The Signs of the Times


June 23, 1898

Matthew's Feast


When the Saviour invited Matthew to follow Him, the publican did not stop to think of earthly loss. He considered nothing so profitable to him as discipleship to Christ; and without framing one excuse, without waiting to ask what he should do to obtain a livelihood, he arose and followed Christ. ST June 23, 1898, par. 1

In his grateful humility, Matthew desired to show his appreciation of the honor bestowed upon him; and, calling together those who had been his associates in business, in pleasure, and in sin, he made a great feast for the Saviour. If Jesus would call him, who was so sinful and unworthy, He would surely accept his former companions, who were, thought Matthew, far more deserving than himself. Matthew had a great longing that they should share the benefits of the mercies and grace of Christ. He desired them to know that Christ did not, as did the scribes and Pharisees, despise and hate the publicans and sinners. He wanted them to know Christ as the blessed Saviour. ST June 23, 1898, par. 2

At the feast the Saviour occupied the most honored seat. Matthew was now the servant of Christ, and he would have his friends know in what light he regarded his Leader and Master. He would have them know that he felt highly honored in entertaining so royal a guest. ST June 23, 1898, par. 3

Jesus never refused an invitation to such a feast. The object ever before Him was to sow in the hearts of His hearers the seeds of truth,—through His winning conversation to draw hearts to Himself. In His every act Christ had a purpose, and the lesson which He gave on this occasion was timely and appropriate. By this act He declared that even publicans and sinners were not excluded from His presence. Publicans and sinners could now bear the testimony that Christ honored them with His presence and conversed with them. ST June 23, 1898, par. 4

The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners. He was calm and self-possessed, kind, courteous, and friendly; and while they could not but admire the picture presented, it was so unlike their own course of action that they could not endure the sight. The haughty Pharisees exalted themselves, and depreciated those who had not been blessed with such privileges and light as they themselves had had. They hated and despised the publicans and sinners. Yet in the sight of God their guilt was the greater. Heaven's light was flashing across their pathway, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it;” but they spurned the gift. Turning to the disciples of Christ, they said, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” By this question they hoped to arouse the prejudice which they knew had existed in the minds of the disciples, and thus shake their weak faith. They aimed their arrows where they would be most likely to bruise and wound. ST June 23, 1898, par. 5

Proud but foolish Pharisees, who fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness! Christ eats with publicans and sinners, that He may draw them to Himself. The world's Redeemer can not honor the fasts observed by the Jewish nation. They fast in pride and self-righteousness, while Christ eats in humility, with publicans and sinners. ST June 23, 1898, par. 6

Since the fall, the work of Satan has been to accuse, and those who refuse the light which God sends, pursue the same course today. They lay open to others those things which they consider an offense. Thus it was with the Pharisees. When they found something of which they could accuse the disciples, they did not speak to those whom they thought to be in error. They spoke to Christ of the things which they thought to be so grievous in His disciples. When they thought that Christ offended, they accused Him to the disciples. It was their work to alienate hearts. ST June 23, 1898, par. 7

The world's Redeemer heard every word uttered against Him by the Pharisees. “When Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” These self-righteous men, who felt no need of help, could not appreciate the work of Christ. They placed themselves where they could not accept the salvation which He came to bring. They would not come unto Him that they might have life. The poor publicans and sinners felt their need of help, and they accepted the instruction and aid which they knew Christ was able to give them. ST June 23, 1898, par. 8

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Christ came to seek and to save those that were lost. He came to reach to the very depths of human woe and misery. He placed Himself where He could reach the needy, the suffering, the oppressed, just where they were; and, altho to all appearance they were the most unpromising, with what intense interest did He work for them! What holy joy arose in His heart as He saw them opening their hearts to Him, that He might fill them with His transforming grace, and imbue them with His spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice. He came to honor men with the privilege of being participants in the blessings of His kingdom. He called upon them to repent of their sins, receive of His pardoning love, and unite with Him in sowing the seeds of truth, laboring for the souls that were ready to perish. ST June 23, 1898, par. 9

It is not possible to give to Christ more service than is His due. If you have, as had the Pharisees, a self-complacent spirit, if you wrap about you the garments of self-righteousness, and leave sinners in darkness and transgression, you give evidence that you are not converted; and those whom you deem publicans and sinners will go into the kingdom of heaven before you. Those who would object to eating with publicans and sinners should closely criticise their own course of action. They have important lessons to learn. What saith the Scriptures?—“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.” ST June 23, 1898, par. 10

The follower of Christ is not to live to himself. He who lives to himself is not a Christian. He has not been created anew in Christ Jesus. From the moment the sinner views Christ upon the cross, every barrier is broken down. He sees sin in its offensive character, and exercises repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. He lays hold of the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Then all his transformed powers will be held as sacred to God's service. Every talent, every qualification, reason, knowledge, affection, speech, property, will be appreciated as a precious trust. He will live with an eye single to the glory of God. He will be a man of prayer, that he may have the spirit and wisdom of Christ to win souls from sin to holiness, from error to truth. ST June 23, 1898, par. 11

The disciple who loves Christ will love the souls for whom Christ has died, and will devote himself unreservedly to Christ. He will work as Christ worked; he will do as Christ did. He will go where the sinner is. He will educate all his powers, his tact and ability, that he may become a laborer together with God. He will hold the secret of the cross before those who do not know God. Every soul who is indeed united with Christ, will be a laborer together with God for the uplifting and saving of humanity. No other being in the world has the shadow of a claim upon our service. Every part of our nature, every moment of our existence, has been purchased with the precious blood of the Son of God. ST June 23, 1898, par. 12

Mrs. E. G. White