The disciples (and all the followers of Jesus when He dwelt among men) would never have come to Jesus had they listened to the leaders of the professed people of God. They would have stayed away and denounced Him as an imposter. (See The Desire of Ages, 213.) “He who had come to break the power of Satan would be denounced as Beelzebub.” The Desire of Ages, 111. The leaders of God’s chosen professed people became the instruments of Satan. (See The Desire of Ages, 36, 206.) They tried, by every means in their power, to keep God’s professed people from the only means of salvation. But to hate Christ was to love death. (Proverbs 8:36.)
When this One was denounced by the leaders as an imposter or as one possessed of the devil, (John 7:19, 20, 25; 8:48, 52; 10:20) He sent out His disciples to speak in His name. He also pronounced a future judgement on those who would reject the message of truth. To reject the truth, or the messenger of truth, is to reject the author of truth, by whom both the message and the messenger are sent. Jesus said, “Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matthew 10:14, 15. And again, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” Matthew 10:40, 41. This has universal application: “Most assuredly I say to you, He who receives whomever I send, receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me.” John 13:20.
When the Father sent His Son into the world, His professed people hated and despised the divine revelation. Several times they attempted to kill Him. (See Luke 4:29; John 7:30; 8:58; 10:31.) They expressed their resentment with the worst condemnation that they could conjure up concerning His life, miracles and teachings. They accused Him of working through Satan (Matthew 9:34), and concerning this common epithet against Him they said to Jesus, “Do we not say well that You have a devil?”
Even His closest friends and earthly relatives were so dismayed by His life, His attitude and His relationship to the leaders of the church that they feared He was becoming insane: “They were unable to account for His attitude toward the Pharisees, and there were some who feared that His reason was becoming unsettled. His brothers heard of this, and also of the charge brought by the Pharisees that He cast out devils through the power of Satan. They felt keenly the reproach that came upon them through their relation to Jesus. They knew what a tumult His words and works created, and were not only alarmed at His bold statements, but indignant at His denunciation ofthe scribes and Pharisees.” The Desire of Ages, 321.
We plan to look at the reason for all this later, but first we need to understand that if we are following in the footsteps of Jesus we will face similar situations to what He did. Inspiration says, “The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 406.
Christ’s servants just before the second coming of Christ will go through experiences very similar to what Jesus went through when He was here. Their worst enemies will not be from Babylon, Tyre or even from Sodom, but rather their worse enemies will be from God’s professed people. Those who profess to be modern Israel, and who possess not only the Bible but the Spirit of Prophecy, will become their worst enemies.
“While they [the professed people of God—Israel] professed to have great zeal for the honor of God and the good of Israel, they were the worst enemies of both.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 230. “Paul’s worst enemies were among the Jews, who made the highest claims to godliness . . . The most bitter opposers of truth to-day are found among those who profess to be its defenders.” Ibid., 278.
“The worst enemies we have are those who are trying to destroy the influence of the watchmen upon the walls of Zion.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 294.
“If they have called the Master of the House [who was sinless and had a perfect character] Beelzebub, how much more those of His?” Matthew 10:25.