The Signs of the Times


December 8, 1898

Our Sacrifice


While the death of Christ appeared to be a hellish triumph over His humanity, it was a victory so full and broad and deep that it encompassed the world. Christ was cut off, but not for Himself. He died the just for the unjust, that He might bring many sons and daughters to God. Tho innocent and undeserving of punishment, our Substitute and Surety was brought under the curse and condemnation that should have been ours. He, the perfection of holiness, was arrayed in our defiled garments, that we might be clothed with His glorious righteousness. ST December 8, 1898, par. 1

For three hours Christ hung upon the cross, gazed upon by thousands. Thousands heard the revilings of the priests and rulers; they heard the challenge, “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” They heard the taunt, “He saved others; Himself He can not save.” But, altho dying the ignominious death of the cross, Christ died as one who had endured the test and proving of God. He lost none of His divine power as a sin-pardoning Saviour. When the dying thief said, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom,” Jesus manifested His divine attributes. The repentant sinner need not wait until Christ shall receive His coronation. Before the spectators about the cross, Jesus shows that even in His suffering humanity He has power to forgive sin. Tho nailed to the cross, His hand is not weakened that it can not save. His ear is not heavy that it can not hear. Divinity flashes through humanity. From those pale and quivering lips the words are distinctly heard by the dying penitent and by all surrounding the cross, “Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” ST December 8, 1898, par. 2

Through the vail of suffering humanity break forth the beams of the Sun of Righteousness to that poor, repentant soul. The dark cloud that has veiled Christ's humanity is rent away, and mercy, love, and pardon, His power to save unto the uttermost all that come unto Him, are made manifest. ST December 8, 1898, par. 3

This was a rebuke to His crucifiers and the apparently heedless mob, who were taking up the words of mockery of the priests and rulers. While in the power of deceived religious zealots, who were closing the door of paradise to themselves, He, the sin-pardoner, opened the door for the entrance of the thief when he should rise from the dead with those who believe on Christ. At the very time when Satan and all his synagog united with priests and rulers to humiliate Him who made the earth and all that is therein, He revealed His God-head, His redeeming power, and bestowed the most precious gift that can come to mortal man. He spoke the words of life-giving power at the very time when principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world thought that they had laid His kingly claim in the dust. His kingly power is not exercised in coming down from the cross to give proof that He is the Son of God; but He shows that His death is life-giving power for all who will believe in Him. He asserts His divine prerogative, and assures the poor sinner, “Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” ST December 8, 1898, par. 4

The stubborn priests and rulers may taunt Him, and ridicule His claims of sonship with God. They may mock Him in His dying agony, and forever close to themselves the gate of paradise, notwithstanding their claims to piety and knowledge; but the thief who has received Him, who has believed on Him in His humiliation, shall have life with Christ in the paradise of God. ST December 8, 1898, par. 5

“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” Not only did the darkness enshroud the immediate vicinity of the cross, but “there was darkness over the whole land.” ST December 8, 1898, par. 6

God dwells in the thick darkness; He hides His glory from human eyes. The Father, with His heavenly angels, was inclosed in that thick darkness. God was close beside His Son, tho not manifesting Himself to Him or to any human being. Had one ray of His glory and power penetrated the thick darkness that enveloped Him, every human spectator would have been destroyed. And in that thick darkness God hid from prying eyes the last human agony of His Son. He clothed nature with sackcloth, that she might not look upon her suffering, dying Author in His last humiliation. ST December 8, 1898, par. 7

All who had seen Christ during His trial had been convicted of His loyalty and royal character. That face, once beheld by humanity, was never forgotten. As in Cain's face was expressed his guilt as a murderer, so in the face of Christ were revealed innocence, serenity, benevolence, the image of God. But His accusers would not heed the signet of heaven, and that countenance was hidden by the mantle of God. ST December 8, 1898, par. 8

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, He calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down.” “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit; and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” ST December 8, 1898, par. 9

The conviction forced upon many at the time of Christ's trial, at the time when the three hours’ darkness enshrouded the cross, and when His last words were uttered, was as seed sown that ripened into harvest, when, after His ascension, the Gospel was proclaimed by His disciples. The shaking earth, the piercing cry, the sudden death, forced from many the words: “Assuredly this was a righteous man.” “Truly this was the Son of God.” Many who had scoffed and jeered at the Son of God were now terribly afraid. They hastened from the scene, stumbling, falling, in awful terror lest the shaking earth, the rent and trembling rocks, should put an end to their own lives. ST December 8, 1898, par. 10

When Christ on the cross cried out, “It is finished,” the vail of the temple was rent in twain. This vail was significant to the Jewish nation. It was of most costly material, of purple and gold, and was of great length and breadth. At the moment when Christ breathed His last, there were witnesses in the temple who beheld the strong, heavy material rent by unseen hands from top to bottom. This act signified to the heavenly universe, and to a world corrupted by sin, that a new and living way had been opened to the fallen race, that all sacrificial offerings terminated in the one great offering of the Son of God. He who had hitherto dwelt in the temple made with hands, had gone forth never again to grace it with His presence. ST December 8, 1898, par. 11

In the light and assurance of His Word, and through His atoning sacrifice, we may see how God can vindicate His justice. He opens our eyes to behold His holiness in its true luster, and yet justifies the sinner who comes to Him by Christ. In the pardon given to the dying thief, it was made manifest that Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He bore our griefs and sorrows. That heart of human and divine love was exercised for the relief of the woes of the world. ST December 8, 1898, par. 12

The Father laid our sins where none but His own eyes could discern them. And as He hid His face from the innocence of Christ, so He will hide His eyes from the guilt of the believing sinner, because of the righteousness imputed to him. The righteousness of Christ laid upon us will draw upon us the most precious blessings in this life, and will bestow upon us everlasting life in the kingdom of God. ST December 8, 1898, par. 13

Mrs. E. G. White