Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

December 3, 1885

The Sufferings of Christ

(Continued from page 298.)

By Mrs. E. G. White

This important night-watch should have been spent by the disciples in noble mental struggles and prayers, which would have brought them strength to witness the terrible agony of the Son of God. It would have prepared them, as they should behold his sufferings upon the cross, to understand in some degree the nature of the overpowering anguish which he endured. They would then have been better able to recall the words he had spoken to them in reference to his sufferings, death, and resurrection; and amid the gloom of that trying hour, some rays of hope would have lighted up the darkness, and sustained their faith. Christ had told them before that these things would take place. He knew the power which the prince of darkness would use to paralyze the senses of the disciples, and he therefore admonished them to watch.

But at the most critical moment, when Jesus was most in need of their sympathy and heartfelt prayers, his chosen companions had given themselves up to slumber. They lost much by thus sleeping. The Saviour's trial and crucifixion was to be a fiery ordeal to his disciples. Their faith needed to be sustained by more than human strength as they should witness the triumph of the powers of darkness. Christ designed to fortify them for this severe test. Had those hours in the garden been spent in watching with the dear Saviour and in prayer to God, the disciples would not have forsaken Jesus in his hour of trial, and Peter would not have been left to his own feeble strength, to deny his Master.

The evidence of the weakness of his disciples excited the pity and sympathy of the Son of God. He questioned their strength to endure the test they must undergo in witnessing his betrayal and death. He did not sternly upbraid them for their weakness, but, in view of their coming trial, exhorted them, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” Then, his spirit moving in sympathy with their frailty, he framed an excuse for their failure in duty toward him: “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again Jesus was seized with superhuman agony, and fainting and exhausted, staggered back to the place of his former struggle. Again he was prostrated to the earth. His suffering was even greater than before. The cypress and palm trees were the silent witnesses of his anguish. From their leafy branches dropped heavy dew upon his stricken form, as if nature wept over its Author wrestling alone with the powers of darkness.

A short time before he had stood like a mighty cedar, withstanding the storm of opposition that spent its fury upon him. Stubborn wills, and hearts filled with malice and subtlety, strove in vain to confuse and overpower him. He stood forth in divine majesty as the Son of God. But now he was like a bruised reed beaten and bent by the angry storm. A few hours before, he had poured out his soul to his disciples in noble utterances, claiming unity with the Father, and giving his elect church into his arms in the language of one who had divine authority. Now his voice uttered suppressed wails of anguish, and he clung to the cold ground as if for relief.

The words of the Saviour were borne to the ears of the drowsy disciples: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” The anguish of God's dear Son forced drops of blood from his pores. Again he staggered to his feet, his human heart yearning for the sympathy of his companions, and he repaired to where they were sleeping. His presence roused them, and they looked upon his face with fear, for it was stained with blood, and expressed an agony of mind which was to them unaccountable.

He did not now address them, but, turning away, sought again his retreat and fell prostrate, overcome by the horror of great darkness. The humanity of the Son of God trembled in that trying hour. The awful moment had arrived which was to decide the destiny of the world. The heavenly hosts waited the issue with intense interest. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance. Christ might even then refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty men. He might wipe the bloody sweat from his brow, and leave men to perish in their iniquity. Will the Son of the Infinite God drink the bitter potion of humiliation and agony? Will the innocent suffer the consequence of God's curse, to save the guilty? The words fall tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

Three times has he uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world's Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish under the Father's displeasure. He sees the power of sin, and the utter helplessness of man to save himself. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before him. He beholds its impending fate, and his decision is made. He will save man at any cost to himself. He accepts his baptism of blood, that perishing millions may through him gain everlasting life. He left the courts of heaven, where all was purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that had fallen by transgression, and he will not turn from the mission he has chosen. Having made the decision and reached the final crisis, he fell in a dying condition to the earth, from which he had partially risen. Where now were his disciples, to place their hands tenderly beneath the head of their fainting Master, and bathe that brow, marred indeed more than the sons of men? The Saviour trod the wine-press alone, and of all the people there was none with him. And yet he was not alone. He had said, “I and my Father are one.” God suffered with his Son. Man cannot comprehend the sacrifice made by the Infinite God in giving up his Son to reproach, agony, and death.

The angels who had done Christ's will in heaven were anxious to comfort him; but it was beyond their power to alleviate his sorrow. They had never felt the sins of a ruined world, and they beheld with astonishment the object of their adoration subject to a grief beyond all expression. Though the disciples had failed to sympathize with their Lord in the trying hour of his conflict, all heaven was full of sympathy and waiting the result with painful interest. When it was finally determined, an angel was sent from the throne of God to minister unto the stricken Redeemer.

(To be continued.)

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