This is a pretty sad point. I mean, it seems like the entire last week of Christ gets progressively more depressing. You start with the high of the triumphal entry, but then the rest of the week kind of goes downhill. There are good parts (Christ’s healing the blind at the temple, the Widow’s Mite, Mary washing Christ’s feet, and the Last Supper), but it feels like the events get heavier as we get closer to the point we’re at today: The Death of the Lamb of God.
Okay…in general, this concept is too huge to put into one blog post. As usual! But there are three things.
Watch this video…
I love the Bible Videos that the LDS Church has put out. They are really good. I feel like they aid in understanding the scriptures because they help to bring us to the event. Yet they are tastefully done. So, check it out.
I’m struck by Simon the Cyrenian. He was passing through and happened to be along the path where Christ was carrying His cross. Simon was compelled by the soldiers to carry the cross of the Savior.
I don’t know much about Simon. I’m not a Bible Scholar. I am just touched by this because I can only imagine bearing the cross of the Savior. Since He was only a passer-by, it seems like he wasn’t there to mock or judge the Savior. He just happened to be there at that time.
Can you imagine helping anyone bear their cross? Then…imagine if you found out that you helped to carry the cross of the Savior?
I have been baptized, and I have covenanted to be willing to “…bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;…” – Mosiah 18:9 For Simon, the Cyrenian, he helped to lighten the Savior’s burden.
Obviously, there isn’t much I can do to physically lift the load of the Savior, but I think that I can be like Simon when I help to lift other’s “crosses.” Elder Maxwell put it best:
“Part of discipleship should be to become high-yield, low-maintenance members of the Church,” – Neal A. Maxwell
I am struck by what I consider to be the most difficult part of Christ’s atonement: being Forsaken of God. Of course, I know that Gethsemane was difficult for Christ. He asked that His cup be taken away. This suffering made Him bleed at every pore. I know that He needed to go through it, so that we could repent and return to Heavenly Father.
Then, there was the mockery, the scourging, and the crucifixion itself. I can only imagine that it was horrible. He went through this for us, too. And somehow, the knowledge that the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on the Cross helps to comfort me when I suffer.
But, the hardest event seems like it was when God forsook Christ. All along, Christ had the help of Heavenly Beings and companionship with His Father. But, while He hung on the Cross at Calvary, He was left alone.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches:
“Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” 16
The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour … is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”? 17
With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.” – Jeffrey R. Holland
I’m grateful, also, that Christ submitted to this loneliness. I have felt it. As Elder Holland explains, we have all sinned. We have all felt the loss of the Spirit. And, as mortals, we are all separated from God. We can only be united with Him through Christ. The Savior had to be “forsaken” to understand our plight, and because He descended below all, He is able to ascend above all. Because He has experienced this – He can empathize with us perfectly, and He can save us.
And, as I write this, the other idea comes over my mind: He chose this.
Nephi explains Christ – and everything He did – so well:
“He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.” – 2 Nephi 26:24
Everything Christ did was for our benefit. It was for your benefit, my benefit. As depressing as things went for Him in the last week of His life, He did it for us, and we can rejoice.