Without Christ…we have no hope. We have nothing. Nowhere to turn and nowhere to go. No future. Nothing. This is not some cliche that we need to tell ourselves to make Christ seem important. It is truth…and no other person/god/angel or anything else on this earth has ever given us a solution to mankind’s greatest dilemma like Christ has.
He was brought into this life under the worst possible conditions. He was born in a cave among animals. He had kings and rulers hunting him before he could even walk. He had to move from place to place to escape certain death. Sometime in his youth, He learned by revelation that he was the chosen Messiah and that He would save His people from destruction. At about 30 years of age, He went on a mission.
His mission was much like yours and mine. It was to “liberate the captives.” But our mission would be impossible without Him first completing His mission. Very few, if any, of the people he lived among truly understood what He came to earth to do. The Jews expected a Savior to come and rescue them from their enemies. They didn’t realize that their greatest enemy was not the Romans or the Egyptians. It was sin. Sin is Satan’s most potent weapon. The Romans couldn’t keep the Jews out of the presence of the Father. These conquerers and all of the other temporal problems they dealt with in life were but distractions from the real enemy. It was only their own sins that had the power to defeat them.
During His mission, Jesus just flat out served others. He was relentless at seeking and finding the “one” in need. If his words weren’t evidence enough of his love for us, the marks in His hands and in His feet were. (1 Ne 21:15)
No one quite understood why He was instituting the sacrament and why He was asking his friends to remember Him. They had no idea why He said he was going away. Their cultural and religious definition of the Messiah didn’t allow the Messiah to just “go away” or die.
After instituting the sacrament, Jesus set out for the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives with Peter, James, and John. This garden must have had symbolic significance to Jesus. The olive trees were traditionally beaten with sticks to get the olives to fall from the branches. In Exodus, Israel was taught to “bring pure olive oil beaten for the light” to burn inside the temple.
The olives from the trees were then gathered and placed into an olive press. The word “Gethsemane” means “olive press.” The Garden of Gethsemane is the “garden of the olive press.” Once those olives were gathered into the olive press, extreme pressure is applied to the olives. The olives then yield their oil…and at first appearance is blood red as it runs dow the vat. This oil had been viewed as the primary source of light, and heat, and healing in Israel long before, during, and after the time of Christ.
It’s no mystery that Christ chose this garden to begin the excruciating process of atonement.
He knew that this would be a stressful and painful ordeal. But it’s apparent from what takes place in the garden of Gethsemane that He underestimated the weight of the sins of the world. The scriptures say that as Christ began the atoning process, He was “sore amazed.” (Mark 14:33)
If you look at the Greek in the footnotes for the phrase “sore amazed,” you’ll see that it means “awestruck, shocked, astonished, full of terror.” The Savior had never sinned before, and the weight of sin caught Him off guard. He was surprised by it. So surprised and overcome with pain that He asked if there was any other way to accomplish his mission. An angel appeared to strengthen Him and probably remind Him that there was no other way. This was the only way to satisfy the demands of justice. So Christ grit his teeth and bore down to endure all of it.
Elder Holland once remarked that “In that most burdensome moment of all human history, with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought—His Father. “Abba,” He cried, “Papa,” or from the lips of a younger child, “Daddy.” (The Hands of The Fathers, April 1999 General Conference)
Do you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when someone is hurting the one you love? Imagine you are Heavenly Father during this ordeal. You are watching your first born son who has committed no crime and done no wrong, suffer unimaginable pain. You are witnessing the most unfair event to ever take place in the history of our universe and you can do nothing about it. The thought of this prompted Elder Holland to once ask this question; “How far would a loving Father need to go in this universe in order to escape the cries of his innocent son.”
As Christ emerged from that garden, bloodied from the effects of our sins…He’s met by an old friend. Can you imagine one of your best friends betraying you for a little bit of money? Just the price of a slave for the Savior of the world?
Throughout that ensuing night, Jesus is dragged through six trials. He’s mocked and spit upon. No one can find any fault with him. Pilate finally scourges Him in the hopes that it will appease the Jewish mob.
Thirty-nine vicious blows from a leather whip laced with sharp objects was designed to rip chunks of flesh from the victims back. Most died from the scourging alone. The crowd whom Jesus was atoning for, relentlessly called for His crucifixion. Hypocrisy had never been so abused as they demanded the death of their Savior.
Jews had been preparing and sacrificing first born lambs for centuries as a propitiation for their sins. Now they stand and watch as the firstborn Lamb of God is slain for the sins of the world. Every lamb that died up to that time was to point their minds to the only Lamb worthy of providing reconciliation. If the gospel according to John is chronologically accurate, it would mean that Christ was being led to Golgotha and placed upon the cross at the exact time that firstborn lambs were being ceremoniously led down the mount of olives to the Pool of Bethesda to be washed and prepared for sacrifice.
As Romans placed Him upon the cross, they drove nails into His hands. Because the weight of His body would cause the nails to rip through the palms of His hands, they also placed nails in His wrists between two strong bones. His body was twisted with slack left in the legs to prolong death. One spike was then driven into His feet sideways.
The pain of crucifixion came through a long process of avoiding suffocation. It was required of the victim to shift his body weight from the lower body to the upper body as he hung there in order to take a breath. This process places a massive amount of stress on the heart and causes a prolonged rapid heartbeat. The result is Hypovolemic shock which causes fluid to gather in the area around the heart.
During this period of unimaginable pain, Jesus is asking His Father to forgive those that are doing this to Him. He’s providing comfort to a repentant criminal on a cross next to Him and looking down to ask His friend John to take care of His mother. Now, in Jesus’ final hour, Heavenly Father withdraws His spirit from his Son and for the first time in his life, He’s left utterly and completely alone. His heart is likely beginning to fail him and He’s thirsty, a side effect of pericardial effusion, a scientific name for a heart that is breaking under pressure.
If the victims of crucifixion are not dead, they’ll break their legs so that they can’t push themselves up to breath anymore which results in suffocation. The Romans broke the legs of the two criminals that accompanied Jesus so that they’d die. When they came to Jesus, they believed Him to be dead and stuck a spike in his side to be sure. Out from His side flowed blood and water, giving further scientific evidence that He died from a failed or broken heart.
He took the pressure of the world upon Him and His heart broke for us. Now…all He asks of us is a broken heart. He left it all on the battlefield for us and His sacrifice is what makes our victory possible.