Chapter 26: “I Find No Fault in This Man”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 178–87


Map Chp. 26

The Week of the Atoning Sacrifice

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Sixth Day

    

The Betrayal by Judas

The Arrest

26:47–50

26:51–56

14:43–45

14:46–52

22:47, 48

22:49–53

18:2–9

18:10–12

Jesus Questioned by Annas

Examined Before Caiaphas

26:57–68

14:53–65

22:54, 55, 63–65

18:13, 19–24

18:14–16, 18

Peter Denies Knowing Jesus

26:69–75

14:66–72

22:55–62

18:17, 25–27

Formal Trial and Condemnation

27:1, 2

15:1

22:66–71; 23:1

 

Judas Iscariot’s Death

Before Pilate

Before Herod

27:3–10

27:11–14

15:2–5

23:2–5

23:6–12

18:28–38

Again Before Pilate

Barabbas Released

Pilate Sentences Jesus

The Way to Calvary

27:15–23

27:26–30

27:24, 25

27:31–34, 38

15:6–14

15:15–19

15:20–23, 25, 27, 28

23:13–23

23:25

23:24

23:26–33

18:39, 40

19:1–3

19:4–16

19:16–18

Superscription on the Cross

His First Utterance on the Cross

Soldiers Divide His Clothing

Mocking and Scoffing

27:37

27:35, 36

27:39–44

15:26

15:24

15:29–32

23:38

23:34

23:34

23:35–37

19:19–22

19:23, 24

Second Utterance from the Cross

Third Utterance by the Savior

Darkness Covers the Earth

Fourth Statement

27:45

27:46, 47

15:33

15:34, 35

23:39–43

23:44, 45

19:25–27

Fifth Statement

Sixth Utterance

Final Utterance; Jesus Dies

Centurion’s Testimony

27:48, 49

27:50

27:51–56

15:36

15:37

15:38–41

23:46

23:45, 47–49

19:28, 29

19:30

19:30

His Side Pierced

His Burial

27:57–61

15:42–47

23:50–56

19:31–37

19:38–42

Interpretive Commentary

An Appreciation of the Sorrow of the Final Hours

Provided on the next page is a map depicting the city of Jerusalem and the possible sites where the last days in the mortal life of Jesus Christ were spent. As you read the following narrative, picture in your mind the events that took place on that day of days and feel the sorrow of those final hours. Numbers on the map correspond to the numbers adjacent to the paragraphs.

  1. 1 & 2

    From the upper room to Gethsemane the disciples and Jesus walked, to an orchard, or garden, of olive trees, where in agony the Lord suffered until he sweat great drops of blood. Returning to the slumbering Peter, James, and John, Jesus spoke, his words an evidence that he was most aware of what was to take place before his mortal ministry was finished. “Sleep on now and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.” Then came Judas, with a great multitude of men who were armed with swords and staves; and Judas did betray Jesus with a kiss. “And they laid their hands on him, and took him.” (Matthew 26:36–56; Mark 14:32–52; Luke 22:40–53; John 18:1–12.)

  2. 3

    Betrayed, arrested, bound, forsaken, and alone, in the middle of the night Jesus was taken over the Kidron and up the steep slope to the house of Annas to be questioned first by the former high priest and then to receive that first insulting blow upon the face. As with all the abuse he experienced, the Lord suffered that insult in silence. Then he was sent across the courtyard to the high priest Joseph Caiaphas. There false witnesses were sought whose words proved to be so at variance that even the wicked priests, in some show of decency, could not accept the testimony. Yet through all the illegality and falseness of such a trial, Jesus innocently and silently stood before them, as it were, to judge them, until, in a paroxysm of anger, if not rage, Caiaphas exclaimed, “Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?” But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “Thou hast said. …” And the high priest exclaimed, “He hath spoken blasphemy.” The infamous members of the Sanhedrin who were present responded, “He is guilty of death!” And from that time on they spit upon him, buffeted him, and mocked him. Not long afterwards, the cock crowed for the third time. “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. … And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” “When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 26:57–75; 27:1–2; Mark 14:53–71; 15:1; Luke 22:54–71; John 18:13–27.)

  3. 4 & 5

    Before Pilate, then before Herod, and again before Pilate, the Lord suffered the indescribable abuse and mockery of an illegal and false inquisition. Then Pilate answered them, saying, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him.” And so to placate the people, Pilate had the Lord scourged with a whip made of many thongs which were impregnated with pieces of metal and jagged bone. Then Pilate delivered the Lord up to be crucified. (Matthew 27:11–25; Mark 15:2–19; Luke 23:2–25; John 18:28–40; 19:1–16.)

  4. 6

    Forced to carry his own cross until he could do so no more, to Calvary he was taken, where the Roman soldiers pierced his hands, wrists, and feet with nails, thus affixing his body to the cross. There he hung in a constant agony, derived from pain, thirst, and derision, with no one to comfort him or relieve his anguish of body, mind, or spirit. Then after one last experience with the torment of Gethsemane, he cried with a loud voice, saying, “It is finished.” “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” The Lord Jesus Christ had died for all mankind. Then came Joseph of Arimathea with fine linen, and he took Jesus’ body down, wrapped it in the linen, “and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.” The mortal life and the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ were ended. (Matthew 27:31–61; Mark 15:20–47; Luke 23:26–56; John 19:16–42.)

(26-1) John 18:13. Who Were Annas and Caiaphas?

“Cyrenius … deprived Joazar of the high priesthood … and he appointed Ananus, the son of Seth, to be high priest, … [Valerius Gratus] deprived Ananus of the high priesthood, and appointed Ismael, the son of Phabi, to be high-priest. He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazar, the son of Ananus, who had been high-priest before, to be high-priest: which office, when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the high-priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus; and, when he had possessed that dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiaphas was made his successor. When Gratus had done those things, he went back to Rome, after he had tarried in Judea eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18. 2. 1–2.)

Joseph Caiaphas was high priest between the years A.D. 18–36, but Annas continued to exercise much religious and political control over the Jews as either substitute for the high priest, president of the Sanhedrin, or chief examining judge. Annas’ wealth was immense; and it derived, in part, at least, from the sale of materials used in the temple sacrifices. (See Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “Annas”; Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, rev. ed., s.v. “Annas.”) Joseph Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest under Tiberius (see Matthew 26:3, 57; John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28; and Acts 4:6) and was appointed to the office of high priest by Valerius Gratus. (See Smith, Dictionary, s.v. “Caiaphas.”) In John 18:13 we read that Joseph Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas.

(26-2) Matthew 26:59; 27:1, 2. Who Were the Sanhedrin?

Comprised of an assembly of seventy-one ordained scholars, including Levites, priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and those of other political persuasion, in the time of the Savior the Great Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court of justice and the supreme legislative council at Jerusalem. Its main function was to serve as a supreme court when Jewish law was interpreted. The Sanhedrin met in the temple collonade in the impressive chambers of hewn stone, where members of the council sat in a semicircle. An accused prisoner, dressed in garments of mourning, was arraigned in front of the council; and if evidence against the prisoner warranted, the Sanhedrin had authority to decree capital punishment for offenses which violated major Jewish laws. However, the council was not authorized to carry out its sentence and execute the prisoner, for Roman law forbade them from putting an individual to death without the sanction of the Roman procurator. Jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin in the time of Jesus extended only throughout Judea; and as long as Jesus preached in Galilee and Perea, the council was unable to arrest him. When Jesus entered Jerusalem for his last Passover, however, he was within the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin, where evil and unscrupulous leaders of the council were able to take him, arrange a charge of blasphemy against him, and then manipulate Pilate, the Roman procurator, to bring about the crucifixion.

(26-3) Matthew 26:47–75; John 18:12–14; 19:23. Illegalities of the Trial of Jesus and Peter’s Alleged Denial of Jesus

The arrest, the private examination, the indictment, the proceedings of the Sanhedrin, the trial, the condemnation proceedings, the sentence, the qualification of the members of the Great Sanhedrin to try Jesus—all were illegal.

For an evaluation of the trial of Jesus see Jesus the Christ, p. 644. For an explanation of Peter’s alleged denial of Jesus, see appendix D, “Peter, My Brother,” by Elder Spencer W. Kimball.

(26-4) Matthew 27:2. Pontius Pilate

Appointed in A.D. 25–26 in the twelfth year of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea and was the Roman ruler during the time of Christ’s ministry. Arbitrary and anxious to please Caesar, his political life ended in misfortune. (See Smith, Dictionary, s.v. “Pilate, Pontius.”)

(26-5) Matthew 27:24. Why Did Pilate Give In to the Demands of the Jews to Execute Jesus?

“In utter disregard of the Hebrew antipathy against images and heathen insignia [Pilate] had the legionaries enter Jerusalem at night, carrying their eagles and standards decorated with the effigy of the emperor. To the Jews this act was a defilement of the Holy City. In vast multitudes they gathered at Caesarea, and petitioned the procurator that the standards and other images be removed from Jerusalem. For five days the people demanded and Pilate refused. He threatened a general slaughter, and was amazed to see the people offer themselves as victims of the sword rather than relinquish their demands. Pilate had to yield (Josephus, Ant. xviii, Chap. 3:1; also Wars, ii, Chap. 9:2, 3). Again he gave offense in forcibly appropriating the Corban, or sacred funds of the temple, to the construction of an aqueduct for supplying Jerusalem with water from the pools of Solomon. Anticipating the public protest of the people, he had caused Roman soldiers to disguise themselves as Jews; and with weapons concealed to mingle with the crowds. At a given signal these assassins plied their weapons and great numbers of defenseless Jews were killed or wounded (Josephus, Ant. xviii, chap. 3:2; and Wars, ii, chap. 9:3, 4). On another occasion, Pilate had grossly offended the people by setting up in his official residence at Jerusalem, shields that had been dedicated to Tiberius, and this ‘less for the honor of Tiberius than for annoyance of the Jewish people.’ A petition signed by the ecclesiastical officials of the nation, and by others of influence, including four Herodian princes, was sent to the emperor, who reprimanded Pilate and directed that the shields be removed from Jerusalem to Caesarea. (Philo. De Lagatione ad Caium; sec. 38).

“These outrages on national feeling, and many minor acts of violence, extortion and cruelty, the Jews held against the procurator. He realized that his tenure was insecure, and he dreaded exposure. Such wrongs had he wrought that when he would have done good, he was deterred through cowardly fear of the accusing past.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 648–49.)

(26-6) Luke 23:6–11. Christ before Herod

“Whatever fear Herod had once felt regarding Jesus, whom he had superstitiously thought to be the reincarnation of his murdered victim, John the Baptist, was replaced by amused interest when he saw the far-famed Prophet of Galilee in bonds before him, attended by a Roman guard, and accompanied by ecclesiastical officials. Herod began to question the Prisoner; but Jesus remained silent. The chief priests and scribes vehemently voiced their accusations; but not a word was uttered by the Lord. Herod is the only character in history to whom Jesus is known to have applied a personal epithet of contempt. ‘Go ye and tell that fox’ He once said to certain Pharisees who had come to Him with the story that Herod intended to kill Him. As far as we know, Herod is further distinguished as the only being who saw Christ face to face and spoke to Him, yet never heard His voice. For penitent sinners, weeping women, prattling children, for the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the rabbis, for the perjured high priest and his obsequious and insolent underling, and for Pilate the pagan, Christ had words—of comfort or instruction, of warning or rebuke, of protest or denunciation—yet for Herod the fox He had but disdainful and kingly silence. Thoroughly piqued, Herod turned from insulting questions to acts of malignant derision. He and his men-at-arms made sport of the suffering Christ, ‘set him at nought and mocked him’; then in travesty they ‘arrayed him in a gorgeous robe and sent him again to Pilate.’ Herod had found nothing in Jesus to warrant condemnation.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 636.)

(26-7) Matthew 27:24. What Did Pilate Mean When He Washed His Hands before the Jews?

“At this point (or perhaps earlier, as the Inspired Version account indicates) Pilate, following the Jewish practice in such cases (Deut. 21:1–9), performed the ritualistic ceremony designed to free him from responsibility for Jesus’ death.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:810.)

(26-8) John 19:4–12. Pilate Sought to Release Him

“I find no fault in him] Jesus is innocent. Pilate knew it; Herod knew it; Caiaphas knew it; the Sanhedrin knew it; the mob-multitude knew it—and Satan knew it. Yet he is to be pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.

“Behold the man!] ‘Pilate seems to have counted on the pitiful sight of the scourged and bleeding Christ to soften the hearts of the maddened Jews. But the effect failed. Think of the awful fact—a heathen, a pagan, who knew not God, pleading with the priests and people of Israel for the life of their Lord and King!’ (Talmage, p. 639.)

“Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him] Pilate gave the order; no one else had the power. Pilate sentenced an innocent Man to be crucified—and he knew it! Is there a better example in all history of judicial murder?

“Jesus’ sentence by the Sanhedrin was for blasphemy, a Jewish crime; Pilate’s sentence was for sedition, a Roman offense. Now that our Lord’s death had been ordered, the Jews seek to make it appear that Pilate had endorsed their Jewish death decree. Their mention of ‘the Son of God’ increases Pilate’s fears for having ordered an unjust execution. He asks, ‘Are you a man or a demigod?’ Jesus disdains to answer. Pilate is piqued and boasts of his power to save or destroy Jesus. Then our Lord becomes the Judge and places Pilate before the judgment bar: ‘Against me you have only such power as Divine Providence permits; your sentence is unjust, but Caiaphas who delivered me to thee has the greater sin for as a Jew he knows of my divine origin.’

“Pilate sought to release him] Sought the consent of the chief priests and scribes to release him, for the Procurator had the power, if he chose to use it, to either save or destroy.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:809.)

(26-9) Matthew 27:26–30. Derision and Scourging

“This brutal practice, a preliminary to crucifixion, consisted of stripping the victim of clothes, strapping him to a pillar or frame, and beating him with a scourge made of leather straps weighted with sharp pieces of lead and bone. It left the tortured sufferer bleeding, weak, and sometimes dead. Pilate tried in vain to create compassion for Jesus as a result of the scourging. Teaching the need to bear chastisement, Paul, looking back on the scene, wrote: ‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.’ (Heb. 12:6.)

“While Pilate watches, his cohort of six hundred soldiers mock and deride the Son of God. The scarlet robe, the crown of thorns, the reed in our Lord’s hand, the mocking obeisance, the cynical hailing of him as King—all devil-inspired substitutes of the respect rightfully his—plus the foul spittle and the smiting blows, all paint a picture of gross human debasement. The Roman soldiers have partaken of the spirit of the Jewish mob.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:807.)

(26-10) Matthew 27:32. The Cross

“‘The cross consisted of two parts, a strong stake or pole 8 or 9 ft. high, which was fixed in the ground, and a movable cross-piece (patibulum), which was carried by the criminal to the place of execution. Sometimes the patibulum was a single beam of wood, but more often it consisted of two parallel beams fastened together, between which the neck of the criminal was inserted. Before him went a herald bearing a tablet on which the offense was inscribed, or the criminal himself bore it suspended by a cord round his neck. At the place of execution the criminal was stripped and laid on his back, and his hands were nailed to the patibulum; The patibulum, with the criminal hanging from it, was then hoisted into position and fastened by nails or ropes to the upright pole. The victim’s body was supported not only by the nails through the hands, but by a small piece of wood projecting at right angles (sedile), on which he sat as on a saddle. Sometimes there was also a support for the feet, to which the feet were nailed. The protracted agony of crucifixion sometimes lasted for days, death being caused by pain, hunger, and thirst.’ (Dummelow, pp. 716–17.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:815.)

(26-11) Matthew 27:33; Luke 23:33. Golgotha, or Calvary

“‘The Place of a Skull’—The Aramaic Hebrew name ‘Golgotha,’ the Greek ‘Kranion,’ and the Latin ‘Calvaria’ or, as Anglicized, ‘Calvary,’ have the same meaning, and connote ‘a skull.’ The name may have been applied with reference to topographical features, as we speak of the brow of a hill; or, if the spot was the usual place of execution, it may have been so called as expressive of death, just as we call a skull a death’s head. It is probable that the bodies of executed convicts were buried near the place of death; and if Golgotha or Calvary was the appointed site for execution, the exposure of skulls and other human bones through the ravages of beasts and by other means, would not be surprising; though the leaving of bodies or any of their parts unburied was contrary to Jewish law and sentiment. The origin of the name is of as little importance as are the many divergent suppositions concerning the exact location of the spot.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 667.)

(26-12) Matthew 27:35. “And They Crucified Him”

“‘[Crucifixion] was unanimously considered the most horrible form of death. Among the Romans also the degradation was a part of the infliction, and the punishment if applied to freeman was only used in the case of the vilest criminals. … The criminal carried his own cross, or at any rate a part of it. Hence, figuratively to take, to take up or bear one’s cross is to endure suffering, affliction, or shame, like a criminal on his way to the place of crucifixion (Matt. 10:38; 16:24; Luke 14:27, etc.). The place of execution was outside the city (1 Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58; Heb. 13:12), often in some public road or other conspicuous place. Arrived at the place of execution, the sufferer was stripped naked, the dress being the perquisite of the soldiers (Matt. 27:35). The cross was then driven into the ground, so that the feet of the condemned were a foot or two above the earth, and he was lifted upon it; or else stretched upon it on the ground and then he was lifted up with it.’ It was the custom to station soldiers to watch the cross, so as to prevent the removal of the sufferer while yet alive. ‘This was necessary from the lingering character of the death, which sometimes did not supervene even for three days, and was at last the result of gradual benumbing and starvation. But for this guard, the persons might have been taken down and recovered, as was actually done in the case of a friend of Josephus. … In most cases the body was suffered to rot on the cross by the action of sun and rain, or to be devoured by birds and beasts. Sepulture was generally therefore forbidden; but in consequences of Deut. 21:22, 23, an express national exception was made in favor of the Jews (Matt. 27:58). This accursed and awful mode of punishment was happily abolished by Constantine.’ Smith’s Bible Dict.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 667–68.)

(26-13) Matthew 27:35; Psalm 22:18. “Upon My Vesture Did They Cast Lots”

“The Messianic prophecy—‘They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture’ (Psalm 22:18)—contains two parts: (1) His garments are to be divided among them; and (2) For his vesture or robe they are to cast lots.

“Jewish men wore five articles of clothing: A headdress, shoes, an inner garment, an outer garment, and a girdle. These items, according to Roman custom, became the property of the soldiers who performed the crucifixion. There were four soldiers and each took one article of clothing. In the case of Jesus, the robe, woven of a single piece of cloth, apparently was of excellent workmanship, and for this the soldiers elected to cast lots.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:820.)

Points to Ponder

So important were the events associated with the Atonement and Crucifixion that many prophets were given a profound understanding of what would take place during the last twenty-four hours of Christ’s life. One great prophet living about seven hundred years before Christ prophetically chronicled these events with unusual clarity. This prophet was Isaiah, and his prophecy is recorded in the fifty-third chapter of his work, which is reproduced hereafter. First, read it through carefully. Then compare each of the following scriptures with the bracketed verses. Determine which scriptures are related to the various sections indicated and write the number of the appropriate scriptural reference on the line to the side of the Isaiah passage.

Chapter 53

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

 

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

 

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

 

[5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:] [the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.]

 

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.

 

7 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.]

 

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for [he was cut off out of the land of the living:] for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

 

9 And [he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;] because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

 

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; [he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,] he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

 

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for [he shall bear their iniquities.]

 

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and [he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.]

 

(26-14) The Character and the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ as Seen from the Seven Recorded Statements Made by Jesus on the Cross

It might well be stated as a rule of human nature that when a man reaches his greatest extremity, a moment of extreme danger, pain, emotion, or critical need, a point in life which is marked by imminent destruction or death, the true nature of his soul becomes evident from statements he makes at that crucial time.

Why? Because a man’s words mirror his innermost soul. His speech betrays what his character is really like—the quality of his concerns, his compassion, his love—the whole focus or thrust of his life, whether noble or mean, depraved or exalted. At his greatest extremity the very depths of his soul are bared for all to view; the intensity of the moment calls forth comments that mirror his inner self. A glorious example of this rule is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. His last seven recorded utterances permit all the world to see and know the true quality of his character and the divine nature of his soul.

That you might feel for yourself the true quality of his character, read and consider carefully the following scriptures which contain the last recorded statements of Christ:

Luke 23:34

John 19:28

Luke 23:43

John 19:30

John 19:26, 27

Luke 23:46

Matthew 27:46

As you have perhaps observed, these seven statements focus on three great aspects of the Lord’s character and divinity. These are expanded in the next three readings. Ponder their meaning to you as a contemporary disciple of Christ who is committed to follow his way.

(26-15) His Forgiving Nature

“… it [the first word from the cross] is a petition asking for forgiveness in a particular and limited sense of the word. Jesus was the Son of God; as such he had power to forgive sins, a power which he had freely exercised in proper cases. See Matt. 9:2–8.

“But no such power is exercised here. He does not say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee,’ as had been his wont on other occasion. Nor does he ask the Father to forgive the sins of those involved, in the sense of cleansing them from sin so as to qualify them for church membership or celestial inheritance. The law whereby such forgiveness is gained requires repentance and baptism. But he says, rather, ‘Father lay not this sin to their charge, for they are acting under orders, and those upon whom the full and real guilt rests are their rulers and the Jewish conspirators who caused me to be condemned. It is Caiaphas and Pilate who know I am innocent; these soldiers are just carrying out their orders.’

“Jesus did not, it should be noted, pray for Judas who betrayed him; for Caiaphas and the chief priests who conspired against him; for the false witnesses who perjured their souls before the Sanhedrin and in the judgment halls of Rome; for Pilate and Herod, either of whom could have freed him; nor for Lucifer whose power and persuasive ability underlay the whole wicked procedure. All these are left in the hands of Eternal Justice to be dealt with according to their works. Mercy cannot rob justice; the guilty do not go free simply because the righteous bring no railing accusation against them.

“Here on the cross Jesus is simply complying with his own command to forgive your enemies and to bless those who curse you.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:818–19.)

(26-16) His Concern for Others

To the thief on the cross who asked to be remembered after death, the Savior responded to give him what hope he could:

“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” That is to say, today you shall be with me in the world of spirits, where you will be taught the gospel and your inquiries will be answered. (See Smith, Teachings, p. 309.) Jesus did not lend any credence to a death-bed repentance or the malefactor. What Jesus did do was give recognition to the seeds of faith and repentance which were evidenced by a penitent man. As always, the Lord’s efforts were directed toward offering as much hope as possible to one who would turn from darkness unto the everlasting light. (See McConkie, DNTC, 1:823–24.)

His concern and love for his mother, Mary, is revealed by the circumstances which surround the third recorded utterance.

“There remained yet a few faithful followers. From his tortured position on the cruel cross, he sees his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by. He speaks: ‘… woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! …’ (John 19:26–27.)

“From that awful night when time stood still, when the earth did quake and great mountains were brought down—yes, through the annals of history, over the centuries of years and beyond the span of time, there echoes his simple yet divine words, ‘Behold thy mother!’” (Thomas S. Monson in CR, Oct. 1973, p. 30.)

(26-17) His Resignation by His Own Will to Die a Physical Death

“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46.) His was to be the choice. His was to be the opportunity. His was to be the challenge to give his life voluntarily. With all of the Father’s support withdrawn, with the pains of Gethsemane recurring, our Savior was left unto himself in order that he alone might complete the atoning sacrifice and have “the glory of complete victory over the forces of sin and death.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 661.) His was to be the resignation by his own will to give up his own life, a ransom for many, that we, through his blood, might be purified and sanctified until we reach a state where we again might enjoy the presence of our Father in heaven.

Yet at no time, in spite of his great suffering, did he complain. Resigned as he was to complete his great mission, throughout this great ordeal there is but one recorded instance which even begins to be expressive of his physical suffering. Of this statement, Elder James E. Talmage said:

“The period of faintness, the conception of utter forsakenness soon passed, and the natural cravings of the body reasserted themselves. The maddening thirst, which constituted one of the worst of the crucifixion agonies, wrung from the Savior’s lips His one recorded utterance expressive of physical suffering. ‘I thirst’ He said. One of those who stood by, whether Roman or Jew, disciple or skeptic, we are not told, hastily saturated a sponge with vinegar, a vessel of which was at hand, and having fastened the sponge to the end of a reed, or stalk of hyssop, pressed it to the Lord’s fevered lips. Some others would have prevented this one act of human response, for they said: ‘Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.’ John affirms that Christ uttered the exclamation, ‘I thirst,’ only when He knew ‘that all things were now accomplished’; and the apostle saw in the incident a fulfillment of prophecy. (Jesus the Christ, p. 661.)

He realized that “it [was] finished” (John 19:30). He had endured to the end the suffering of Gethsemane, the mockery of the trial, the pain of the actual crucifixion. He had trodden the winepress alone, and this because of his undeviating devotion to the will of the Father, because he was sustained by a complete and eternal love for you and for all mankind, “who, without his mediation would have remained in the total gloom of desiring without hope throughout eternity.” (Hugh B. Brown in CR, Apr. 1962, p. 108.)

When he realized that his work as a mortal was finished, only then did he say, in humility, in reverence, with relief, and with a resignation born of his own will, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46.) Jesus Christ bowed his head and voluntarily passed from this life into the next.

“Jesus the Christ was dead. His life had not been taken from Him except as He had willed to permit. Sweet and welcome as would have been the relief of death in any of the earlier stages of His suffering from Gethsemane to the cross, He lived until all things were accomplished as had been appointed. In the latter days the voice of the Lord Jesus has been heard affirming the actuality of His suffering and death, and the eternal purpose thereby accomplished. Hear and heed His words: ‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.’ (D&C 18:11.)” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 662.)

Now that you have completed your study of the last recorded day of the life of the Savior, perhaps this thought has entered your mind: Why was he willing to go through all of that for me? To partially answer the question, read 1 Nephi 19:9. What does it really mean to know that Christ underwent all that he did because of his love for you? How can you, in turn, show your love for him?