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Humble Hero

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    A Heavy Shadow

    It was a bright picture, but across it lay a heavy shadow that Christ’s eye alone could see. “The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast.” When they would see their Lord betrayed and crucified, the disciples would mourn and fast.HH 122.6

    When He would come out from the tomb, their sorrow would turn to joy. After His ascension, He would still be with them through the Comforter, and they were not to spend their time mourning. Satan wanted them to give the impression that they had been deceived and disappointed. But by faith they were to look to the sanctuary above where Jesus was ministering for them. They were to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and rejoice in the light of His presence. Yet days of trial would come. When Christ was not personally with them and they failed to recognize the Comforter, then it would be more fitting for them to fast.HH 123.1

    The Scripture describes the fast that God has chosen—“To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke”; to “extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul.” Isaiah 58:6, 10. This describes the character of the work of Christ. Whether fasting in the wilderness or eating with publicans, He was giving His life to redeem the lost. We find the true spirit of devotion in the surrender of self in willing service to God and humanity.HH 123.2

    Continuing His answer to John’s disciples, Jesus spoke a parable: “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.” An attempt to blend the tradition and superstition of the Pharisees with the devotion of John would only make the gap between them more evident.HH 123.3

    Nor could the principles of Christ’s teaching unite with the forms of the Pharisees. Christ was to make the separation between the old and the new more distinct. “Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” After a time, the skin bottles used as vessels for new wine became dry and brittle, and they were then worthless to serve the same purpose again. The Jewish leaders were set firmly in a rut of ceremonies and traditions. Their hearts had become like dried-up wineskins. Since they were satisfied with a legal religion, it was impossible for them to become the trusted holders of living truth. They did not want to have a new element brought into their religion. The faith that works by love and purifies the soul could find no common ground with the religion of the Pharisees, made up of ceremonies and human rules. To unite Jesus’ teachings with the established religion would be futile. The vital truth of God, like wine, would burst the old decaying bottles of the Pharisees’ tradition.HH 123.4

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