The Meaning of the Atonement
And so they went from the part of the city where the poor people lived. (We think that's where it really was.) And they went across temple square out through the Golden Gate on the eastern side, down through the Brook Kidron and up on the top of the Mount of Olives.
Its dark now, and as He came in he told eight of His disciples to stay by the gate. he took Peter, James, and John and went back into the grove and He then had them watch. Then He went further up the hillside into the grove.
And apparently only John stayed awake. And John heard Him fall full-length on the ground. he didn't kneel down at a rock. It says he fell full-length on the ground. And he said, "Oh, Father, all things are possible unto Thee, take this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done.
Now what he's saying is, "Father, you are God! You're all-powerful. All things are possible unto thee; don't make me go through with this. You can, work this out some other way."
And that angel that came to minister unto Jesus undoubtedly explained to Him something he'd forgotten. He's forgotten His pre-existence, HE WAS BORN TO SUFFER AND DIE!
What the angel must have and undoubtedly said, though we don't have the message, (but I wouldn't be a bit surprised,) if it went something like this:
"Oh, Jehovah, thou Son of God, you do not have to do this unless you wish, but you should know that unless you fulfill this assignment, the Father will lose not only this family, this whole family, but the entire creation associated with them; the planets, the plants, the animals, everything that you laid your hands to create will be lost to the Father and go back to the chaos and outer darkness from which it came," because when the angel had finished ministering to Him, Jesus said, "Then Thy will be done."
And He sweat drops of blood. The channels of His life stream couldn't even contain the fluid of life and it spilled out into the sweat glands and poured out from His skin as it were great drops of blood.
The agony of that moment! Now you and I couldn't have endured that. We don't have any idea how terrible that was, but Jesus has given us some idea of what it was like in the 19th section of the Doctrine and Covenants in which it says, beginning with the 15th verse:
"Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—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;
But if they would not repeat they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer butte 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)
Now will. you accept it? Will you let me blot them out? I can. If you'll be obedient onto repentance the spirit will justify you and I will sanctify you; I've done it! I've done it! Don't waste it. Don't take the name of God in vain. I've done it for you. Come unto me.
Now after that, Judas came with the soldiers. Jesus heard them coming and came back. And here are the three apostles, now sound asleep. (We don't know what else happened, John didn't stay awake, but he was tired.)
And Judas came up to Him—it is nighttime now; they've got torches. They've seen Jesus in the temple square, but it's nighttime and they want to be sure and get the right one, because the others will all flee the minute they grab someone. And so Judas came up to Him and took Jesus in His arms and said, "Hail, Master."
And the Saviour looked down at him and said, "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"
Then the soldiers screamed, "Seize him, seize him."
And everybody fled. There was a little boy that had just arrived in trying to warn the Saviour—and he barely got up—we think it was little John Mark because Mark, he is the only one that mentions him. He's a little boy all wrapped up in a sheet. He apparently has come to warn the Saviour. Perhaps even saw the soldiers on the way. (that's an assumption on our part.) But anyway, all the disciples fled. And this little boy, he's standing there, he doesn't know what to do. They've got the Saviour—and he was too late I guess (the boy)—so they grabbed at him. And he just left the sheet in their hands and departed, without the sheet, into the nighttime. That's Mark, we think. That was little John Mark and we think he'd come to ward the Saviour.
Then the Saviour was taken up to the house of Annas, then Caiaphas. And all of you remember the terrible night that he spent. You remember three denials by Peter. Peter was petrified. He'd never forgive himself for these three denials.
The next morning there was an illegal trial before the Sanhedrin. They can't kill Jesus without the consent of Pilate. So they take Him to the Antonium, named after Mark Anthony. This is the very big fortress right next to Temple Square. It's part of the temple square, and right in the open square, they brought in Jesus and turned HIm over to Pilate. And he tried to create sympathy in their hearts by flogging Him and putting crowns of thorns on His head. Blood was running down His face and His robe was just saturated with blood. And he brings Him out and then he said, "Behold Him. Behold the man." And they screamed, "Crucify Him," that’s not enough, "crucify Him."
"Bring me water. See to it. I wash my hands of this judgment."
And so they took Him with the cross, carried it as long as His broken body could endure the pain of it. Finally they took Him up to the top of the place of the Skull. and there they nailed the nails; first into His hands, then into His wrists, then into His feet and then they swung the cross into position. Two thieves crucified on either side. The earth trembled and the sky grew black, with the ground trembling occasionally, clear up until three o'clock. Over in America the whole continent was in turmoil, as were the islands of the sea.
Toward the end he cried out, "I thirst." And in the sponge they put up vinegar because that was supposed to alleviate the pain a little bit.
He looked down in His agony and He said, "John, behold thy mother. Mother behold thy son." (Apparently Joseph had passed away.) He's just saying, "John, take care of thy mother Mary."
And then they torment Him, they pestered Him, they accused Him of – "Why don't you come down?" – "Why don't you heal yourself?" All of this was written in the 22nd Psalm. All of it was seen by David. He knew the very words Jesus would say.
And then almost when the agony was beyond bearing, and it was getting toward dusk when they would have to start breaking their legs so they would die faster. Suddenly Jesus looked up and said, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
The spirit of the Father had withdrawn from this man, he was absolutely alone hanging on that cross, but just for a moment. Then the spirit of God surged back into him to say, that in effect, "My son I'm here. You did it."
He lifted up His face and said, "It is finished. Fathers into thy hands I commend my spirit."
And He departed. At that moment, JESUS BECAME THE CHRIST. And he had done what was necessary to overcome the demands of Justice so we could go back! He did it! And by the power of that great force that was in Him, He now, in three days and nights would have that body lifted, resurrected, purified, and glorified. And it's such a thrilling thing to contemplate Mary Magdalene coming, leaning against the wall of the—we think we found the Tomb. We're not sure, but it fits everything. It's right at the bottom of a hill described by the Saviour. It's the only tomb—and she leaned against it. She knows that somebody has stolen the body And she looks. Maybe it's the gardener and then when she saw that person standing there as she looked through her tears, she said "Laboni (Master), if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will bear Him away." away."
The person said, "Mary." She looked up and said, "Master." He said, "Touch me not, for I've not yet ascended to my Father who is in heaven, but go and tell the brethren I ascend unto my God and their God." And he was gone.
That's the Easter story. And our Heavenly Father suffered so much that night in Gethsemane, when that Son of His lay on the leaves underneath the olive trees and said, "O, Father, if it be possible, take this cup from me," our Heavenly Father was suffering so much at that moment He wanted at least one of His children here on the earth to know what that was like, that night for Him. And so he said to our great ancestor, Abraham, "I want you to take your best beloved son up to the top of Mount Moriah and I want you to offer him unto me as a sacrifice.
Why? All my life I have taught against human sacrifice. My son in whom ye promised to raise up a seed, mighty like unto the sand of the seashore. My only son and heir? I kill him? And burn him?
And without telling Sarah, he took this young man, probably in his early teens, up to the top of Mount Moriah.
And he said to his son, "My child, 1 wouldn't have had you without a special blessing from God to your mother, and he having sent you to me, now asks that I send you back. Not by disease, or war, or old age, but as a Sacrament unto Him, at the hand or your own father. I now send you to him."
He raised the knife—oh, the anguish of that father! And in Jacob 4:5 of the Book of Mormon it says that was done to symbolize the feelings of the Father and the Son. That was specifically done so that at least one human father would know what the pain and anguish was like that night in Gethsemane as Jesus said, "Oh, Father, all things are possible unto thee, take this cup from me."