Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Ms 132, 1902

The Saviour’s Characteristics


October 30, 1902 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 18MR 112-117. +Note

The plan of redemption, by which the merciful, divine-human Redeemer rescued man from the thralldom of sin, is beyond the comprehension of men or of angels. It is indeed a mystery so surpassing, so grand, so sublime, that we can never hope fully to understand it. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 1

Christ’s sacrifice for fallen man has no parallel. It is the most exalted, sacred theme on which we can meditate. Every heart that is enlightened by the grace of God is constrained to bow with inexpressible gratitude and adoration before the Redeemer for His infinite sacrifice. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 2

In His life Jesus of Nazareth differed from all other men. His entire life was characterized by disinterested benevolence and the beauty of holiness. In His bosom existed the purest love, free from every taint of selfishness and sin. His life was perfectly harmonious. He is the only true model of goodness and perfection. From the beginning of His ministry men began more clearly to comprehend the character of God. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 3

Up to the time of Christ’s first advent, men worshiped cruel, despotic gods. Even the Jewish mind was reached through fear, and not love. Christ’s mission on the earth was to reveal to men that God was not a despot, but a heavenly Father, full of love and mercy for His children. He spoke of God by the endearing title of “My Father.” In answer to the anxious questionings of Joseph and Mary after they had found Him in the temple, He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” [Luke 2:49.] He did not refer to Joseph, His earthly father. It was not Joseph’s business in which He was engaged with the doctors of the law. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 4

The first Adam was a free moral agent. But he abused His freedom. He allowed himself to be overcome by appetite. By disobedience he lost his innocence. By his own free will he became a sinner, separating himself from the favor of God. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 5

The second Adam was also a free moral agent, held responsible for His conduct. Surrounded by intensely subtle and misleading influences, He was much less favorably situated than was the first Adam to lead a sinless life. Yet in the midst of sinners He resisted every temptation to sin and maintained His innocency. He was ever sinless. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 6

Satan sought to tempt Christ not only to indulge the grosser passions and to yield to appetite, but he appealed to His ambition. Notwithstanding the enemy’s determined efforts, Christ did not manifest a grasping spirit to gain possession of the kingdoms of this world. He did not worship Satan to gain worldly wealth. By this He taught a lesson of steadfastness to principle. Integrity should never be yielded to obtain any earthly advantage. Power and riches obtained at the expense of honesty and principle will prove a terrible curse. Yet the masses worship Satan instead of God, because such a course gives them more freedom to engage in satanic practices in their business transactions, that they may add to their riches. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 7

Although the great truths uttered by our Lord were given in simple language, they were clothed with such beauty that they interested and charmed the greatest intellects. And these truths were illustrated so simply and so clearly by the scenes of common life, that children understood them. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 8

To give a true representation of the tender, loving, pitying care exercised by His Father, Jesus gave the parable of the prodigal son. Though His children err and stray from Him, if they repent and return, He will receive them with the joy manifested by an earthly Father in receiving a long-lost son who in penitence returns, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” [Luke 15:18, 19.] How earnestly should men co-operate with God in seeking the lost sheep! in seeking to win back the prodigal! 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 9

In all the sufferings and afflictions of man, there is an Eye to pity, a Heart to love. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” [Psalm 103:13.] God’s tenderest care is exercised over us. He pities us in our weakness and in our sorrow. We may be despondent, even despairing; the heavy clouds of affliction may be over us; but there is light ahead. Beyond the gloom is a sympathetic, compassionate Friend, One who does not willingly grieve or afflict the children of men. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 10

“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12.] The Saviour taught this principle to make mankind happy, not unhappy; for in no other way can happiness come. God desires men and women to live the higher life. He gives them the boon of life not to enable them merely to gain wealth, but to improve their higher powers by doing the work He has entrusted to mankind—the work of searching out and relieving the necessities of their fellow men. Man should not work for his own selfish interest, but for the interest of every one about him, blessing others by his influence and kindly deeds. This purpose of God is exemplified in Christ’s life. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 11

The Saviour declares, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” [Matthew 25:40.] The incident of the good Samaritan is given as an illustration of our duty to those in need of sympathy and help. The Jews had been instructed by their leaders to despise the Samaritans; but Jesus showed that one of this hated class was far in advance of the priests in performing deeds of compassion, mercy, and benevolence. The Levites, chosen to fill sacred, holy offices among God’s favored people, did not improve this opportunity to do good, and thus to place on record an example that all should follow in treating such cases. The Samaritan, scorned by priest and Levite, despised by the Jews as a member of a despised people, has been pointed out by Christ as one who obeyed the law of human kindness, as one who showed true mercy. His compassionate act the Saviour extols and stamps with the seal of divine approval. The merciful deed of this Samaritan has been recorded as an exemplification of man’s duty to his fellow man. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 12

Christ carried out in His life His own divine teachings. His zeal never led Him to become passionate. He manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. He was highly social, yet He possessed a reserved dignity that did not encourage undue familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to this world, yet He was not indifferent to the wants of the least among men. He was awake to the needs of all. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 13

The feeding of the multitude is an illustration of Christ’s tender solicitude. After thousands, forgetting the wants of nature, had listened with deepest interest to His ministry of truth, He, like a pitying father, was mindful of their wants. Often hungry Himself, He was awake to the necessities of others. Calling His disciples to Him, He said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” [Matthew 15:32.] He remembered that after His long fast in the wilderness of temptation, He had fainted, and that angels had ministered to Him. Without hesitation He wrought a miracle to feed the thousands who had followed Him in order that they might hear the gracious words proceeding from His lips. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 14

The miracles of Christ are called His works. They were performed with a quiet dignity, and yet as easily as we perform our daily duties; for they were natural to His character. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 15

Christ came to fulfil every letter of God’s law, and to observe even the precepts and the ceremonies of the Mosaic institutions. At the same time, He came to bring about a transformation and to make all things new. God’s law had been perverted by the Jewish teachers. The most zealous advocates of the law were themselves transgressors. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 16

The Saviour’s own brothers did not believe on Him. They were zealous and impatient to have a temporal kingdom, in which they hoped to obtain special honor. Even Christ’s own disciples were slow to learn and to understand. Notwithstanding their love for Him and their reverence of His character, their faith in His being the Son of God wavered. Their frequent reference to the traditions of the fathers and their continual misunderstanding of His discourses show how difficult it was for them to free themselves from superstition. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 17

Christ was absorbed in the work that He came to perform. His devotion to the work of saving the lost race was manifest on all occasions; for He ever showed tender love for the sinner and rebuked sin with severity. In Him was blended the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. He calmly and deliberately affirmed His royal character and spoke of His coming in glory in the clouds of heaven. In the hour of deepest humiliation, when the powers of darkness seemed triumphant, He proclaimed Himself as the Life-giver. Although apparently the humblest and the lowliest of men, He declared that those who had seen Him had seen the Father—thus identifying Himself with God. 17LtMs, Ms 132, 1902, par. 18