Sabbath, June 3, 2017

“Actuated by satanic influences, the crowd clamored for the crucifixion of Christ. All heaven watched the successive steps of Christ’s humiliation–His trial, rejection, and death. When on the cross He exclaimed, ‘It is finished,’ the warfare was ended. The blood of the Innocent was shed for the guilty. The life that He gave up ransomed the human race from eternal death and sealed the doom of him who had the power of death–the devil.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 290.

From light to darkness

1. What happened in broad daylight after Jesus was on the cross for several hours? What extraordinary event occurred during His last hours, and what did it signify? 

Mark 15:33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

“With amazement angels witnessed the Saviour’s despairing agony. The hosts of heaven veiled their faces from the fearful sight. Inanimate nature expressed sympathy with its insulted and dying Author. The sun refused to look upon the awful scene. Its full, bright rays were illuminating the earth at midday, when suddenly it seemed to be blotted out. Complete darkness, like a funeral pall, enveloped the cross. ‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ There was no eclipse or other natural cause for this darkness, which was as deep as midnight without moon or stars. It was a miraculous testimony given by God that the faith of after generations might be confirmed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 753.

“The darkness upon the face of nature expressed her sympathy with Christ in His expiring agony. It evidenced to humanity that the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the world, was withdrawing His beams from the once favored city of Jerusalem, and from the world. It was a miraculous testimony given of God, that the faith of after generations might be confirmed.” –(Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 167) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1180.

2. What was significant about the darkness that hid the final moments of Jesus’ life and kept men from beholding His face?

Isaiah 63:3, first part I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.

“Alone He must tread the path; alone He must bear the burden. Upon Him who had laid off His glory and accepted the weakness of humanity the redemption of the world must rest. He saw and felt it all, but His purpose remained steadfast. Upon His arm depended the salvation of the fallen race, and He reached out His hand to grasp the hand of Omnipotent love.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 163.

“God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed…. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.

“In the thick darkness, God veiled the last human agony of His Son. All who had seen Christ in His suffering had been convicted of His divinity. That face, once beheld by humanity, was never forgotten. As the face of Cain expressed his guilt as a murderer, so the face of Christ revealed innocence, serenity, benevolence–the image of God. But His accusers would not give heed to the signet of heaven. Through long hours of agony Christ had been gazed upon by the jeering multitude. Now He was mercifully hidden by the mantle of God.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

3. What indicates that the people were all enveloped in darkness? What made some of them think that retribution from God for what they had done to His Son was about to fall?

Job 5:13, 14; 12:25 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. 14They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night…. 12:25They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man. 

“The silence of the grave seemed to have fallen upon Calvary. A nameless terror held the throng that was gathered about the cross. The cursing and reviling ceased in the midst of half-uttered sentences. Men, women, and children fell prostrate upon the earth. Vivid lightnings occasionally flashed forth from the cloud, and revealed the cross and the crucified Redeemer. Priests, rulers, scribes, executioners, and the mob, all thought that their time of retribution had come. After a while some whispered that Jesus would now come down from the cross. Some attempted to grope their way back to the city, beating their breasts and wailing in fear.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 754.

Crying to God

4. When the darkness lifted somewhat, what did Jesus cry? What thoughts went through the people’s minds?

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 

“At the ninth hour the darkness lifted from the people, but still enveloped the Saviour. It was a symbol of the agony and horror that weighed upon His heart. No eye could pierce the gloom that surrounded the cross, and none could penetrate the deeper gloom that enshrouded the suffering soul of Christ. The angry lightnings seemed to be hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross. Then ‘Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ As the outer gloom settled about the Saviour, many voices exclaimed: The vengeance of heaven is upon Him. The bolts of God’s wrath are hurled at Him, because He claimed to be the Son of God. Many who believed on Him heard His despairing cry. Hope left them. If God had forsaken Jesus, in what could His followers trust?” –The Desire of Ages, p. 754.

5. What did Jesus’ cry to His Father reveal? What did some people think His words meant? 

Matthew 27:47, 49 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias…. 49The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. 

“The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.”  –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 196.

“But the priests mocked at His agony. When darkness covered the earth, they had been filled with fear; as their terror abated, the dread returned that Jesus would yet escape them. His words, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ they had misinterpreted. With bitter contempt and scorn they said, ‘This man calleth for Elias.’ The last opportunity to relieve His sufferings they refused. ‘Let be,’ they said, ‘let us see whether Elias will come to save Him.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, pp. 754, 755.

The final request

6. As His work on earth and the cross was nearing its end, what did Jesus say? In this and all other aspects of His suffering and death, how was He an example to every person? 

John 19:28, 29 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 

“When the darkness lifted from the oppressed spirit of Christ, He revived to a sense of physical suffering, and said, ‘I thirst.’ One of the Roman soldiers, touched with pity as he looked at the parched lips, took a sponge on a stalk of hyssop, and dipping it in a vessel of vinegar, offered it to Jesus.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 754, 755.

“The mission of Christ’s earthly life was now nearly accomplished. His tongue was parched, and he said, ‘I thirst.’ They saturated a sponge with vinegar and gall, and offered it Him to drink; and when He had tasted it, he refused it. And now the Lord of life and glory was dying, a ransom for the race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 224.

“Let him who is struggling against the power of appetite look to the Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. See Him in His agony upon the cross, as He exclaimed, ‘I thirst.’ He has endured all that it is possible for us to bear. His victory is ours.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 123.

The conclusion

7. With what words did He end His mission and His agony? 

John 19:30, first part When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished.

“In silence the beholders watched for the end of the fearful scene. The sun shone forth; but the cross was still enveloped in darkness. Priests and rulers looked toward Jerusalem; and lo, the dense cloud had settled over the city and the plains of Judea. The Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the world, was withdrawing His beams from the once favored city of Jerusalem. The fierce lightnings of God’s wrath were directed against the fated city. 

“Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, ‘It is finished.’ “ –The Desire of Ages, p. 756.

“Satan is the author of death. What did Christ do after He brought Satan under the dominion of death? The very last words of Christ while expiring on the cross were ‘It is finished.’ John 19:30. The devil saw that he had overdone himself. Christ by dying accomplished the death of Satan and brought immortality to light.”
Christ Triumphant, p. 287.

Thought questions

  • How did Jesus face the struggle with sin, with the criticism of men, and with the pain of death?
  • How much does a cup of cold water cost? Consider that we cannot even offer this to the precious Saviour!
  • How many people, as they reach the end of their lives, can say that they have accomplished everything that needed to be done? 

For additional study

Christ’s work was finished when He expired on the cross, crying with a loud voice, ‘It is finished.’ The way was laid open; the veil was rent in twain. Sinners could approach God without sacrificial offerings, without the service of a priest. Christ Himself was a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Heaven was His home. He came to this world to reveal the Father. His work on the field of His humiliation and conflict was now done. He ascended up into the heavens, and is forever set down on the right hand of God….” –Christ Triumphant, p. 293.

“When the last steps of Christ’s humiliation were to be taken, when the deepest sorrow was closing about His soul, He said to His disciples, ‘The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.’ ‘The prince of this world is judged.’ Now shall he be cast out. John 14:30; 16:11; 12:31. With prophetic eye Christ traced the scenes to take place in His last great conflict. He knew that when He should exclaim, ‘It is finished,’ all heaven would triumph. His ear caught the distant music and the shouts of victory in the heavenly courts. He knew that the knell of Satan’s empire would then be sounded, and the name of Christ would be heralded from world to world throughout the universe.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 679.