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Early Writings

by Ellen G. White

Table of Contents    Chapters:  

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The Crucifixion of Christ

The disciples who loved Jesus desired that His body should have an honorable burial.
The disciples who loved Jesus desired that
His body should have an honorable burial.

Illustration © Review and Herald Publ. Assoc.

The Son of God was delivered to the people to be crucified; with shouts of triumph they led the dear Saviour away. He was weak and faint from weariness, pain, and loss of blood by the scourging and blows which He had received; yet the heavy cross upon which He was soon to be nailed was laid upon Him. Jesus fainted beneath the burden. Three times the cross was placed upon His shoulders, and three times He fainted. One of His followers, a man who had not openly professed faith in Christ, yet believed on Him, was next seized. Upon him the cross was laid, and he bore it to the fatal spot. Companies of angels were marshaled in the air above the place. A number of Christ's disciples followed Him to Calvary, in sorrow, and with bitter weeping. They called to mind His triumphal ride into Jerusalem but a few days before, when they had followed Him, crying, "Hosanna in the highest!" and strewing their garments and the beautiful palm branches in the way. They had thought that He was then to take the kingdom and reign a temporal prince over Israel. How changed the scene! How blighted their prospects! Not with rejoicing, not with cheerful hopes, but with hearts stricken with fear and despair they now slowly, sadly followed Him who had been disgraced and humbled, and who was about to die. [176] {EW 175.2}

The mother of Jesus was there. Her heart was pierced with anguish such as none but a fond mother can feel; yet, with the disciples, she still hoped that Christ would work some mighty miracle and deliver Himself from His murderers. She could not endure the thought that He would suffer Himself to be crucified. But the preparations were made, and Jesus was laid upon the cross. The hammer and the nails were brought. The hearts of the disciples fainted within them. The mother of Jesus was bowed with agony almost beyond endurance. Before the Saviour was nailed to the cross, the disciples bore her from the scene, that she might not hear the crashing of the spikes as they were driven through the bone and muscle of His tender hands and feet. Jesus murmured not, but groaned in agony. His face was pale, and large drops of sweat stood upon His brow. Satan exulted in the suffering through which the Son of God was passing, yet feared that his efforts to thwart the plan of salvation had been in vain, that his kingdom was lost, and that he must finally be destroyed. {EW 176.1}

After Jesus had been nailed to the cross, it was raised and with great force thrust into the place which had been prepared for it in the ground, tearing the flesh and causing the most intense suffering. To make the death of Jesus as shameful as possible, two thieves were crucified with Him, one on each side. The thieves were taken by force, and after much resistance on their part, their arms were thrust back and nailed to their crosses. But Jesus meekly submitted. He needed no one to force His arms back upon the cross. While the thieves were cursing their executioners, the Saviour in agony prayed for His enemies, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." It was not merely agony of body which Christ endured; the sins of the whole world were upon Him. [177] {EW 176.2}

As Jesus hung upon the cross, some who passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads as if bowing to a king, and said to Him, "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." Satan used the same words to Christ in the wilderness— "If Thou be the Son of God." The chief priests, elders, and scribes mockingly 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." The angels who hovered over the scene of Christ's crucifixion were moved to indignation as the rulers derided Him and said, "If He be the Son God, let Him deliver Himself". They wished there to come to the rescue of Jesus and deliver Him, but they were not suffered to do so. The object of His mission was not yet accomplished. {EW 177.1}

As Jesus hung upon the cross during those long hours of agony, He did not forget His mother. She had returned to the terrible scene, for she could not longer remain away from her Son. The last lesson of Jesus was one of compassion and humanity. He looked upon the grief-stricken face of His mother, and then upon His beloved disciple John. He said to His mother, "Woman, behold thy son!" Then He said to John, "Behold thy mother!" And from that hour John took her to his own house. {EW 177.2}

Jesus thirsted in His agony, and they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink; but when He tasted it, He refused it. The angels had viewed the agony of their loved Commander until they could behold no longer, and they veiled their faces from the sight. The sun refused to look upon the awful scene. Jesus cried with a loud voice, which struck terror to the hearts of His murderers, "It is finished." Then the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, the [178] earth shook, and the rocks rent. Great darkness was upon the face of the earth. The last hope of the disciples seemed swept away as Jesus died. Many of His followers witnessed the scene of His sufferings and death, and their cup of sorrow was full. {EW 177.3}

Satan did not then exult as he had done. He had hoped to break up the plan of salvation; but it was laid too deep. And now by the death of Christ he knew that he himself must finally die, and his kingdom be given to Jesus. He held a council with his angels. He had prevailed nothing against the Son of God, and now they must increase their efforts and with their power and cunning turn to His followers. They must prevent all whom they could from receiving the salvation purchased for them by Jesus. By so doing Satan could still work against the government of God. Also it would be for his own interest to keep from Jesus as many as possible. For the sins of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ will at last be rolled back upon the originator of sin, and he must bear their punishment, while those who do not accept salvation through Jesus will suffer the penalty of their own sins. {EW 178.1}

The life of Christ had ever been without worldly wealth, honor, or display. His humility and self-denial had been in striking contrast to the pride and self-indulgence of the priests and elders. His spotless purity was a continual reproof of their sins. They despised Him for His humility, holiness, and purity. But those who despised Him here will one day see Him in the grandeur of heaven and the unsurpassed glory of His Father. {EW 178.2}

In the judgment hall He was surrounded by enemies who were thirsting for His blood; but those hardened ones who cried out, "His blood be on us, and on our children," will behold Him an honored King. All [179] the heavenly host will escort Him on His way with songs of victory, majesty, and might to Him that was slain, yet lives again, a mighty conqueror. {EW 178.3}

Poor, weak, miserable man spat in the face of the King of glory, while a shout of brutal triumph arose from the mob at the degrading insult. They marred with blows and cruelty that face which filled all heaven with admiration. They will again behold that face, bright as the noonday sun, and will seek to flee from before it. Instead of that shout of brutal triumph, they will wail because of Him. {EW 179.1}

Jesus will present His hands with the marks of His crucifixion. The marks of this cruelty He will ever bear. Every print of the nails will tell the story of man's wonderful redemption and the dear price by which it was purchased. The very men who thrust the spear into the side of the Lord of life will behold the print of the spear and will lament with deep anguish the part which they acted in marring His body. {EW 179.2}

His murderers were greatly annoyed by the superscription, "The King of the Jews," placed upon the cross above His head. But then they will be obliged to see Him in all His glory and kingly power. They will behold on His vesture and on His thigh, written in living characters, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." They cried to Him mockingly, as He hung upon the cross, "Let Christ, the King of Israel, descend from the cross, that we may see and believe." They will behold Him then with kingly power and authority. They will demand no evidence of His being King of Israel; but overwhelmed with a sense of His majesty and exceeding glory, they will be compelled to acknowledge, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." {EW 179.3}

The shaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks, [180] the darkness spread over the earth, and the loud, strong cry of Jesus, "It is finished," as He yielded up His life, troubled His enemies and made His murderers tremble. The disciples wondered at these singular manifestations; but their hopes were crushed. They were afraid that the Jews would seek to destroy them also. They felt assured that such hatred as had been manifested against the Son of God would not end with Him. Lonely hours they spent in weeping over their disappointment. They had expected that Jesus would reign a temporal Prince, but their hopes died with Him. In their sorrow and disappointment, they doubted whether He had not deceived them. Even His mother wavered in her faith in Him as the Messiah. {EW 179.4}

Notwithstanding the disciples had been disappointed in their hopes concerning Jesus, they yet loved Him and desired to give His body an honored burial, but knew not how to obtain it. Joseph of Arimathaea, a wealthy and influential councilor of the Jews and a true disciple of Jesus, went privately yet boldly to Pilate and begged from him the Saviour's body. He dared not go openly, because of the hatred of the Jews. The disciples feared that an effort would be made by them to prevent the body of Christ from having an honored resting place. Pilate granted the request, and the disciples took the lifeless form down from the cross, while in deep anguish they mourned over their blighted hopes. Carefully the body was wrapped in fine linen, and laid in Joseph's new sepulcher. {EW 180.1}

The women who had been Christ's humble followers while He lived, would not leave Him until they saw Him laid in the tomb and a stone of great weight placed before the door, lest His enemies should seek to obtain His body. But they need not have feared; for I saw that the angelic host watched with untold interest in the resting place of Jesus, earnestly waiting [181] for the command to act their part in liberating the King of glory from His prison house. {EW 180.2}

Christ's murderers feared that He might yet come to life and escape them. They therefore asked of Pilate a watch to guard the sepulcher until the third day. This was granted, and the stone at the door was sealed, lest His disciples should steal Him away and say that He had risen from the dead. {EW 181.1}

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