President Brigham Young asked the human family this question:
“Can all the wisdom of the world devise means by which we can be redeemed, and return to the presence of our Father and Elder Brother, and dwell with holy angels and celestial beings? No, it is beyond the power and wisdom of the inhabitants of the earth … to prepare or create a sacrifice that will pay this divine debt. But God provided it, and his Son has paid it” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 59).
In order to answer this weighty question, I would like to discuss how much our Savior really went through. We need to comprehend how much our Lord, Jesus Christ, went through spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The Suffering in the Garden
Christ took 11 of His Apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane. All 11 felt inexpressible depression as they crossed the Kedron Valley and entered into the garden.
Then the Lord took Peter, James, and John, the leading Brethren, farther into the garden and began to be enveloped by deep sorrow. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
He went farther, a stone’s cast distance, and fell on His face and prayed: “Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).
He faced that hour alone. No human eyes witnessed, except through the twilight and shadow, the depth of His suffering. It was uncomprehended by the finite mind.
Elder James E. Talmage writes: “He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from ever pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing” (Jesus the Christ, 613).
His suffering was beyond our imagination. His grief was beyond our comprehension. His pain was beyond utterance. His struggle was beyond endurance. He felt a horror of great darkness.
His endurance of this exquisite pain caused a medical condition know as hemohydrosis or haematirosis, which is exceedingly rare. This bloody sweat was caused because he was taking on all of the sins of the whole human family, both on this side and on the other side of the veil. He faced a state of loneliness, agony, disappointment, denial, desertion, extreme mental and physical, even emotional stress, which caused him fear on fear.
Our earth was chosen to be the place where the Savior was to be born. The Lord Himself came to this special small planet earth to redeem the whole universe. And “worlds without number have I created” (Moses 1:33). Jesus took all the sins of all the children of our Father in Heaven upon Himself. That is why it was beyond our imagination and understanding.
Can We Imagine?
Can you see His face upon the ground? Can you hear his voice wailing? Can you see His fingernails scratching the bark of the olive tree because it is so painful? Can you hear His murmurous and broken agonizing voice? His utterance of atoning cries pierces our souls. Do we feel His deep everlasting atoning love that He has for us? Are we ever grateful for His redeeming blood? Do we express our deep humility of reverence to His redeeming love? Do we show our humble adoration for His mercy? Are our souls penetrated by His eternal grace?
For almost four hours, He went through the agonized failings of His heart. His fearful amazement and also horror of darkness brought Him almost down to the grave.
I myself cannot even scarcely talk about His painful suffering and offering without shame and sorrow. So I cannot speak lightly of the price He paid for us. To discuss His Crucifixion is so deep and profound. I am confused at His mercy. It is so sacred. It is so meaningful. This is such a solemn matter that it requires a sublime and holy spirit to feel His redemptive act for each one of us.
Eighteen centuries later, the Savior, in describing His agony to the Prophet Joseph, remembered the pain as though it had been experienced yesterday:
“How sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent. …
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:15–19).
A Ransom for Each of Us
His atoning blood ransoms us whole. His blood and His eternal offering at the sacred altar in the garden and on the cross purifies and sanctifies our souls. His pure love now ransoms all.
His compassionate act will purify us under only one condition. That is we must love Him. We must serve Him. We must offer our absolute commitment to Him. We must follow Him obediently with all of our might, mind, and strength.
His redeeming power will have an effect upon us when we partake of His sacred emblems—the foundation of the living waters. Let us partake of the sacrament of everlasting love from Him daily (see 1 Nephi 11:25) Let us sing the “song of redeeming love” before the Lord everyday (see Alma 26:13).
Imagine, in the center of the universe, our loving and kind Heavenly Father must have wiped His holy tears. Imagine the great gratitude of the Father for His Son’s willingness to give Himself for all of the Father’s children. The Father could have sent multitudes of the hosts of heaven to rescue His Son from that awful situation. But our Father must have closed His eyes in those final moments in order that you and I and other sons and daughters could have hope.
Betrayed and Judged
Judas betrayed Him. The chief priests could not find any fault from the Lord; however, the whole council falsely witnessed against Him to put Him to death. The Lord kept His peace. They spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands.
Pilate, after extensive questions to our Lord, said, “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4). And when Pilate found that He was from Galilee, he sent the Lord to Herod.
There also the chief priests vehemently accused the Lord. In this trial, Herod with his men mocked and arrayed the Lord in a gorgeous robe. He sent the Lord back to Pilate.
Again Pilate could not find sound reasons to keep the Lord, but the people cried more loudly, “Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22). The soldiers treated Him roughly. Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution. The usual instrument was a short or long whip composed of several single or braided leather thongs in which small diamond-shaped pieces of iron, or shattered sheep bone, were tied at intervals.
For scourging, the Savior was stripped of his upper clothing. It is presumed his hands were tied to an upright post and the back, buttocks, and legs were flogged. Usually the whipping was performed by two soldiers, or one alternating positions. This scourging was so severe that sometimes the victim came to a stage of collapse or death.
According to the Jewish law, lashes were limited to 39–40, but we do not know how many our Lord had. Remember He not only endured scourging by leather thongs but had a crown of thorns on His head. A wooden staff as a scepter was placed in his right hand. The soldiers spat on our Lord and Savior and struck Him on the head with the wooden staff.
The head is covered by many subtle, small blood tissues and a nervous system. Wearing that thorny crown with plaited thorns would cause blood to stream down from those tissues all over the face. Not only that though, the head would feel as though the brain were caught by a burning fire. It is so unbelievable the pain that would go through the entire head.
Offered as a Sacrifice
On this sacred altar, our Heavenly Father offered His beloved Son and His eternal offering. By His holy grace and through His redeeming blood and atoning blood—which is His sacrifice to all of us—we may return to His presence once again.
The Lord said: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).
I humbly bow my head and reverently and meekly search my soul to feel His redeeming love every moment. His sweat that He shed in the agony of His pain on the cross on Calvary was for me. There are no words to express my love to Him. He has suffered death for you and me. I want to print in my soul His Holy face and words of love and record permanently in my ears His eternal whisperings of the words “redeeming love.” Then I wish I shall never forget them as long as I live.
These were hours of horror, yet the Lord expressed His infinite love towards those that treated Him in such cruel ways. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Will We Understand?
Oh, will we ever understand why and how He did it for us?
Glory to God. His eternal voice comes back to my ears thousands of times until I really understand His sacred at-one-ment: to become one with Him. By His grace and mercy, we receive the honor to become one with the Father through the sacred Mediator. His holy redeeming act allowed us to be with the Holy Father once again. His Atonement brought to the universe the new birth; it is called holy Resurrection.
Heavenly Father loves us so much. He wanted all of us together to be glorified before His presence. Because of His love, Heavenly Father offered His Eternal and Infinite Love, who is His Only Begotten Son. Why? Because Father loves us, His children, so much.
Joseph Smith testified: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the apostles and prophets, concerning Jesus Christ that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (History of the Church, 3:30).
I feel Joseph’s feeling as he listened to John Taylor sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” in Carthage jail:
(Hymns, no. 29)
I reverently want to say to the Lord and offer my small token of my love to Him. The Lord knows my flesh is weak, but my soul and my spirit cry, “I will and I will.”
To discuss His Crucifixion is so deep and profound. It is so sacred. It is so meaningful. This is such a solemn matter that it requires a sublime and holy spirit to feel His redemptive act for each one of us.
He faced that hour alone. No human eyes witnessed, except through the twilight and shadow, the depth of His suffering.
Imagine, in the center of the universe, our loving and kind Heavenly Father must have wiped His holy tears. Imagine the great gratitude of the Father for His Son’s willingness to give Himself for all of the Father’s children.
His compassionate act will purify us under only one condition. We must follow Him obediently with all of our might, mind, and strength.
His Atonement brought to the universe the new birth: it is called holy Resurrection.
Painting by Harry Anderson
Courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art
Painting by Del Parson