Chapter 19: Luke 18–22

New Testament Student Manual, 2014


Introduction and Timeline for Luke 18–22

These chapters of Luke relate events that took place in the final weeks of the Savior’s mortal ministry—as He traveled toward Jerusalem and after He arrived at the Holy City. They contribute to an important theme introduced in Luke 15—that Jesus Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10; see also Luke 15:6, 9, 24). Accordingly, they show His compassion for individuals estranged from society and from God. For instance, a widow, one of the most vulnerable members of society, and a publican, one of the despised, serve as positive examples in two of the Savior’s parables recorded only by Luke (see Luke 18:1–14). Luke also recorded the conversion of the chief publican Zacchaeus, a man many would have regarded as corrupt and hopelessly lost (see Luke 19:1–10). Luke 18–22 culminates with the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane, without which all of us would be forever lost (see 1 Nephi 10:6).

lesson 19 timeline

Commentary for Luke 18–22

Luke 18:1–8. The Parable of the Importuning Widow and Unjust Judge

Luke stated the main message of the parable of the importuning widow and unjust judge—“men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). The Greek word translated as “to faint” means to become discouraged or weary or to tire of something. In the parable, praying without giving up is represented by a widow who repeatedly appeals to a judge to remedy an injustice. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. That was the Savior’s message in the parable of the importuning widow. … Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child” (“Lessons from Liberty Jail,” Ensign, Sept. 2009, 30). Perseverance is rooted in the foundational gospel principles of faith and hope. Perseverance reflects our faith that our actions will bring the Lord’s blessings into our lives.

woman praying

Instant Messages, by G. Bjorn Thorkelson. “Cry day and night unto him” (Luke 18:7).

The parable is another instance when the Savior taught about God’s perfection by contrasting it with human imperfection (see Luke 11:5–8, 11–13; commentary for Luke 11:5–10). Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “If an evil magistrate, caring nothing for a poor widow, will finally adjudge her case, how much more shall the Judge of all the earth, who loves his saints, finally, in the day of vengeance at his coming, avenge his elect upon all their enemies” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:289).

The Greek word translated as “avenge” in Luke 18:3, 5, 7–8 means “give justice; see that justice is done.” Thus the parable, given in context of the Savior’s teachings concerning His Second Coming (see Luke 17:20–37; 18:8), affirms that the Lord will see that justice is done for His Saints at His Second Coming and during the Millennium that follows. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 75).

Luke 18:9–14. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Pharisee and publican

Pharisee and publican thank God, by Robert T. Barrett

Luke stated that the Savior addressed the parable of the Pharisee and the publican to people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). The parable probably surprised those who heard it, for Pharisees were generally admired and regarded as very obedient to the law, though Jesus had rebuked them for hypocrisy. Publicans, however, were tax collectors and were hated, shunned, and seen as corrupt. Though they were often grouped with harlots and sinners, many were receptive to Jesus’s teaching (see Matthew 21:31–32; Mark 2:15–16; Luke 15:1). The four Gospels record no instance of Jesus being critical of those who were willing to listen, to be taught, and to change their lives for good. To the self-righteous, proud, or hypocritical, however, He was often fearless and unyielding in His denunciation of their behavior, as He was in this parable. The Savior stated the moral of the parable in terms of pride and humility: “For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14; see also D&C 52:15).

President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) explained that the Pharisee’s prayer was “not one of thankfulness, but of boastfulness” and taught that the contrast between the Pharisee and the publican illustrates the importance of humility and contrition:

video icon“Could there be greater contrast in the prayers of the two men? The Pharisee stood apart because he believed he was better than other men, whom he considered as common. The publican stood apart also, but it was because he felt himself unworthy. The Pharisee thought of no one other than himself and regarded everyone else a sinner, whereas the publican thought of everyone else as righteous as compared with himself, a sinner. The Pharisee asked nothing of God, but relied upon his own self-righteousness. The publican appealed to God for mercy and forgiveness of his sins.

“Continuing the story, Jesus then said: ‘I tell you, this man,’ referring to the publican, the despised tax collector, ‘went down to his house justified, rather than the other.’ (Luke 18:14.) In other words, the Lord said he was absolved, forgiven, or vindicated. …

“Humility is an attribute of godliness possessed by true Saints. It is easy to understand why a proud man fails. He is content to rely upon himself only. … The proud man shuts himself off from God, and when he does he no longer lives in the light. …

“… History bears record that those who have exalted themselves have been abased, but the humble have been exalted. On every busy street there are Pharisees and publicans. It may be that one of them bears our name” (“The Pharisee and the Publican,” Ensign, May 1984, 65–66).

Luke 18:15–43. Commentary Found Elsewhere in This Manual

Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 18 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The following chart identifies where you can find student manual commentary for these teachings and events:

Location of Topic in Luke

Commentary in This Manual

Luke 18:15–17. The Savior blessed little children.

Matthew 19:13–15

Luke 18:18–30. The Savior addressed the rich ruler.

Matthew 19:16–22

Luke 18:31–34. The Savior foretold His death and Resurrection.

Mark 8:31–33; 9:30–32; 10:32–34 and Mark 8:33

Luke 18:35–43. Jesus healed a blind man.

Mark 10:46–52

Luke 19:1–10. Zacchaeus

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. He passed through Jericho, where he encountered a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a good man, who gave half of his goods to the poor and made “fourfold” restitution when necessary—well beyond what the law of Moses required (see Leviticus 5:16; Numbers 5:7). He was sincere and determined to do all he could to make things right. However, before his meeting with Jesus, Zacchaeus could have been considered the epitome of the “lost.” Not only was he a despised publican, but he was “the chief among the publicans.” Some people regarded Jewish publicans as having forfeited their claim to be among Abraham’s chosen offspring, but the Savior offered fellowship and salvation even to Zacchaeus, affirming that he “also is a son of Abraham.” The Savior’s own words help us understand the way the Savior viewed him: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (See Luke 19:1–10.)

For more insight on the Savior’s dining with publicans and sinners, see the commentary for Mark 2:15–17.

Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Tree

Zacchaeus in the Sycamore Tree, by James Tissot

As the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi testified, Jesus Christ invites “all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him” (2 Nephi 26:33).

Luke 19:11–27. The Parable of the Pounds

The parable of the pounds bears some similarities to the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14–30. Both parables tell of a lord who departs, leaving his servants various sums of money that they are to put to good use. When the lord returns and receives an accounting from his servants, he rewards those who have earned a profit by using his gifts well, but he reproves those who have failed to do so. Thus, both parables teach us to be ready for the Lord’s return by making good use of the gifts and responsibilities He has given us (see also the commentary for Matthew 25:14–30).

However, the parable of the pounds teaches additional truths about the Lord’s future millennial reign. The parable implies that Jesus Christ would be rejected in Jerusalem (see Luke 19:14) and would not immediately reign there as king (see Luke 19:11). Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the significance of the parable in its historical context:

“Jesus was enroute to Jerusalem for the last time. In about ten days he would die upon the cross, and to the Jews generally it would appear that he had failed to set up the promised Messianic kingdom. To correct the false concept that ‘the kingdom of God’—meaning the political kingdom, the kingdom which should rule all nations with King Messiah at its head, the millennial kingdom—‘should immediately appear,’ Jesus gave the Parable of the Pounds. …

“Christ is the nobleman; the far off country is heaven; the kingdom there to be given him is ‘all power … in heaven and in earth’ (Matt. 28:18); and his promised return is the glorious Second Coming, when the literal and visible kingdom shall be set up on earth. … The servants are commanded to labor in the vineyard on their Lord’s errand until he returns” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary [1965–73], 1:571–72).

Luke 19:28–21:33. Commentary Found Elsewhere in This Manual

Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 19–21 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John and in Joseph Smith—Matthew. The following chart identifies where you can find student manual commentary for these teachings and events:

Location of Topic in Luke

Commentary in This Manual

Luke 19:28–40. The triumphal entry

Matthew 21:1–11 and Matthew 21:8 and Matthew 21:9–11

Luke 19:41–44. The Savior’s lament for Jerusalem

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2–4; Matthew 24:1–3

Luke 19:45–48. The cleansing of the temple

John 2:13–22 and John 2:16 and John 2:18–21

Luke 20:1–8. “By what authority”?

Matthew 21:12–16, 23–27

Luke 20:9–18. The wicked husbandmen

Matthew 21:33–46

Luke 20:19–26. Unto Caesar and unto God

Matthew 22:15–22

Luke 20:27–38. Marriage in the Resurrection

Matthew 22:23–30

Luke 20:41–44. The son of David and the Son of God

Matthew 22:41–46

Luke 20:45–47. Rebuke of the scribes

Matthew 23:13–33

Luke 21:1–4. The widow’s mites

Mark 12:41–44

Luke 21:5–38. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming

Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2–4; Matthew 24:1–3 and Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4; Matthew 24:3

Luke 21:19. “In Your Patience Possess Ye Your Souls”

video iconPresident Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency taught about the meaning of Luke 21:19: “Patience is a process of perfection. The Savior Himself said that in your patience you possess your souls [see Luke 21:19]. Or, to use another translation of the Greek text, in your patience you win mastery of your souls [see Luke 21:19, footnote b]. Patience means to abide in faith, knowing that sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most. This was true in the time of the Savior. It is true in our time as well, for we are commanded in these latter days to ‘continue in patience until ye are perfected’ [D&C 67:13]” (“Continue in Patience,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 59).

Luke 21:24. “Until the Times of the Gentiles Be Fulfilled”

Orson Hyde Dedicates the Holy Land

Orson Hyde Dedicates the Holy Land for the Return of the Jews, by Clark Kelley Price. On October 24, 1841, Elder Orson Hyde visited the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and offered a prayer of dedication.

Luke 21:24 is the only place where the phrase “times of the Gentiles” appears in the Bible; the phrase also appears three times in latter-day revelation (see D&C 45:25, 28, 30). In New Testament times, the gospel was preached first to Jews and then to Gentiles (see Romans 1:16). In the latter days, the message of the restored gospel is to go first to Gentile nations and then to the Jews (see D&C 133:8). The period of time when the Gentiles have precedence in receiving the gospel is called the “times of the Gentiles.”

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) stated, “The times of the Gentiles commenced shortly after the death of our Redeemer. The Jews soon rejected the Gospel and it was then taken to the Gentiles. The times of the Gentiles have continued from that time until now” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:196). President Smith spoke further about the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles: “Jesus said the Jews would be scattered among all nations and Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24.) The prophecy in Section 45, verses 24–29, of the Doctrine and Covenants regarding the Jews was literally fulfilled. Jerusalem, which was trodden down by the Gentiles, is no longer trodden down but is made the home for the Jews. They are returning to Palestine, and by this we may know that the times of the Gentiles are near their close” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 13).

Luke 21:34–36. “Surfeiting, and Drunkenness, and Cares of This Life”

Many of the Savior’s teachings about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming found in Luke 21 are also found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Joseph Smith—Matthew. However, only Luke recorded the Savior’s warning that if people were “overcharged [weighed down] with surfeiting [overindulgence of appetites], and drunkenness, and cares of this life [anxieties and stresses]” (Luke 21:34), they would not be prepared for His Second Coming. This warning about self-indulgence and drunkenness in the last days is similar to the Savior’s declaration that the last days would be “as the days of Noe [Noah],” when people “were eating and drinking, … and knew not until the flood came” (Matthew 24:37–39). To protect Saints in the latter days, the Lord revealed the Word of Wisdom, including the commandment to abstain from alcohol and harmful drugs (see D&C 89:4–7, 18–21). Obeying this commandment not only benefits our physical health but also helps us be spiritually prepared to meet the Savior.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught how we can avoid being overwhelmed by the anxieties and stresses of life. He said that those who are wise “resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice ‘There is more to life than increasing its speed.’ In short, they focus on the things that matter most” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 20).

Luke 21:37–38. Teaching in the Temple

Many verses in the four Gospels attest that Jesus frequently taught in the temple. During the final week of His mortal existence, while He was in Jerusalem, He taught daily in the temple (see Matthew 26:55; Mark 14:49; Luke 19:47; 22:53). This pattern of teaching in the temple was continued by Jesus’s disciples after He ascended into heaven (see Acts 2:46; 5:42). In this matter, like all others, Jesus is our perfect example.

Luke 22. Commentary Found Elsewhere in This Manual

Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 22 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John. The following chart identifies where you can find student manual commentary for these teachings and events:

Location of Topic in Luke

Commentary in This Manual

Luke 22:1–6. Chief priests and scribes sought to kill Jesus; Judas arranged to betray Him.

Matthew 26:1–5 and Matthew 26:14–16

Luke 22:7–18. The Last Supper took place.

Matthew 26:17–30 and John 13:1–17

Luke 22:21–23. Jesus announced Judas’s betrayal.

Matthew 26:21–22 and John 13:18–30

Luke 22:24–27. The disciples had strife about who was the greatest.

Mark 9:33–37; 10:35–45

Luke 22:33–38. Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny Him.

Matthew 26:31–35

Luke 22:47–53. Judas betrayed the Savior.

Matthew 26:47–50

Luke 22:54–62. Peter denied Christ three times.

Matthew 26:69–75 and John 18:15–18, 25–27

Luke 22:63–71. The trial before the chief priests took place.

Matthew 26:59 and Matthew 26:61–66 and Matthew 26:66–68 and Mark 14:53–65

Luke 22:19–20. “This Do in Remembrance of Me”

Both Luke and Paul wrote that when the Savior introduced the symbols of the bread and wine, He instructed His disciples, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). The sacrament’s purpose of helping us remember the Savior is reinforced by the Joseph Smith Translation, which adds the terms “remember” and “in remembrance” to the sacrament accounts in Matthew and Mark (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:22, 24–25 [in the Bible appendix]; Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 14:20–25 [in the Bible appendix]; 3 Nephi 18:7, 11). In Jewish language and practice, remembering meant much more than simple mental recollection; it meant re-experiencing, reaffirming, and recommitting.

Remembering was a primary purpose of many Jewish practices, such as the Passover meal. At Passover, as the people of Israel commemorated the Lord’s deliverance of their ancestors from bondage, the symbolic meal and its accompanying story of deliverance connected the past to the present. Observing Passover made a statement about how one would live and about one’s loyalty to the Lord and His people. Similarly, the sacrament, which the Savior instituted at Passover, is a symbolic “meal” of remembrance that replaced the Passover meal. By partaking of the sacrament, followers of Jesus Christ may experience anew the blessings of His Atonement, reaffirm their loyalty to Him and His Church, and recommit their lives to following Him. For insights about the symbolism of the sacrament, see the commentaries for Matthew 26:26–28 and for Matthew 26:26–29.

In Remembrance of Me

In Remembrance of Me, by Walter Rane

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explored some of the truths about Jesus Christ that we might choose to remember during the sacrament.

video icon“If remembering is the principal task before us, what might come to our memory when those plain and precious emblems are offered to us?

“We could remember the Savior’s premortal life and all that we know him to have done as the great Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. We could remember that even in the Grand Council of Heaven he loved us and was wonderfully strong, that we triumphed even there by the power of Christ and our faith in the blood of the Lamb (see Rev. 12:10–11).

“We could remember the simple grandeur of his mortal birth. …

“We could remember Christ’s miracles and his teachings, his healings and his help. We could remember that he gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf and motion to the lame and the maimed and the withered. Then, on those days when we feel our progress has halted or our joys and views have grown dim, we can press forward steadfastly in Christ, with unshaken faith in him and a perfect brightness of hope (see 2 Ne. 31:19–20).

“We could remember that even with such a solemn mission given to him, the Savior found delight in living; he enjoyed people and told his disciples to be of good cheer. He said we should be as thrilled with the gospel as one who had found a great treasure, a veritable pearl of great price, right on our own doorstep. …

“We could remember that Christ called His disciples friends, and that friends are those who stand by us in times of loneliness or potential despair. …

“We could—and should—remember the wonderful things that have come to us in our lives and that ‘all things which are good cometh of Christ’ (Moro. 7:24). …

“On some days we will have cause to remember the unkind treatment he received, the rejection he experienced, and the injustice—oh, the injustice—he endured. When we, too, then face some of that in life, we can remember that Christ was also troubled on every side, but not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed (see 2 Cor. 4:8–9).

“When those difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before he could ascend above them, and that he suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that he might be filled with mercy and know how to succor his people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11–12).

“To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life. …

“… All this we could remember when we are invited by a kneeling young priest to remember Christ always” (“This Do in Remembrance of Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68–69).

Luke 22:28–30. “Ye Are They Which Have Continued with Me in My Temptations”

Luke 22:28 reminds us that the three temptations in the wilderness were not the only times the Savior faced temptation, trial, and testing (see Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13). Jesus Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). As the end of His mortal life approached, the Savior reminded His Apostles that they had continued with Him when He was tempted and tried (see Luke 22:28). Earlier in His ministry, they had witnessed the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes trying to trap Him with questions. They had seen Him when He was mocked by unbelievers in His own hometown and when mobs tried to stone Him for His teachings. They had been with Him when He was exhausted, hungry, and mournful.

After expressing His appreciation that the Apostles had continued with Him, the Savior told them that they would be forever with Him, sitting on thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel (see Luke 22:29–30).

Luke 22:31. “Satan Hath Desired to Have You, That He May Sift You as Wheat”

In Luke 22:31, the Greek pronoun translated as “you” is plural, indicating that the Savior gave this warning to all His disciples. Wheat is sifted by separating kernels of grain from chaff. The valuable grain is kept, while the common chaff is discarded. If Saints yield to temptation and partake of the sins of the world, they lose their distinctiveness and become like chaff. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “Jesus cautioned that Satan desires to sift us like wheat … , which means to make us common like all those around us. But Jesus taught that we who follow Him should be precious and unique, ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13) and ‘the light of the world,’ to shine forth to all men (Matthew 5:14, 16; see also 3 Nephi 18:24)” (“Unselfish Service,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 94).

Luke 22:32. “When Thou Art Converted, Strengthen Thy Brethren”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained that the Savior’s words to Simon Peter at the Last Supper, recorded in Luke 22:32, “confirmed the importance of being converted, even for those with a testimony of the truth”:

video icon“In order to strengthen his brethren—to nourish and lead the flock of God—this man who had followed Jesus for three years, who had been given the authority of the holy apostleship, who had been a valiant teacher and testifier of the Christian gospel, and whose testimony had caused the Master to declare him blessed still had to be ‘converted.’

“Jesus’ challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 18:3) was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be ‘converted,’ which requires us to do and to become. If any of us relies solely upon our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, we are in the same position as the blessed but still unfinished Apostles whom Jesus challenged to be ‘converted.’ We all know someone who has a strong testimony but does not act upon it so as to be converted. …

“Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 33).

Luke 22:39–44. Details about the Savior’s Suffering in Gethsemane

Some modern Bibles do not include verses 43–44 of Luke 22 because they do not appear in all ancient Greek manuscripts of Luke. Historical evidence suggests that some scribes in the centuries following the Apostles’ deaths may have removed these verses. The scribes felt embarrassed at the description of Christ’s agony, which contradicted popular Hellenistic ideals of emotionless suffering. Such tampering with the biblical text verifies the testimony of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi: “They have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious” (1 Nephi 13:26). Latter-day scriptures and prophets affirm the authenticity of what is recorded in Luke 22:43–44 (see Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18). For more information on Jesus’s prayer and agony in Gethsemane, see the commentaries for Matthew 26:36, for Matthew 26:37–39, and for Mark 14:32–36.

Luke 22:43. “There Appeared an Angel unto Him from Heaven, Strengthening Him”

Luke recorded that an angel appeared to the Savior to strengthen Him as He suffered in Gethsemane. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that the angel came in answer to the Savior’s prayer:

“The gospel of Luke … describes how he knelt down and prayed: ‘Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done’ (JST, Luke 22:42).

“… The Father’s answer was to deny the plea of his Only Begotten Son. The Atonement had to be worked out by that lamb without blemish. But though the Son’s request was denied, his prayer was answered. The scripture records: ‘And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him’ (JST, Luke 22:43).

“Strengthened from heaven to do the will of the Father, the Savior fulfilled his mission” (“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1994, 99–100).

But eventually even the angel left the Savior, for He was required to complete the great atoning sacrifice by Himself. In these latter days, the Savior has declared that when He comes to earth in glory, His voice will be heard saying, “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me” (D&C 133:50). The Savior’s triumph over sin and death is complete.

Luke 22:44. “Being in an Agony He Prayed More Earnestly”

President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency explained that all our prayers should be sincere, drawing “from the earnest feelings of our hearts.” But, of necessity, some prayers are more intense than others, as was the Savior’s prayer at the time of His agony in Gethsemane: “Jeremiah counsels us to pray with all our heart and soul [see Jeremiah 29:13]. Enos recounted how his soul had hungered and that he had prayed all the day long [see Enos 1:4]. Prayers vary in their intensity. Even the Savior ‘prayed more earnestly’ in His hour of agony [see Luke 22:44]. Some are simple expressions of appreciation and requests for a continuation of blessings on our loved ones and us. However, in times of great personal hurt or need, more may be required than mere asking. … Blessings sought through prayer sometimes require work, effort, and diligence on our part” (“The Lifeline of Prayer,” Ensign, May 2002, 60).

Luke 22:44. “His Sweat Was as It Were Great Drops of Blood Falling Down to the Ground”

Luke was the only Gospel writer to record the important detail that the Savior’s suffering included “great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). The Savior’s unparalleled suffering—the extreme pressure caused by taking upon Himself the infinite sin, sorrow, and guilt of all mankind—caused a physical condition in his body known as hematidrosis. This condition leads to the rupture of capillaries just under the surface of the skin, causing the skin to exude a bloody sweat. Any other person would have died before this condition reached the point of bleeding from every pore, but the Savior was the Son of God and so was able to endure this great agony for us.

Other scriptures give further insight into the reality and cause of the Savior’s bleeding from the pores of His skin. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin testified that Christ would “suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7; italics added). In his Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul encouraged early Christians to remain faithful by remembering that Christ had “resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4). The Lord Himself spoke of bleeding from every pore (see Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19).

Christ in Gethsemane

The Greatest of All, by Del Parson

Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Savior’s agony was physical, mental, and spiritual: “It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, [producing] unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world’ could inflict” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie testified that though the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane is beyond our ability to comprehend, we do know some of what He endured in Gethsemane:

“We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive, the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.

“We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him.

“We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.

“We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.

“We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.

“We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.

“As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours” (“The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign, May 1985, 9).

During His agonies in the garden, Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of all mankind. In addition, He bore the agonizing burden of all our pains, afflictions, sicknesses, sorrows, and infirmities (see Isaiah 53:4–5; Alma 7:11–12). Elder Tad R. Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy suggested some of the mortal experiences that would have been included in the terrible weight Jesus carried:

“What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals? Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call—just some recognition from the outside world. Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence. Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home. Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion. Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged. Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end. Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior’s load. Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this? No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all” (The Infinite Atonement [2000], 105).

To read more about the Savior’s sufferings in Gethsemane, see the commentaries for Matthew 26:36 and for Mark 14:32–36.

    Points to Ponder

  • Consider the truths you have learned from the parable of the importuning widow, the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, and the statement that Jesus “prayed more earnestly” when He was suffering. Then think about the earnestness of your own prayers. How can you make your prayers more earnest?

  • What have you learned or felt about Jesus Christ that you would want to remember the next time you partake of the sacrament?