The Bible Echo

August 15, 1892 — Sufferings of Christ

The fearful hour in Gethsemane is past. Our divine Saviour has accepted the cup to drain it to the dregs. In behalf of man He has conquered in the hour of temptation. Serenity and peace are now seen in the pale, blood-stained face. The third time He comes to his disciples, and finds them overcome with sleep. Sorrowfully and pityingly He looks upon them, and says, “Sleep on now, and take your rest.” Even while these words were upon his lips, He heard the footsteps of the mob that was in search of Him. And He continued, “Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me.”The countenance of Christ wore an expression of calm dignity. The traces of his recent agony were not visible as He went forth to meet his betrayer. Judas, closely followed by the priests, led the way. Standing in advance of his disciples, Jesus inquires, “Whom seek ye?” They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The Saviour replies, “I am He.” At these words the mob stagger backward, and the priests, the elders, the hardened soldiers, and even Judas, fall powerless to the ground, giving ample opportunity for Christ to release Himself if He so desires. But He stands as one glorified amid that coarse and hardened band.The Roman soldiers start to their feet, and, with the priests and Judas, they gather about Christ as though ashamed of their weakness, and fearful that He will yet escape out of their hands. Again the question is asked by the Redeemer, “Whom seek ye?” Again they answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replies, “I have told you that I am He. If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way.” In this hour of humiliation, Christ’s thoughts are not for Himself, but for his beloved disciples. He wishes to save them from any further trial.Judas does not forget his part, but comes close to Jesus, and takes his hand as a familiar friend, and bestows the traitor’s kiss. Jesus says to him, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” His voice trembled with sorrow as He addressed deluded Judas, “Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss.” This appeal should have aroused the conscience of Judas, and touched his stubborn heart; but honor, fidelity, and even human tenderness, seemed to have left him. He stood bold and defiant, showing no disposition to relent. He had given himself up to the control of Satan, to work wickedness, and he had no will to resist. Jesus did not refuse the traitor’s kiss. In this He gives us an example of forbearance, love, and pity, that is without a parallel.Though the murderous throng are surprised and awed by what they have seen and felt, their assurance and hardihood return as they witness the boldness of Judas in touching the person of Him whom so recently they have seen glorified.When the disciples saw that He permitted Himself to be taken, they were offended, and forsook Him and fled, leaving their Master alone. Christ had foreseen this desertion, and in the upper chamber, before it took place, had told them of what they would do: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”He was betrayed by a kiss into the hands of his enemies; He was hurried to the judgment hall of an earthly court, by sinful men to be derided and condemned to death. There the glorious Son of God “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” He bore insult, mockery, and shameful abuse, until his “visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”The angelic host beheld with wonder and with grief Him who had been the Majesty of heaven, and had worn the crown of glory, now crowned with thorns, a bleeding victim to the rage of an infuriated mob, who were fired to insane madness by the wrath of Satan.Wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! Behold the oppressor and the oppressed! A multitude inclose the Saviour of the world. Mockings and jeerings are mingled with coarse oaths of blasphemy. His lowly birth and humble life are commented upon by the unfeeling mob. His claim to be the Son of God is ridiculed by chief priests and elders, and the vulgar jest and insulting sneer are passed from lip to lip. Satan controlled the minds of his servants. He imbued the chief priests and elders with religious frenzy. This they communicated to the mob until a corrupt harmony united all, from the hypocritical priests and elders down to the most debased.Christ, the precious Son of God, is led forth, and the cross is laid upon his shoulders. His footsteps to Calvary are marked with blood. Thronged by an immense crowd of bitter enemies and unfeeling spectators, He is led away to the crucifixion. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.”He is nailed to the cross, and hangs suspended between the heavens and the earth. His sorrowing disciples have followed Him at a distance, behind the murderous throng. Their hearts are bursting with anguish as their beloved Teacher suffers as a criminal. Close to the cross are the blind, bigoted priests and elders, mocking and jeering: “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. Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, 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. He trusted in God: let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him; for He said, I am the Son of God.”Not one word did Jesus answer to all this. Even while the nails were being driven through his hands, and the sweat-drops of agony were thick upon his brow, He breathed a prayer of pardoning love for his murderers: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”O, was there ever suffering and sorrow like that endured by the dying Saviour! But it was not physical suffering, it was the sense of his alienation from God, that made his cup so bitter. It was not physical suffering that so quickly ended the life of Christ upon the cross. It was the crushing weight of the sins of the world, that broke his heart. The Father’s glory and sustaining presence had left Him; it was this that forced from his lips the anguished cry, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

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