Scheduled for study June 10-16, 2019. There were only three mortals to witness Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, and they slept through most of it. This week we discuss Christ’s atoning sacrifice and how we can make it personal in our lives.

Day 1

Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 18 – Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially promptings to make changes in your life.

Isn’t that just the way it is? Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane paying the eternal price for all the sins of mankind, and his most trusted servants in the gospel are sound asleep a stone’s throw away. He is shouldering all the pain, sorrow, anguish, and guilt that come with all the horrors of the entirety of mortal creation, and there is no one to even hold his hand and say they are there for him. He was completely on his own.

Three times he plead with his Father to have this experienced stopped if there was any way for it to end, but each time he submitted himself to continue the painful ordeal because it was his Father’s will, and he loved his Father above all. The first time he asked to have the experience taken from him altogether, the second and third times his plea was a little different as found in Matthew 26:42.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

In this verse he recognizes that this is something he must go through, and sees that his suffering will not end until he has suffered sufficiently to pay the fullest extent necessary. Yet even with this recognition he prays one more time and acknowledges to the Father that he will submit to His will as long as is required of him. At this point he apparently no longer is asking if there is a way to escape the excruciating suffering. Now he is reconciled to what he has to endure, but feels the need to let his Father know that he will continue to submit no matter how bad it gets. God even sends an angel to strengthen Jesus in his suffering to help him through it.

I think it is important to recognize that sending an angel to help the Savior complete his mission did not in any way infringe on the Savior’s agency. Nor did sending an angel to help him lessen the Savior’s burden. What it did was give him encouragement to continue to the end of his ordeal. This means it was so bad that even Jesus, himself, was beginning to wonder if he could do what was required, if he had the strength to continue as long as was needed. We don’t know how long he suffered, nor how intensely. What we do know is that the first interval of suffering lasted at least an hour, as his comment to his apostles showed when he chided them for not being able to even watch with him for an hour without sleeping.

I find it interesting that the second time Jesus comes back to the apostles they are still asleep. This time he doesn’t say anything, but returns to continue his trial. The third time he returns his ordeal is over, and his only comment is one of compassion (Matthew 26:45).

45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Jesus had just experienced every pain of hell, and more intently than any child of God could personally experience it. His suffering caused him such torment that he literally bled from every pore of his body. The scriptures teach us that he willingly went through this experience so he could better understand how to help each of us through our personal sufferings in mortality. Now that he had the seen the full gamut of human suffering, and had experienced all of it for himself, how could he chide his sleeping friends who were so innocent of what they had just missed a stone’s throw away from them?

What had just happened to Jesus was only the first part of what was required of him. As one who was required to set the perfect example of submitting to God in all things, he had only just completed experiencing everyone’s private hell. Now he had to submit to the public, physical shame and torment, the complete rejection by all he held dear. He had to go through to the bitter end and do it by himself. His example to us all is that he was willing to submit himself, all of himself, holding nothing back. He demonstrated to us that there was nothing required of him by God he was not willing to give freely and without complaint. His life wasn’t just an example for us, his life was a perfect example for us. None of us could have given as much or as well as he did.

Day 2

Matthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–39 – The sacrament is an opportunity to remember the Savior.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially promptings to make changes in your life.

This is a difficult topic. Our goal is to make the Savior’s sacrifice for us very personal. But we were not there. We saw none of it. We have only words to read about it, or do we? When we think of the relationships we build with each other, it is the interaction we have with each other that teaches us a sense of appreciation for the kindnesses shown us. For example, when we were sick, who made us something to sooth our aching throat or who cleaned up after us when we got sick and made a mess? Who was it who tucked us into bed and spoke gentle words of encouragement that we would soon be well again? These gentle, kind interactions with another person is what helps us think fondly and feel grateful towards them.

When it comes to how we view the Savior and the taking of the sacrament, how do we make this personal? To do this the Lord has given us the gift of the Holy Ghost. Just as we pray for a testimony of the Book of Mormon or the law of tithing, or any other principle of the gospel, we can also pray for a testimony of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. In the same way that as we pay our tithing, study the law, and do all we can to live it with a good attitude, as we study the sacrifice of Jesus in the garden and on the cross, and do all we can to understand the scope of that infinite sacrifice, the Holy Ghost can enter our heart and open the eyes of our spiritual understanding.

All spiritual truths must be revealed to us in order for us to comprehend them. It is no different with the atoning sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We can read about it until we are blue in the face, but until the Spirit teaches us that his sacrifice was very personal in nature, we will never truly feel connected to what he did for us.

As you participate in the sacrament each week, how often do you consider the completeness with which he gave of himself to complete his assigned task? Think about what he went through in the garden then the physical torture that followed his emotional and spiritual suffering that caused even someone as great as God to bleed from every pore because of the pain. At any time in this whole process did he withhold anything of himself? At any time did he say, ‘I will go this far, but no farther’, or at any time in his ordeal did he refuse to suffer any more for someone like us who clearly deserved to be experiencing this suffering ourselves? That is what makes Christ’s sacrifice so great. None of it was “fair.” None of it was deserved in any way. None of what he went through was “just.” He was the most humble, kind, obedient and loving of all God’s children. He deserved only admiration and praise for his obedience and Godly love of others. Yet he shouldered our pain, our suffering, and our punishments for all the mean, nasty, cruel, and crimes we each commit in mortality. He held back nothing, but gave all of himself in order to save each of us, none of whom deserved his sacrifice and love. Yet he gave it anyway.

I recommend that we periodically take inventory of the reasons why the Savior’s suffering was undeserved, and why it is all so deserving for each of us. Ask the Spirit to help you see and comprehend how much he loves each of his brothers and sisters that would allow him to suffer on our behalf without complaint, and without any bitterness on his part. We need to ask the Spirit to help us comprehend what it means to have love that is this pure and undefiled. If we will do this our Sunday experience with the sacrament will become more deeply personal.

Day 3

Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46 – The Savior suffered for me in Gethsemane.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially promptings to make changes in your life.

The gist of this lesson was actually covered in yesterday’s thoughts about the sacrament. Our attitude about the sacrament is not a Sunday-only thing. Our attitude about the Savior’s suffering for us is something that should be guiding everything we do each and every day of our lives.

The principle behind why he did what he did, and why we need to think about him and what he has done for us each and every day lies in goal of the atonement as an act. Coming to earth and accepting all that comes with mortality cuts us off from the presence of the Father. Because we sin here in mortality we will never be allowed back into his presence, for no unclean thing can enter into His presence and dwell with Him. Through the Fall of Adam and Eve we all entered into a state of separateness from God. Without someone who could atone for our disobedient and stubborn natures, someone who could act as a mediator between God and humanity, we would end up as devils, angels to Satan in the eternities.

The purpose of Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, his dying on the cross, and his resurrection, was to repair the damage caused by our behavior and give us a way back to our heavenly home. When the scriptures say that there is no other name under heaven by which salvation can come, that is a literal and completely true statement. Only in and through the work of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ can we make the changes needed in order to someday return to live with our Heavenly parents and find everlasting joy with our families.

As incomprehensible as his sacrifice was, we need to do all we can to not only remember that he did it, but that he did it for each person individually. We need to learn to appreciate that it is he who provides us with the only mercy anyone can show us when it comes to being forgiven for our transgressions in this life. There is no one who has gone further than his love and suffering has gone. There is no depth to which we can descend in our disobedience that his sacrifice cannot redeem.

And how is this redemption possible? What suffering and sacrificing is required of us in order to take advantage of the payment Christ has made for us? All we need to do is to acknowledge that he is the path back home, and to step on that path and begin that journey back to our Father in Heaven, all we need to do is confess our guilt and seek Christ’s forgiveness. Why? because it was our sins that caused him to suffer so much in Gethsemane and on the cross. Our Father in Heaven cannot personally offer us mercy and forgiveness. He must uphold the laws he has created. Mercy has to be offered by someone other than the actual law giver.

Jesus is our mediator with the great law giver. He has stepped in and paid the eternal price for our sins that we were not capable of paying ourselves. He has given us the commandments he received from our Father in Heaven. When we are willing to abide by those commandments, and seek the Holy Spirit for guidance, and live by God’s word then Jesus forgives us and redeems us, making us holy and pure. His sacrifice for us has earned him the right to be our judge. Only he can decide if we are forgiven for something, and he alone decides on how we will be rewarded for our obedience and repentance.

So what is the big deal about what happened in those few hours in Gethsemane? Christ’s time in Gethsemane fulfilled the point and goal of the whole plan of salvation as outlined and presented to us in the premortal realm by our Father in Heaven. It was the whole reason Jesus came to earth. It was the fulfillment of his calling to be our Redeemer. And each and every one of us can truthfully say, “He did it all for me.”

Day 4

Mark 14:27–31, 66–72; Luke 22:31–32 – Conversion is an ongoing process.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially promptings to make changes in your life.

Mark 14:30–31 tells us about one of Jesus’s final prophecies. We are all familiar with it. What I want to point out is the last sentence of verse 31.

30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.

It wasn’t just Peter who felt himself above reproach when he claimed he would go to his death before being ashamed of Christ. All of the Apostles claimed the same thing. But Jesus had already told them all that they would all be ashamed of him that night. It was only on Peter’s insistence that he would never be parted from Jesus that Jesus told him that he would personally deny him three times that very night. What does this teach us?

These verses teach us that it is not enough to have a testimony. Knowledge in and of itself doesn’t save us. Mortality isn’t about how much we know. It isn’t only smart people who make it to heaven. Mortality is all about what we become, not what we know or what we do. This is why Jesus told Peter that when he became converted he was to strengthen his brethren.

Conversion is all about our change in perspective, change in loyalty, and change in commitment to Christ’s teachings. Knowledge alone can only take us so far. We may believe our knowledge is secure enough to see us through any trial or extremity, but any mental surety can be broken by enough pain, doubt, intimidation, or shame. It isn’t until we become converted that we become steadfast and immovable.

To become converted is to have enough experience with something that we now understand why it is necessary. We come to know for ourselves why a principle is true, why a law is just, or what a virtue is. Conversion must come from personal experience, while testimony can often be obtained through just intellectual means. I may know by the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is God’s living word, but I won’t be converted to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon until I have lived by its teachings and studied its pages. My life becomes the living proof of the verity or truthfulness of that book. Only then can I be trusted with my witness of the book. I can now be trusted because I have demonstrated in my own life that its teachings do indeed change a person’s life. That is more than intellectual knowledge, that is knowledge born of personal experience.

Peter did not yet have the gift of the Holy Ghost when Jesus said this to him. So the Savior’s admonition to strengthen his brethren when he became converted wouldn’t be understood by Peter until after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost revealed himself to the Apostles. It was then that all their experiences with Jesus, when Jesus was among them, began to make more sense. Conversion has to come the same way testimony comes, through the Spirit. Testimony is a change of mind. Conversion is a change of heart.

In the gospel we may start with testimony, but the end goal is conversion.

Day 5

Matthew 26:17–30; Mark 14:12–26; Luke 22:7–39 – What is your family’s experience like during the sacrament each week?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially promptings to make changes in your life.

The sacrament is something we need to grow into. With small children we may point out the Deacons who pass the bread and water to us each week. We can talk to them about the Teachers who prepare and take down the sacrament as their priesthood duty. We can also talk about the Priests who bless the sacrament. Speaking reverently about the duties being performed by the young priesthood holders can help develop an appreciation for what they do and a sense of the importance of the ordinance in which they officiate each Sunday.

As children get older we can begin to talk about how the bread and water represent the body and blood of Christ. It is important to help them understand that the emblems we eat only represent his body and blood, they aren’t really his body and blood. What do these emblems represent? I believe they demonstrate for us the completeness of the sacrifice made by Jesus when in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He gave all of himself to save us and provide a way for us to return home to our Father in Heaven. The body and the blood represents all of himself. He withheld nothing from us. He was willing to offer for us the greatest sacrifice that could not be made or equalled by anyone else. His soul became the ultimate offering on the altar of faith, and it was all done out of love for God and love for each of us.

Adults are more ready to try to make Christ’s offering personal in nature. Each of us can be forgiven of our sins and transgressions when we stop what we are doing that goes against his commandments and we ask for his forgiveness. When we learn to live our lives in harmony with his commandments he is able to bless us with joy and happiness, forgiveness and peace of conscience. When we learn to treat his sacrifice on our behalf as a personal kindness to us, our hearts begin to fill with gratitude, and we begin to want to share his goodness with others and do the things we learn he did. We start to become like him.

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Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 24