The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
August 21, 1879 The Sufferings of Christ
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.
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(Continued.)

The fearful hour in is passed. Our has accepted the cup to drain it to the dregs. In behalf of man he has conquered in the hour of . Serenity and calmness are now seen in the pale and blood-stained face. And the third time he comes to his and finds them overcome with . Sorrowfully and pityingly he looked upon them, and said, “Sleep on now, and take your ; behold, the hour is at hand, and the is into the hands of .” Even while these words were upon his lips, he heard the footsteps of the mob that was in search of him. took the lead, and was closely followed by the . Jesus aroused his disciples with these words. “Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doth me.” The countenance of wore an expression of calm dignity. The traces of his recent agony were not visible as he walked forth to meet his .

Jesus steps out in front of his disciples, and inquires, “Whom seek ye?” They answer, “.” replies, “I am he.” At these words the mob stagger backward; and the , the , the hardened , and even Judas, fall powerless to the ground, giving ample opportunity for to release himself if he chose. But he stands as one glorified amid that coarse and hardened band. As Jesus said, “I am he,” the angel which had ministered to him in his anguish, moved between him and the murderous mob. They see a divine light glorifying the Saviour’s face, and a dove-like form overshadowing him. Their sinful hearts are filled with terror. They cannot stand for a moment in the presence of divine glory, but fall as dead men to the ground.

The angel withdrew, and left Jesus standing calm and self-possessed, with the bright beams of the moon upon his pale face, and still surrounded by prostrate, helpless men, while the disciples were too much amazed to utter a word. As the angel removes, the hardened Roman soldiers start to their feet, and, with the priests and Judas, they gather about Christ as though ashamed of their weakness, and fearful that he would yet escape out of their hands. Again the question is asked by the world’s Redeemer. “Whom seek ye?” Again they answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am he. If, therefore, ye seek me, let these go their way.” In this hour of humiliation Christ’s thoughts are not for himself, but for his beloved disciples. He wishes to save them from any further trial of their strength.

Judas, the betrayer of our Saviour, does not forget his part, but comes close to Jesus, and takes his hand as a familiar friend, and bestows the traitor’s kiss. Jesus says to him, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” His voice trembled with sorrow as he addressed deluded Judas. “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” This most touching appeal should have aroused the conscience of Judas, and touched his stubborn heart; but honor, fidelity, and even human tenderness seemed to have left him. He stood bold and defiant, showing no disposition to relent. He had given himself up to the control of Satan, to work wickedness, and he had no will to resist. Jesus did not resist the traitor’s kiss. In this he gives us an example of forbearance, love, and pity, that is without a parallel.

Though the murderous throng are surprised and awed by what they have seen and felt, their assurance and hardihood returns as they see the boldness of Judas in touching the person of Christ, whom so recently they had seen glorified. They lay violent hands upon Jesus, and are about to bind those precious hands that had ever been employed in doing good. 

As the disciples saw that band of hardened men lie prostrate and helpless on the ground, they thought surely their Master would not suffer himself to be taken. The same power that prostrated that hireling mob could have kept them there, and Jesus could have passed on his way unharmed. They are disappointed and indignant as they see the cords brought forward to bind the hands of him whom they love. Peter in his vehement anger strikes rashly, and cuts off an ear of the servant of the high priest.

When Jesus saw what Peter had done, he released his hands, already held by the Roman soldiers, and, saying, “Suffer ye thus far,” he touched the ear of the wounded man, and instantly it is made whole. Even to his enemies, who are bound to take his life, he here gives unmistakable evidence of his divine power. Jesus said to Peter, “Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” Jesus said unto the chief priest, and captains of the temple, who helped compose that murderous throng, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and with staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not; but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”

When the disciples saw that Jesus did not deliver himself from his enemies, but permitted himself to be taken, they forsook him and fled, leaving their Master alone. Christ had foreseen this desertion, and had told them in the upper chamber before it took place, of what they would do: “Behold the hour cometh, yea, is not come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.”

The Saviour of the world was hurried to the judgment hall of an earthly court, there to be derided and condemned to death, by sinful men. There the glorious Son of God was “wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” He bore insult, mockery, and shameful abuse, until his “visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”

Who can comprehend the love here displayed? The angelic host beheld with wonder and with grief Him who had been the majesty of Heaven, and who had worn the crown of glory, now wearing the crown of thorns, a bleeding victim to the rage of an infuriated mob, who were fired to insane madness by the wrath of Satan. Behold the patient sufferer! Upon his head is the thorny crown! His life blood flows from every lacerated vein! All this was in consequence of sin! Nothing could have induced Christ to leave his honor and majesty in Heaven, and come to a sinful world, to be neglected, despised, and rejected, by those he came to save, and finally to suffer upon the cross, but eternal, redeeming love, which will ever remain a mystery.

Wonder, O Heavens, and be astonished, O earth! Behold the oppressor and the oppressed! A vast multitude inclose the Saviour of the world. Mockings and jeerings are mingled with the coarse oaths of blasphemy.

His lowly birth and humble life are commented upon by unfeeling wretches. His claim to be the Son of God is ridiculed by the chief priests and elders, and the vulgar jest and insulting derision are passed from lip to lip. Satan was having full control of the minds of his servants. In order to do this effectually, he commences with the chief priests and elders, and imbues them with religious frenzy. They are actuated by the same satanic spirit which moves the most vile and hardened wretches.

There is a corrupt harmony in the feelings of all, from the hypocritical priests and the elders down to the most debased. Christ, the precious Son of God, was led forth, and the cross was laid upon his shoulders. At every step was left blood which flowed from his wounds. Thronged by an immense crowd of bitter enemies and unfeeling spectators, he is led away to the crucifixion. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

His sorrowing disciples follow him at a distance, behind the murderous throng. He is nailed to the cross, and hangs suspended between the heavens and the earth. Their hearts are bursting with anguish as their beloved Teacher is suffering as a criminal. Close to the cross are the blind, bigoted, faithless priests and elders, taunting, mocking, and jeering: “Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him; for he said I am the Son of God.”

Not one word did Jesus answer to all this. Even while the nails were being driven through his hands and the sweat-drops of agony were forced from his pores, from the pale quivering lips of the innocent sufferer a prayer of pardoning love was breathed for his murderers: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” All Heaven was gazing with profound interest upon the scene. The glorious Redeemer of a lost world was suffering the penalty of man’s transgression of the Father’s law. He was about to ransom his people with his own blood. He was paying the just claims of God’s holy law. This was the means through which an end was to be finally made of sin and Satan, and his vile host to be vanquished.

Oh, was there ever suffering and sorrow like that endured by the dying Saviour! It was the sense of his Father’s displeasure which made his cup so bitter. It was not bodily suffering which so quickly ended the life of Christ upon the cross. It was the crushing weight of the sins of the world, and a sense of his Father’s wrath that broke his heart. The Father’s glory and sustaining presence had left him, and despair pressed its crushing weight of darkness upon him, and forced from his pale and quivering lips the anguished cry: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Jesus had united with the Father in making the world. Amid the agonizing sufferings of the Son of God, blind and deluded men alone remain unfeeling. The chief priests and elders revile God’s dear Son while in his expiring agonies. Yet inanimate nature groans in sympathy with her bleeding, dying Author. The earth trembles. The sun refuses to behold the scene. The heavens gather blackness. Angels have witnessed the scene of suffering, until they can look on no longer, and hide their faces from the horrid sight. Christ is in despair! He is dying! His Father’s approving smile is removed, and angels are not permitted to lighten the gloom of the terrible hour. They could only behold in amazement their loved Commander suffering the penalty of man’s transgression of the Father’s law.

Even doubts assailed the dying Son of God. He could not see through the portals of the tomb. Bright hope did not present to him his coming forth from the tomb a conqueror, and his Father’s acceptance of his sacrifice. The sin of the world with all its terribleness was felt to the utmost by the Son of God. The displeasure of the Father for sin, and its penalty which was death, were all that he could realize through this amazing darkness. He was tempted to fear that sin was so offensive in the sight of his Father that he could not be reconciled to his Son. The fierce temptation that his own Father had forever left him, caused that piercing cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
                           (To be Continued.)

Jenny @ 5:45 pm
November 30, 1876 The Sabbath
Filed under: EG White Articles

Nothing so distinguished the Jews from surrounding nations, and designated them as true worshipers of the Creator, as the institution of the Sabbath. Its observance was a continual visible token of their connection with God, and separation from other people. All ordinary labor for a livelihood or for worldly profit was forbidden upon the seventh day. According to the fourth commandment the Sabbath was dedicated to rest and religious worship. All secular employment was to be suspended; but works of mercy and benevolence were in accordance with the purpose of the Lord. They were not to be limited by time nor place. To relieve the afflicted, and comfort the sorrowing is a labor of love that does honor to God’s holy day.

The work of the priests in connection with the sacrificial offerings was increased upon the Sabbath, yet in their holy work in the service of God they did not violate the fourth commandment of the decalogue. As Israel separated from God, the true object of the Sabbath institution became less distinct in their minds. They grew careless of its observance, and unmindful of its ordinances. The prophets testified to them of God’s displeasure in the violation of his Sabbath. Nehemiah says: “In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.”

And Jeremiah commands them: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.”

But they heeded not the admonitions of the inspired prophets, and departed more and more from the religion of their fathers. At length calamities, persecution, and bondage came upon them in consequence of their disregard of God’s requirements.

Alarmed at these visitations of divine punishment, they returned to the strict observance of all the outward forms enjoined by the sacred law. Not satisfied with this, they made burdensome additions to those ceremonies. Their pride and bigotry led them to the narrowest interpretation of the requirements of God. As time passed they gradually hedged themselves in with the traditions and customs of their ancestors, till they regarded them with all the sanctity of the original law. This confidence in themselves and their own regulations, with its attendant prejudice against all other nations, caused them to resist the Spirit of God, and separated them still farther from his favor.

Their exactions and restrictions were so wearisome that Jesus declared: “They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders.” Their false standard of duty, their superficial tests of piety and godliness, obscured the real and positive requirements of God. Heart service was neglected in the rigid performance of outward ceremonies. The Jews had so perverted the divine commandments, by heaping tradition upon tradition, that, in the days of Christ, they were ready to accuse him of breaking the Sabbath, because of his acts of mercy upon that day.

The grain was ready for the sickle when Jesus and his disciples passed through the corn fields on the Sabbath. The disciples were hungry, for their Master had extended his work of teaching and healing to a late hour, and they had been without food for a long time. They accordingly began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat, rubbing them in their hands, in accordance with the law of Moses, which provides that: “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing corn.” 

But spies were continually upon the track of Jesus, watching for some occasion to accuse and condemn him. When they saw this act of the disciples, they immediately complained to him, saying, “Behold thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.” In this they expressed their own narrow views of the law. But Jesus defended his followers thus: “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was a hungered, he, and they that were with him? how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.”

If excessive hunger excused David for violating even the holiness of the sanctuary, and made his act guiltless, how much more excusable was the simple act of the disciples in plucking the grain and eating it upon the Sabbath day. Jesus would teach his disciples and his enemies that the service of God was first of all; and, if fatigue and hunger attended the work, it was right to satisfy the wants of humanity, even upon the Sabbath day. That holy institution was not given to interfere with the needs of our being, bringing pain and discomfort, instead of blessing. “The Sabbath was made for man,” to give him rest and peace, and remind him of the work of his Creator, not to be a grievous burden.

The work done in the temple upon the Sabbath was in harmony with the law; yet the same labor, if employed in ordinary business, would be a violation of it. The act of plucking and eating the grain to sustain the bodily strength, to be used in the service of God, was right and lawful. Jesus then crowned his argument by declaring himself the “Lord of the Sabbath,”–One above all question and above all law. This Infinite Judge acquits the disciples from blame, appealing to the very statutes they are accused of violating.

But Jesus did not let the matter drop without administering a rebuke to his enemies. He declared that in their blindness they had mistaken the object of the Sabbath. Said he: “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” He then contrasted their many heartless rites with the truthful integrity, and tender love that should characterize the true worshipers of God: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. But they like men have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against me.”

Jesus was reared among this people, so marked with bigotry and prejudice; and he therefore knew that in healing upon the Sabbath day, he would be regarded as a transgressor of the law. He was aware that the Pharisees would seize upon such acts with great indignation, and thereby seek to influence the people against him. He knew that they would use these works of mercy as strong arguments to affect the minds of the masses, who had all their lives been bound by the Jewish restrictions and exactions. Nevertheless he was not prevented by this knowledge from breaking down the senseless wall of superstition that barricaded the Sabbath, and teaching men that charity and benevolence were lawful upon all days.

He entered the synagogue, and saw there a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched him, eager to see what he would do with regard to this case–whether or not he would heal the man upon the Sabbath day. Their sole object was to find cause for accusation against him. Jesus looked upon the man with the withered hand, and commanded him to stand forth. He then asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out; and his hand was restored whole as the other.”

He justified this work of healing the paralytic, as in perfect keeping with the principles of the fourth commandment. But they questioned him: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days?” Jesus made them the clear and forcible answer, “What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.”

The spies upon our Saviour’s words dared not, in the presence of the multitude, answer this question for fear of involving themselves in difficulties. They knew that while they would leave men to suffer and die rather than to violate their traditions by relieving them upon the Lord’s day, a brute which had fallen into danger would be at once relieved, because of the loss that would accrue to the owner if he was neglected. Thus the dumb animal was exalted above man, made in the image of God.

Jesus wished to correct the false teachings of the Jews in regard to the Sabbath and also to impress his disciples with the fact that deeds of mercy were lawful on that day. In the matter of healing the withered hand he broke down the custom of the Jews, and left the fourth commandment standing as God had given it to the world. By this act he exalted the Sabbath, sweeping away the senseless restrictions that encumbered it. His act of mercy did honor to the day, while those who complained of him, were, by their many useless rites and ceremonies, themselves dishonoring the Sabbath.

There are ministers today who teach that the Son of God broke the Sabbath and justified his disciples in doing the same. They take the same ground as did the caviling Jews, although ostensibly for another purpose, since they hold that Christ abolished the Sabbath.

Jesus in turning upon the Pharisees with the question whether it was lawful to do good upon the Sabbath day or evil, to save life or to kill, confronted them with their own wicked purposes. They were following upon his track to find occasion for falsely accusing him; they were hunting his life with bitter hatred and malice, while he was saving life and bringing happiness to many hearts. Was it better to slay upon the Sabbath, as they were planning to do, than to heal the afflicted as he had done? Was it more righteous to have murder in the heart upon God’s holy day, than love to all men which finds expression in deeds of charity and mercy?      E. G. White.

Jenny @ 11:24 am