October 30, 2013

Spirit of Prophecy

Look upon the scene in lonely Gethsemane. Angels witness with amazement the despairing agony of the Son of God, and nature groans in sympathy with her bleeding, dying Author. The earth trembles. The sun refuses to behold the scene. The heavens gather blackness. The angelic host hide their faces from the awful sight. The separation that sin makes between God and man was fully realized by the innocent, suffering Man of Calvary. He was oppressed by the powers of darkness. Satan declared that Christ was in his hands, and that he was superior in strength to the Son of God, that God had disowned His Son. If Christ was indeed in favor with God, why need He die? Could not God save Him from death?

Alone on the Cross

Such were the temptations that Satan pressed upon the Son of God, while legions of evil angels were all about Him, and the holy angels were not permitted to break their ranks, and engage in conflict with the reviling foe. Christ could not see through the portals of the tomb. Bright hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a triumphant conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. All He could realize during this time of amazing darkness was the heinousness of sin that was laid upon Him, and the horror of its penalty, death. He feared that sin was so offensive in the sight of His Father that their separation was eternal. The temptation that His own Father had forever left Him caused that fearful cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

But when, in His expiring agonies, despair pressed upon the soul of the Redeemer, He relied upon the evidences that had hitherto been given Him of His Father’s acceptance, and as He yielded up His precious life, by faith alone He rested in Him whom it had been His joy to obey. Though all was enshrouded in gloom, yet amid the awful darkness, which was felt even by sympathizing nature, the Redeemer drained the mysterious cup to the dregs. Though He realizes but dimly that He shall triumph over death, He cries with a loud voice, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He is acquainted with the character of His Father; He understands His justice, His mercy, and His great love; in submission He commends Himself to God. Amid the convulsions of nature, the amazed spectators hear the dying words of the Man of Calvary, “It is finished.”

Creation’s Response

The heaving earth, the rent rocks, and the terrific darkness proclaimed that it was the Son of God who died. There was a mighty earthquake. The veil of the Temple was rent in twain. Terror seized the executioner and spectators. As Christ commended His spirit into the hands of the Father, the mocking and jeering of the chief priests and elders was hushed. The astonished throng began to withdraw, and in terror grope their way to the city. They smote upon their breasts as they went, and speaking scarcely above a whisper, said among themselves, It is an innocent man that has suffered. What if indeed He were the Son of God?

Jesus did not yield up His life until He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and exclaimed with His expiring breath, “It is finished.” Angels rejoiced as the words were uttered. They knew that Satan was defeated, his kingdom lost. The great plan of redemption, which was dependent upon the death of Christ, had been thus far carried out, and there was joy in heaven that through faith in Christ the sons of Adam could finally be exalted to the throne of God.

Future Glory

Contrast with the humiliation and sufferings of Christ, the riches of glory, the wealth of praise, pouring forth from immortal tongues, the millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration; and seek to comprehend the magnitude of His love. As a member of the human family, He was mortal; but as God, He was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion; but voluntarily He laid down His life, that He might give life, and bring immortality to light. He bore the sin of the world, and endured the penalty, that rolled like a mountain upon His divine soul. He yielded up His life a sacrifice, that man should not eternally die. He died, not through being compelled to die, but by His own free will. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in one gift to save fallen man.

Nothing could have actuated 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. O, what love! what amazing love! that the Son of God should come to earth to be made sin for us, in order that we might be reconciled to God, and exalted to a place with Him in the mansions of glory. And O, what is man that such a price should be paid for his redemption!

Motivated by Love

When we more fully comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the great sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven in dying for man, the plan of salvation will be glorified before us, and the thought of Calvary will awaken sacred and living emotions in the Christian’s heart. Praise to God and to the Lamb will be in our hearts and upon our lips; for pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the heart that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary.

At what a cost has salvation been provided! What will be our portion if we heed not the entreaties of mercy? What will be the fate of those who profess to be followers of Christ, yet who do not take up the cross as humble disciples? How many despise the counsel of this loving Savior, and permit selfish interest to close the door against the Son of God! He was infinitely rich, “yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” He was clothed with light and glory, surrounded by hosts of heavenly angels eager to do His pleasure; yet He took upon Him the nature of man, and was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and became sin for us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” Here is love that no language can express.

He who beholds this matchless love will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character, and will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree this mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more we shall adopt the language of the apostle when he said, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

This article was first published in Bible Echo, September 15, 1892. Ellen G. White, its author, was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her life and work testified to the special guidance of the Holy Spirit.