Sabbath, May 20, 2017
“The love of God was Christ’s theme when speaking of His mission and His work. ‘Therefore doth My Father love Me,” He says, ‘because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.’ John 10:17. My Father loves you with a love so unbounded that He loves Me the more because I have given My life to redeem you. He loves you, and He loves Me more because I love you, and give My life for you…. Well did the disciples understand this love as they saw their Saviour enduring shame, reproach, doubt, and betrayal, as they saw His agony in the Garden, and His death on Calvary’s cross. This is a love the depth of which no sounding can ever fathom. As the disciples comprehended it, as their perception took hold of God’s divine compassion, they realized that there is a sense in which the sufferings of the Son were the sufferings of the Father….” –That I May Know Him, p. 69.
The road to Calvary
1. Once condemned and delivered into their hands, how did the soldiers treat Jesus? After smiting, mocking, and ridiculing Him, where did they take Him? What did He carry on His bruised and bleeding shoulders?
Mark 15:18-20 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! 19And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
Luke 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
John 19:17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
“A vast multitude followed Jesus from the judgment hall to Calvary. The news of His condemnation had spread throughout Jerusalem, and people of all classes and all ranks flocked toward the place of crucifixion. The priests and rulers had been bound by a promise not to molest Christ’s followers if He Himself were delivered to them, and the disciples and believers from the city and the surrounding region joined the throng that followed the Saviour.
“As Jesus passed the gate of Pilate’s court, the cross which had been prepared for Barabbas was laid upon His bruised and bleeding shoulders…. The Saviour’s burden was too heavy for Him in His weak and suffering condition…. He had endured the anguish of the betrayal, and had seen His disciples forsake Him and flee. He had been taken to Annas, then to Caiaphas, and then to Pilate. From Pilate He had been sent to Herod, then sent again to Pilate. From insult to renewed insult, from mockery to mockery, twice tortured by the scourge–all that night there had been scene after scene of a character to try the soul of man to the uttermost…. All through the disgraceful farce of a trial He had borne Himself with firmness and dignity.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 741, 742.
A foreigner carries the cross
2. When Jesus was unable to carry the cross, who was compelled to bear it? Was he part of the Jewish people?
Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
“But when after the second scourging the cross was laid upon Him, human nature could bear no more. He fell fainting beneath the burden.
“… His persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They were puzzled to find anyone who would bear the humiliating load…. None even of the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross.
“At this time a stranger, Simon a Cyrenian, coming in from the country, meets the throng. He hears the taunts and ribaldry of the crowd; he hears the words contemptuously repeated, Make way for the King of the Jews! He stops in astonishment at the scene; and as he expresses his compassion, they seize him and place the cross upon his shoulders.
“Simon had heard of Jesus. His sons were believers in the Saviour, but he himself was not a disciple. The bearing of the cross to Calvary was a blessing to Simon, and he was ever after grateful for this providence. It led him to take upon himself the cross of Christ from choice, and ever cheerfully stand beneath its burden.”
–The Desire of Ages, pp. 741, 742.
Warning of coming disaster
3. What feelings were expressed by some women who witnessed the terrible scenes on the way to Golgotha? How did this affect Jesus as He looked forward to the coming years and saw the suffering that would come to those who were His chosen people?
Luke 23:27-29 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
“Not a few women are in the crowd that follow the Uncondemned to His cruel death. Their attention is fixed upon Jesus. Some of them have seen Him before. Some have carried to Him their sick and suffering ones. Some have themselves been healed…. They wonder at the hatred of the crowd toward Him for whom their own hearts are melting and ready to break…. These women give expression to their sympathy. As Jesus falls fainting beneath the cross, they break forth into mournful wailing.
“… Although full of suffering, while bearing the sins of the world, He was not indifferent to the expression of grief. He looked upon these women with tender compassion. They were not believers in Him; He knew that they were not lamenting Him as one sent from God, but were moved by feelings of human pity. He did not despise their sympathy, but it awakened in His heart a deeper sympathy for them…. From the scene before Him, Christ looked forward to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. In that terrible scene, many of those who were now weeping for Him were to perish with their children.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 742, 743.
Suffering and prayer of love
4. How did Jesus act consistently throughout the torturous ordeal of the crucifixion? While suffering excruciating sorrow and pain, what did He pray to the Father concerning His enemies?
Luke 23:32-35 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 35And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
“The Saviour made no murmur of complaint. His face remained calm and serene, but great drops of sweat stood upon His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death dew from His face, nor words of sympathy and unchanging fidelity to stay His human heart. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, Jesus prayed for His enemies…. No curses were called down upon the soldiers who were handling Him so roughly. No vengeance was invoked upon the priests and rulers, who were gloating over the accomplishment of their purpose. Christ pitied them in their ignorance and guilt. He breathed only a plea for their forgiveness–‘for they know not what they do.’
“Had they known that they were putting to torture One who had come to save the sinful race from eternal ruin, they would have been seized with remorse and horror. But their ignorance did not remove their guilt….
“That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all, forgiveness is freely offered.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 744, 745.
King of the Jews
5. What inscription was put on the cross at Pilate’s command? What was the opinion of the chief priests concerning this title?
John 19:19-22 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
“As soon as Jesus was nailed to the cross, it was lifted by strong men, and with great violence thrust into the place prepared for it…. This inscription irritated the Jews…. Pilate wrote out the sentiment they had expressed. No offense was mentioned, except that Jesus was the King of the Jews. The inscription was a virtual acknowledgment of the allegiance of the Jews to the Roman power. It declared that whoever might claim to be the King of Israel would be judged by them worthy of death….
“The priests saw what they had done, and asked Pilate to change the inscription…. But Pilate was angry with himself because of his former weakness, and he thoroughly despised the jealous and artful priests and rulers. He replied coldly, ‘What I have written I have written.’
“A higher power than Pilate or the Jews had directed the placing of that inscription above the head of Jesus. In the providence of God it was to awaken thought, and investigation of the Scriptures. The place where Christ was crucified was near to the city. Thousands of people from all lands were then at Jerusalem, and the inscription declaring Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah would come to their notice. It was a living truth, transcribed by a hand that God had guided.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 745, 746.
6. What happened to Jesus’ clothing? Centuries before, what had been foretold in prophecy about His vesture?
John 19:23, 24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
Psalm 22:16-18 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
“In the sufferings of Christ upon the cross prophecy was fulfilled. Centuries before the crucifixion, the Saviour had foretold the treatment He was to receive. He said, ‘Dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.’ Psalm 22:16-18. The prophecy concerning His garments was carried out without counsel or interference from the friends or the enemies of the Crucified One. To the soldiers who had placed Him upon the cross, His clothing was given. Christ heard the men’s contention as they parted the garments among them. His tunic was woven throughout without seam, and they said, ‘Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, p. 746.
7. When He was thirsty, what was He given to drink? What other prophecy was thus fulfilled?
Matthew 27:33, 34 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
Psalm 69:20, 21 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
“In another prophecy the Saviour declared, ‘Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.’ Psalm 69:20, 21. To those who suffered death by the cross, it was permitted to give a stupefying potion, to deaden the sense of pain. This was offered to Jesus; but when He had tasted it, He refused it. He would receive nothing that could becloud His mind. His faith must keep fast hold upon God. This was His only strength. To becloud His senses would give Satan an advantage.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 746.
- How many of us would have the strength to endure quietly and calmly all the mistreatment and harassment inflicted upon Jesus?
- What comes to mind when we think about Jesus praying for His executioners, even as the soldiers fixed His hands and feet to the cross with nails?
- What warning is there for all of us when we read that men can become so cruel that they will refuse cool water to the One who gave His life for them?
For additional study
“When our Redeemer consented to take the cup of suffering in order to save sinners, His capacity for suffering was the only limitation to His suffering…. By dying in our behalf, He gave an equivalent for our debt. Thus He removed from God all charge of lessening the guilt of sin. By virtue of My oneness with the Father, He says, My suffering and death enable Me to pay the penalty of sin. By My death a restraint is removed from His love. His grace can act with unbounded efficiency.
“Christ is our Redeemer. He is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the fountain in which we may be washed and cleansed from all impurity. He is the costly sacrifice that has been given for the reconciliation of man. The universe of heaven, the worlds unfallen, the fallen world, and the confederacy of evil cannot say that God could do more for the salvation of man than He has done. Never can His gift be surpassed, never can He display a richer depth of love. Calvary represents His crowning work. It is man’s part to respond to His great love by appropriating the great salvation the blessing of the Lord has made it possible for man to obtain.” –That I May Know Him, p. 69.