Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 7a, 1886

Sermon/Christ’s Agony Over Jerusalem

Christiania, Norway

July 11, 1886

Previously unpublished. +Note

July 11, 1886

(Sermon, Christiania, Norway,)

Luke 19:41, 42, 43. These words were spoken upon a special occasion. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 1

We read also Matthew 21:5-9. Here was to be a scene that the people who should witness it should never forget. They would never lose the impression given. It was a special occasion, and the multitude had poured out from Jerusalem to join the company in order to fulfil prophecy. But they did not know that they were fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. In that multitude were those who had felt in their body the healing power of Jesus. There were those who had been cripples who were healed; there were those whose eyes were opened by the power of Jesus; there were lepers who had been cleansed from their impurities and who spread their garments in the way; and there were those who had been raised from the dead, crying, “Hosanna to the Lord.” 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 2

Luke 19:37. Here was a general acclamation of triumph in view of the mighty work which Jesus had wrought for them. As they stood upon the crest of Olivet, Jerusalem was before them in all its glory, and this seemed to give a new zeal to their acclamations of praise. They looked at Christ to see what effect it had upon Him, and behold, He was in an agony of tears. The very branches of palm trees which had been strewed in the way were bedewed with His tears of pity. Why this expression of agony and grief amid all this rejoicing? Christ saw before Him that which the multitude around Him could not see. There was a nation that had been blessed and favored with every advantage which God could give them, and they had rejected Him. They were anticipating the death of the Son of God, and when Jerusalem should have reached that point, it was the utter rejection of Him who only could give them peace and hope and rest. He was the only One who could break the yoke from off their necks. He was the only One who could give them triumph and victory, and they had put this blessing away from them because the purity of Jesus was too much for them, and their own sin and iniquity was pressed upon them. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 3

Christ saw the desolation of Jerusalem. He knew the future. He heard the tread of the mighty host which should surround her, and it was the desolation and misery and the deception of the Jewish nation that called forth the agony and tears on that occasion. In choked utterances He exclaims, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:42. And why was it that Jerusalem did not know? Had not the mighty Prophet of God walked their streets and given them warnings and entreaties for three years and a half? Then why had they not accepted the message which was brought to them from heaven? He had healed the sick in their city and villages until there were no night vigils to watch over the sick and afflicted, but homes filled with gratitude and rejoicing in the place of them. And yet notwithstanding the mighty works which had been wrought for those who were suffering and in sickness—even to raising up those who were dead—their hearts were set against the Saviour. Can we explain this hardness and impenitence of the heart? Who can understand the perverseness of the human heart? 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 4

There was no mistake in the great message which came from heaven and meant so much to them, and yet this message was rejected and refused. Christ halts upon the crest of Olivet; the western sun is about to set behind Jerusalem, and when that sun which was gilding its towers should set, the day of Jerusalem was ended. Jesus, who knew the end from the beginning, knew what was before Him. Just at the foot of Olivet was Kidron and in sight was Calvary. He knew that the cross would be placed upon Calvary and that He would be stretched upon it. Was it this that forced the tears from the eyes of the Son of God? Was it this that caused His body to rock as a tree before the tempest? It was not the thought of His own agony, His suffering, His humiliation, His shame, that brought these tears, but it was the giving up of the people for whom God had done so much. And just according to the light which had shone upon them and which they had turned away from would be their punishment because of this rejection. Why, to give up one soul to perish is a terrible thing! One soul is accounted with God of more value than all the world beside. And here was a whole nation that was to be given up to destruction—a nation who would have passed their probation when they had crucified the Son of God. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 5

In the destruction of Jerusalem is symbolized the destruction of the whole world. And of Jerusalem, in broken voice and with weeping, Christ said, “If thou hadst known, even thou, ... in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” Here was a pause; He hesitated before passing the irrevocable sentence, “but now they are hid from thine eyes.” This is spoken to every heart in the world who turns from light and truth. Every one who turns from the mercy and blessing of God which is offered to him freely—he is the one to whom God is talking. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 6

The last clause comes from His pale and quivering lips. “But now they are hid from thine eyes.” He has done what He could for the people, but they would not come to Him that they might have life. We look with sorrow when we see a mother weeping over the bed of her dying child, but here was a sorrow a hundredfold greater than that of the mother for her child. “How can I give thee up? O Jerusalem,” was the language of our Saviour. [Hosea 11:8.] He exclaims in one place, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ... how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matthew 23:37. What loving care He would have had for them! Christ came to our world in human form, and He would have encircled them with His human arm while with His divine arm He would have connected them with the God of heaven. The apostle exclaims, “Who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth?” Galatians 3:1. He will ask you today, What has come over you that you will not come to God and in full sincerity receive your Saviour? Certainly it is a benumbing power that has come over the souls of many who have had a knowledge of the truth, that they cannot understand the great love of God. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 7

In (Matthew 21:12) we read that He “went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.” Here our Saviour, as He came down from the crest of Olivet, entered into the temple, and there were the temple courts filled with all sorts of rubbish. There were the boxes for the doves, the pens for the sheep, and there were the oxen and all these things. And there was the quarreling of the priests and the moneychangers and general confusion in that place. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 8

Christ stands upon the steps of the temple, His eye looks over that crowd, and divinity flashes through humanity as He looks upon the scene. There was a terrible period of silence upon all that was remarkable. Every eye was cast upon Jesus. He took up a small whip of cords in His hand and as He raised it He said, “Take these things hence.” John 2:16. “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye made it a den of thieves.” Matthew 21:13. That flash of divinity through humanity sent terror through every soul, and they fled from that temple as though a band of armed soldiers were behind them. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 9

As they went away they met a great company coming to the temple with their sick, and they said to them, “Go back, go back, He has driven us all out of the temple.” But did they go back? No, they had come a long way with their sick and their dying ones, that Jesus might heal them; and should they give up now? They felt that some of their loved ones would not live until they could reach the temple, and they pressed on their way to the place where Jesus was. With what gracious love He receives every one of them. (Verse 14 of Matthew 21): “And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them.” 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 10

After the priests saw that they were not followed by those that were after them, they could not understand by what power they had been driven out of the temple, and they said, “Let us go back and challenge Him by what power and authority He has done this thing.” Verses 15, 16. Here were the little children that had been healed of their diseases. Jesus had bent over their suffering ones and touched them with His finger and healed them. The multitude that had been crying, “Hosanna,” had become so terrified that their voices were hushed, and these little children had picked up the palm branches which they had dropped in the way, and they were walking through the temple and crying, “Hosanna, Hosanna,” which the leaders dared not do. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 11

Mark 11:12, 13. Here was a fig orchard in the way that Christ traveled, and in that fig orchard was a tree that had put forth its green leaves. The other trees had not yet put forth their leaves, but here stood one tree with its pretentious leaves, pretending that there was fruit thereon. But the Master came and, searching from the topmost boughs down to the lowest branches, He found nothing but leaves. It was stated to Him that the time of figs was not yet. In California the trees always put forth the figs before the leaves appear, and here Christ had reason to believe that there was fruit on the tree, but He finds none. He says, “Let no fruit grow on thee from henceforward forever.” Matthew 21:19. And as they returned that way again, the disciples call attention to that tree which is withered to its very roots. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 12

Here we have a symbol of the Jewish nation. Here Christ had clothed them with truth that they might let it shine out to others. To the disciples this lesson was essential for them at this time when they were to have such a trial of their faith. Here were the other fig trees that had just as much reason as this one to put forth leaves, but they made no pretensions of bearing fruit. Now we want you to take this lesson to yourselves. Here was a nation that professed to be in advance of every other nation, but there was no fruit to be found upon them. And whatever may be your profession, your advantages or privileges, unless you live up to them and practice the light God has given you, you will be under greater obligations for the light you have. If your religion is flourishing like this tree, and you bear no fruit, then your religion is vain. We want to examine ourselves and see if we are in the faith. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 13

Jerusalem’s sin was in not listening to the warnings given them; and the Word of God had plainly stated that if they would walk in His statutes and keep His law, His blessing would rest upon them. And while they claimed to be keeping the law of God, the Word of God tells them that they are not keeping it, but breaking it. And here we want to inquire how many have let the temple of their souls be desecrated by worldly things and have crowded out the Son of God? Here was a nation that stood forth claiming the highest privilege of any nation upon the face of the earth. Prophecy had told them just how Jesus should come, and why could they not have read in the Scriptures just the manner of His coming? Because their hearts had been lifted up. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 14

Just so it is with the Christian world today. A Christ in glory, a Christ crucified, they acknowledge as their Saviour; but if Christ should come into our world today as He came into Jerusalem, who would receive Him? The Jews thought Jesus would come as a mighty prince and ruler upon a throne of divinity, but they did not read prophecy aright and therefore they would not accept Him. He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief; “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 15

He came here to save every one who would come to Him to be saved. His long human arm reached to the very depth of woe and human misery; and while He would lift man up and ennoble him, He takes hold of divine power and thus He unites man with the infinite God. All the blessings which He came to bring to man they refused, but how many are refusing Christ today? The waves of blessing are falling upon their hearts, and they are beating them back. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 16

But hear the mournful cry of Christ, “O that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:42, margin R.V. There is nothing that He requires of you that He does not lead the way. And here He has told us of the fate of Jerusalem, (verse 43 Matthew 21): “Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Here the judgments were to come because they knew not the time of their visitation. At the destruction of Jerusalem there was not one Christian that perished because they heeded the instruction of Christ, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, ... then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains.” Luke 21:20, 21. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 17

God had prepared a refuge for them, and forty years later this prophecy was fulfilled. There was the temple that was destroyed, and although Titus tried to the best of his powers to save that beautiful, costly temple, he was unable to do so. A higher mandate had gone forth, “There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Mark 13:2. And here were those who had taken the Son of God and crucified Him. And who was it that had acted so prominent a part? It was those of His own nation. And they were the ones who cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Matthew 27:25. And these were the ones who had crucified Him on Calvary where the crosses stood as thick as forest trees. And we see the prophecy tells us all about these things, and why are we not searching the Scripture for ourselves? We have no right to close our Bibles and let others search for us. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 18

We may make great pretensions to spirituality and godliness as did the Jewish nation, but it is fruit that Christ is seeking; and will He find in you nothing but leaves? We want the truth, and we want to practice it. We want to be on the Lord’s side, and not on the side of His persecutors. We are to reveal Christ in His humiliation. We are to reveal Him in meekness and lowliness of heart. And when we realize that every blessing that we enjoy comes through Jesus Christ, why do we not seek to honor Him? Why are we not opening our hearts that the Son of God can take possession of them? “Behold,” says He, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man ... open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him.” Revelation 3:20. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 19

There are many of you who appear as though you were in an agony to receive the Spirit of God, but you are not in a position to receive it. Why not receive it in His own way? Why not cast out debris out of your heart? Why not die to self? When you come in a position that you will have the truth, cost what it will, then you will appreciate the truth. But form is just as objectionable today as it was in the day when Christ was crucified. Are you in harmony with Jesus? Are you keeping God’s law? Our precious Saviour has made an infinite sacrifice for every one of us. He wants to clothe you with the garments of His righteousness. 4LtMs, Ms 7a, 1886, par. 20