Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 84a, 1897

Christ on the Cross



Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 236; 11MR 345.

“He saved others, himself he cannot save.” [Matthew 27:42.] It is because Christ would not save Himself that the sinner has any hope of pardon or favor with God. If, in His undertaking to save the sinner, Christ had failed or become discouraged, the last hope of every son and daughter of Adam would have been at an end. The entire life of Christ was one of self-denial and self-sacrifice; and the reason that there are so few stalwart Christians is because of their self-indulgence and self-pleasing in the place of self-denial and self-sacrifice. 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 1

O, what soul-hunger and longing had Christ to save that which was lost! The body crucified upon the cross did not detract from His divinity, His power of God to save, through the human sacrifice, all who would accept His righteousness. In dying upon the cross, He transferred the guilt from the person of the transgressor to that of the divine Substitute, through faith in Him as his personal Redeemer. The sins of a guilty world, which in figure are represented as “red as crimson,” were imputed to the divine Surety. [Isaiah 1:18.] “Surely he hath borne our griefs.” He was made sin for us. Because He was innocent of all sin, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” [Isaiah 53:4, 6.] 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 2

We may inquire with the prophet Isaiah, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? ... Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?” The answer comes from the only one who could speak thus: “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.” [Isaiah 63:1-3.] 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 3

This Holy Sinbearer was dying upon the cross as a malefactor. Behold the wondrous sight, the Just dying for the unjust! Hanging upon the tree, He could utter the challenge to the priests, the scribes, the rulers, and the whole host of Satan and his angels, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” [John 8:46.] Christ offered Himself without spot to God. 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 4

The thief upon the cross reached out his hand by faith to grasp the hand of Christ. Had not his soul been in intense agony, amazed at the hardheartedness of men because they would not see and acknowledge that their only hope of salvation was to believe in Him? Turning to Christ, the thief said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” [Luke 23:42.] 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 5

The spectators listened to hear the response of Jesus. They knew why he was condemned, and the full measure of his guilt. In a voice clear and distinct, reaching far and near, Christ said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you today, shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” [Verse 43.] 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 6

The throng that had been taunting Him heard every word. Although Christ could not come down from the cross and break His plan and covenant agreement of becoming substitute and surety to a guilty world, He could, as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, speak these words of forgiveness, which meant so much to the dying criminal. 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 7

Divinity was doing its work while humanity was suffering from the hatred and revenge of a God-hating people, because Christ had acknowledged Himself the Son of God. He alone could respond to the poor suffering thief. He alone was free to undertake the suretyship of the guilty criminal. The dying Redeemer saw him to be far less guilty than the ones who had condemned him to death, far less guilty than the priests, the scribes, and rulers who had taken an active part in demanding the death of the Son of God. 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 8

What a faith had that dying thief upon the cross! He accepted Christ when apparently it was an utter impossibility that He should be the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. In the prayer of the poor thief, there was a note different from that which was sounding on every side; it was a note of faith, and it reached to Christ. The faith of the dying man in Him was as sweetest music in the ears of Christ. The glad note of redemption and salvation was heard amid His dying agonies. God was glorified in and through His Son. And this testimony of the power of Christ to forgive sins, even when dying on the cross, will be repeated to earth’s remotest bounds. 12LtMs, Ms 84a, 1897, par. 9