Mosiah 3:7-8, thoughts on the Atonement, LeGrand Baker
A friend asked me if the Atonement happened in the Garden or on the cross. This is my response.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I don’t know the answer, but I know what I believe:
The scriptures that say Christ bled from every pore all reference the Garden.
“Great drops of blood” sounds like he lost a lot of blood. The shock to his system and loss of blood would have been enough to kill you and I.
Then the Romans whipped him. Jewish law limited that to 40 stripes, Roman law did not. After the sharp iron barbs in the whip had ripped all the muscle from his back and ribs, those barbs would dig into the lungs. Such a whipping was a death sentence. The soldiers were amazed that he did not die and returned him to Pilot.
In addition to the physical pain and the pain in the Garden, he also felt the sorrow of being rejected by people he tried to save.
He then experienced the death on the cross as is so vividly described in Psalm 22.
In my view, all of that together was one dreadful experience, and was much more intense than we can possibly imagine. It took place on this little earth but in its magnitude it reached out to encompass the whole universe in the whole duration of linear time. I am always a bit bothered when I hear someone in church try to describe his physical pain on the cross. They try to describe the pain suffered by Jehovah/Jesus, the Great God of Heaven, by comparing it to the pain suffered by hundreds of ordinary people who were killed on similar crosses. I am sure they have no idea what they are talking about.
While his Eternal Self stayed within that wasted body and willed it to not die, his soul took upon himself all of the sins, sorrows, sickness, pain, inequities, and contridictions —-not just for this world, but for God’s children throughout the whole universe—-not just in this physical time but throughout the entirity of our existence.
The Atonement it much bigger than we tend to think. In his poem, A Vision, the Prophet Joseph wrote:
And I heard a great voice bearing record from heav’n,
He’s the Saviour and only begotten of God;
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that careen in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons
By the very same truths and the very same powers (Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843).
The Atonement is infinite and eternal in its sweep, and I don’t like the notion of reducing the magnitude of the event to just the Garden or just the cross, and certainly not just to the physical pain he suffered.