Ellen G. White Writings

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Bible Training School

September 1, 1915

Gethsemane

Mrs. E. G. White

From the manger to Calvary, Christ's life was one continual experience of disappointment and suffering. Christ was the only begotten of the Father, and yet He was pressed with grief; but His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane was an awful anguish that must ever remain a terrible mystery to the human family. The record says, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto His disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.”

With what awe, with what reverence, should the disciples have regarded the sufferings of the Son of God! As He drew nigh to the center of the garden, the agony of the sins of the world was weighing upon His divine soul. The curse of the world's iniquity was shadowing the light of His Father's face from His vision. Oh, how could He escape from it? How avoid standing under the curse that sin had wrought, and being alienated from His beloved Father? He turned to His disciples and said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with Me.”

At the thought of the grievous character of the guilt of the world, Christ felt that He must go apart, and be alone. The hosts of darkness were there to make sin appear as extensive, deep, and horrible as possible. In his hatred of God, in falsifying His character, in manifesting irreverence, contempt, and hatred toward the laws of His government, Satan had made iniquity reach unto the heavens, and it was his purpose to swell iniquity to such great proportions, that atonement should seem impossible; so that the Son of God, who sought to save a lost world, should be crushed beneath the curse of sin.

The working of the vigilant foe in presenting to Christ the vast proportions of transgression, caused such poignant pain, that He felt that He could not remain in the immediate presence of any human being. He could not bear that even His disciples should witness His agony as He contemplated the woe of the world. Even His most dearly loved friends must not be in His companionship. The sword of justice was unsheathed, and the wrath of God against iniquity rested upon man's substitute, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father.

In the garden of Gethsemane Christ suffered in man's stead, and the human nature of the Son of God staggered under the terrible horror of the guilt of sin, until from His pale and quivering lips was forced the agonizing cry, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me:” but if there be no other way by which the salvation of man may be accomplished, then “not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Human nature would then and there have died under the horror of the sense of sin, had not an angel from heaven strengthened Him to bear the agony. The power that inflicted retributive justice upon man's substitute and surety, was the power that sustained and upheld the suffering One under the tremendous weight of wrath that would have fallen upon a sinful world. Christ was suffering the death that was pronounced upon the transgressors of God's law.

It is a fearful thing for the unrepenting sinner to fall into the hands of the living God. This is proved by the history of the destruction of the old world by a flood, and by the record of the fire which fell from heaven and destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom. But never was this proved to so great an extent as in the agony of Christ, the Son of the infinite God, when He bore the wrath of God for a sinful world. It was in consequence of sin, the transgression of God's law, that the garden of Gethsemane has become pre-eminently the place of suffering to a sinful world.

No sorrow, no agony, can measure with that which was endured by the Son of God. Man has not been made a sin-bearer, and he will never know the horror of the curse of sin which the Saviour bore. No sorrow can bear any comparison with the sorrow of Him upon whom the wrath of God fell with overwhelming force. Human nature can endure but a limited amount of test and trial. The finite can only endure the finite measure, and human nature succumbs; but the nature of Christ had a greater capacity for suffering; for the human existed in the Divine nature, and created a capacity for suffering to endure that which resulted from the sins of a lost world. The agony which Christ endured, broadens, deepens, and gives a more extended conception of the character of sin, and of the retribution which God will bring upon those who continue in sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ to the repenting, believing sinner.

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