Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)

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Ms 41, 1887

The Value of Redemption

NP

1887

Formerly Undated Ms 127. Portions of this manuscript are published in CC 325; SD 249; 1BC 1107; 5BC 1149; 7ABC 487.

In order to realize the value of redemption, it is necessary to understand what it cost. We should take broader and deeper views of the life, sufferings, and death of God’s dear Son. A limited idea of the sacrifice made in our behalf leaves many to place a low estimate upon the great work of the atonement. Let those who would, in some faint degree, appreciate the price paid for our redemption, follow the Son of God in the crowning acts of His great sacrifice. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 1

Often had Jesus, with the twelve, resorted to Gethsemane for meditation and prayer, but never had He visited the spot with a heart so full of sorrow as upon the night of His betrayal. He had been earnestly conversing with His disciples; but as He neared the garden, He became strangely silent. Upon entering, He said to His companions, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” [Matthew 26:36.] 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 2

Selecting Peter and James and John to accompany Him, He proceeded farther into the recesses of the garden; and going a short distance from His companions, not so far but that they could both see and hear Him, He fell prostrate upon His face to the earth. He was overpowered by a terrible fear that the Lord was removing His presence from Him. He felt Himself being separated from His Father by a gulf of sin, so broad, so black and deep, that His spirit shuddered before it. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 3

It was not a dread of the physical suffering He was soon to endure that brought this agony upon the Son of God. He was bearing the penalty of man’s transgression and shuddering beneath the Father’s frown. He must not exert His divine power to escape this agony, but, as a man, He must bear the consequences of man’s sin and the Creator’s displeasure toward His disobedient subjects, and He feared in His human nature He would be unable to endure the coming conflict with the prince of the power of darkness; in that case the human race would be hopelessly lost, Satan would be victor, and the earth would be his kingdom. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 4

The chilling dews of night fell upon His prostrate form, but the Redeemer heeded it not. From His pale lips wailed the bitter cry, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” [Verse 39.] 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. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 5

Three times during that night of anguish, the Savior arose and sought His disciples and every time found them fast asleep. His sorrowful words, the third time, however, fully aroused them! “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” [Verse 45.] 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 6

Even while these words were upon His lips, the footsteps of the mob that were in search of Him were heard. Judas took the lead and was closely followed by the high priest. Jesus turned to His disciples, as His enemies approached, and said: “Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me.” [Verse 46.] The countenance of the Saviour wore an expression of calm dignity; no traces of His recent agony were visible as He stepped forth to meet His betrayer. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 7

Stepping a little in advance of His disciples, He enquired, “Whom seek ye?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am He.” As these words were uttered, the mob staggered back; and the priests, elders, soldiers, and even Judas dropped powerless to the ground. [John 18:4-6.] This gave Christ ample opportunity to escape from them if He had chosen to do so. But He stood as one glorified amid that coarse and hardened band. When He answered, “I am He,” the angel who had lately ministered to Him moved between Him and the murderous mob who saw a divine light illuminating the Savior’s face and a dovelike form overshadowing Him. Their wicked hearts were filled with terror. They could not for a moment stand upon their feet in the presence of this divine glory, and they fell as dead men to the ground. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 8

The angel withdrew; the light faded away; Jesus was left standing, calm and self-possessed, with the bright beams of the moon upon His pale face and still surrounded by prostrate, helpless men, while the disciples were too much amazed to utter a word. When the angel departed, the Roman soldiers started to their feet and, with the priests and Judas, gathered about Christ as though ashamed of their weakness and fearful that He would yet escape from their hands. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 9

When the disciples saw that Jesus did not deliver Himself from His enemies, but permitted Himself to be taken and bound, they were offended that He would suffer this humiliation to Himself and them. They had just witnessed an exhibition of His power in prostrating to the ground those who came to take Him, and they knew that if He chose He could deliver Himself from that murderous throng. They blamed Him for not doing so, and mortified and terror stricken by His unaccountable conduct, they forsook Him and fled. Alone, in the hands of the hooting mob, the Saviour was hurried from the garden and led to the judgment hall of an earthly court to be derided and condemned to death by sinful men. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 10

The Majesty of heaven submitted to insult, mockery, and shameful abuse. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities:” “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” [Isaiah 53:5, 7.] Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! Behold the oppressor and the Oppressed! A vast multitude encloses the Saviour of the world. Mocking and jeering are mingled with the coarse oaths of blasphemy. His lowly birth and His humble life are commented upon by unfeeling wretches. His claim to be the Son of God is ridiculed by the chief priests and elders, and the vulgar jest and insulting sneer are passed from lip to lip. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 11

Jesus, the Son of God, was delivered to the people to be crucified. With shouts of triumph they led the Saviour away toward Calvary. The news of His condemnation had spread through all Jerusalem, striking terror and anguish to thousands of hearts, but bringing a malicious joy to many who had been reproved by His teachings. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 12

Jesus had hardly passed the gate of Pilate’s house when the cross which had been prepared for Barabbas was brought out and laid upon His bruised and bleeding shoulders. He had borne His burden but a few rods, when, from loss of blood and excessive weariness and pain, He fell fainting to the ground. When He revived, the cross was again placed upon His shoulders, and He was forced forward. He staggered on for a few steps, bearing His heavy load, and then fell as one lifeless to the ground. The priests and rulers felt no compassion for their suffering victim, but they saw that it was impossible for Him to carry the instrument of torture farther. They were puzzled to find anyone who would humiliate himself to bear the cross to the place of execution. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 13

While they were considering what to do, Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from an opposite direction, met the crowd, was seized at the instigation of the priests, and compelled to carry the cross of Christ. The sons of Simon were disciples of Jesus, but he himself had never been connected with Him. This occasion was a profitable one for him. The cross he was forced to bear became the means of his conversion. His sympathies were deeply stirred in favor of Jesus; and the events of Calvary, and the words uttered by the Saviour, caused him to acknowledge that He was the Son of God. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 14

Upon arriving at the place of execution, the condemned were bound to the instruments of torture. While the two thieves wrestled in the hands of those who stretched them upon the cross, Jesus made no resistance. His face remained pale and serene, but great drops of sweat stood upon His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death dew from His face, nor words of sympathy and unchanging fidelity to stay His human heart. He was treading the winepress alone; and of all the people, there was none with Him. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, and He was enduring the most acute agony, Jesus prayed for His enemies—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34.] His mind was borne from His own suffering to the crime of His persecutors and the terrible but just retribution that would be theirs. He pitied them in their ignorance and guilt. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 15

The mission of Christ’s earthly life was now nearly accomplished. His tongue was parched, and He said, “I thirst.” [John 19:28.] Saturating a sponge with vinegar and gall, they offered it Him to drink; but when He had tasted it, He refused it. The Lord of life and glory was dying, a ransom for the race. Angels witnessed with amazement His despairing agony so much greater than His physical pain that the latter was hardly felt by Him. The hosts of heaven veiled their faces from the fearful sight. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 16

Inanimate nature expressed sympathy with its insulted and dying Author. The sun refused to look upon the awful scene. Its full, bright rays were illuminating the earth at midday, when suddenly it seemed to be blotted out. Complete darkness, like a funeral pall, enveloped the cross and all its vicinity. There was no eclipse or other natural cause for this darkness, which was deep as midnight without moon or stars. It lasted three full hours. No eye could pierce the gloom that enshrouded the cross, and none could penetrate the deeper gloom that flooded the suffering soul of Christ. A nameless terror took possession of all who were collected about the cross. The silence of the grave seemed to have fallen upon Calvary. The cursing and reviling ceased in the midst of half-uttered sentences. Men, women, and children prostrated themselves upon the earth in abject terror. Vivid lightnings, unaccompanied by thunder, occasionally flashed forth from the cloud and revealed the cross and the crucified Redeemer. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 17

Priests, rulers, scribes, executioners, and the mob all thought their time of retribution had come. After a while, some whispered to others that Jesus would now come down from the cross. Some attempted to grope their way back to the city, beating their breasts and wailing in fear. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 18

At the ninth hour the terrible darkness lifted from the people, but still wrapt the Saviour in a mantle. The angry lightnings seemed to be hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross. Then “Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” [Mark 15:34.] 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 19

In silence the people watch for the end of this fearful scene. Priests and rulers look towards Jerusalem; and lo, the dense cloud has settled upon the city, and over Judah’s plains, and the fierce lightnings of God’s wrath are directed against the fated city. Suddenly the gloom is lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpet tones, that seem to resound throughout creation, Jesus cries, “It is finished;” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” [John 19:30; Luke 23:46.] A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Savior shone with a glory like unto the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast and died. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 20

The spectators stood paralyzed and with bated breath gazed upon the Saviour. Again darkness settled upon the face of the earth, and a hoarse rumbling, like heavy thunder, was heard. This was accompanied by a violent quaking of the earth. The multitude was shaken together in heaps, and the wildest confusion and consternation ensued. In the surrounding mountains, rocks burst asunder with loud crashing, and many of them came tumbling down the heights to the plains below. The sepulchers were broken open, and the dead were cast out of their tombs. Creation seemed to be shivering to atoms. Priests, rulers, soldiers, and executioners were made mute with terror and prostrated upon the ground. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 21

The darkness still hung like a pall over Jerusalem. At the moment in which Christ died, there were priests ministering in the temple before the veil which separated the holy from the most holy place. Suddenly they felt the earth tremble beneath them, and the veil of the temple, a strong, rich drapery that had been renewed yearly, was rent in twain from top to bottom by the same bloodless hand that wrote the words of doom upon the wall of Belshazzar’s palace. The most holy place, that had been entered by human feet only once a year, was revealed to the common gaze. God had ever before protected His temple in a wonderful manner, but now its sacred mysteries were exposed to curious eyes. No longer would the presence of God overshadow the earthly mercy seat. No longer would the light of His glory flash forth upon, or the cloud of His disapproval shadow, the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 22

When Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, a new and living way was opened to both Jew and Gentile. The Saviour was henceforth to officiate as priest and advocate in the heaven of heavens. Henceforth the blood of beasts offered for sins was valueless, for the Lamb of God had died for the sins of the world. The darkness upon the face of nature expressed her sympathy with Christ in His expiring agony. It evidenced to humanity that the Sun of righteousness, the Light of the world, was withdrawing His beams from the once-favored city of Jerusalem. It was a miraculous testimony given of God, that the faith of aftergenerations might be confirmed. 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 23

Jesus did not yield up His life until He had accomplished the work which He came to do. The great plan of redemption was triumphantly carried out. Through a life of obedience, the fallen sons of Adam could finally be exalted to the presence of God. When the Christian comprehends the magnitude of the great sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven, then will the plan of salvation be magnified before him, and to meditate upon Calvary will awaken the deepest and most sacred emotions of his heart. Contemplation of the Saviour’s matchless love should absorb the mind, touch and melt the heart, refine and elevate the affections, and completely transform the whole character. The language of Paul the apostle is, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” [1 Corinthians 2:2.] And we may look toward Calvary and exclaim, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” [Galatians 6:14.] 5LtMs, Ms 41, 1887, par. 24