Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

December 9, 1897

In Gethsemane

(Concluded.)

The heavenly universe had watched with intense interest the entire life of Christ,—every step from the manger to the present awful scene. And what a scene was this for ten thousand times ten thousands of angels, of cherubim and seraphim, to look upon. They beheld the Son of God, their loved Commander, in his superhuman agony apparently dying on the field of battle to save a lost and perishing world. All heaven had listened to that prayer of Christ. His soul agony, which three times forced from his pale and quivering lips the cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,” convulsed all heaven. They saw their Lord inclosed by legions of Satanic forces, his human nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. Everywhere he may look is a horror of great darkness beyond the measurement of human minds. And there was silence in heaven; no harp was touched. Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as they watched in silent grief the Father separating his beams of light, love, and glory, from the beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive sin is in his sight.

In the supreme crisis, when heart and soul are breaking under the load of sin, Gabriel is sent to strengthen the divine Sufferer, and brace him to tread his blood-stained path. And while the angel supports his fainting form, Christ takes the bitter cup, and consents to drink its contents. Before the suffering One comes up the wail of a lost and perishing world, and the words come from the blood-stained lips. “Nevertheless, if man must perish unless I drink this bitter cup, thy will, not mine, be done.”

Prophecy had declared that the “mighty One,” the holy One from Mount Paran, was to tread the winepress alone; “of the people there was none” with him. His own arm brought salvation; he was ready for the sacrifice. The fearful crisis was past. That agony which none but God could endure, Christ had borne.

The human nature of Christ was like unto ours, and suffering was more keenly felt by him; for his spiritual nature was free from every taint of sin. Therefore his desire for the removal of suffering was stronger than human beings can experience. How intense was the desire of the humanity of Christ to escape the displeasure of an offended God, how his soul longed for relief, is revealed in the words, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

Yet Christ had not been forced to take this step. He had contemplated this struggle. To his disciples he had said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.” “Now is your hour, and the power of darkness.” He had volunteered to lay down his life to save the world. The claims of God's government had been misapprehended through the deceptive words and works of Satan, and the necessity of a mediator was seen and felt by the Father and the Son. And now the great antitype of all the sacrificial offerings had come. In Christ type had met antitype. In the sacrifice of himself was the substance which all the sacrifices symbolized. In surrendering his spotless soul a living sacrifice, Jesus was bearing the sin of the world; he was enduring the curse of the law; he was vindicating the justice of God. Separation from his Father, the punishment for transgression, was to fall upon him, in order to magnify God's law and testify to its immutability. And this was forever to settle the controversy between Satan and the Prince of heaven in regard to the changeless character of that law.

The Son of God endured the wrath of God against sin. All the accumulated sin of the world was laid upon the Sin-bearer, the One who was innocent, the One who alone could be the propitiation for sin, because he himself was obedient. He was one with God. Not a taint of corruption was upon him. Yet “being in the form of God,” he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.... For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”

And was all this suffering undergone to give men the liberty to transgress the law of God?—No, no. This scene of suffering was because of the law transgressed. In order to save the sinner, and yet meet the demands of the law, it was necessary for Christ to suffer the sinner's penalty. Satan's falsehood that has placed the Christian world as transgressors of God's law would not have been found in such company if his temptations had not taken with them as they did with Adam, if by their tradition man had not made void the law of God in the place of leading men to obedience to all its commands.

Strengthened by the angel sent from heaven, Jesus for the third time returned to his disciples. And again he found them sleeping. The disciples looked with terror and amazement upon his face, which was marked with blood, and marred more than the sons of men. Only a short distance had separated them from their Lord, and they had heard the exclamations from his divine lips. And they had prayed as they had heard the strong cries of the Sufferer. They did not intend to forsake their Lord, but they seemed paralyzed by a stupor which they might have shaken off if they had continued pleading with God. Had the disciples heeded the words of their suffering Master, “Pray ye, that ye enter not into temptation,” they would never have allowed sleep to stupefy their senses. They would have been partakers with him in his suffering.

And in thus sleeping they sustained a great loss. Christ designed to fortify them for the severe test of their faith to which they would soon be subjected. If they had spent that mournful period in watching with the Saviour, Peter would not have been left to his own feeble strength to deny his Lord in the time of trial. The disciples might have stood on vantage-ground through the terrible scenes that were before them. They might have stood secure, defended by the heavenly angels. In God they might have overcome the wicked one. If they had remained watching, they would not have lost faith as they beheld the Son of God dying upon the cross.

And now they hear the heavy tramp of soldiers in the garden. “Behold,” said Christ, “the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up; let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand. And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.” Judas believed that Christ would not permit himself to be taken. “And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, Master; and kissed him.” “But Jesus saith unto Judas, Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”

“And, behold, one of them which was with Jesus, stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I can not now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?”

To the multitude Christ turned 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 Scripture must be fulfilled.” The disciples were now all together again, surrounding their Lord, but with these words terror seized them, and at the suggestion of Peter, they “all forsook him and fled.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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