Monday, September 26, 2011

Stay Awake - The Battle For Our Souls - Part 3

(Please read The Battle For Our Souls Parts 1 & 2 before reading this. I must say that although I do not expect anyone to read every word here, this sure has helped my personal scripture study!)

As the Savior prepared to enter the Garden of Gethsemane, he took three of his disciples with Him. He did not want to go alone. He said to them, "...My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me," (Matt 26:38) in other words, He asked them to stay with Him because He didn't want to be alone, His pain was too great. In the foot note of this verse it says that "watch with me" means, "stay awake". He didn't just ask them to sit there and wait He actually wanted them to stay awake and be aware of what He was about to do. He truly needed companionship that night.

We all know the story. The disciples didn't stay awake. Twice during His ordeal, He left the garden, most likely needing a rest from the incomprehensible pain, to find his friends asleep. He said, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" (Matt: 26:40)

It is recorded that in the Garden, an angel was sent to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, needed a friend, someone to be by His side to help Him through Gethsemane.

"Later, in Gethsemane, the suffering Jesus began to be 'sore amazed' (Mark 14:33), or, in the Greek, 'awestruck' and 'astonished'. Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, 'astonished'! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fullness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! (See Luke 22:43.)" Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, May 1985 "Willing To Submit"


"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...when He cries in ultimate loneliness, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

"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'?

"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...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." Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May 2009 "None Were With Him"

As I think of those eternally significant moments when the Savior was enduring pain for which there is no adequate adjective to describe, when His friends couldn't stay awake and betrayed or denied Him, when He felt that even His father had left Him alone, I can't help but think of His words, "Love one another", "Judge not", "Feed my sheep", "...forgive all men", and feel that, yes, these are commandments, but I sense a pleading from Him in these words. An understanding of how lonely life can be and how wonderful it would have been to feel supported by His friends.

Somehow, in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He was enduring our "pains and afflictions and temptations of EVERY kind" (Alma 7:11), it is as if for a few moments He was each one of us, thoroughly comprehending us and seeing life through our eyes. How else was He able to say of those who beat Him, "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Can the same be said of us? I am guessing we don't always know how much we can hurt others or that those who hurt us don't always intend to do so. I'm also guessing that we truly do not understand how much we need each other and the power our influence can have - for good or bad."This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." (John 15:12-14)

 To whomever may read this, now or in the future, I testify that Jesus Christ is our dearest, truest, most loyal friend. It is my belief that in the Garden, He personally went to your darkest, loneliest, scariest places and found A WAY OUT. Whatever trial you may be enduring, no matter the reason for that trial, when the Savior says "Come follow me" one interpretation may be, "I know the way out. I traveled this path before you and found the way out of this. Take my hand and never let go. I will get you out of here." "Broken Things To Mend" What's even more impressive, and what is important for us to remember, is that He says this to each one of us, those whom you feel deserve this love and those whom you feel don't deserve this love.

"...he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." (Luke 4:18)

I have been brokenhearted, I have felt captive, I have been blind and I have felt bruised - and not just once and I'm sure it will happen again...and again. Each of us out on that battle field have felt this way and will feel this way again. We're all in this together. He knows the loneliness that comes when our friends "fall asleep" and so He just asks that we "stay awake" and never leave a soldier behind.

There is more to come...

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