Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 20 (1905)


Ms 134, 1905

Our Substitute and Surety


March 8, 1905

Portions of this manuscript are published in 2MCP 464-465; ST 08/09/1905.

I awoke this morning at one o’clock, and my mind at once began to gather up the burdens. I try to sleep, but it is of no use. Since I returned to America, my work has been made unnecessarily hard. I see that errors are seeking to find a place among us as a people. We may expect this; for warnings are given in the Word of God that seducing spirits will come in to sow tares amongst the wheat. Why should anything like unbelief enter our minds? Why should we be surprised and discouraged when hindrances arise? Suffering, hindrance, and humiliation came to the Redeemer, and can we expect anything else? 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 1

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own,” Christ declared, “but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that [sent Me.]” [John 15:19-21.] 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 2

Read the record of Christ’s suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. Never before or since has so fearful a strain been brought upon a human being as that which at this time God permitted to be brought upon His Son. It is not possible for His suffering and distress to be exceeded; for He was bearing the sins of the whole world. And in all His suffering He gives an example of absolute submission to the divine will. The sinless Son of God was treated as a sinner, that sinful human beings might be treated as innocent. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. He laid off His royal robe and kingly crown, and clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might live in our behalf a life of sinlessness, and on the cross make an atonement for our transgressions. He consented to take the body of humanity, and His will was capable of asserting itself. He could have refused to be thus humiliated, but it was to suffer humiliation and death that He came into the world. He surrendered His will to the will of God. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 3

It was the anguish of separation from His Father’s favor that made Christ’s sufferings so acute. As the agony of soul came upon Him, He sweat “as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” [Luke 22:44.] His terrible anguish, caused by the thought that in this hour of need God had forsaken Him, portrays the anguish that the sinner will feel when, too late, he realizes that God’s Spirit is withdrawn from him. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 4

Christ’s human nature recoiled from the trial, and with strong crying and tears He said, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” [Matthew 26:39.] The humanity of Christ trembled in that trying hour. The awful moment had come—that moment which was to decide the destiny of the world. The fate of humanity hung in the balance. Christ might even now refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty man. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, Let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father. Will the Son of God drink the bitter cup of humiliation and agony? Will the Innocent suffer the consequences of the curse of sin to save the guilty? The words fall tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 5

How little can we enter into this dreadful experience through which the Saviour passed. His prayer was heard, in that He feared. What did He fear? That He would refuse to drink the cup of suffering. But a refusal to drink this cup would mean that no human being could be saved. Only by His suffering and death could human beings be placed on vantage ground. Only by drinking of the bitter cup of imputed transgression could He save the race from perishing in sin. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 6

Christ drank the bitter draught to the very dregs. He was not spared one pang of anguish. This was His hour and the power of darkness. In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the Sufferer, the heavens opened, a light shone forth amid the darkness, and the mighty angel who stands in God’s presence, from which Satan fell, came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human Suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 7

Christ had spoken to His disciples of the experience awaiting Him. “I have a baptism to be baptized with,” He said, “and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” [Luke 12:50.] He could not but feel a dread as He thought of what that hour would bring to Him. Fear came upon Him as He thought of the strain that His humanity would have to bear, and the prayer came from His lips, “Father, save Me from this hour.” Then He added, “But for this cause came I unto this hour.” [John 12:27.] He had pledged Himself to bear the penalty of sin. He had entered into a covenant to offer a sacrifice that would make possible the salvation of every repentant sinner. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 8

Only through the death of Christ could Satan’s kingdom be overthrown. Only thus could man be redeemed and God be glorified. Jesus consented to the agony, He accepted the sacrifice. The Majesty of heaven consented to suffer as the sin-bearer. “Father, glorify Thy name,” He said. As Christ spoke these words, a response came from the cloud which hovered above His head: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” [Verse 28.] Christ’s whole life, from the manger to the time when these words were spoken, had glorified God; and in the coming trial, His divine-human sufferings would indeed glorify His Father’s name. Christ bore the sin of the whole world. He was the second Adam. Taking upon Himself human nature, He passed over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell. Having taken humanity, He had an intense interest in human beings. He felt keenly the sinfulness, the shame of sin. He is our Elder Brother. He came to prove that human beings could, through the power of God, live sinless lives. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 9

Satan had made the boast that he would gather the world under his banner of rebellion. He declared that man could not keep the law of God. Christ came to prove this assertion false. He came to meet all the temptations, wherewith man is beset, and to endure all the trials that we are called to endure. He was tempted in all points like as we are tempted, yet His life was without spot or stain of sin. He redeemed Adam’s failure and fall and worked out for us a perfect character. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 10

Christ did not yield up His life until He had accomplished the work that He came to do; and with His parting breath, He exclaimed, “It is finished.” [John 19:30.] The battle had been won. His right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. Was there not joy among the angels. All heaven triumphed in the Saviour’s victory. Satan was defeated and knew that his kingdom was lost. 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 11

Could one sin have been found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. Christ bowed His head and died, but He held fast His faith and His submission to God. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” [Revelation 12:10.] 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 12

When Jesus was laid in the grave, Satan triumphed. But no power could keep the Saviour there. The Roman guards stationed round His tomb saw a mighty angel descend from heaven and roll away the stone from the door of the tomb as if it had been a pebble. They heard Him cry, Son of God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee. They saw Jesus come forth from the grave and heard Him proclaiming over the rent sepulcher, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 13

What a wonderful price has been paid for our redemption. No one need be overcome by Satan’s assaults. Christ had conquered for every son and daughter of Adam. He came to cut every thread that binds human beings to Satan. His life of pure, unselfish service is our example. Let us study His work in our world. As we stand at the foot of the cross, and behold the infinite sacrifice made in our behalf, we shall be humbled and subdued. Our hearts will be filled with a desire to practice the self-denial and sacrifice seen in Christ’s life. Self will sink out of sight. All selfish ambition, all desire for worldly gain will be quenched. We shall count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. Our highest aim will be to know Him, “and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” [Philippians 3:10.] 20LtMs, Ms 134, 1905, par. 14