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From Heaven With Love

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    Attempt to Alienate Disciples

    The rabbis seized the opportunity of accusing Jesus, but chose to work through the disciples. By arousing their prejudices they hoped to alienate them from their Master. “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” they questioned.HLv 179.2

    Jesus did not wait for the disciples to answer, but Himself replied: “They that be whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick; ... I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The Pharisees claimed to be spiritually whole, and therefore in no need of a physician, but they regarded the publicans and Gentiles as perishing from diseases of the soul. Then was it not His work, as a physician, to go to the very class that needed His help?HLv 179.3

    Jesus said to the rabbis, “Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” They claimed to expound the Word of God, but they were wholly ignorant of its spirit.HLv 179.4

    The Pharisees, silenced for the time but more determined in their enmity, next tried to set the disciples of John the Baptist against the Saviour. These Pharisees had pointed in 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 upon the hearts of these scorners, convicting them of sin, but they had declared that John was possessed by a devil.HLv 179.5

    Now when Jesus came mingling with the people, eating and drinking at their tables, they accused Him of being a glutton and a winebibber. 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 court the friendship of his disciples, hoping to secure their cooperation against Jesus. They represented that Jesus was setting at nought the ancient traditions, and they contrasted the austere piety of the Baptist with Jesus’ feasting with publicans and sinners.HLv 179.6

    The disciples of John were at this time in great sorrow. With their beloved teacher in prison, they passed their days in mourning. And Jesus was making no effort to release John, and even appeared to cast discredit on his teaching. If John had been sent by God, why did Jesus and His disciples pursue a course so widely different?HLv 180.1

    The disciples of John thought there might be some foundation for the charges of the Pharisees. They observed many rules prescribed by the rabbis. Fasting was practiced by the Jews as an act of merit; the most rigid 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 oft, but Thy disciples fast not?”HLv 180.2

    Tenderly Jesus answered. He did not try to correct their erroneous concept of fasting, but only to set them right in regard to His own mission. John the Baptist himself had said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full.” John 3:29, RSV. The disciples of John could not fail to recall these words of their teacher. Taking up the illustration, Jesus said, “Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?”HLv 180.3

    The Prince of heaven was among His people. The greatest gift of God had been given 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 learned, for He would open to them deeper mysteries than they had ever fathomed. This was not a time for the disciples to mourn and fast. They must open their hearts to receive the light of His glory, that they might shed light on those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.HLv 181.1

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