Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Ms 35, 1895

The Sufferings of Christ


September 13, 1894 [Filed in 1895]

Formerly Undated Ms 47. This manuscript is published in entirety in BTS 09/1915, 10/1915.

The sufferings of humanity ever touched the heart and called forth the sympathy and love of Christ. He exercised pity and compassion toward those who were afflicted in soul or body. His example in the matter of treating the suffering and afflicted should teach us how to have compassion and pity for the sufferings of His creatures. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 1

Christ suffered in the flesh. He had clothed His divinity with humanity, and in every period of His life, through infancy, childhood, youth, and manhood, He had suffered every phase of trial and temptation with which humanity is beset. He knew what it was to suffer keen pangs of hunger, and He has given special lessons in regard to feeding the hungry and caring for the needy poor, and has declared that in ministering to the needy we are ministering to Himself in the person of His saints. He says, “I was an hungered and ye gave me meat.” [Matthew 25:35.] He knew the discomfort and suffering of thirst, and He declared that a cup of cold water given in His name to any of His disciples should not lose its reward. [Matthew 10:42.] 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 2

He was often weary, oppressed with poverty, and He experienced the taxation of acting His part to support the family of which He was a member. He suffered reproach and experienced the bitter hostility of those who knew Him not. In His own home He was made to suffer the discomfort and sorrow that result from envy and jealousy. His brethren through it was their privilege to exercise authority over Him, and to presume to dictate to Him what should be His course. The misapprehension of His relatives was most painful to Him because His own heart was full of kindness and love, and He appreciated tender regard in the family relation. But His own brethren oft wounded and grieved His heart. They desired that He should concede to their wishes and ideas when such a course would be utterly out of harmony with His divine mission. The statement is made in the Scriptures, “Neither did his brethren believe on him.” [John 7:5.] 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 3

O, if His brethren, the members of His own family, had been His friends, what a comfort they might have been to Him! The life of Christ was far superior to the life of His home relations. They were not all converted, and they looked upon Christ as one in need of their advice and counsel. They judged Him from their human standpoint, and they thought that if He would only be advised by them, and speak only such things before the Scribes and Pharisees as would not arouse their hostility, He would avoid all the disagreeable controversy that His words aroused. They charged Him with blame for many things that He said, and declared that He ought to have left them unsaid. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 4

They could not fathom by their short human measuring line the divine mission which He came to fulfill, and therefore could not be partakers with Him of His trials. Their coarse, unappreciative words revealed the fact that they had no conception of the fine texture of His character, and did not discern that the divine blended with the human. They often saw Him full of grief, but instead of comforting Him, their spirit and words only grieved His heart. His sensitive nature was tortured, His motives misunderstood, His work uncomprehended. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 5

So pained was Christ by the atmosphere of misapprehension in His own home, that He felt relieved when He could be in a place where it did not exist, and where His spirit could rest. He loved to visit the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Here His spirit found rest. He was not ordered or dictated to, neither were His motives and words misconstrued and misapprehended. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 6

His brethren often brought forward the philosophy of the Pharisees which was hoary with age and threadbare, and presumed to think that they could teach Him who understood all truth and comprehended all mysteries. He was the Author of truth, and His soul was wearied and distressed. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 7

He found relief in being alone, and in communing with His heavenly Father. His brethren thought that their wisdom was far superior to that of Jesus, and did not apprehend that He was the fountain of all wisdom and knowledge. They freely condemned that which they could not understand, and their reproaches probed Him to the quick. They avowed faith in God, and thought they were vindicating God, when God was with them in the flesh, and they knew Him not. These things made His path a thorny one to travel. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 8

From the manger to Calvary, His life was one continual experience of disappointment and suffering. Christ was the only begotten of the Father, and yet He was pressed with grief; but His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane was an awful anguish that would forever remain a terrible mystery to the human family. The record says, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.” [Matthew 26:36, 37.] 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 9

With what awe, with what reverence, should the disciples have regarded the sufferings of the Son of God! As He draws nigh to the center of the garden, the agony of the sins of the world was weighing upon His divine soul. The curse of the world’s iniquity was shadowing the light of His Father’s face from His vision. O how could He escape from it? how avoid standing under the curse that sin had wrought, and be alienated from His own beloved Father? He turned to His disciples and said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.” [Verse 38.] 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 10

At the thought of the grievous character of the guilt of the world, Christ felt that He must go apart and be alone. The hosts of darkness are there to make sin appear as extensive, deep, and horrible as possible. In His hatred of God, in falsifying His character, in manifesting irreverence, contempt, and hatred toward the laws of His government, Satan had made iniquity reach unto the heavens, and it was his purpose to swell iniquity to such great proportions that it would make atonement seem impossible, so that the Son of God, who sought to save a lost world, should be crushed beneath the curse of sin. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 11

The working of the vigilant foe in presenting to Christ the vast proportions of transgression caused such poignant pain that He felt that He could not remain in the immediate presence of any human being. He could not bear that even His disciples should witness His agony as He contemplated the woe of the world. Even His most dearly beloved friends must not be in His companionship. The sword of justice was unsheathed, and the wrath of God against iniquity rested upon man’s Substitute, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 12

In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ suffered in man’s stead, and the human nature of the Son of God staggered under the terrible horror of the guilt of sin, until from His pale and quivering lips was forced the agonizing cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:” but if there is no other way by which the salvation of fallen man may be accomplished, then “not as I will, but as thou wilt.” [Verse 39.] Human nature would then and there have died under the horror of the sense of sin, had not an angel from heaven strengthened Him to bear the agony. The power that inflicted retributive justice upon man’s substitute and surety was the power that sustained and upheld the suffering One under the tremendous weight of wrath that would have fallen upon a sinful world. Christ was suffering the death that was pronounced upon the transgressors of God’s law. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 13

It is a fearful thing for the unrepenting sinner to fall into the hands of the living God. This is proved by the history of the destruction of the old world by a flood, by the record of the fire which fell from heaven and destroyed the inhabitants of Sodom. But never was this proved to so great an extent as in the agony of Christ, the Son of the Infinite God, when he bore the wrath of God for a sinful world. It was in consequence of sin, the transgression of God’s law, that the garden of Gethsemane has become pre-eminently the place of suffering to a sinful world. No sorrow, no agony, can measure with that which was endured by the Son of God. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 14

Man has not been made a sin-bearer, and he will never know the horror of the curse of sin which the Saviour bore. No sorrow can bear any comparison with the sorrow of Him upon whom the wrath of God fell with overwhelming force. Human nature can endure but a limited amount of test and trial. The finite can only endure the finite measure, and human nature succumbs; but the nature of Christ had a greater capacity for suffering, for the human existed in the divine nature and created a capacity for suffering to endure that which resulted from the sins of a lost world. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 15

The agony which Christ endured, broadens, deepens, and gives a more extended conception of the character of sin, and the character of the retribution which God will bring upon those who continue in sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ to the repenting, believing sinner. 10LtMs, Ms 35, 1895, par. 16