Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 52, 1897

The Crucifixion of Christ


May 3, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1124-1125; 7ABC 458.

Christ had commenced His work. He had laid the foundation, and He would not leave it incomplete, as an unfinished economy. By the side of His Father He would put His hand to the work, and carry it forward to completion. And the Holy Spirit, Christ’s representative, would put into the hearts and on the lips of those who would believe on Him, a testimony of a crucified and risen Saviour which men would not be able to gainsay or resist. The divine Teacher will exercise His power in a larger measure now. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 1

After His crucifixion and resurrection, thousands would be led to open the Scriptures with an intense desire to study the prophecies, from Genesis to Revelation. And they would see with anointed eyes the predictions in the prophetic Roll of the advent of a divine Teacher. In Christ crucified they would see the very work done which the prophecies declared He would do to proclaim the gospel, the Word of life to a world that was shadowed and corrupted by transgression and sin. And the words of Christ would be gathered up; the New Testament would declare to them a work which would thrill the world. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 2

They read that he shall “set judgment in the earth;” that “the isles shall wait for his law;” that the Gentiles should come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising. [Isaiah 42:4; 60:3.] They read in the wonderful prophecies that the Messenger of the covenant was to come and the Sun of Righteousness to arise. Christ foresaw that men of all nations would trace out the prophetic utterances of the Old Testament, comparing the prophecies with what had been enacted at Jerusalem. He saw that people would come together from all parts of the globe, and the name of Christ, the mention of His ministry, and the course pursued toward Him by the Jewish nation in rejecting Him and crying for Barabbas in the Judgment hall, would be the first upon their lips. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 3

The crucifixion of Christ took place at the time of the feast of the Passover, when thousands upon thousands of people were congregated at Jerusalem from all parts of the world. Thus witnesses from every place should carry back with them the events of His death. By this means thousands of interested men and women, both Jews and Gentiles, were led to a diligent searching of the Scriptures. In the Psalms they read, “All they that see me, laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. ... 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 4

“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. ... They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. ... My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live forever. And the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the governor among the nations.” [Psalm 22:7, 8, 16, 18, 25-28.] 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 5

They turn to the record that has been made of that which many eyes saw, of which many lips testified, and which many pens recorded upon parchment. These were copied one from another, for the New Testament was not yet written. Their manuscripts declared the marked events that had transpired. Eye witnesses behold the humiliation and crucifixion of Christ. They saw seated beneath the cross, coarse, wicked men, who were quarreling for His garments, casting lots for the seamless coat that could not be ripped in pieces, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there.” [Matthew 27:35, 36.] 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 6

These eye witnesses beheld Him crucified between two thieves. Over His head was placed the inscription, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” [Verse 37.] There they saw the idle, wicked spectators, as they passed by the cross upon which hung the royal, suffering king, look up to Jesus, and wagging their heads say with loud coarse voice, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. They heard the words that Satan spoke, for the arch enemy with his attending angels was in human form, and the words spoken in derision were of his inspiration, voiced by wicked, desperate, religious zealots. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 7

The taunt of the multitude, “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross,” was used as the strongest evidence against Him. [Verse 40.] The Jews had come to Him with the question, “What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?” And Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews replied, “Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” [John 2:18-20.] His words were perverted. Jesus had not said, “I will destroy this temple,” but, referring to His body, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days.” It was Satan and those connected with him, and imbued with his spirit, who were doing the destroying. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 8

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” [Matthew 27:41-44.] The angels would have answered that coarse, satanic taunt thrown at the Son of God, but they were not permitted to do this. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 9

Satan and his angels were co-operating with the priests and rulers, and they manifested fiendish exaltation. What confidence can be placed in human nature when it is so liable to be under the control of demons? On this occasion, priests, rulers, Pharisees, and the basest rabbis confederate together in a satanic frenzy. Religious rulers were bound up with Satan and his angels. They were doing his bidding. And Jesus, suffering and dying, heard every word. He could have come down from the cross. He could have summoned legions of angels, and with their presence and angelic brightness, they would have caused the revilers and blasphemers to become as dead men. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 10

Angels of God beheld all this insult, all this revealing of what Satan had become since his fall. They beheld the one who had first sinned in departing from the law of God. They could see, as they had never done before, what rebellion against the law of Jehovah meant. It meant lawless liberty. It meant transgression and sin. It meant the bringing in of every objectionable feature into the character of man. It meant that man would have no tender compassion for his fellow man if he differed from himself in religious faith. It meant that false theories and false religion would make men do the very works that Satan and his angels were inspiring the rejecters of Jesus to do to the Son of God, the Commander of all heaven. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 11

Satan with his angels was at work. In human form he uttered words which met the sentiments of the high priests, the rulers, and the Pharisees. These religious dignitaries had stimulated the poor, ignorant mob to pronounce judgment against One upon whom they had never looked until urged to bear testimony against Him. Here is an exhibition of what humanity will do when under a religious deception. They will accuse falsely, they will be violent, fierce, cruel, implacable. What was suffering, what was human agony to them? What was murder in their eyes, and to their senses? So utterly were they transformed in character, that they were fully imbued with the attributes of Satan. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 12

The family of heaven knew the value of the law of God. They understood its changeless character, and they rejoiced that not one principle of that law could be changed or altered to meet men in his fallen condition. Had that law been obeyed it would have kept the Jewish priests and all connected with them from the possession of the attribute of Satan. Had its principles been in their minds they would not have been led to such dreadful deeds. But these actions did very much to remove the impressions that had been made upon human minds of the sanctity and elevated character of the priesthood. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 13

In the actions of the priests and rulers against the good and righteous teacher, it had become depraved and distorted and criminal. “Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek him that made the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out on the face of the earth: the Lord is his name. That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress. They hate him the most that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.” [Amos 5:7-10.] 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 14

The taunting words of mockery rose up to heaven from the religious teachers of the people. They were the ones who instigated the mixed multitude to ask for the release of Barabbas, and to cry out against Christ, “Crucify him; crucify him.” [Luke 23:21.] “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” [Matthew 27:39, 40.] Who was it that spake these words? Who was it said, “If thou be the Son of God, make these stones bread;” “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from the pinnacle of the temple;” “If thou wilt worship me, all shall be thine?” [Matthew 4:3, 6; Luke 4:7.] It was the covering cherub, once the exalted angel in the heavenly Courts. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 15

Lucifer had been beautiful beyond any description that human lips can give; but because he was thus favored of God, he thought he should be as God; yes, higher than Him who had created him. He apostatized from God. And now he is foremost in the leading of religious bigotry, which is always to create cruelty and suffering in perverted humanity united with principalities and power, and all spiritual wickedness. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 16

The fact that the companions of Christ in His crucifixion were placed the one on His right hand and the other on his left is a significant one; His cross is placed in the very center of the world. The spotless Lamb of God was placed in the center of two thieves, both of which railed upon Him. In the place of their suffering begetting sympathy, there is scorn. Instead of pity; reproach. But, while on the cross, one of the thieves beheld Christ in a new light. He has wonderful, tender and strange thoughts of Jesus. He sees the many great religionists who shoot out the lip with scorn, and ridicule the Lord Jesus. He sees those wagging heads; he hears their upbraiding speaking taken up by his companion in guilt on the other side of Christ: “If he be the Christ, let him save himself and us.” [Luke 23:39.] It was as additional drops of gall to the Holy, Spotless Son of God that the vilest of sinners should pour contempt upon Him who was bearing the sin of the world. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 17

When others are reviling, it is popular to catch the same spirit; and if there is anything in the heart to respond to such sentiments it is developed at such a time as this. But one of the thieves does not rail upon Jesus, voicing the words of the priests, the rulers, and the scribes. He is convicted by the appearance of Christ, by His unresisting suffering, while not one word of reproach escapes His lips. He hears the conversation of those who are passing by. He hears many defending Christ, repeating His sayings, and telling of His works. And these things fell not only on his ears; the seed dropped into his heart, and the question came to him, “What man is this?” 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 18

The thief had been strongly in favor of Christ, but circumstances had occurred to awaken in his heart his own natural desires. When convicted of his crime he became hopeless and despairing. But now the conviction comes back to him that this is the Christ. Turning to his fellow criminal he says, “Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?” [Verse 40.] Neither of them have the fear of man any more; for they can suffer no more at their hands. But conviction pours in upon the soul of the repentant thief that there is God to fear, a future to cause him to tremble, and that they must both stand before the judgment seat of Christ. He heard this from those who were passing by. He heard that for every action that had been done to Christ for every insult, every mockery, they must answer to God in that great day when every one shall receive his reward according to his works. O, if he had only known this before as he now viewed it! He might have lived. But now he was about to close his life history, all sin-polluted as it was. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 19

“And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss.” [Verse 41.] There is no question now, no doubts, no reproaches. As the malefactor became convicted of his past transgressions and guilt, he is also convinced that the central cross which bears the inscription, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews,” held the Son of God. [Matthew 27:37.] All was plain to his mind. Jesus had done no sin; yet He was suffering as a criminal, persecuted even unto death. Then he called to mind reports that he had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, how He had healed the sick and those suffering under grievous maladies. He had heard that He had pardoned transgression and sin. And turning his dying eyes upon the Sin-bearer as He is hanging upon the cross, the malefactor said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” [Luke 23:42.] 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 20

The spectators caught the words as the man called Jesus, in His suffering and humiliation, “Lord.” How did this man know anything about His kingdom? He had heard reports; he had heard the words of those who believed in Jesus, and followed Him weeping. He had heard them relate His wondrous works, His large compassion for the sufferings of humanity of whatever kind. He had heard too the rejecters of Christ express their gratification that He would no longer be the center of attraction and call the multitudes after Him; that they would no longer hear of His miracles. He had heard their reviling, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” [Verse 35.] 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 21

He had seen and read the title above the head of Jesus. He had heard the passers by repeat it, some with grieved and quivering lips, others with jesting and joking and mockery. And he believed all that that inscription confirmed. Thus the saving faith of this awakened soul realized that in His very act of dying for the sins of the world Christ would bring pardon and promise of eternal life to him. By faith he grasps the evidence given, and the light of truth shone into his mind. In that suffering Being upon the cross he recognizes the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 22

Many of the mixed multitude look and listen spellbound, as they behold that dying thief praying to a dying Saviour, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” [Verse 42.] The feelings of the multitude were varied. Some said, “This is the last of that man’s Messiahship; this forever settles the question regarding His mission. Soon His life will end His history. All these rumors in regard to His being the Son of the Majesty of heaven is an idle tale, a vain presumption.” 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 23

Christ heard all these sentiments expressed in regard to Him. And He listened for any word that might be spoken by His disciples; but they were too much astonished and broken-hearted and discouraged to speak words of faith. The mournful words fell with distinctness on the ears of Christ, “We hoped that it had been he that should have redeemed Israel.” [Luke 24:21.] Yes, there hangs the body of our Lord in His dying agony, the subject of all kinds of remarks. [In spite of] the triumph of Satan and his angels, in union with the chief priests, the scribes and rulers, the failure of the faith of His own beloved disciples in Him as the Messiah, as One, who in all other eyes appeared to be conquered, [He] was a Conqueror, [and] He is seen and acknowledged as the sin-pardoning Saviour. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 24

This is just as God would have it. To the last of His work Christ is a sin-pardoner. At deepest midnight, as the Star of Bethlehem was about to sink into oblivion, lo, there shines amid the moral darkness with distinct brightness the faith of a dying sinner as he lays hold upon a dying Saviour. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 25

Such faith may be represented by the eleventh hour laborers who receive as much reward as do those who have labored for many hours. The thief asked in faith, in patience, in contrition. He asked in earnestness, as if he fully realized that Jesus could save him if He would. And the hope in his voice was mingled with anguish as he realized that if he did not, he would be lost, eternally lost. He cast his helpless, dying soul and body on Jesus Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 26

The words and tones of the malefactor, expressing a depth of earnestness, a consciousness of his own sinfulness, and the entire dependence upon the mercy of a dying Saviour, made an impression upon the spectators as nothing else could have done. The angry voices of those who were quarreling over the few garments of Christ, and of those who were casting lots for His vesture, were hushed. For hours this loud and angry cavilling had been ringing in the ears of the Saviour, as they expressed their personal enmity against Him, their blasphemy; their inhumanity. How grateful then to His ears was this appeal, expressing hope, and trust, and love. It was as a reviving cordial, a soothing balm, to His suffering spirit. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 27

Here Jesus can exercise His power as a sin pardoning Saviour. Here and now He can bear His last convincing testimony as to His own dignity and the glory of the Father, that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sin. Even while the world was crucifying Him as a sinner, even in all His suffering, He would declare that His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, neither His arm shortened that it cannot save. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 28

The prayer addressed to Jesus is no sooner offered than the response is made, “Verily, I say unto thee today, Shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:43.] From lips that are pale and quivering with anguish, the words are soft and melodious and full of love, compassion, and power. There was only one Being in all the world who could speak such words. His testimony was not heard by the many when in trial in the judgment hall; but here it is heard and acknowledged by two witnesses. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 29

All look with wonder, for the dark cloud which seemed to enshroud the cross is pierced by a bright and living light, and Jesus is revealed as the sin-pardoning Saviour. What a sense of conviction forced itself on the minds of the people who had waited with bated breath for the response from those dying lips. Man may exercise power over his human body, they may pierce the holy temples with the crown of thorns, they may strip from Him His raiment, and quarrel over its division; but they could not rob Him of His power to forgive transgression and sin, to donate to sinful, suffering humanity the gift of pardon. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 30

It was His royal right to save even unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. No man, even in his humiliation and suffering, could intercept the heavenly current flowing through Him from the Father. It was to flow forth again to the humble penitent. He will not come down from the cross as He has been derisively and mockingly asked to do. He will not in this way give proof of His Sonship with the Father. That death upon the cross must be completed. His body must lie in the grave like the corn of wheat. He was to die, to remain alone, and then to spring forth, bringing life and immortality to light. In dying He will give evidence of His divinity by taking upon His own soul the guilt of the sinner. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 31

And He pledged that dying soul His word, saying, “Verily I say unto you today, (while I am giving My life for the world) thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” [Verse 43.] Christ was not in paradise that day. After His resurrection on the third day, He said to Mary, “I have not yet ascended to the Father.” [John 20:17.] The Lord designed in this scene of repentance and conversion to kindle a light that would be carried from thence, one that would never lose its bright beams in behalf of the sinner and to the glory of the Redeemer. As long as time shall last, this wonderful exercise of the power of Christ would be repeated throughout the world. 12LtMs, Ms 52, 1897, par. 32