SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW)

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Chapter 20

16, 17 (ch. 17:24; Isaiah 13:12; Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:6). The Contract Ratified—[John 20:16, 17 quoted.] Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He knew that His sacrifice had been accepted by the Father, and until He had received the assurance from God Himself that His atonement for the sins of His people had been full and ample, that through His blood they might gain eternal life. Jesus immediately ascended to heaven and presented Himself before the throne of God, showing the marks of shame and cruelty upon His brow, His hands and feet. But he refused to receive the coronet of glory, and the royal robe, and He also refused the adoration of the angels as He had refused the homage of Mary, until the Father signified that His offering was accepted. 5BC 1150.3

He also had a request to prefer concerning His chosen ones upon earth. He wished to have the relation clearly defined that His redeemed should hereafter sustain to heaven, and to His Father. His church must be justified and accepted before He could accept heavenly honor. He declared it to be His will that where He was, there His church should be; if He was to have glory, His people must share it with Him. They who suffer with Him on earth must finally reign with Him in His kingdom. In the most explicit manner Christ pleaded for His church, identifying His interest with theirs, and advocating, with love and constancy stronger than death, their rights and titles gained through Him. 5BC 1150.4

God's answer to this appeal goes forth in the proclamation: “Let all the angels of God worship him.” Every angelic commander obeys the royal mandate, and Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain; and that lives again a triumphant conqueror! echoes and re-echoes through all heaven. The innumerable company of angels prostrate themselves before the Redeemer. The request of Christ is granted; the church is justified through Him, its representative and head. Here the Father ratifies the contract with His Son, that He will be reconciled to repentant and obedient men, and take them into divine favor through the merits of Christ. Christ guarantees that He will make a man “more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” All power in heaven and on earth is now given to the Prince of life; yet He does not for a moment forget His poor disciples in a sinful world, but prepares to return to them, that He may impart to them His power and glory. Thus did the Redeemer of mankind, by the sacrifice of Himself, connect earth with heaven, and finite man with the infinite God (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:202, 203). 5BC 1150.5

17 (ch. 10:18). All of Christ Remained in Tomb—Jesus said to Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” When He closed His eyes in death upon the cross, the soul of Christ did not go at once to heaven, as many believe, or how could His words be true—“I am not yet ascended to my Father”? The spirit of Jesus slept in the tomb with His body, and did not wing its way to heaven, there to maintain a separate existence, and to look down upon the mourning disciples embalming the body from which it had taken flight. All that comprised the life and intelligence of Jesus remained with His body in the sepulcher; and when He came forth it was as a whole being; He did not have to summon His spirit from heaven. He had power to lay down His life and to take it up again (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:203, 204). 5BC 1150.6

21, 22. A Foretaste of Pentecost—The act of Christ in breathing upon His disciples the Holy Ghost, and in imparting His peace to them, was as a few drops before the plentiful shower to be given on the day of Pentecost. Jesus impressed this fact upon His disciples, that as they should proceed in the work intrusted to them, they would the more fully comprehend the nature of that work, and the manner in which the kingdom of Christ was to be set up on earth. They were appointed to be witnesses for the Saviour; they were to testify what they had seen and heard of His resurrection; they were to repeat the gracious words which proceeded from His lips. They were acquainted with His holy character; He was as an angel standing in the sun, yet casting no shadow. It was the sacred work of the apostles to present the spotless character of Christ to men, as the standard for their lives. The disciples had been so intimately associated with this Pattern of holiness that they were in some degree assimilated to Him in character, and were specially fitted to make known to the world His precepts and example (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:243, 244). 5BC 1151.1

23 (Matthew 16:18, 19; 18:18). Man Cannot Remove One Stain of Sin—Christ gave no ecclesiastical right to forgive sin, nor to sell indulgences, that men may sin without incurring the displeasure of God, nor did He give His servants liberty to accept a gift or bribe for cloaking sin, that it may escape merited censure. Jesus charged His disciples to preach the remission of sin in His name among all nations; but they themselves were not empowered to remove one stain of sin from the children of Adam.... Whoever would attract the people to himself as one in whom is invested power to forgive sins, incurs the wrath of God, for he turns souls away from the heavenly Pardoner to a weak and erring mortal (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:245, 246). 5BC 1151.2

24-29. Tenderness Won Thomas—Jesus, in His treatment of Thomas, gave His followers a lesson regarding the manner in which they should treat those who have doubts upon religious truth, and who make those doubts prominent. He did not overwhelm Thomas with words of reproach, nor did He enter into a controversy with him; but, with marked condescension and tenderness, He revealed Himself unto the doubting one. Thomas had taken a most unreasonable position, in dictating the only conditions of his faith; but Jesus, by His generous love and consideration, broke down all the barriers he had raised. Persistent controversy will seldom weaken unbelief, but rather put it upon self-defense, where it will find new support and excuse. Jesus, revealed in His love and mercy as the crucified Saviour, will bring from many once unwilling lips the acknowledgment of Thomas, “My Lord, and my God” (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:222). 5BC 1151.3