The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3


Chapter 5—In the Outer Court

“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.” 3SP 74.1

These Gentiles were excluded from the temple court where Jesus was sitting over against the treasury. They had heard much in favor of and against Jesus, and were desirous to see and hear him for themselves. They could not come to him, but were obliged to wait in the court of the Gentiles. As the disciples bore the message of the Greeks to Jesus and awaited his answer, he seemed to be in a deep study, and answered them: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” The request of the Greeks to see Jesus brought the future before him. The Jews had rejected the only one who could save them. They were soon to imbrue their hands in his blood, and place him with thieves and robbers. The Saviour, rejected by the house of Israel, was to be received by the Gentiles. He looked forward with joy to the period when the partition wall between Jew and Gentile would be thrown down, and the broad harvest field would be the world. 3SP 74.2

Jesus regarded these Greeks as representatives of the Gentiles at large. In them he discerned the first-fruits of an abundant harvest, when all nations, tongues, and people upon the face of the earth should hear the glad tidings of salvation through Christ. He saw that the gathering of the Gentiles was to follow his approaching death. He therefore presented to his disciples and to the listening crowd the figure of the wheat, to represent how his death would be productive of a great harvest. If he should draw back from the sacrifice of his life, he would abide alone, like the kernel of wheat that did not die; but if he should give up his life, he would, like the kernel of wheat that fell into the ground, rise again as the first-fruits of the great harvest; and he, the Life-giver, would call the dead that were united with him by faith from the graves, and there would be a glorious harvest of ripe grain for the heavenly garner. In the gospel of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, life and immortality are brought to light, and the kingdom of Heaven is thrown open to all believers. 3SP 74.3

After Jesus had spoken of his own sufferings and death, he said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honor.” The Saviour does not require his followers to travel in a path which he has not himself passed over. Jesus endured shame, insult, and privation from the manger to Calvary. Yet he looked beyond his agony in the garden, his betrayal, the buffeting and scourging, the ignominy of being ranked with malefactors, and dying in anguish upon the cross, to the glorious object of his mission, and the honor he should receive at his Father's right hand, where his true followers would finally be elevated with him. All who had cherished the cross of Christ, and been sharers of his sufferings, denying self and obeying God, should be partakers with him of his glory. They who had for Christ's sake lost their lives in this world would preserve them unto life eternal. It was the joy of Christ in his humiliation and pain that all his true disciples should be glorified with him in Heaven. 3SP 75.1

Among the chief rulers were many who were convinced that Christ was indeed the Messiah; but, in face of the angry priests and Pharisees, they dared not confess their faith, lest they should be turned out of the synagogue. They loved the praise of men more than the approval of God; and to save themselves from reproach and shame, denied Christ, and lost their only chance of eternal life. To this class the words of Christ were specially applicable: “He that loveth his life shall lose it.” 3SP 76.1

The message of the Greeks, indicating as it did the breaking down of the partition wall between Jew and Gentile, brought before Jesus his entire mission, from the time when it was first decided in Heaven that he should come to earth as man's Redeemer, to the death that he knew awaited him in the immediate future. A mysterious cloud seemed to enshroud the Son of God. It was a gloom that was felt by those who were in close contact with him. He sat wrapped in thought. At last the silence was broken by his mournful voice: “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.” A foreboding of his coming conflict with the powers of darkness, by reason of the position he had voluntarily taken in regard to bearing the guilt of fallen man and taking upon himself the Father's wrath because of sin, caused the spirit of Jesus to faint, and the pallor of death to overspread his countenance. 3SP 76.2

He remembered the persistence and malice of Satan, who had boldly contended with the angels in Heaven that his sentence was unjust, maintaining that there was no self-denial with God, and that Satan, in struggling to carry out his purposes and have his own way, was only imitating the example of God. If God followed his own will perfectly and continually, why should not the first sons created in his image do so? By this argument Satan deceived many of the holy angels. He complained continually of God's severity, just as children sometimes complain of their parents’ severity in restraining them from carrying out plans destructive to the family government. Rather than submit to the will of God he turned from the light of reason, and set himself in opposition to the divine plans. 3SP 77.1

In the warfare ensuing, Satan for a time seemed to hold the advantage. He could lie; God could not lie. He could move in a thousand crooked and deceiving ways to gain a desired object; God must pursue the straightforward course of truth and righteousness. For a time Satan triumphed in an apparent victory. But God would unmask the enemy and reveal him in his true character. Christ, in taking the nature of man, was divinity clothed in humanity. He came as the light of the world, to shine upon and scatter the thick darkness of Satan's deceptions and reveal his workings to the children of men. Christ practiced the most rigid self-denial in resisting the manifold temptations of the adversary. He conquered Satan in the long fast of the wilderness, and when he came to him as an angel of light, offering the dominion of the world in exchange for his worship; he made sacrifices that will never be required of man, as man can never attain to his exalted character. His whole earthly life was a demonstration of perfect submission to his Father's will. The course of Christ and that of Satan present the complete contrast of the life of an obedient with that of a disloyal son. 3SP 77.2

The final triumph of Christ over Satan could only be perfected through the death of the former. He thus opened free salvation to man, taking upon himself the stigma of the curse, and, in laying down his precious life, wrested from Satan's hand the last weapon by which he could gain the kingdoms of the world. Man might then be free from the power of evil through his Saviour Jesus Christ. 3SP 78.1

As the Son of God meditated upon these things, and the whole burden of his mission passed before his mind's eye, he lifted his head and said, “Father, glorify thy name.” He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and called upon him to glorify himself in his Son. A response came from the cloud which had hovered above the head of Jesus: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 3SP 78.2

A light darted from the cloud, as the voice was heard, and encircled Christ, as if the arms of Infinite Power were thrown about him like a wall of fire. The people beheld this scene with terror and amazement. No one ventured to utter a word. With silent lips and bated breath they stood with eyes riveted upon Jesus. The testimony of Almighty God having been given, the cloud lifted and scattered in the heavens. The visible communion between the Father and the Son was ended for that time. 3SP 78.3

The spectators now began to breathe more freely and exchange opinions upon what they had seen and heard. Some solemnly declared their faith in Jesus as the Son of God, while others tried to explain away the remarkable scene they had just witnessed. “The people, therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered; others said, An angel spoke to him.” But the inquiring Greeks saw the cloud, heard the voice, comprehended its meaning, and discerned Christ indeed; Jesus was revealed to their understanding as the Messiah. 3SP 79.1

The voice of God had been heard at the baptism of Jesus at the commencement of his ministry, and again at his transfiguration on the mount; and now, at the close of his ministry, it was heard for the third time, and on this occasion by a larger number of persons and under peculiar circumstances. He had just uttered the most solemn truths regarding the condition of the Jews. He had made his last appeal, and pronounced their doom. The wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was tottering and ready to fall at the death of Christ. 3SP 79.2

The thoughts of the Saviour now returned from contemplating the past and future. While the people were endeavoring to explain what they had seen and heard according to the impressions made upon their minds, and according to the light they possessed, “Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.” It was the crowning evidence of his Messiahship, the signal of the Father that Jesus had uttered the truth, and was the Son of God. Would the Jews turn from this testimony of high Heaven? They had once asked the Saviour, What sign showest thou that we may see and believe? Innumerable signs had been given all through the ministry of Christ; yet they had closed their eyes and hardened their hearts lest they should be convinced. The crowning miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus did not remove their unbelief, but filled them with increased malice; and now that the Father had spoken, and they could ask for no further sign, their hearts were not softened and they still refused to believe. 3SP 79.3

Jesus now resumed his discourse where he had left it: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” In the act of Christ dying for the salvation of man, Heaven was not only made accessible to man, but God and his Son were justified before all Heaven in dealing with the rebellion of Satan, and in his expulsion. The blot which Satan had placed upon Heaven itself was thus to be washed away; and no sin could ever more enter there to all eternity. 3SP 80.1

The holy angels, and all created intelligences of the worlds where sin had not entered, responded in hallelujahs to the judicial sentence pronounced upon Satan, applauding the act of Christ which removed the mortgage Satan held upon the souls of men. The holy angels, as well as those who are washed by the blood of Christ, are drawn to him by his crowning act of giving his life for the sins of the world. Christ, in being lifted up upon the cross to die, opened the way of life to both Jews and Gentiles, to all nations, tongues, and people. 3SP 80.2

Alas for the haughty Jews who knew not the day of their visitation! Slowly and regretfully, Christ, with his disciples, left forever the precincts of the temple. 3SP 81.1