We now turn to the Garden of Gethsemane to have an in-depth study about the Savior’s Atonement. The garden is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives and contains olive trees. Gethsemane literally means oil press.1 There is symbolism in the location of the garden in relation to the temple in Jerusalem. The law of Moses stated that a burnt offering needed to be one of “a male without blemish...[offered] at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Leviticus 1:3), which was located east. The Garden of Gethsemane was also east of the temple in Jerusalem.
Have you ever stopped to ponder Luke 22:44?
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.
I’ve never been able to fully comprehend how the Savior’s suffering and agony caused Him to bleed from every pore. Apparently, there is a medical term for this! It is referred to as hematidrosis. WebMD describes the process of hematidrosis as taking place as a result of capillaries breaking just under the surface of the skin which leads to that blood being exuded from nearby sweat glands.2 WebMD states that the condition can happen due to “extreme distress or fear, such as facing death, torture, or severe ongoing abuse.”2 The extreme pressure of the Atonement as the Savior took on all of our sins, sorrow, and guilt led to physical, mental, and spiritual agony which resulted in hematidrosis.
Have you ever stopped to think about what the Savior experienced during those moments in the Garden of Gethsemane? Here is a scripture and a quote from a book that will hopefully help you realize the magnitude of the Atonement.
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.
Tad R. Callister (The Infinite Atonement, 2000, p.105)
What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals? Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call—just some recognition from the outside world. Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence. Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home. Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion. Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged. Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end. Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior’s load. Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this? No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all.
The song I have chosen for us to relate today’s topic to is “Wondering” by Aaron Edson. I first heard this song last summer after my husband referenced it while he was talking to our congregation about the Atonement. Every time I hear it now, it always makes me reflect on the great sacrifice our Savior made for each of us. I invite you to listen to the song here and read the lyrics here. Take a moment to listen to the song before we continue our discussion.
Talk about a powerful and insightful song! I cannot get over the part where Aaron Edson sings “Which drop of blood do I make him shed? Did I put the thorns onto his head?” Have you ever thought about that specifically? When you sin or while you are repenting of your sins, do you ever have that thought? Does that bring new meaning to you about Christ’s Atonement? I love how Aaron begins his song because it is true, as little kids we thought we had things figured out. We had a plan, we were going to be the best that we could be. But as we grew up, peer pressure set in, temptations arose, and we made mistakes. We sinned. We still sin. When you kneel down to repent of your sins, do you find yourself wondering if God and Jesus Christ still love you even with all of your imperfections? If your answer is no, listen to the song again! The correct answer is an affirmative YES! We discussed this last blog post. Christ loves you so much that He chose to die for you. He chose to take on your sins and afflictions, sweat great drops of blood, and die on the cross for you so that you could be forgiven and be made whole.
If you are still not convinced about Christ’s love for you, read the following scripture.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
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.
Christ suffered so that YOU would not suffer! All He asks of you is that you sincerely repent of your sins. He will make you clean again. Stop wondering whether or not He loves you. Pray right now. Ask Him to forgive you. Wait for His love to envelop you! It will truly change you. Like Aaron says, “let these words get past your brain…open your heart and let it feel…I’ve never felt this love before and I’m not wondering anymore.”
Gethsemane. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gethsemane
Hematidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2018 from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hematidrosis-hematohidrosis#1
Callister, T.R. (2000). The Infinite Atonement. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book.
The Atonement Series:
Jesus Christ: A Man of Sorrows