The Oberlin Evangelist
August 3, 1859
We Live, Toil, Suffer and Die for the Fulfillment of God’s Purposes.
Addressed to the rescuers in Cuyahoga county jail.
(continued from our last.)
To this very point of trial he was brought in the garden where alone and at midnight, he lay prostrate on the ground, groaning in anguish of spirit, and crying out, “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me.” What a dreadful moment was that! Dreadful to him as a sufferer; but more dreadful to man as a sinner; for should the sufferer waver, should he sink beneath the crushing weight of our woes before he had fully wrought out our salvation, the darkness of that hour would never have been lifted from the world. But the groaning Savior, in the moment of his horror, was enabled to say – “nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” That cup of untold bitterness might not pass from his lips; it must be drank and drained. He must needs die, his soul must be made a sacrifice for sin, the Lamb of God must be slain! Isaac might be spared at the critical point, but not Jesus. We follow him from the garden, whence he is taken by a band of ruffians headed by the traitor, Judas, and led to the judgment Hall. We witness the mock trial, in which law is traduced, justice set at nought, truth disregarded, and wrong sanctified. We see the sacred person of Jesus abused, clothed in robes of royalty, in derision of his kingly claims, his face buffeted and spit upon, his head crowned with a diadem of thorns. We hear the hoarse cry of the multitude, frenzied by the arts of the priests and rulers, till they shout “Crucify him, Crucify him.” We follow him to Calvary, we see him there nailed to the cross, we hear that appalling outcry, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani; we behold the blood that flows from his “five bleeding wounds.” It is when the victim bleeds, that we hear him say “It is finished”; and then bowing his head he gives up the ghost. “It is finished” hear him cry?
What was finished? His allotted life-task, consisting of service and of suffering. The service was substantially finished before; for he says in his last prayer with his disciples, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.” The work of obedience was done, the work of teaching, the work of doing good; but the main work,, of suffering, and of sacrifice, remained to be finished, and was finished o the cross. We can plainly see that at no earlier moment could he have said, in this full sense, “It is finished;” that only in the expiring struggle, when his blood was falling to the earth, that only from the accursed tree, could he have truly pronounced those words. At other times, and other places from the mountains of Galilee, from the shores and from the bosom of like Gennesaret, form the plains and villages of Samaria and Judea, from the synagogues and from the Temple, from Mt. Tabor, where he was transfigured, and from Mt. Olivet whence he beheld Jerusalem and wept, he might have said, “I have done great works, I have endured great afflictions, I have shed many tears; he could have truly said this; but he could not have said, “It is finished.” And had he stopped short of that bloody completion of his mission he would have done nothing to the purpose; he would have failed to accomplish the object where unto he was sent. He would indeed have lived a lovely life; but it would have been and imperfect life, without a fitting end.