In this article, the subject under consideration is the third parallel in the attitudes of the people between the first and second advent movements. As a brief review, when the Sanhedrin rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death, at the end of the second Passover in the ministry of Jesus, He departed from Jerusalem—from the priests, from the temple, from the religious leaders, and from the people who had been instructed in the law. (See The Desire of Ages, 232.)
The third parallel of the trials and attitudes of the children of Israel will focus on the independent movement that developed when Jesus left Jerusalem after the second Passover. The record is found in John 6 and in chapters 39, 40, and 41 of The Desire of Ages.
The Third Passover
“The Jewish Passover Feast was near.” “ . . . and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.” John 6:4, 2, NIV.
The setting is at the time of the third Passover. It is interesting to note that Jesus did not go to Jerusalem but stayed in Galilee with the independent movement. All day He ministered to the needs of the crowd. By evening they were hungry, so Jesus miraculously fed them. (Verses 5–13.)
“Seated upon the grassy plain, in the twilight of the spring evening, the people ate of the food that Christ had provided. The words they had heard that day had come to them as the voice of God. The works of healing they had witnessed were such as only divine power could perform. But the miracle of the loaves appealed to everyone in that vast multitude.” The Desire of Ages, 377.
Crown Him King
At this point, we notice a new development taking place in the minds of the disciples and the people.
“All day the conviction has strengthened. That crowning act is assurance that the long-looked-for Deliverer is among them. . . . This is He who will make Judea an earthly paradise, a land flowing with milk and honey. He can satisfy every desire.” Ibid.
“In their enthusiasm the people are ready at once to crown Him king. . . . Consulting together, they agree to take Him by force, and proclaim Him the king of Israel. The disciples unite with the multitude . . . . Let the arrogant priests and rulers be forced to honor Him who comes clothed with the authority of God.” Ibid., 378.
So we see that the people in this independent movement had the same goal of an earthly kingdom as the organization from which Jesus had separated a year earlier. They, too, had little or no understanding of the work of Jesus to remove sin from the heart. The only difference was that they saw themselves, instead of the priests and rulers, in charge of the church.
“Jesus sees what is on foot, and understands, as they cannot, what would be the result of such a movement. . . . Calling His disciples, Jesus bids them take the boat and return at once to Capernaum, leaving Him to dismiss the people.” Ibid.
It is evident that even though these people had left the organization to follow Jesus, they had no better understanding of the nature of Christ’s kingdom than did the priests and rulers in Jerusalem. This startling statement is recorded: “When Christ forbade the people to declare Him king, He knew that a turning point in His history was reached. Multitudes who desired to exalt Him to the throne today would turn from Him tomorrow. The disappointment of their selfish ambition would turn their love to hatred, and their praise to curses. Yet knowing this, He took no measures to avert the crisis.” Ibid., 383.
Let us consider for a moment who these people were. What was their connection to the organized church in Jerusalem? What was their relationship with Jesus? The disciple John refers to them as “His disciples” three times in the sixth chapter of his gospel. In The Desire of Ages chapter entitled “The Crisis in Galilee,” they are identified seven times as “His disciples.” To be a disciple of Jesus meant that you would be “put out of the synagogue,” according to John 9:22.
The relationship of “these disciples”—5,000 men plus women and children—to the church in Jerusalem is very parallel to that of the independent believers of the second advent movement to the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Now that we have a better understanding of the relationship of “these disciples” to Jesus, we will take a closer look at their spiritual condition.
“Of those now connected with Him there were many who had been attracted by the hope of a worldly kingdom. These must be undeceived.” Ibid.
Jesus must now go about the work of undeceiving these disciples. The next day we find Him in the synagogue at Capernaum instructing the people as to the true nature of His kingdom. He further explains that they must partake of His nature if they would become His true disciples.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” John 6:53–56.
“To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him.” Ibid., 389.
“He knew the character of those who claimed to be His disciples, and His words tested their faith. He declared that they were to believe and act upon His teaching. All who received Him would partake of His nature, and be conformed to His character. This involved the relinquishment of their cherished ambitions. It required the complete surrender of themselves to Jesus. They were called to become self-sacrificing, meek and lowly in heart. They must walk in the narrow path traveled by the Man of Calvary, if they would share in the gift of life and the glory of heaven.” Ibid., 391.
In summary, the character that Jesus requires of His disciples includes:
- Relinquishment of cherished ambitions,
- Complete surrender to Jesus,
- Being meek and lowly in heart, and
- Walking in the narrow path of the Man of Calvary.
We can only wonder what might have been the result in the first advent if “His disciples” of the independent movement would have relinquished their cherished ambitions to walk the narrow path traveled by the Man of Calvary. But how much more significant and important is the question, What would happen in the second advent independent movement if all the ministries, churches, and professed believers would relinquish their cherished ambitions? What would happen if they all answered the call to become self-sacrificing, meek, and lowly in heart, to walk the narrow path traveled by Jesus? Would we not see all variances, differences, pride of opinion, envy, jealously, and separation disappear from among us? Would it not bring a spirit of unity and harmony that would prepare the way for the Holy Spirit to come in the latter rain? The Spirit of Prophecy has much to say in reference to this, which will be studied in a later parallel, but we must now return to the story of “His disciples.”
How did this multitude that were so miraculously fed the night before react to the straight testimony of Jesus in the synagogue in Capernaum? “The test was too great.” Ibid.
“By the public rebuke of their unbelief these disciples were still further alienated from Jesus. They were greatly displeased, and wishing to wound the Saviour and gratify the malice of the Pharisees, they turned their backs upon Him, and left Him with disdain. They had made their choice . . . . Their decision was never afterward reversed; for they walked no more with Jesus.” Ibid., 392.
Let us with great solemnity consider the result of their decision. It was never to be reversed. Their choice to turn their backs on Jesus was for eternity. None of these disciples would ever repent and return to Jesus. There was never any more light for them.
“And thus in Galilee the current of popular feeling was turned against Him, as, the year before, it had been in Judea. Alas for Israel! They rejected their Saviour, because they longed for a conqueror who would give them temporal power.” Ibid., 393.
The popularity of this independent movement that we observed the evening before during the feeding of the five thousand has now vanished; and it never returned. So we see that, in the first advent, both the organized church and the independent movement rejected Jesus. Then follows this alarming statement in The Desire of Ages: “This was one of the times of purging. By the words of truth, the chaff was being separated from the wheat. Because they were too vain and self-righteous to receive reproof, too world-loving to accept a life of humility, many turned away from Jesus. Many are still doing the same thing. Souls are tested today as were those disciples in the synagogue at Capernaum. When truth is brought home to the heart, they see that their lives are not in accordance with the will of God. They see the need of an entire change in themselves; but they are not willing to take up the self-denying work. Therefore they [souls today] are angry when their sins are discovered. They go away offended, even as the disciples left Jesus, murmuring, ‘This is an hard saying; who can hear it?’ [John 6:60.] . . .
“As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. . . . They sought out His enemies, for they were in harmony with their spirit and work. They misinterpreted His words, falsified His statements, and impugned His motives.” Ibid., 392.
“Many are still doing the same thing. Souls are tested today . . . ,” and they will go away offended, even as the disciples left Jesus. These are solemn statements that warn us that the trials and attitudes we have been studying concerning the independent movement in the first advent are being repeated in the independent movement of the second advent.
“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not.” The Great Controversy, 605.
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. . . . They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.” Ibid., 608.
This is a very serious prophecy concerning how God views the historic movement today. We need to pray earnestly that God will help us to understand our true condition before Him. We will dwell more upon the significance of this situation concerning the “Present Time” when we study the fifth parallel.
To Whom Shall We Go?
Let us now go back to the synagogue at Capernaum and continue to follow the events of the day after Jesus presented the straight testimony concerning the need for the people to become like Him in character.
“With a yearning heart, Jesus saw those who had been his disciples departing from Him, the Life and the Light of men. . . .
“Without attempting to hinder those who were leaving Him, Jesus turned to the twelve and said, ‘Will ye also go away?’ [John 6:67.]
“Peter replied by asking, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ ‘Thou hast the words of eternal life,’ he added. ‘And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.’ [John 6:68, 69.]” The Desire of Ages, 393.
They would not go back to the teachers of Israel who were slaves to formalism. These teachers were in constant contention and were persecuting the disciples for becoming His followers. They would not leave the teachings of Christ, His lessons of love and mercy.
“Peter expressed the faith of the disciples, —‘Thou art that Christ.’ The very thought of losing this anchor of their souls filled them with fear and pain. To be destitute of a Saviour was to be adrift on a dark and stormy sea.” Ibid.
Peter expressed the faith of eleven of the disciples. While their faith faltered during the crowning trial and final test, they did not turn away from Jesus and leave Him in disdain, as did “His disciples” after the sermon in the synagogue at Capernaum. But this was not true of Judas. Judas had remained among them right up to their crowning trial and final test, but after the second cleansing of the temple and the night before the trial and death of Jesus, Judas finally revealed his true character and became the betrayer.
So, in the second advent movement, a Judas element will remain among the faithful believers up to the time just before probation closes. We need to study carefully the last few chapters of The Great Controversy, especially pages 608 to 627. In addition to these references, the Spirit of Prophecy has much more to say about the Judas characteristics existing among the people of God in the closing events of the controversy.
Purpose of Purging
But for the eleven disciples, Jesus had a purpose in the purging of the independent movement in Galilee.
“When Jesus presented the testing truth that caused so many of His disciples to turn back, He knew what would be the result of His words; but He had a purpose of mercy to fulfill. He foresaw that in the hour of temptation every one of His beloved disciples would be severely tested. His agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and crucifixion, would be to them a most trying ordeal. . . .”
“Compassionate Redeemer, who in the full knowledge of the doom that awaited Him, tenderly smoothed the way for the disciples, prepared them for their crowning trial, and strengthened them for the final test!” The Desire of Ages, 394.
“Before His crucifixion the Saviour explained to His disciples that He was to be put to death and to rise again from the tomb, and angels were present to impress His words on minds and hearts. . . .
“So in the prophecies the future is opened before us as plainly as it was opened to the disciples by the words of Christ. The events connected with the close of probation and the work of preparation for the time of trouble, are clearly presented.” The Great Controversy, 594.
“God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines, and the basis of all reforms.” Ibid., 595.
“When the testing time shall come, those who have made God’s word their rule of life will be revealed. . . . The falsehearted professor [the Judas element] may not now be distinguished from the real Christian, but the time is just upon us when the difference will be apparent. Let opposition arise, let bigotry and intolerance again bear sway, let persecution be kindled, and the halfhearted and hypocritical will waver and yield the faith; but the true Christian will stand firm as a rock, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, than in days of prosperity.” Ibid., 602.
“The Lord whom we serve is able to deliver us. Christ has conquered the powers of earth; and shall we be afraid of a world already conquered?” Ibid., 610.
The three parallels that we have studied so far have reviewed the history of the two advent movements that bring us to the present time. Next month we will study the fourth parallel, which is still future.
Maurice Hoppe is Director of Revelation Ministry, which is dedicated to helping people prepare for the soon coming of Jesus. His special emphasis is the closing scenes of this earth’s history, the parallels between the first and second advents, and the need for unity among the people of God. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or at: P. O. Box 184, Days Creek, Oregon 97429.