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The Crucifixion of Christ

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!” (Matthew 21:9) 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.

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.

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 do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34. It was not merely agony of body which Christ endured; the sins of the whole world were upon Him.

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, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Matthew 27:40. Satan used the same words to Christ in the wilderness—“If You are the Son of God.” The chief priests, elders, and scribes mockingly said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Verse 42. 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.

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 your son!” Then He said to John, “Behold your mother!” John 19:26-27. And from that hour John took her to his own house.

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.” Verse 30. Then the veil of the temple was rent from the top to the bottom, the 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.

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.

Early Writings, pp. 175-178.

Next part: The Crucifixion of Christ, Part 2: In the Day of Judgment

All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version, including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James Version.—Editors

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