The Jews are Rejected

The Jews are Rejected

Levi (or Matthew) called. Of Fasting.

(The Gospel History, Section 36)

And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting: and they come and say unto him, Why do John’s disciples fast often and make supplications, likewise also the disciples of the Pharisees, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can ye make the sons of the bridechamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast in that day.

And he spake also a parable unto them. No man seweth a piece of undressed cloth on an old garment; else that which should fill it up taketh from it, the new from the old, and a worse rent is made. And no man putteth new wine into old wine-skins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be spilled and the skins perish: but new wine must be put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved. And no man having drunk old wine desireth new, for he saith, The old is good.

The Jews are Rejected

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book I Poem XIV)

Another question rises, “See,” say they,
“How John’s disciples keep the Nation’s fasts;
“Disciples of the Pharisees fast too,
“But thine, they eat and drink on every day!”
How should He make them see a meaning here?
“The bridegroom in a house, do guests then fast?
“How can they so while he is with them there?
“Men fast for sorrow, not for bridal joy:
“A Bridegroom come I, my disciples, these,
“Foreshadow they the Bride; how can they fast
“While with them is the Bridegroom? Days will come
“When the Bridegroom taken from them, fast will they!”
But what to the Jews the Bridegroom and His Bride
Joy of the infant Church, Christ in her midst,
And bitter sorrow on that bitter day
Should see Him crucified on Calvary!
Nor disciples nor the Jews could understand,
But present to the Master’s thought alway
That awful consummation! Good for them
Then to remember, Christ knew how they would fast
And weep, all orphan’d and alone, for Him

As traveller brought to stand at fall of night
By monstrous face of cliff right in his path,
Unbroken, sheer, of height impassable,—
With never lodgment for adventurous foot,
No unsuspected defile breaking through,
And, stretching far and wide, on either hand,
No hope to round it;—so precipitous
And blank as this, rose before Christ a wall
At nightfall of His soul, wearied and faint
With sinners’ contradiction! How surmount
Stupendous obstacle of Jewish pride,
Obstinate prejudice, malice, greed, hate?
Nay, God Himself will not for ever strive
Against determined enmity of man:
That day went judgment forth: (O take we heed!)
Not fit the nation of the Jews for grace
Of His salvation; verdict from themselves,
(For men be their own judges), He pronounced,
In homely figures, might in memory lodge:—

The rottenness of that old Jewish Church
He pictured in plain parable for them;
That, which reform but tears to shreds, must waste
Till it shall fall to dust of sheer decay:—

“No man doth take a garment old,
Whose gaping rents invite the cold,
And lay on each a patch of new
And undressed cloth; whoso should do
This foolish thing would make worst rent;
The new would tear from that was spent,
And ever, for his well-meant pains,
The ragged garb worse hurt sustains,
Till none may wear a thing so poor,
Cast forth as refuse from the door.”
Behold we here a key to all
To church or nation may befall;
Too weak to bear a just repair,
Loss and oblivion its share

In word as pregnant and as plain, proclaims
The Lord a further disability
Of the Jews for His salvation: narrow, they,
Constrained in limits inelastic, close,
Of the old thought had lost its vital force—
The power to spread and grow, expand, be free;
What place for living truth in hard dry shell
Which with new thought’s expansion might not swell?

“No man will put new wine in skin
So dry and hard, ferment within
Must crack the bottle will not yield,
And spill the precious wine afield.
The wise man taketh bottle new,
Pours in content with judgment true,
Allowing space for all that stir
And working agitates liquor
Still instinct with the life it brought,
Seeking the sun as once it sought.”
Lord, how shall our poor hearts and dry
Our narrow vessels, hold that high
Expanding, rising, living truth
Thou offerest us? In thy dear ruth
Grant us new hearts that shall contain
Wine of Thy truth, for we are fain!

On one more charge the Lord condemns the Jews;
Those slaves to use and wont, change in itself
Was hateful to them, howe’er good the change:
Habited with a religion made to fit
Their eating, drinking, walking, prayer and praise,
All sacrifices, offerings, daily round,
Their Sabbath rites, behaviour at high feasts
In Temple held,—what then was left to do,
What was there not prescribed for in the Law?
Uneasy stirrings as of tottering wall
Moved them at words of Him who little store
On the whole fabric of their life and thought
Would seem to set; whose words stirred other chords
Might set the whole vibrating, quick bring down
Their house about their heads; away with Him!
“Men that have drunk old wine despise the new;
They choose the creed they’re used to, false or true!”

Thus on three several counts did Christ reject
The rulers of the Jews: their Church itself
Grown rotten past repair; individual minds,
Too narrow warped and dry to take the truth;
The habit of old custom strong in them,
Too strong to let them savour the new truth:
“Let be,” saith He, who nations rules and men,
“No stewards of the wine of life are ye;
Not yours is the whole garment of My praise,
Nor yours to taste the cup of life I spill;
I leave you in the hardness of your heart:—
For other men, another Church, the part
Ye found not grace to fill: I make all new!”

How shall we stand where Thine own people fell?
Where they transgressed, what hope that we do well?
Saviour of sinners, grant us grace that we
’Scape these Thy condemnations, kept by Thee!

St. Mark ii. 18-22;
St. Luke v. 33-39;
St. Matthew ix. 14-17