The Faith of Jesus under Condemnation

By John Thiel, mp3, pdf

Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

This hymn carries with it a certain trembling note:

I watch to shun the miry way,
And staunch the springs of guilty thought;
But, watch and struggle as I may,
Pure I am not, pure I am not.

So wash Thou me without, within;
Or purge with fire, if that must be;
No matter how, if only sin
Die out in me, die out in me.

This is the language of an honest Christian. There are many Christians today who are floating around in cloud nine, thinking they are saved; but they are not doing God’s will.

There is a message that has been given to this world through the three angels’ messages, which calls for a very pure and holy life, which calls upon us to do God’s will precisely; and the people who believe on that will frequently come to what has been expressed in this hymn.

Yea, only as this heart is clean
May larger vision yet be mine,
For mirrored in Thy life are seen
The things divine, the things divine.

There is this realisation that, I haven’t got it quite perfectly yet. And this kind of mentality is the mentality of a Christian who is reaching for the high standards that God has laid out for us. And along that path we discover greater dimensions of His purity and greater insight into our unworthiness. We feel like some many have expressed it in the past years, I don’t know if I’m really going to make it. But still the language of our heart is, But, Lord, wash Thou me. And are we prepared to let Him wash us? Are we prepared to let Him purge us, by fire if that must be? This is not easily experienced and done. It’s easily said and easily sung.

So we are continuing along a subject of study that is going to give us the answer to this discovery of more and more depths of unworthiness, more and more of a sense of condemnation by the law, and how to conquer that, how to come through that; because, as we are growing in grace, the evil traits of our character will be revealed to us, and we need to get rid of them. We need to gain the victory by the faith of Jesus when we feel condemned and overwhelmed by our faulty characters.

I want to magnify today the faith of Jesus from Gethsemane to the cross, because there, in that period of time, Jesus suffered condemnation; and we want to see how He conquered that.

From Gethsemane to the Cross

The faith we studied previously was that Jesus, from babyhood to the cross, exercised a faith that He expressed in the following words:

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

This is the faith of Jesus; He would do nothing of Himself. He would only do what the Father showed Him. This is an important ingredient of the faith of Jesus.

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

These words of Jesus are resplendent with understanding of what it means to have faith. Because the faith that Jesus is here describing is a faith that relies not in the slightest upon one’s own impressions, interpretations, or opinions. It is an expression of total dependence on what God has revealed; that’s all; just as it reads, just as God intended it to be.

We live today in a religious world of human variations, human opinions, human ideas, which they claim they are reading from God’s word, but which are only their interpretation. Jesus didn’t interpret; Jesus read. When He was asked questions, how did He answer?

How readest thou?

This the faith that Jesus had—to follow what is written as it reads, not polluted by man’s interpretation. And as Jesus lived like that, the magnitude of such a faith is described in His entering into Gethsemane. There He experienced a challenge which His faith—the faith that says, I do not do My own will, but only the will of the Father—was tested by severely.

What did it mean this faith of Jesus that would only do the will of God, nothing else, without any deviation?

Matthew 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Now we ask, What is this kind of sorrow? Even unto death?

Matthew 26:39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:

He was going to meet something here; in fact He was meeting something that was so severe that His own desire shrunk from it. “O if it be possible, Lord, please, can You let Me get past this one? I don’t want to drink this cup.” But then what does He say?

Matthew 26:39 …nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt]. 

And after He had come back to the disciples, He repeated the same words again:

Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 

And again:

Matthew 26:44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

This is interesting. Why didn’t He just accept it the first time? He said, If it doesn’t pass from Me, Your will be done. Then He gets up and goes for comfort to the disciples, and they are asleep. Then He comes back and He repeats the same thing, It’s too much; can You let this one pass? But no; not My will, but Thine be done. Jesus was challenged with an experience which challenged His faith, which challenged His own words when He said, I do only what the will of My Father is. What was happening? What was happening in Jesus Christ? What was actually happening for Him to say this? The reality was that He was approaching the cross. Straight after Gethsemane, it headed to the cross. And both before and at the cross, the scripture of Isaiah 53:6 was taking place:

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We are told that in Gethsemane Jesus was meeting this experience.

He went a short distance from his disciples– not so far but that they could both see and hear him–and fell prostrate with his face upon the cold ground. He was overpowered by a terrible fear that God was removing his presence from him. He felt himself being separated from his Father by a gulf of sin, so broad, so black and deep that his spirit shuddered before it. He clung convulsively to the cold, unfeeling ground as if to prevent himself from being drawn still farther from God. {3SP 95.2} 

As you are reading this, ask the Holy Spirit to give you an insight into what He was experiencing inside of Himself.

The chilling dews of night fell upon his prostrate form, but the Redeemer heeded it not. From his pale, convulsed lips wailed the bitter cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” {Ibid.

Imagine this description of someone whose lips are convulsing, trembling. His body was trembling, convulsing; something was going on inside of Him. And what was it?

It was not a dread of the physical suffering he was soon to endure that brought this agony upon the Son of God. {3SP 95.3}

Too many ministers I’ve heard have preached this, saying that He was suffering the fear of what was coming. No; it was not a dread of the physical suffering He was soon to endure.

He was enduring the penalty of man’s transgression, and shuddering beneath the Father’s frown. He must not call his divinity to his aid, but, as a man, he must bear the consequences of man’s sin and the Creator’s displeasure toward his disobedient subjects. {Ibid.}

When you and I discover our sins, do we not feel the displeasure of God? Jesus met that; He was enduring the penalty of man’s transgression.

As he felt his unity with the Father broken up, he feared that his human nature would be unable to endure the coming conflict with the prince of the power of darkness; and in that case the human race would be irrecoverably lost, Satan would be victor, and the earth would be his kingdom. The sins of the world weighed heavily upon the Saviour and bowed him to the earth; and the Father’s anger in consequence of that sin seemed crushing out his life. {Ibid.}

We want to contemplate the faith of Jesus in such a circumstance. The sins of the world weighed heavily upon Him.

Who can fathom the suffering of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He felt to its fullest extent the weight of the sin of the world? So keenly did He feel the sinfulness of sin that for a moment the cup trembled in His hand, and all heaven heard the agonizing cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). The omnipotent God suffered with His Son. {UL 223.3}

What did Jesus have to do here? In His human experience He had to submit Himself to abject hopelessness, a hopelessness of such a nature that the sin of the whole world was an experience of sense to Him. He sensed it. It wasn’t just forensically laid on Him, that is, merely as a juristic act which transferred the punishment to Him. It was more than that. It was a sense of sin. And the loss of the Father’s approbation, have you ever met that in your own experience? I have. It is a death, a horrible death experience, but you are still alive. It is horrible. It strangles you; it sends your brain into a state of cramp. It is a despairing, horrible experience. Jesus met it. It is described here. But to experience that was Christ’s own choice.

Christ was the one who consented to meet the conditions necessary for man’s salvation. No angel, no man, was sufficient for the great work to be wrought. The Son of man alone must be lifted up; for only an infinite nature could undertake the redemptive process. Christ consented to connect himself with the disloyal and sinful, to partake of the nature of man, to give his own blood, and to make his soul an offering for sin. In the counsels of heaven, the guilt of man was measured, the wrath for sin was estimated, and yet Christ announced his decision that he would take upon himself the responsibility of meeting the conditions whereby hope should be extended to a fallen race. He understood the possibility of the human soul, and united humanity to himself, even as the vine knits the grafted branches and twigs into its being, until, vein by vein, and fiber by fiber, the branches are united to the living Vine. {ST, March 5, 1896 par. 6}  

Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, placed Himself in the position that He would come down and do this work. It was His choice. And it was the will of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that Jesus would do this.

We appreciate, then, that Jesus was a human being here on earth, and what He knew was going to happen beforehand, was now happening to Him. We have something here to learn from the faith of Jesus. We have known through prophecy what is to come; we have learned from prophecy what is to come in regards to Jacob’s trouble. Jesus knew; but when it came, what was His experience? When it comes to us, what is our experience? The faith of Jesus is here demonstrating it to us.

Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. {DA 690.3}

We read that very shallowly if we don’t read it as it was meant. If Jesus had not gone through Gethsemane, we would have perished, because with our sins and our separation from God we would have seen no light through there; it would have destroyed us. I know that by experience. It was only because God revealed this to me that, as I went through my Gethsemane experience, I had the beautiful sense that Jesus went through this for me and with me, and that He was with me. And the joy that struck in contrast to the horror of this saved my brain.

He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: “If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.” {Ibid.}

Having made the decision, He fell dying to the ground from which He had partially risen. {DA 693.1}

This is the experience—you feel that you are dying. Jesus was dying.

Where now were His disciples, to place their hands tenderly beneath the head of their fainting Master, and bathe that brow, marred indeed more than the sons of men? The Saviour trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him. {Ibid.}

But God suffered with His Son. Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony. They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched. Could mortals have viewed the amazement of the angelic host as in silent grief they watched the Father separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son, they would better understand how offensive in His sight is sin. {DA 693.2}

What was the Father doing? Separating His beams of light, love, and glory from His beloved Son. When we feel that, it is horror. Jesus met it.

The worlds unfallen and the heavenly angels had watched with intense interest as the conflict drew to its close. Satan and his confederacy of evil, the legions of apostasy, watched intently this great crisis in the work of redemption. The powers of good and evil waited to see what answer would come to Christ’s thrice-repeated prayer. Angels had longed to bring relief to the divine sufferer, but this might not be. No way of escape was found for the Son of God. {DA 693.3}

Do you know that experience: no way of escape? We have a way of escape because Jesus met it for us.

In this awful crisis, when everything was at stake, when the mysterious cup trembled in the hand of the sufferer, the heavens opened, a light shone forth amid the stormy darkness of the crisis hour, and the mighty angel who stands in God’s presence, occupying the position from which Satan fell, came to the side of Christ. The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it, with the assurance of the Father’s love. He came to give power to the divine-human suppliant. He pointed Him to the open heavens, telling Him of the souls that would be saved as the result of His sufferings. He assured Him that His Father is greater and more powerful than Satan, that His death would result in the utter discomfiture of Satan, and that the kingdom of this world would be given to the saints of the Most High. He told Him that He would see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied, for He would see a multitude of the human race saved, eternally saved. {Ibid.}

Christ’s agony did not cease, but His depression and discouragement left Him. {DA 694.1}

I know that experience too. The word of God came, and He believed it. The angel came, and He believed the angel. The faith of Jesus, this is what we are studying.

Why did Jesus have to go through all this?

The spirit of submission that Christ manifested in offering up His prayer before God [in the garden of Gethsemane] is the spirit that is acceptable to God. Let the soul feel its need, its helplessness, its nothingness; let all its energies be called forth in an earnest desire for help, and help will come. . . . Let faith pierce the darkness. Walk with God in the dark as well as in the light, repeating the words, “He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23). Through the trial of our faith we shall be trained to trust in God. {HP 89.4}

So the trial of Christ’s faith in Gethsemane is for us to attach ourselves to, because there in that total spirit of submission God was pleased and He could work. That spirit of submission is the faith of Christ; and we are trying to learn what is the faith of Jesus as we look at this experience. He was feeling the condemnation, the overwhelming sense of separation from God because of the terrible condition of sin. Let us keep on watching.

Forsaken

There in Gethsemane He was recovered by the strength He was given, and His depression left Him momentarily. But look at Him now at the cross. As He was hanging on the cross, what did He cry out?

My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Now He felt totally forsaken. Now He felt absolutely no comfort at all. He felt nothing by which He could be strengthened. The angel helped Him in Gethsemane; but not now. Let us explore and experience this scene at the cross:

The heavens gather blackness. Angels have witnessed the scene of suffering until they can look no longer, and hide their faces from the horrid sight. Christ is dying! He is in despair! {2T 209.2} 

Do you know the feeling of hopeless despair? Jesus met it. He is dying, He is in despair.

His Father’s approving smile is removed, and angels are not permitted to lighten the gloom of the terrible hour. They can only behold in amazement their loved Commander, the Majesty of heaven, suffering the penalty of man’s transgression of the Father’s law. {Ibid.}

Even doubts assailed the dying Son of God. {2T 209.3}

Even doubts. Jesus was in despair. He was now in the experience of doubt.

He could not see through the portals of the tomb. Bright hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the tomb a conqueror and His Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. The sin of the world, with all its terribleness, was felt to the utmost by the Son of God. The displeasure of the Father for sin, and its penalty, which is death, were all that He could realize through this amazing darkness. {Ibid.}

The word realize means that this is all that was real to Him. Nothing else was real; that was all that He could realise.

He was tempted to fear that sin was so offensive in the sight of His Father that He could not be reconciled to His Son. The fierce temptation that His own Father had forever left Him caused that piercing cry from the cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” {Ibid.}

A piercing cry. Can you see the agony that Jesus Christ was experiencing?

Feeling as the Sinner Lost

Christ felt much as sinners will feel when the vials of God’s wrath shall be poured out upon them. Black despair, like the pall of death, will gather about their guilty souls, and then they will realize to the fullest extent the sinfulness of sin. {2T 210.1}

This is what Jesus felt much like.

When you and I meet those kinds of experiences because we are condemned for our sins, because the law condemns us, how will we survive? And how will Jesus now deal with this despair? How will He deal with this doubt? These are not my opinions I am sharing with you; this is the word of God, the testimony of Jesus. And this despair, this doubt which assailed Him, how will He deal with this?

No Sense from God

Faith and hope trembled in the expiring agonies of Christ because God had removed the assurance He had heretofore given His beloved Son of His approbation and acceptance. {2T 210.2}

There was nothing that came from God; nothing. Can you identify something here? When in the final time of Jacob’s trouble the Holy Spirit is removed, God’s people will have to go through the experience of having to conquer as Christ has conquered. Can you picture something here? Faith and hope trembled in the expiring agonies of Christ because God had removed the assurance He had heretofore given His beloved Son of His approbation and acceptance. Gabriel had been sent to encourage Him before; but not now. So Jesus says, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

He is not cheered with clear, bright rays of hope on the right hand nor on the left. All is enshrouded in oppressive gloom. Amid the awful darkness which is felt by sympathizing nature, the Redeemer drains the mysterious cup even to its dregs. Denied even bright hope and confidence in the triumph which will be His in the future, He cries with a loud voice: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” {Ibid.}

As Jesus said that, what was He exercising? The faith that you and I will have to exercise. This following statement is profound and gives us the answer to the faith of Jesus in condemnation and hopelessness. Please, open your hearts to this picture, because this is the knowledge you and I need to have to survive in this terrible time:

Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, “It is finished.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.  {DA 756.2} 

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor. {DA 756.3}

The faith of Christ in this experience is a faith that receives nothing from God. It receives nothing from Him. It is a black darkness that cannot see through the gloom. I watched it happen to my own wife. And how can you survive through that? You must know by experience the faith of Jesus, the faith of Jesus that broke through the barrier because He remembered His relationship with God in the past. He remembered God’s mercies of the past; and it was His memory and His decision to trust God even though He couldn’t feel God, that got Him through. He trusted in Him even though He couldn’t see Him and even though He was despairingly overwhelmed with sensations of doubts. He trusted in God and said, Lord, I am going to believe You, I am going to believe and trust in You that You will help Me here. And He said, I give You My life. That’s it. This is the faith of Jesus.

Dropping into the Father’s Hands

He cries with a loud voice: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” He is acquainted with the character of His Father, with His justice, His mercy, and His great love, and in submission He drops into His hands. Amid the convulsions of nature are heard by the amazed spectators the dying words of the Man of Calvary. {2T 210.2}

I love the language. He drops into the hands of God. I can’t emphasise strongly enough how important it is that we absorb this picture, because here is the faith of Jesus for us to copy when we are overwhelmed with condemnation, when Satan is permitted to show us our condemnation, and when we feel nothing from God but failure and death and sickness. As it was expressed to me by my dying wife, so we also will have to go through this sooner or later. She said, I’m forsaken; I don’t know. I said to her, That’s where Jesus was, wasn’t it? Then slowly she was lifted out of those oppressive moments. I reminded her, Can you see how what I have preached in the past is easily forgotten? She actually acknowledged that; she said, Everything that I have heard before is just not with me at the moment; and she needed my assistance to help her to remember that. The Lord was there for her through this ministry. But we need to have this memory of Jesus. When we go through these kinds of experiences that Jesus went through, we are to look unto Jesus;

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

We meet it. We think we are not going to make it because we are overwhelmed with the sense of our unworthiness. And as we travel along in life’s experience our sins will be opened up to us more and more, and we need the wonderful faith of Jesus to conquer that. We have it played out in front of us here.

Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Jesus did; and this is what we have to do as we go through the time of Jacob’s trouble. We need to know this truth—the faith of Jesus. We have the application of this in the words of Revelation 3, where Jesus says to the Laodicean people:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

If you will open the door, He says, I will come in to you, and I will sup with you, and you with Me. What does that mean? Just what Jesus was doing in Gethsemane—supping with us so that we might be able to sup with Him in His righteousness, and find our way through by faith. Then you will conquer as I have conquered, says Jesus, and you will sit with Me in My throne, as I sit with My Father in His throne.

Patient Submission to Overcome

And in connection with this are the words of the third angel’s message which we so often quote:

Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Indeed, we understand what it means, the patience of Jesus, the patient submission to every growing development of discovery of my sinfulness and the horror of condemnation and the conquering, patiently continuing until we have totally overcome those things.

It says, Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. It doesn’t say “and have the faith of Jesus”. Keep it! Don’t lose it. It is keeping the faith of Jesus.

Let us therefore respond deeply within to etch this scene upon our mind, so that when our trial strikes we will have the wherewithal to face it and overcome. You will recall that several times in the past I said, It’s going to come to you one day. Well, my wife Rose sat in the pew and heard me say that; and it finally came to her. It will come to all of us one day, all of us. We need to have this picture of Gethsemane and the cross etched into our mind so that when our trial comes, when Jacob’s trial strikes, we will be saved out of it. This is how it is done: by exploring the truth as it is in Jesus, and opening the heart to the pictures that are played out therein before the mind’s eye, so that when the horror of my condemnation strikes, I will not let go, just as Jesus did not, just as Jacob did not.

May God help us to embrace this and not to forget it. My heart yearns for each one of us not to forget this picture.

Amen.

(Illustration by Good News Productions, International, used under CC BY)

Posted on February 1, 2019, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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