The Review and Herald

881/1902

May 18, 1897

“Never Man Spake Like This Man”

EGW

Of Christ's teaching it is said, “The common people heard him gladly.” “Never man spake like this man,” declared the officers who were sent to take him. His words comforted, strengthened, and blessed those who were hungering for that peace which he alone could give. O how tender and forbearing was Christ! how filled with pity and tenderness were his lessons to the poor, the afflicted, and the oppressed! RH May 18, 1897, par. 1

The educated were charmed with Christ's teaching, and the uneducated were always profited; for he appealed to their understanding. His illustrations were taken from the things of daily life, and although they were simple, they had in them a wonderful depth of meaning. The fowls of the air, the lilies of the field, the seed, the shepherd and the sheep,—with these objects, Christ illustrated immortal truth; and ever afterward, when his hearers chanced to see these things of nature, they recalled his words. Christ's illustrations constantly repeated his lessons. RH May 18, 1897, par. 2

Christ always used the most simple language, yet his words were received by deep, unprejudiced thinkers; for they were words that tested their wisdom. Spiritual things should always be presented in simple language, even though learned men are being addressed; for such are generally ignorant regarding spiritual things. The simplest language is the most eloquent. Educated and uneducated need to be addressed in the plainest, simplest manner, so that the truth may be comprehended, and find lodgment in the heart. So Christ addressed the vast crowds that thronged about him; and all, learned and unlearned, were able to comprehend his lessons. RH May 18, 1897, par. 3

Christ's words, so comforting and cheering to those that listened to them, are for us today. As a faithful shepherd knows and cares for his sheep, so Christ cares for his children. He knows the trials and difficulties surrounding each one. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,” declares Isaiah; “he shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom.” Christ knows his sheep intimately, and the suffering and helpless are objects of his special care. He gave his life for them, and he knows their wants as no one else can. RH May 18, 1897, par. 4

Christ has weighed every human affliction, every human sorrow. He bears the weight of the yoke for every soul that yokes up with him. He knows the sorrows which we feel to the depth of our being, and which we cannot express. If no human heart is aroused to sympathy for us, we need not feel that we are without sympathy. Christ knows; and he says, Look unto me, and live. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I have borne your griefs and carried your sorrows. You have the deepest, richest sympathy in the tender, pitying love of your Shepherd. “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” His humanity is not lost in the exalted character of his Omnipotence. He is ever longing to pour out his sympathy and love upon those whom he has chosen, and who will respond to his invitation. RH May 18, 1897, par. 5

Christ did not design that his words should return to him void. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” he said to the large multitude that pressed around him, “but my words shall not pass away.” He himself wrote nothing; but the Holy Spirit brought all his words and acts to the remembrance of his disciples, that they might be recorded for our benefit. Christ's instruction was given with the greatest clearness. There was no need for any one to misunderstand. But the scribes and Pharisees, determined to resist him, misconstrued and misapplied his words. The utterances which were the bread of life to starving souls were bitterness to the Jewish rulers. RH May 18, 1897, par. 6

Ezekiel declares: “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.... And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I have sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” In his sermon on the mount, Christ spoke as though he knew that the scribes and Pharisees believed the Old Testament. They were in that gathering, and the disciples were close beside their beloved Teacher. There Christ declared, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” By his words he condemned their formalism and hypocrisy. And though applying directly to those before him, these words apply also to those of this age who do not the will of God. They are far-reaching, and come sounding down the ages to our time. RH May 18, 1897, par. 7

The woman of Samaria said to Christ, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus answered, “Believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” A God of infinite holiness does not accept a spiritless offering. Those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth, or else their worship is valueless. God has no part or lot in the matter; for their pretensions are vain. RH May 18, 1897, par. 8

These words are still sounding. They contain truth which is universal, which is a light to all believers and a condemnation to all unbelievers. But they were particularly fitted to the Jewish nation. The religious services of the Jews had degenerated from spiritual worship to a mere formalism. “In vain do they worship me,” said Christ, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The proud lovers of pleasure were so fully engrossed with their own ambitious expectations and desires that they had no relish for the words of the great Teacher. He did not encourage their worldly projects; he never flattered them or praised their smartness; and his words were not pleasant to their world-bound souls. RH May 18, 1897, par. 9

The Jewish leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, made the well-springs of the water of life foul by their false precepts. They beclouded that which was clear. By their example of pride, hardness, and selfishness, they misrepresented the character of God. They made him altogether such a one as themselves. Their own imagination was darkened and polluted by their wicked works. Their religious degeneracy clouded their minds, so that nothing that concerned Christ's kingdom was correctly discerned. By their stubborn resistance of the message borne to them by the Lord of life and glory, they became past feeling. Evidence they had in abundance; more would only have increased and deepened their guilt. But thinking themselves wise, they became as fools. They used their intellect in an endeavor to brand the truth of God with falsehood. RH May 18, 1897, par. 10

A divine voice had been appealing to them for three years and a half, but they hated it, and were plotting to silence it by death. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But the Jewish nation refused to accept the offering; and Christ took up the lamentation of unrequited love: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” You have perverted my words, and wrested my entreaties. Ye bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but ye yourselves will not touch them with one of your fingers. You would not believe on me yourselves that you might become the sons of God, and them that would have entered in, you hindered by your sophistries and falsehoods. RH May 18, 1897, par. 11

Ambition demanded everything of a Messiah, but it responded not to the works which no man had done or could do, or to words which never before had been spoken. The Jews endeavored to gather to themselves all that was promised as the sure result of a life refined, elevated, and ennobled by virtue and righteousness. As a nation that practised righteousness, they assumed a superiority over all other nations of the world; but for a thousand years they had been loading the cloud of vengeance which at last broke over them with relentless fury. They followed their own standard, walking in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, and they perished in their delusion. They followed the imagination of their own hearts, and God gave them up to be crushed by their own ambition, destroyed by the falsehoods and delusions upon which they had built. RH May 18, 1897, par. 12

The Jews claimed to believe the law, but they broke every precept of it by their spirit of rebellion against Christ. History is being repeated. The shepherds of the flock of God are doing in this day just what the Jewish leaders did in their day. The Christian world is going over the same ground, manifesting the same spirit. Church-members claim to be superior to others, because they believe on Christ, but they are not doers of his words any more than the Jews were obedient to the law which they professed to hold in such high esteem. RH May 18, 1897, par. 13

Many today, as did the Jews, will turn conviction into resistance because of the cross involved. By their resistance to the messages of truth, professed Christians show that, had they lived on the earth at the time of Christ's first advent, they would have joined with the Jews in accusing him, and would have taken an active part in crucifying the Prince of Life. When the claims of God's law are presented to them, they act as did the Jews when the claims of truth, spoken by the divine Teacher, fell upon their ears; but these rejecters of truth cannot always remain deaf to the claims of God's law, for it is eternal and irrevocable. RH May 18, 1897, par. 14

“It is the spirit that quickeneth,” said Christ; “the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” RH May 18, 1897, par. 15