Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 45, 1897

The Crucifixion


May 14, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1137, 1149. +Note

“Now the chief priests and elders and all the council, sought false witnesses against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none; yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and build it again in three days.” [Matthew 26:59-61.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 1

This was the only charge that could be brought against Christ. His words were <misstated and> misapplied, for He had said, “I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.” [Matthew 5:17.] But the priests and rulers, with many others, taunted Him with this false statement. While Christ hung upon the cross, it was repeated in mockery by the scribes and Pharisees, and voiced by the multitude. “They that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself.” [Matthew 27:39, 40.] The statement made by Christ was <misstated. He had said, “Destroy this temple and I will build it again in three days” [John 2:19], which> was being fulfilled, publicity was being given to it, and it was made more impressive by the <misstatement in the> proclamation of His enemies. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 2

“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 on him.” [Matthew 27:41, 42.] Would they have believed on Him had He come down? No. In the resurrection of Lazarus, a convincing proof had been given of Christ’s divinity. It was not evidence that the priests and rulers wanted. This they had had, <evidence upon evidence,> but in spite of it, they had sought for false witnesses, that they might mislead the minds of the people, and prejudice them against the truth. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 3

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a representation of those that refuse light. While this rich man was suffering the punishment of his sins, he asked that Lazarus might be sent to warn his brethren, lest they also share his fate. Abraham <is represented as saying> unto him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” “And he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” [Luke 16:27-31.] Yet to the Jews one had come who had been raised from the dead. Among them was one who for four days had lain in the grave, but who was now a living witness of the power of Christ. But in spite of this the priests not only purposed to put Christ to death, but Lazarus also, for he was likely to be an obstacle in the way of killing Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 4

Many heard the words of mockery and derision addressed to Christ as He hung on the cross; for they were spoken in no whispered tones. Thus a testimony to Christ’s claims was borne in the hearing of thousands. Many minds entered on a track of thought that increased in intensity and earnestness as they searched the Scriptures for themselves. The conviction forced itself upon their minds that Christ was the Messiah. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 5

Those that in derision uttered the words, “He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God,” little thought that their testimony would sound down the ages. [Matthew 27:43.] Although spoken in mockery, never were words more true. Those who placed Christ before the world, hanging on the cross between two thieves, bruised and wounded, bore a testimony to His work. Their words, heard by thousands, led men to search the Scriptures for themselves. Wise men heard, searched, pondered, and prayed. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 6

Truth is truth, and will remain truth, and in the end will triumph gloriously. The lamp of life is trimmed by the hand that lit it. The Jewish leaders sought to drive the light from the earth, but it shone on, and irradiated the world. <Men in this age will repeat the history of the past and suppose they can quench the light of truth by their falsehoods, but the light shines more brightly with every attempt they may make.> Christ rose from the grave, and over the rent sepulcher of Joseph proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 7

Never before was there such a general knowledge of Jesus as when He hung upon the cross. He was lifted up from the earth to draw all to Him. Into the hearts of many who beheld that crucifixion scene, and who heard Christ’s words, was the light of truth to shine. With John they would proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] There were those who never rested until, <searching the Scriptures and> comparing passage with passage, they saw the meaning of Christ’s mission. They saw that free forgiveness was provided by Him whose tender mercy embraced the whole world. They read the prophecies regarding Christ, and the promises so free and full, pointing to a fountain opened for Judah and Jerusalem. [Zechariah 13:1.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 8

Hope sprang up in their hearts as they read the words, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. And thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 9

“Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land be any more termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. ... Go through, go through the gates, prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, the redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” [Isaiah 62:1-4, 10-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 10

“And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” [Isaiah 61:9-11.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 11

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” [John 19:25.] As Christ’s mother stood by the cross upon which He hung, she realized the truth of the words spoken by Simeon, when he took the infant Saviour in his arms and blessed Him. “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” he said, “which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at the things which were spoken of Him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” [Luke 2:30-35.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 12

That time had come. The hearts of the persecutors, the revilers, the murderers, were indeed revealed. Attributes which form character were developed. Unbelieving Israel took sides with the first great apostate. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 13

Christ, bearing the sin of the world, seemed to be deserted; but He was not wholly left alone. John stood close by the cross. Mary had fainted in her anguish, and John had taken her to his house away from the harrowing scene. But he saw that the end was near, and he brought her again to the cross. And even in His dying agony Christ remembered His mother. He saw her distress, and He said to her, “Woman, behold thy son. Then said he to the disciple, Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home.” [John 19:26, 27.] This thoughtful care lifted a weight from Mary’s mind; she would no longer be obliged to choose her home, and run the risk of offending her relatives, for Christ’s wish was law. Christ knew what she most needed, the tender sympathy of one who loved her <because he loved Jesus.> 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 14

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” [Matthew 27:45.] The human passions were raging at the foot of the cross when the earth was bereft of the light of the sun. A great darkness clothed the earth as with sackcloth of hair, and enshrouded the cross. The Sun of Righteousness was withdrawing His light from the world, and nature sympathized with her dying author. It was as if the sun, in its noonday splendor had been blotted out. Thus was represented the night of woe [that] had settled down on the Jewish nation. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 15

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” [Verse 46.] These words could not be misunderstood, but the priests and rulers framed them to suit their own understanding. With bitter contempt and scorn, they said, “He calls for Elias.” [Verse 47.] Jesus said, “I thirst.” [John 19:28.] These words, which should have awakened pity in every heart, were held up to ridicule by the priests, in whose hearts humanity was eclipsed by satanic malignity. One of the hardened Roman soldiers, touched with pity as he looked at the parched lips, took a stalk of hyssop, and dipping it in a vessel of vinegar, lifted it to the Saviour’s lips. But from the mockers came the words, “Let be; let us see whether Elias will come and save him.” [Matthew 27:49.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 16

This scene was transacted before heaven and earth. Angels beheld the pitiless scorn and contempt shown to Jesus by those who should have acknowledged Him as the Messiah. To this length they were led, when unrestrained by the Lord of heaven. So it is with all religious zealots who separate from light and peace and heavenly influences. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 17

Again came the cry as of one in mortal agony. “It is finished.” “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” “And having said this, he gave up the ghost.” [John 19:30; Luke 23:46.] Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, was dead. The Jewish leaders had crucified the Son of God, the long-expected Messiah, He who the people had hoped was to bring about so many reforms. They refused the only One who could save them from national ruin. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 18

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” [Matthew 27:51.] Those who had induced the people to release Barabbas, and crucify Christ, now trembled with terror. They were conscious of the wicked deed they had done. They realized that they had shed the blood of the Son of God. This they had invoked upon themselves, saying, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” [Verse 25.] Christ had prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34.] But they made this prayer an impossibility, for they would not be convicted, they would not repent and be converted. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 19

In His bitter loneliness on the cross, Christ had a gleam of comfort, the petition of the dying thief. Christ saw that forgiveness was with him, that as those who looked on the brazen serpent uplifted in the wilderness, lived, so those who now looked in faith to the Saviour, would be pardoned. Without shedding of blood no man could be saved. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 20

Christ gave peace and assurance to the thief. He confessed Christ, believed in Him, and received from Him the promise that he would be with Him in Paradise. He was suffering for his crimes, but those who passed sentence upon him, and executed him as a malefactor, were guilty of crimes far more heinous than those for which he was condemned. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 21

What lessons may we learn from this instance! The loving compassion manifested toward this sinful soul should show us the tender consideration that the Lord has for all who look in faith to Him, trusting in His power to save them, and give them the victory. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 22

With Satan at their head to imbue them with his spirit, men may afflict God’s people; they may cause pain to the body; they may take away the temporal life, but they cannot touch the life that is hid with Christ. We are not our own. Soul and body, we have been bought with the price paid upon the cross of Calvary; and we are to remember that we are in the hands of Him who created us. Whatever Satan may inspire evil men to do, we are to rest in the assurance that we are under God’s charge, and that by His Spirit He will strengthen us to endure. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 23

There is no greater evidence that Satan is working than that men who profess to be sanctified to God’s service, persecute their fellow beings because they do not believe the same doctrines that they themselves believe. These will rush with fury against God’s people, <falsifying [and] stating things they know are untrue,> thus showing that they are inspired by him who is an accuser of the brethren and a murderer of the saints of God. But if God permits tyrants to do with us as the priests and rulers did to His Son, shall we give up our faith, and go back to perdition? It is not because God does not care for us that He permits these things to be; for He declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” [Psalm 116:15.] “He shall deliver the needy when he crieth, and poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight.” [Psalm 72:12-14.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 24

The time is soon to come when the Lord will say, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” [Isaiah 26:20, 21.] Let the many who claim to be Christians be full of satanic hatred because they cannot force the consciences of God’s people. Not long hence they will stand <not before earthly judges, but> before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused the bodies and souls of God’s heritage. 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 25

They may indulge now in false accusations, they may deride those whom God has appointed to do His work, they may consign His believing ones to prison, to the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. For every drop of blood drawn forth by torture, for all they have burned by fire, they will receive punishment. God will reward them double for their sins. They have drunk the blood of the saints, and have become intoxicated with exultation. God says to His ministers of judgment, “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: In the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her; for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” [Revelation 18:6-8.] 12LtMs, Ms 45, 1897, par. 26