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324 CHAPTER 22 324A PERIOD OF DARKENING OPPOSITION 324Our Lord's last recorded discourse in the synagog at Capernaum, which followed close upon the miracle of feeding the five thousand and that of walking upon the water, marked the beginning of another epoch in the development of His life's work. It was the season of an approaching Passover festival; 1 and at the next succeeding Passover, one year later, as shall be shown, Jesus would be betrayed to His death. At the time of which we now speak, therefore, He was entering upon the last year of His ministry in the flesh. But the significance of the event is other and greater than that of a chronological datum-plane. The circumstance marked the first stage of a turn in the tide of popular regard toward Jesus, which theretofore had been increasing, and which now began to ebb. True, He had been repeatedly criticized and openly assailed by complaining Jews on many earlier occasions; but these crafty and even venomous critics were mostly of the ruling classes; the common people had heard Him gladly, and indeed many of them continued so to do; 2 nevertheless His popularity, in Galilee at least, had begun to wane. The last year of His earthly ministration was inaugurated by a sifting of the people who professed to believe His word, and this process of test, trial, and separation, was to continue to the end. 324We are without information as to Jesus having attended this Passover feast; and it is reasonable to infer that in view of the increasing hostility on the part of the rulers, He refrained from going to Jerusalem on the occasion. Conjecture as to whether any of the Twelve went up to the festival is profitless; we are not told. Certain it is that immediately after this time, the detectives and spies, who had been sent from Jerusalem into Galilee to watch Jesus, became more active than ever in their critical espionage. They dogged His footsteps, noted every act, and every instance of omission of traditional or customary observance, and were constantly on the alert to make Him out an offender. 324CEREMONIAL WASHINGS, "AND MANY SUCH LIKE THINGS" 3 324Shortly after the Passover to which allusion has been made, and probably in accordance with a plan decided upon by the Jewish rulers, Jesus was visited by a delegation of Pharisees and scribes who had come from Jerusalem, and who made protest against the disregard of traditional requirements by His followers. It appears that the disciples, and almost certainly the Master Himself, had so far transgressed "the tradition of the elders" as to omit the ceremonial washing of hands before eating; the Pharisaic critics found fault, and came demanding explanation, and justification if such were possible. Mark tells us that the disciples were charged with having eaten with "defiled," or, as the marginal reading gives it, with "common" hands; and he interpolates the following concise and lucid note concerning the custom which the disciples were said to have ignored: "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course REL C 211 taught by Professor Keithwilson during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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