And here I thought writing about Gethsemane was going to be hard. This week’s lesson is on the crucifixion, and I’m sure I will do it even less justice than I did the first part of the atonement. But I do have a testimony of Christ’s atonement, so I will share what I have learned and what stood out to me, and then just bear my simple testimony – since that is just about all I can do.
I pointed this out last week, but I think it is important enough to point out again. Jesus Christ’s life was not taken, and the sins of the world were not put upon him. He, of Himself, took upon himself the sins of the world, and He, of Himself, gave His life. At any time during the life of Christ He could have stopped what was happening. He could have ascended into Heaven. He had the power to stop the Jews from taking Him. He had the power to save Himself from the cross. And yet, He didn’t. He gave His life for us.
In the Garden, when Peter wanted to fight the men who came to take the Savior, Christ said to Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (here) Christ knew what had to be done, and He was willing. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” The Savior testified of His own power by reminding Peter that He could save Himself if He wanted to. Jesus didn’t need Peter to fight for His life – for He was willing to give it.
When the Savior asked the priests what they wanted of Him, He asked them why they never took Him when He had been teaching in the temples. He reminded them that “in secret have I said nothing.” Christ was not trying to be sneaky. He wanted the whole world, and all the Jews, to hear His message and accept Him as Christ. He had been very visible.
When the Savior was taken from the garden of Gethsemane, His disciples “forsook him, and fled” – all but Peter and John who stayed with Him as the priests took Him to trial. Later, Peter denied Christ three times, which Christ had prophesied would happen. Because I can’t say it any better the President Hinckley did, and because I completely agree with President Hinckley, I will just include this quote from him:
“My heart goes out to Peter. So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others.
“Then the pressures begin to build. Sometimes these are social pressures. Sometimes they are personal appetites. Sometimes they are false ambitions. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation. And then there is remorse, followed by self-accusation and bitter tears of regret. …
“… If there be those throughout the Church who by word or act have denied the faith, I pray that you may draw comfort and resolution from the example of Peter, who, though he had walked daily with Jesus, in an hour of extremity momentarily denied the Lord and also the testimony which he carried in his own heart. But he rose above this and became a mighty defender and a powerful advocate. So, too, there is a way for any person to turn about and add his or her strength and faith to the strength and faith of others in building the kingdom of God” (“And Peter Went Out and Wept Bitterly,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 2–4, 6).
Peter didn’t deny Christ and then run away. Peter denied Christ in a moment of extreme emotional and spiritual turmoil – for all of the disciples. But later, Peter repented and continued to defend Christ until his death. The key here is that he repented and so can we, because life is hard, and we won’t be perfect, even though we want to be. Which is why Christ atoned for us and was crucified for us – so that we can be perfect, because we can’t do it alone.
I discovered something interesting in the scriptures about Pilate. When Jesus was brought to Pilate, Pilate knew that the Jews “for envy they had delivered him.” (here) So Pilate knew that the Jews were just being ridiculous and that they didn’t really have anything to charge Jesus with. That was why Pilate suggested that the Jews release Barabbas. Because Barabbas was such a vile murderer, Pilate was sure the Jews would rather have Jesus back than Barabbas. But the Jews chose Barabbas.
I know that the Savior lived for us, that He died for us, and that He was resurrected – all so that we can live with Him and with our Father forever. I know that as we study His life and His teachings and His words that we will grow closer to Him and that we will be able to understand the atonement so that we can apply it in our lives.
I am forever grateful that the Lord laid down His life for us. That He gave up His life to save us.