After participating in the Last Supper with His apostles, Jesus Christ walked with them to a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Luke tells us that this was a place where He had often gone before (Luke 22:39). Leaving eight of the apostles behind, He took Peter, James, and John a little further. He told them that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death,” and asked them to wait for Him (Mark 14:34). Walking a little further—”about a stone’s cast” (Luke 22:41)—He knelt and pleaded with His Father to “let this cup pass” from Him, or in other words, not to make Him endure the suffering He knew was coming. But the defining characteristic of His life had been His commitment to do His Father’s will, and at this crucial moment, He reaffirmed that commitment with these words: “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
The suffering He endured at that moment is unfathomable. An angel appeared to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). But no one else could do this, and nothing could dull the pain which the Savior was about to experience.
Luke tells us that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). In the Book of Mormon, we read a description of this moment, given by an angel to King Benjamin:
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).
And in an 1829 revelation to Joseph Smith, the Savior described the experience in these words:
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 (D&C 19:18).
As James E. Talmage has pointed out, the circumstances surrounding the Savior’s experience in the garden suggest a much more intense suffering than would have been caused by the fear of death, especially since the Savior had already affirmed His power over death (John 10:17-18). Elder Talmage described the Savior’s suffering in these words:
He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion….
In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world (Jesus the Christ, Chapter 33: “The Last Supper and the Betrayal”).
At that moment in the Garden, physical and spiritual suffering merged into one. The symptom of blood passing through His pores and covering His skin like sweat conveys a sense of the much deeper agony He willingly endured as our sins, our weaknesses, our pain, and our guilt all converged upon Him. “Every pore” indicates that He gave all that He had to give, that He held nothing back. This sacrifice, which demanded everything from Him, opened the door for us to receive every blessing.
Today, I will remember the Savior’s willingness to endure incomprehensible suffering on our behalf, in order to fulfill the will of His Father. I will be grateful for the redemption He has made possible through this unparalleled act of charity. I will be grateful that He was willing to “suffer both body and spirit,” to “tremble because of pain,” and to “bleed at every pore.”