And they said to him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees…
If any of the Pharisees, moved by the miracles which Christ wrought, had felt disposed to receive Him as a teacher from God, the thing which they would most naturally have attempted would have been the making a compound of their own religion and the Christian, so that, whilst they kept what they liked most in their tenets and observances, they might have the advantage of the new revelation; and therefore, what Christ had to denounce in the case of these Pharisees was the lurking notion that Christianity might admit some admixtures from other religions, so that men might bring into its profession their own favourite theories, and find them amalgamate very well with its doctrines. This notion Christ denounces most emphatically. Christianity, though far enough from being a new revelation, required that the scene should be swept clear for its institutions, peremptorily refusing that there should be blended with the revealed mode of a sinner's acceptance anything of ceremonial ordinance, demanding to be received without admixture, or rejected without reserve. And it is against this that men in every age have rebelled. They have wanted not only to keep some part of their own favourite systems, but to keep it for the very end which, according to their own theory, it had heretofore answered. Thus generally with good works. It does not content them that Christianity demands good works, that it makes salvation impossible without them, and thus transfers to its system the favourite part of their own; they have been accustomed to account their works meritorious, and they would fain have Christianity account them so too; and this Christianity will not do. If it require and retain fasting and almsgiving, it will not allow them any justifying merit; it may be said to alter their character in granting them admission. Thus, whilst it has much in common with other systems, it is wholly against the being compounded with those systems, in order that the produce may give a mixed mode of obtaining salvation.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?