interrogators, unprepared for this response of Jesus, “marveled and left him, and went their way.” Although the wrath of the priests and rulers knew no bounds, and they longed to seize Jesus and slay him with their own hands to avenge themselves for the mortification he had caused them, yet they dared not attack him before the crowd. With a masterly effort they maintained a fair exterior while they went about laying plans to destroy him.3SP 43.1

    The Saviour knew just what answer would meet the exigencies of the case. He gave no advantage to either the Roman or Jewish power. His answer to the intriguing Jews, “Render unto God the things which are God's,” was a severe rebuke to them. Had they answered the claims of God and faithfully fulfilled their obligations to him, they would not have become a broken nation, subject to a foreign power. No Roman ensign would have waved over Jerusalem, no Roman sentinel would have stood at her gates, no Roman governor ruled within her walls. The Jewish nation was then paying the penalty of its apostasy from God.3SP 43.2

    But no sooner were the Pharisees silenced than the Sadducees came with their artful questions, seeking to entrap the Saviour. The Sadducees were a sect of the Jews that differed materially in faith from the Pharisees. The only bond of union between the two seemed their mutual opposition to the Saviour and his teachings, and their desire to put him to death. The Pharisees placed their traditions on a level with the law of God, and frequently made them take the place of the law. Jesus had declared that they made void the law of God by their traditions, external ceremonies, divers washings, fastings and long prayers, ostentatious alms-giving and rigorous seclusion from the Gentiles. These constituted the main features of their religion. In superstition and formality they resembled the Roman Catholic church of the present time. But among them were some of genuine piety who received the teachings of Christ.3SP 44.1

    The Sadducees had no respect for the traditions of the Pharisees. They professedly believed the greater portion of the Scriptures and regarded them as their rule of action; yet they denied the existence of angels, and also the resurrection of the body, in which the Pharisees firmly believed. The Sadducees rejected the doctrine of a future life, with its rewards and punishments.3SP 44.2

    They believed in God as the only being superior to man; but they claimed that, having created man, God left him to pursue his own course. They argued that an overruling Providence sustaining the machinery of the universe, and a foreknowledge of events would deprive man of free moral agency, and lower him to the position of a slave. They therefore disconnected the Creator from the creature, maintaining that man was independent of a higher influence; that his destiny was in his own hands. Denying as they did that the Spirit of God worked through human efforts, or natural means, they still held that man, through the proper employment of his own natural powers, could become elevated and enlightened, and that his life could be purified by rigorous and austere exactions.3SP 44.3

    There was but little union among them; a people who refused to acknowledge the influence of the Spirit of God upon the actions of men, would have but little respect for the opinions and feelings of one another. They lived for themselves; their natural sympathies were brought within a narrow compass; their hearts were not touched by the sorrow and want of others; for in their belief it was possible for all to secure the comforts and blessings of life.3SP 45.1

    In common with the rest of the Jews, the Sadducees boasted much upon their birthright as children of Abraham after the flesh, and upon the strictness with which they observed the outward requirements of the law; but their views were inconsistent and heterogeneous. They entirely rejected the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, and reasoned that if the same particles of matter which constituted the mortal body must also compose the future immortal being, then that body must have flesh and blood, and resume in the eternal world the carnal life interrupted on earth, all the frailties and passions of this life being perpetuated in the life beyond.3SP 45.2

    In the days of Christ the Sadducees loved controversy, and vehemently urged their objections to the resurrection of the dead. In their discussions with the Pharisees, the latter became confused in their faith concerning the future state of the dead. Death became to them a dark and unexplainable mystery. They learned to look upon it as the most dreaded calamity which could come upon man.3SP 46.1

    But life and immortality were brought to light through Jesus Christ. Those who accepted him as the world's Redeemer saw more clearly than before the future life of the resurrected dead. Christ passing through death, coming forth from the grave, and appearing again to man in his own person, and as such ascending to the Father, forever settles the sacred facts of the resurrection and the future, immortal life of the just, in the the minds of all who believe in Christ.3SP 46.2

    The Sadducees were very annoying to the Pharisees, because the latter could not prevail over them in argument. The discussions between the two parties usually resulted in angry disputation, and left them further apart than before. But many of the Sadducees, living only for this life, were wealthy and influential; they were therefore eligible to the office of high priest with the express stipulation that their infidel views should not be made prominent. As the Pharisees were far more numerous, the Sadducees were to concede to their doctrines outwardly when holding any priestly office. But the very fact of their being eligible to such office gave influence to their erratic views. Had the Pharisees been pure in life they might have been able to enlighten the Sadducees; but as it was they had little influence over them.3SP 46.3

    The teachings of Jesus were utterly refused by the Sadducees, as he was animated by a spirit which they refused to acknowledge as manifesting itself thus. They conceived of God as a Supreme Being, exalted above man, and unapproachable by him. Having created man, he left him to control his own life, and shape the events of the world. The doctrine of Christ directly opposed the belief of the Sadducees. The word and works of Christ testified to a divine power which accomplishes miraculous results, of a future, eternal life exalted above the finite life, of God as a Father to the children of men, watchful of their true interests, and guarding them. He taught that God was a rewarder of the righteous, and a punisher of the transgressor. He was not an intangible spirit, but a living ruler of the universe. This gracious Father was constantly working for the good of man, and mindful of all that concerns him. The very hairs of his head are numbered. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of the Heavenly Father, and man is more valuable than many sparrows. Jesus presented before them their ignorance of the Scriptures in assigning to human power that which could be wrought only through the power of the Spirit of God. He declared that their confusion of faith and darkness of mind resulted mainly from this cause, and that spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.3SP 47.1

    All that blessed the life of man was given by his Heavenly Father. He gave the bright sunshine to warm the earth. He sent the showers which caused vegetation to flourish. Angels of God were continually ministering to the children of men, keeping up the connection between Heaven and earth, uniting finite man with the Infinite God. Yet, while God had a care over the temporal interests of man, Jesus expressly taught that he had much greater care for his eternal interests.3SP 48.1

    The Sadducees had arranged their questions so that they felt confident of bringing Jesus into disrepute by answering them, if they were not the direct means of condemning him. Should he agree with them in regard to the resurrection of the dead, he would be entirely cut off from any fellowship with the Pharisees. Should he differ from them, they designed to present his faith to the people in a ridiculous light, and turn their influence against him by showing the apparent absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. They were accustomed to dispute upon this point, and their arguments were greatly dreaded by those who believed in the literal resurrection of the identical body which had moldered away in the grave.3SP 48.2

    The Sadducees reasoned that if the dead were raised with bodies formed of the same particles of matter of which they had formerly been composed, and were actuated by the same propensities, then the relationships of the earthly life would be resumed, husband and wife would be united, marriage would be consummated, and all the affairs of life would go on the same as before death. From this belief they shrank with repugnance, and, in their efforts to grasp a higher ideal, groped in thick darkness.3SP 48.3

    But, in answer to their questions on this point, Jesus lifted the veil from the future life and said to them, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven.” He unhesitatingly showed that the Sadducees were wrong in their belief. He proved their premises to be false and the structure of their faith to be built upon a false foundation. “Ye do err,” said he, “not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” He did not charge them with hypocrisy as he had charged the Pharisees, but with error of belief.3SP 49.1

    The Sadducees had flattered themselves that, of all men living, they were strictly adherent to the Scriptures; but Jesus declared that they had not known their true interpretation. That knowledge must be brought home to the heart by the enlightening power of the grace of God. The Sadducees were seeking to bring the mysteries of God to a level with their finite reasoning instead of opening their minds to the reception of those sacred truths by which their understanding would have been expanded. Thousands become infidels because their finite minds cannot fathom the hidden mysteries of God. They cannot explain the wonderful exhibition of divine power, as manifested in the providences of God, and they therefore reject the evidences of such power, and attribute all to some natural agency which they can comprehend still less. Man should accept God as the Creator of the universe, One who commands and executes all things. He should get broad views of the character of God and the mysteries of his agencies.3SP 49.2

    Christ would teach his questioners that if there be no resurrection of the dead, the Scriptures which they profess to believe would be of no avail. Said he, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” The precious dead, from Abel down to the last saint who dies, will hear the voice of the Son of God, and will come forth from their graves and live again. God will be their God and they shall be his people. There will be a close and tender relationship between God and his resurrected saints. This is in accordance with the divine plan.3SP 50.1

    The dignity and power with which Jesus opened to the darkened minds of his hearers the truths of the Scriptures concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the divine power exercised in the temporal affairs of life, astonished his audience and put the Sadducees to silence. They had not a word to answer him. “But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.” They thought it would not do for Jesus to take the field of contest in so victorious a manner. In the dispute with the Sadducees they had prevailed nothing against him, but were themselves put to confusion, and their ignorance made manifest by the wisdom of his answers. Not a word had been spoken of which the least advantage could be taken to use in the condemnation of Jesus. His adversaries had gained nothing but the contempt of the people.3SP 50.2

    But the Pharisees did not yet despair of driving him to speak that which they could use against him. They prevailed upon a certain learned scribe to question Jesus, as to which of the ten precepts was of the greatest importance.3SP 51.1

    The Pharisees had exalted the first four commandments, which point out the duty of man to his Maker, as of far greater importance than the other six, which point out the duty of man to his fellow-man. In consequence they greatly failed of practical godliness, and in the relations and duties of life. Jesus had been charged with exalting the last six commandments above the first four, because he showed the people their great deficiency, and taught the necessity of good works, deeds of mercy and benevolence, and that a tree is known by its fruits.3SP 51.2

    The learned lawyer approached Jesus with a direct question: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” The answer of Jesus is as direct and forcible: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”3SP 51.3

    He here explicitly shows the questioner the two great principles of the law: Love to God and love to man. Upon these two principles of God's moral government hang all the law and the prophets. The first four commandments indicate the duty of man to his Creator; and the first and great commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. This love is not a passion, nor a fruitless faith in the existence and power of God, a cold acknowledgment of his boundless love; but it is a living, active principle, manifested in willing obedience of all his requirements.3SP 51.4

    Jesus taught his hearers that not one of the precepts of Jehovah could be broken without violating one or both of the great principles upon which rested the whole law and the prophets: Love to God and love to man. Every precept is so connected with the others in meaning and obligation that in breaking one, the whole is broken; for they are all united in one symmetrical body. It is impossible for man to love God with all his heart and yet to have other gods before the Lord. This supreme love to God does not consist in a mere acknowledgment of his universal power, and the offering of a prescribed form of worship to him, while the heart finds delight in serving idols. Self-love, love of the world, or an undue affection for any created thing, is idolatry in the sight of God, and separates the affections from him. God requires the heart's best and holiest affections, and he will accept nothing less. He must reign supreme in the mind and heart.3SP 52.1

    If the first commandments are loyally observed, the other six, which define the duty of man to his fellow-man, will be as faithfully observed. When God has his rightful place on the throne of the heart the duties assigned in the last six commandments will be performed as there directed. Love to God comprehends love for those who are formed in his own image. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?” Thus Christ taught that the last six commandments are like unto the first. The two commandments which he indicated are two great principles springing from one root. The first cannot be kept and the second broken, nor the second kept while the first is broken.3SP 52.2

    The scribe was well read in the law, and he was astonished at the answer of Jesus; for he had not expected to find him possessed of so deep and thorough a knowledge of the Scriptures as was indicated by his answer. The learned lawyer was much impressed by the wisdom of the youthful Galilean; and before the assembled priests and rulers he honestly acknowledged that Jesus had given the right interpretation of the law. This scribe had received a deeper and broader view of the principles underlying the sacred precepts than he had ever before possessed, and he responded to the words of Jesus with unfeigned earnestness:—3SP 53.1

    “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God; and there is none other but he. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.” Here was a Pharisee who had some idea of what constitutes true religion; that it is not in outward ceremonies and vain display, but in humble obedience and love to God, and unselfish regard for others. The readiness of the scribe to acknowledge the reasoning of Jesus as correct, the decided and prompt response to that reasoning which he made before the people, manifested an entirely different spirit from that shown by the priests and rulers in their questioning.3SP 53.2

    The wisdom of the Saviour's answers convicted the scribe. He knew that the Jewish religion consisted more in outward acts than inward piety. He had some sense of the unworthiness of merely ceremonial offerings, and the continual flowing of blood in expiation of sin, while the object of the offering was foreign from the mind. The principles of love and true goodness of heart appeared to him of more value in the sight of God than all these rites. The heart of Jesus went out in pity to the honest scribe who dared to face the frowns of the priests and threats of the rulers, and speak the honest convictions of his heart. “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.”3SP 54.1

    What the scribe needed was the touch of divine enlightenment which would enable him to feel the need of repentance for sin and faith in the Saviour; that no man can be saved through the law but through repentance and faith toward Christ, the sinner's Advocate with the Father. The scribe was near to the kingdom of God, in that he recognized deeds of righteousness to be more acceptable to God than burnt-offerings and sacrifices. Yet he still needed to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. All the religious service of the Jews was of no value whatever unless connected with living faith in Christ Jesus, who was the substance of which that service was the shadow. Christ had repeatedly shown that his Father's law contained something deeper than mere authoritative commands. The moral law contains the gospel in principle.3SP 54.2

    The Pharisees had gathered close about Jesus as he answered the questions of the scribe. He now turned to them and put them a question: “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” Jesus was evidently testing the faith of the Pharisees in his divinity, whether they regarded him simply as a man, or the divine Son of God. A chorus of voices answered simultaneously, “The son of David.” This was the title which prophecy had given to the Messiah. When Jesus had revealed his divinity by his mighty miracles, when the sick were healed and the dead restored to life, the people had marveled and inquired among themselves, “Is not this the son of David?” The Syrophenician woman, blind Bartimeus, and many others had cried aloud to him for help, “Thou son of David, have mercy on me!” Only a few hours before, while riding into Jerusalem, he had been hailed with joyful “Hosannas to the son of David, Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord,” and the little children in the temple had that day echoed the same glad shouts.3SP 55.1

    In reply to the answer of the people, that Christ was the son of David, Jesus said: “David in Spirit [the Spirit of inspiration from God,] called him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. If David then called him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.”3SP 55.2

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