Of all the questions we ponder concerning Gethsemane, why the Savior suffered there is perhaps that which has most baffled scholars and saints. The Gospel writers tell us what happened at that crucial site, but they do not clearly address the question of why. In an effort to answer the question, some suggest that Christ suffered because He recognized the ingratitude of men who would not accept the Atonement He would make for them on the cross, or because He loved us and yet knew what we would commit or face in the future, such as sins, betrayals, denials, and persecutions. others offer that perhaps Jesus Christ suffered because He realized He had to yield up His divine nature and become obedient unto death, thereby becoming the “suffering servant” or be required to give up all the good that could fill His life. Some recommend that we understand Christ’s suffering in an eschatological context and view that which Jesus Christ endured and prayed to avert as the suffering and struggle that are to precede the coming forth of the kingdom. Still others suggest that His suffering simply came from His desire to find another way to be the Messiah rather than the way the Father had planned. Commonly, [some] conclude that Christ’s pain and suffering came because of fear of what He knew was ahead of Him, even His impending death on the cross and the suffering and humiliation He would endure antecedent to it. . . .

Jesus Praying Gethsemane MormonLatter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that it was not simply the fear of future death, betrayal, denial, or struggle that caused the Savior to question if he “might not drink the bitter cup and shrink” but rather something immediate and of far greater significance (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18). As the Savior revealed through Joseph Smith, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer even as I; 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 I would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19).

King Benjamin, [a prophet in ancient America], taught his people the same truth: “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” (Mosiah 3:7). The resurrected Savior bore similar witness to the descendants of Lehi gathered at the temple in Bountiful: “I am the light and the life of th world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things form the beginning” (3 Nephi 11:11). Jacob added his testimony of this truth: “He cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of evey living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). . . .

Thus, we understand that the primary cause of the Savior’s suffering was for us, as He took upon Himself all the pain, all the suffering, and all the weight, fear, and anguish of our sins and thereby worked the great and infinite Atonement. While much of His anguish would come through the humiliation, torture, and crucifixion He would endure subsequent to His betrayal and arrest, we further understand that most of His atoning suffering occurred in Gethsemane.


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