Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

December 17, 1885

The Sufferings of Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Continued from page 306.)

The disciples were suddenly aroused from their slumber by a bright light shining upon and around the Son of God. They started up in amazement, and beheld a heavenly being, clothed in garments of light, bending over their prostrate Master. With one hand he lifted the head of the Divine sufferer upon his bosom, and with the other he pointed toward heaven. His voice was like the sweetest music, as he uttered soothing words presenting to the mind of Christ the grand results of the victory he had gained over the strong and wily foe. Christ was victor over Satan; and, as the result of his triumph, millions were to be victors with him in his kingdom.

The glorious vision of the angel dazzled the eyes of the disciples. They remembered the mount of transfiguration, the glory that encircled Jesus in the temple, and the voice of God issuing from the cloud. They saw the same glory here revealed, and had no further fear for their Master, since God had taken him in charge, and an angel was present to protect him from his foes. They were weary and heavy with sleep, and again they dropped into unconsciousness.

The Saviour arose and sought his disciples, and, for the third time, found them fast asleep. His words, however, aroused them: “Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Even while these words were upon his lips, the footsteps of the mob that was in search of him were heard. Judas took the lead, and was closely followed by the high priest. Jesus turned to his disciples, as his enemies approached, and said, “Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.” The countenance of the Saviour wore an expression of calm dignity; no traces of his recent agony were visible as he stepped forth to meet his betrayer.

He stood in advance of his disciples, and inquired, “Whom seek ye?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” As these words were uttered, the mob staggered back; and priests, elders, soldiers, and even Judas, dropped powerless to the ground. This gave Christ ample opportunity to escape from them if he had chosen to do so. But he stood as one glorified amid that coarse and hardened band. When he answered, “I am he,” the angel who had lately ministered to him moved between him and the murderous mob, who saw a divine light illuminating the Saviour's face, and a dove-like form overshadowing him. Their wicked hearts were filled with terror. They could not for a moment stand upon their feet in the presence of this Divine glory, and they fell as dead men to the ground.

The angel withdrew; the light faded away; Jesus was left standing, calm and self-possessed, with the bright beams of the moon upon his pale face, and still surrounded by prostrate, helpless men, while the disciples were too much amazed to utter a word. When the angel departed, the Roman soldiers started to their feet, and, with the priests and Judas, gathered about Christ as though ashamed of their weakness, and fearful that he would yet escape from their hands. Again the question was asked by the Redeemer, “Whom seek ye?” Again they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The Saviour then said, “I have told you that I am he. If, therefore, ye seek me, let these go their way”—pointing to the disciples. In this hour of humiliation, Christ's thoughts were not for himself, but for his beloved disciples. He wished to save them from any further trial of their strength.

Judas, the betrayer, did not forget his part, but came close to Jesus, and took his hand as a familiar friend, and bestowed upon him the traitor's kiss. Jesus said to him, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” His voice trembled with sorrow as he addressed the deluded Judas: “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” This most touching appeal should have roused the conscience of the betrayer, and softened his stubborn heart; but honor, fidelity, and human tenderness had utterly forsaken him. He stood bold and defiant, showing no disposition to relent. He had given himself up to the control of Satan, and he had no power to resist him. Jesus did not reject the traitor's kiss. In this he gives us an example of forbearance, love, and pity, that is without a parallel.

Though the murderous throng were surprised and awed by what they had seen and felt, their assurance and hardihood returned as they saw the boldness of Judas in touching the person of Him whom they had so recently seen glorified. They now laid hold upon Jesus, and proceeded to bind those precious hands that had ever been employed in doing good.

When the disciples saw that band of strong men lying prostrate and helpless on the ground, they thought surely their Master would not suffer himself to be taken; for the same power that prostrated that hireling mob could cause them to remain in a state of helplessness until Jesus and his companions should pass unharmed beyond their reach. They were disappointed and indignant as they saw the cords brought forward to bind the hands of Him whom they loved. Peter, in his vehement anger, rashly cut off, with his sword, an ear of the servant of the high priest.

When Jesus saw what Peter had done, he released his hands, though held firmly by the Roman soldiers, and saying, “Suffer ye thus far,” he touched the wounded ear, and it was instantly made whole. He then said to Peter, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus then turned to the chief priests, and captains of the temple, who helped compose that murderous throng, and said, “Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not; but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

When the disciples saw that Jesus did not deliver himself from his enemies, but permitted himself to be taken and bound, they were offended that he should suffer this humiliation to himself and them. They had just witnessed an exhibition of his power in prostrating to the ground those who came to take him, and in healing the servant's ear which Peter had cut off, and they knew that if he chose he could deliver himself from that murderous throng. They blamed him for not doing so, and, mortified and terror-stricken by his unaccountable conduct, they forsook him and fled. Alone, in the hands of the hooting mob, the Saviour was hurried from the garden.

(To be continued.)

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