Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 25, 1898

The Man of Sorrows


February 24, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3MR 425-426.

By the priests and rulers, Christ was insulted, despised, and rejected. He was sent by Pilate to Herod, there to be mocked and crowned with thorns. The crown of thorns encircled His holy brow, pressing into His temples, and causing the blood drops to trickle down His face and beard. It was the symbol of His anointing as the Great High Priest. In the old purple robe in which He had been clothed, He, the King of men, received the mockery of coarse, hardened soldiers, whose works revealed that they were followers of Satan. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 1

What was Christ’s grief to see the Jews fixing their own destiny beyond redemption! He alone could comprehend the significance of the rejection, the betrayal, the condemnation, the choosing of Barabbas. His last hope for the Jewish nation was gone. Nothing could avert her doom. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 2

Yet the face of the man of sorrows is not a face of agony. That was endured in Gethsemane, when the mysterious cup trembled in His hand. This was His hour of keenest agony, when He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. ... O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done.” [Matthew 26:38, 39, 42.] His face is pale, and speaks of deep sorrow; but His visage is not marred before His enemies. The countenance of Christ never appeared more beautiful than in His sorrow, expressing, as it did, pity for those who knew not what they were doing. He would help them if He could. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 3

He is surrounded by a company of spectators who are filled with amazement, wondering what it all means. What has this man done? they question; but no one can tell; for there is nothing to tell. Some of the spectators are weeping. Their hearts are full of sympathy. Even the priests and rulers are convicted that He is all that He claims to be. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 4

Mary Magdalene is there, supporting the mother of Jesus. She has fainted under her sorrow. As Simeon had predicted, the sword has indeed pierced her soul. The women who follow Him to the last look as though weighed down with an agony far too great for tears. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 5

The Roman soldiers that surrounded Christ were not all hardened. Some were looking earnestly into His face for one evidence of a criminal or dangerous character. They would turn and cast a look of contempt upon Barabbas. It needed no deep insight to read Him through and through. Then they would turn again to the Man under condemnation. They looked at the divine sufferer with feelings of deep pity. The silent submission of Christ stamped the scene upon their minds, and it would never be effaced until they acknowledged Him as the Christ, or decided their destiny by rejecting Him. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 6

One, a centurion, was more deeply moved than the others. He stood by the cross until the death of Christ, and heard the voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” [Mark 15:34.] He heard, too, the words that penetrated everywhere, “It is finished.” [John 19:30.] The darkness that covered the earth, and wrapped its gloomy pall about the cross and the form of Jesus, the rending rocks, the earthquake, combined to produce a scene which those who witnessed [it] would never forget. And the centurion was convicted. “Truly this was the Son of God,” he said. [Matthew 27:54.] 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 7

Pilate also witnessed all this. He was responsible for giving Christ up to die. Yet he was unconcerned. His face expressed sorrow; but he had no real compunctions of conscience until after the report of the resurrection reached his ears. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 8

“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground, and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” [John 12:24.] 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 9

When the sun went down, the Sabbath began. Christ was at last at peace. On that day He had quiet and uninterrupted rest. The furious storm of opposition had raged abound Him; the torrent of satanic hatred had evidenced itself against Him; but His great sacrificial work, the offering of Himself as a lamb without blemish and without spot to God, was completed, and in the tomb of Joseph His rest comes. Here His hands are folded in peace. A great stone is rolled before the door of the sepulcher, that no one may disturb the body. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 10

The Father and the Son rested after their work of creation. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all the work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested.” [Genesis 2:1-3.] The death of Christ was designed to be at the very time in which it took place. It was in God’s plan that the work which Christ had engaged to do should be completed on a Friday, and that on the Sabbath He should rest in the tomb, even as the Father and the Son had rested after completing Their creative work. The hour of Christ’s apparent defeat was the hour of His victory. The great plan, devised before the foundations of the earth were laid, was successfully carried out. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 11

“All things were made by him (Christ); and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. ... That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” [John 1:3-5, 9-11.] How perfectly was this revealed in the life, and sufferings, and death of Christ. Christ became the substitute and surety for man, taking all transgression upon Himself, and suffering the penalty of sin, that man, through faith in Him, might be free, a partaker of the great redemption brought within his reach. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 12

When Christ on the cross cried out, “It is finished,” the sacrificial offering was accepted. [John 19:30.] The veil of the temple was rent in twain by the hand of God Himself, signifying to the heavenly universe and to a world corrupted by sin that a new and living way had been opened for the fallen race, that all sacrificial offerings terminated in the one great offering of the Son of the living God. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 13

These things were a fear and anxiety to the enemies of Christ. The words He had spoken haunted them. Had not Christ said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it again”? [John 2:19.] While they affected to regard these words as a mere boast, and spoke of Christ as a deceiver, that rent veil, laying open to the gaze of all the sacred enclosure, the escape of the lamb about to be slain, filled them with fears that were almost unendurable. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 14

“The next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher shall be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way: make it as sure as ye can. So they went and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.” [Matthew 27:62-66.] 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 15

In the hour which they supposed would bring them security and victory, the priests and rulers anticipate defeat. Lest the prediction of Christ shall come to pass, they affix to the stone of the sepulcher a seal, and plant around it the Roman guard. But all this was in the providence of God. He designed that these precautions should be taken by the enemies of Christ, that they might establish the fact of His resurrection. Everything was as secure as human power could make it, that no plea could be urged to create suspicion of any fraud having been practiced. And these very precautions became to the world the testimony of the resurrection. The more in number were the guard about the tomb of Christ, the more strong and undeniable are the triumphs of His resurrection. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 16

In the grave Christ was the captive of divine justice. To the Judge of the universe He made Himself responsible for the transgression of the law of God by sinful men. It was necessary that there should be given to the world a stern manifestation of the wrath of God against all who reject light and evidence, and stubbornly remain in unbelief. In the crucifixion of our substitute and surety, His suffering for transgression of which God and His earthly judge declared Him innocent, is revealed God’s hatred for sin. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 17

God’s messengers to the world are to set forth Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They are to lead men to “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] But no one can preach the gospel, presenting the plan of redemption, and holding forth pardon for transgression to all who will receive it, without also having a clear-cut testimony to bear in regard to the judgment pronounced against all who continue in sin. As Christ’s ambassadors we are to speak to men as to those to whom God has given perceptive faculties. We may present the pardon which Christ offers to all who are contrite in heart, but while we present the love and pardoning mercy of Christ, we are also to keep before men the judgment to be visited upon every transgressor. In proportion to the light and truth received and despised, will be the severity of the sentence. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 18

We have a message for all, in that Christ, as a Sin-bearer, bore the sins of the world in His own body on the tree. Herein is the love of God made manifest. The only begotten Son of God, one equal with the Father, alone could make an atonement for sin. How great must be the curse of sin that it should require the life of the Son of God to destroy it. In the crucifixion of Christ is the proclamation of peace and pardon to every repentant, sin-sick soul; but for the impenitent there is none. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” [Isaiah 57:21.] 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 19

When Christ ascended on high, after His suffering and crucifixion, He led captivity captive. For forty days He was in the world in His risen body. Then He ascended to heaven escorted by a myriad of angels. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 20

I would say to the students in our school at Cooranbong, who have been searching the Scriptures to know what is truth, Do not become careless in regard to this subject when you are called to your varied duties. The more earnestly you search the Scriptures, the more clearly and distinctly will you discern your Father and the world’s Redeemer. By faith you will see Christ as your personal Saviour. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 21

Christ places a special value upon man. Every human being is His property—by creation and by redemption. He has paid the ransom price in offering Himself as a Lamb without spot to God. He furnishes abundant provision for every one. He has suffered so much for the human race that He will leave nothing undone to accomplish man’s salvation. The Lord manifests an unabated love for man. This love may be felt, but human words fail to express it. And that love can be made unavailable only by the sinner himself. If you will, you may be as stubborn as the Jews. Temptation may come, and make you ashamed to take a decided stand for Christ, as faithful stewards of the grace of God. All who continue to violate the law of Jehovah reveal that they are under the fascinating power of satanic agencies, and are reckless of the consequences. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 22

You may have an earnest longing to be thoroughly educated; but if you neglect to search the Scriptures in the fear and love of God, you will close your opportunity of learning what lies at the very foundation of true education. The fear of the Lord, (not a slavish fear, but a fear that will scorn to imperil the soul by doing a wrong action, a fear to offend God), is the beginning of wisdom. And the fear of the Lord will be with every soul who is striving to do the work of the Lord. There is a difference between worship and service. Having worshipped God is sincerity and truth in His house, we must do Him service in our own homes and in our family relations. 13LtMs, Ms 25, 1898, par. 23