Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

February 18, 1886

The Sufferings of Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Continued from page 18.)

The Conflict Ended

When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” all Heaven triumphed. The controversy between Christ and Satan in regard to the execution of the plan of salvation, was ended. Satan had fully manifested his enmity against the Son of God. It was the cruel cunning of the fallen foe that planned the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Christ. His diabolical hatred, carried out in the death of Jesus, placed Satan where his true character was revealed to all created intelligences that had not fallen by sin. The angels were horror-stricken that one who had been of their number could fall so low as to be capable of such cruelty. Every sentiment of sympathy or pity which they had ever felt for Satan in his exile was quenched in their hearts.

Satan had put forth the strongest efforts against Christ from the time when he appeared as a babe in Bethlehem. He had sought in every possible manner to prevent him from developing an unblemished childhood, a true manhood, a holy ministry, and a perfect sacrifice in yielding up his life, without a murmur, for the sins of men. But Satan had been unable to discourage him, or to drive him from the work which he had come on earth to do. The storm of Satan's wrath beat upon him from the desert to Calvary; but the more mercilessly it fell, the more firmly did the Son of God cling to the hand of his Father, and press on in the blood-stained path before him. All the efforts of this mighty foe to oppress and overwhelm him, only brought out in a purer light the spotless character of Christ.

The justice of God was now fully vindicated in his act of banishing from heaven the fallen angel who had once been exalted next to Christ. All Heaven, and the worlds that had not fallen by sin, had been witnesses to the controversy between Christ and Satan. With intense interest had they followed the closing scenes of the conflict. They had beheld the Saviour enter the garden of Gethsemane, his soul bowed down by a horror of darkness that he had never before experienced. An overmastering agony had wrenched from his lips the bitter cry for that cup, if possible, to pass from him. A terrible amazement had filled his Divine spirit with shuddering dread, as he felt his Father's presence removed from him. He was sorrowful, with a bitterness of sorrow exceeding that of the last great struggle with death; the sweat of blood was forced from his pores, and fell in drops upon the ground. Thrice the prayer for deliverance had been wrung from his lips. Heaven had been unable to longer endure the sight, and had sent a messenger of consolation to the prostrate Son of God, fainting and dying under the accumulated guilt of the world.

Heaven had beheld the victim betrayed and hurried, with mockery and violence, from one earthly tribunal to another. It had heard the sneers of his persecutors because of his lowly birth, and the denial with cursing and swearing by one of his best-loved disciples. It had seen the frenzied work of Satan, and his power over the hearts of men. Oh, fearful scene! the Saviour seized at midnight in Gethsemane as a criminal, dragged to and fro from palace to judgment hall, arraigned twice before the Sanhedrim, twice before Pilate, and once before Herod, mocked, scourged, and condemned, led out to be crucified, bearing the heavy burden of the cross amid the wailing of the daughters of Jerusalem and the jeering of the crowd!

Heaven had viewed with grief and horror Christ hanging upon the cross, blood flowing from his wounded temples, and sweat tinged with blood standing upon his brow. From his hands and feet the blood had fallen, drop by drop, upon the rock drilled for the foot of the cross. The wounds made by the nails had gaped as the weight of his body dragged upon his hands. His laboured breath had grown quick and deep, as his soul panted under the burden of the sins of the world. All Heaven had been filled with amazement when the prayer of Christ was offered in the midst of his terrible suffering,—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Christ was the embodiment of God himself. The plan and execution of man's salvation was a demonstration of Divine wisdom and power. The unfathomable love of God for the human race in giving his Son to die for them, was made manifest. Christ was revealed in all his self-sacrificing love and purity. When the justice of God was expressed in judicial sentence, declaring the final disposition of Satan, that he should be utterly consumed with all those who ranked under his banner, all heaven rang with hallelujahs.

In the death of Christ upon the cross, angels had seen the pledge of final victory over the powers of darkness. In the slain Saviour sleeping in Joseph's tomb, angels beheld the mighty Conqueror. Angels guarded the sepulchre of Christ, and acted a part in his resurrection. While Roman sentinels were keeping their watch beside the Saviour's tomb, an angel of the most exalted order was sent from heaven. His countenance was like the lightning, and his garments white as snow. He parted the darkness from his track, and the whole heavens were lit with his resplendent glory. The earth trembled and heaved; soldiers, officers, and sentinels, all fell as dead men prostrate upon the earth. The evil angels, who had triumphantly claimed the body of Christ, fled in terror from the place. Then the mighty angel, with a voice that caused the earth to quake, was heard: Jesus thou Son of God, thy Father calls thee! And He who had earned the power to conquer death and the grave came forth, with the tread of a conqueror, from the sepulchre, amid the reeling of the earth, the flashing of lightning, and the roaring of thunder.

Jesus was the first-fruits of them that slept. When he came forth from the tomb, he called a multitude from the dead, thus settling forever the long-disputed question of the resurrection. In raising this multitude of captives from the dead, he gave evidence that there will be a final resurrection of those who sleep in Jesus.

Satan was bitterly incensed that his angels had fled from the presence of the heavenly angels, and that Christ had conquered death, and shown by this act what his future power was to be. All the triumph that the tempter had experienced in witnessing his own power over men, which had urged them on to insult and murder the Son of God, vanished before this exhibition of the Divine power of Christ. He had dared to hope that Jesus would not take up his life again; but his courage failed him when the Saviour came forth, having paid the full ransom of man, thus enabling him to overcome Satan in his own behalf in the name of Christ, the Conqueror. The archenemy now knew that he must eventually die, and that his kingdom would have an end.

At the death of Jesus the earth was wrapped in profound darkness at midday; but at the resurrection the brightness of the angels illuminates the night, and the inhabitants of heaven sing with great joy and triumph: Thou hast vanquished Satan and the powers of darkness! Thou hast swallowed up death in victory! “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God, day and night.”

With joy unutterable, all Heaven welcomed the hour when the Saviour, at the close of his earthly mission, ascended to the celestial courts. As a mighty Conqueror he led the way upward, and the multitude of captives whom he had raised from the dead at the time when he came forth from the tomb, followed him. With songs of joy and triumph, the heavenly host escorted him upward. At the portals of the city of God an innumerable company of angels awaited his coming. As they approached the gates of the city, the angels who were escorting the Majesty of Heaven, in triumphant tones addressed the company at the portals: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in!”

The waiting angels at the gates of the city inquire in rapturous strains, “Who is this King of glory?” The escorting angels joyously reply in songs of triumph, “The Lord, strong and mighty! The Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in!” Again the waiting angels ask, “Who is this King of glory?” and the escorting angels respond in melodious strains. “The Lord of hosts! He is the King of glory!” Then the portals of the city of God are widely opened, and the heavenly train pass in amid a burst of angelic music. All the heavenly host surround their majestic Commander as he takes his position upon the throne of the Father.

The Saviour presents the captives he has rescued from the bonds of death, at the price of his own life. His hands place immortal crowns upon their brows; for they are the representatives and samples of those who shall be redeemed by the blood of Christ from all nations, tongues, and people, and come forth from the dead, when he shall call the just from their graves at his second coming. Then shall they see the marks of Calvary in the glorified body of the Son of God. Their greatest joy will be found in the presence of Him who sitteth on the throne; and the enraptured saints will exclaim, My beloved is mine, and I am his! He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely!

With the deepest joy and adoration, the hosts of angels bow before him, while the glad shout rings through the courts of heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour and glory, and blessing!” Songs of triumph mingle with music from angelic harps, till heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise. The Son of God has triumphed over the prince of darkness, and conquered death and the grave. Heaven rings with voices proclaiming in lofty strains, “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever!”

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