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Humble Hero

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    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.HH 121.5

    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?HH 121.6

    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.HH 121.7

    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 garments and had declared him a fanatic. They had tried to stir up the people against him. The Spirit of God had moved on the hearts of these scorners, convicting them of sin, but they had declared that John was devil-possessed.HH 121.8

    Now when Jesus came mingling with the people, eating and drinking at their tables, they accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard. They would not consider that Jesus was eating with sinners in order to bring the light of heaven to those who sat in darkness. They would not consider that every word dropped by the divine Teacher was living seed that would germinate and bear fruit to the glory of God. They had determined not to accept the light, and although they had opposed the mission of the Baptist, they were now ready to cultivate the friendship of his disciples, hoping to win their cooperation against Jesus. They claimed that Jesus was setting aside the ancient traditions, and they contrasted the austere piety of the Baptist with how Jesus feasted with publicans and sinners.HH 122.1

    At this time the disciples of John were in great sorrow. With their beloved teacher in prison, they spent their days in mourning. And Jesus was making no effort to release John. He even appeared to discredit his teaching. If John had been sent by God, why did Jesus and His disciples follow a course so widely different? The disciples of John thought there might be some basis for the Pharisees’ charges. They observed many rules established by the rabbis.HH 122.2

    The Jews practiced fasting as an act of merit. The most rigid of them fasted two days every week. The Pharisees and John’s disciples were fasting when the latter came to Jesus with the inquiry, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”HH 122.3

    Tenderly Jesus answered. He did not try to correct their false concept of fasting, but only to set them right regarding His own mission. John the Baptist himself had said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” John 3:29. The disciples of John could not fail to remember these words of their teacher. Taking up the illustration, Jesus said, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?”HH 122.4

    The Prince of heaven was among His people. God had given His greatest Gift to the world. Joy to the poor, for He had come to make them heirs of His kingdom. Joy to the rich, for He would teach them to secure eternal riches. Joy to the ignorant, for He would make them wise unto salvation. Joy to the educated, for He would open to them deeper mysteries than they had ever understood. This was not a time for the disciples to mourn and fast. They must open their hearts to receive the light of His glory so that they could shed light on those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.HH 122.5

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