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Humble Hero

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    The Agony of Christ’s Mother

    At the place of execution, the two thieves wrestled in the hands of those who placed them on the cross, but Jesus did not resist. His mother, supported by John, had followed her Son’s steps to Calvary. She had longed to place a supporting hand beneath His wounded head. But she was not permitted this sad privilege. She still cherished the hope that Jesus would deliver Himself from His enemies. Again her heart would sink as she recalled how He had foretold the very scenes then taking place.HH 343.3

    As the thieves were bound to the cross, she looked on with agonizing suspense. Would He who had given life to the dead allow Himself to be crucified? Must she give up her faith that He was the Messiah? She saw His hands stretched on the cross. The soldiers brought the hammer and nails, and as they drove the spikes through the tender flesh, the disciples bore the fainting form of the mother of Jesus away from the cruel scene.HH 343.4

    The Savior made no complaint, but great drops of sweat stood on His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death dew from His face, no words of sympathy and loyalty to encourage His human heart. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” His mind passed from His own suffering to the terrible retribution that would be theirs. He did not call down any curses on the soldiers who were handling Him so roughly. He invoked no vengeance on the priests and rulers. He breathed only a plea for their forgiveness—“they do not know what they do.”HH 343.5

    But their ignorance did not remove their guilt, for it was their privilege to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. Some would yet see their sin and would repent and be converted. Some by refusing to repent would make it impossible for the prayer of Christ to be answered for them. Yet just the same, God’s purpose was reaching its fulfillment. Jesus was earning the right to become the One who pleads our case in the Father’s presence.HH 344.1

    That prayer of Christ for His enemies took in every sinner from the beginning of the world to the end of time. The guilt of crucifying the Son of God rests on us all. To all, Jesus freely offers forgiveness.HH 344.2

    As soon as Jesus was nailed to the cross, strong men lifted it and thrust it violently into the place prepared for it. This caused intense agony. Pilate then wrote an inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin and placed it on the cross above Jesus’ head. It read, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” This irritated the Jews. They had shouted, “We have no king but Caesar.” They had declared that whoever should acknowledge any other king was a traitor. Pilate wrote what they had expressed. No offense was mentioned, except that Jesus was the King of the Jews, a virtual acknowledgment of the allegiance of the Jews to Rome. It declared that whoever might claim to be the King of Israel they would judge as worthy of death. In order to destroy Christ, the priests had been ready to sacrifice even their national existence.HH 344.3

    The priests asked Pilate to change the inscription. “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’” But Pilate, angry with himself, replied coldly, “What I have written, I have written.”HH 344.4

    In the outworking of God’s plans, that inscription was to awaken investigation of the Scriptures. People from all lands were at Jerusalem then, and the inscription declaring Jesus the Messiah would come to their attention. God had guided its writing.HH 344.5

    The sufferings of Christ on the cross fulfilled prophecy.HH 344.6

    The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
    They pierced My hands and My feet. ...
    They divide My garments among them,
    And for My clothing they cast lots.
    Psalm 22:16-18
    HH 344.7

    His clothing was given to the soldiers. His tunic was woven without seam, and they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.”HH 344.8

    In another prophecy the Savior declared,HH 344.9

    I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
    And for comforters, but I found none.
    They also gave me gall for my food,
    And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
    Psalm 69:20, 21
    HH 344.10

    To those who were put to death on the cross, it was permitted to give a stupefying drug to deaden the pain. But when Jesus had tasted it, He refused it. His faith must keep hold on God, His only strength. To cloud His senses would give Satan an advantage.HH 345.1

    Priests, rulers, and scribes joined the mob in mocking the dying Savior. The Father’s voice from heaven had earlier witnessed to Christ’s divinity. Now it was silent. No testimony was heard in His favor. He suffered alone.HH 345.2

    “If You are the Son of God,” they said, “come down from the cross.” “Let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” Satan and his angels, in human form, were present at the cross, cooperating with the priests and rulers who were joined in a satanic frenzy.HH 345.3

    Jesus heard the priests declare, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Christ could have come down from the cross. But because He refused to save Himself, the sinner has hope of pardon and favor with God.HH 345.4

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