Before you go any further with this post, you will need to watch this talk. It's about 20 minutes long, but totally worth every single second.
Then...Why are You Here?
I love how Elder Holland made this experience between Peter and the Lord come alive for me. I have read this experience in the book of John multiple times, but it has never hit me with such force until I heard Elder Holland give this talk. I put myself in Peter's shoes. What would I have done if I were Peter? Let's just recap the last few days of his life...
He was there as the Savior was betrayed into the hands of evil men who wanted to kill Him. Peter watched as these men bound the Savior and took Him away (Luke 22:47-53).
It had been a rough and exhausting few days, for the Savior (obviously), and for those who loved Him. As the Senior Apostle, Peter was the one the others looked to. Elder Holland offers a portrayal of the exchange between Peter and the other Apostles:
"Peter said to his associates: 'Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. None of us could have imagined such a few short months ago the miracles we have seen and the divinity we have enjoyed. We have talked with, prayed with, and labored with the very Son of God Himself. We have walked with Him and wept with Him, and on the night of that horrible ending, no one wept more bitterly than I. But that is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So you ask, 'What do we do now?' I don't know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to 'go a fishing' (John 21:1-3).
I cannot blame Peter for making the choice to go back to what he was familiar with. He was only a human being after all. Even though he had experienced many great miracles and blessings with the Savior, he didn't yet understand or comprehend his responsibilities as an Apostle of the Lord, nor did he understand the magnitude of the Savior's divine mission and his own role in that mission. And so, the Savior needed to come and instruct him more time.
The Savior asks Peter three times...Peter, "lovest thou me more than these?" (John 21:15-17). Peter is almost beside himself by the third time. He's thinking, "Lord, what can I do more to tell you that I love you more than these fish?" I turn back to Elder Holland's portrayal of the exchange between Peter and the Lord.
Elder Holland continues:
"So, Peter, for the second and presumably last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me."
What Will You Take Away?
I hope that as you listened to the words of Elder Holland who, like Peter, is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, you were able to feel the love of the Savior. I hope you were able to feel in your heart and mind the things that you need to change in your own life in order to be a forever disciple. As Elder Holland testified, the Lord needs disciples who will "feed His sheep and save His lambs" and He needs them forever.
What will you do to show the Savior that you are His disciple forever? What will you give up to focus on feeding the Lord's sheep?
How would you be feeling at this point in the scenario? Scared? Tired? Wanting to run away from your divine destiny?
Let's continue with our scenario...
*After asking three of your closest friends to sit, watch, and wait while you pray, you tell them that you are feeling "sorrowful and very heavy" (Matthew 26:36), in other words, distressed and deeply grieved. You ask them to "watch with [you]"...AKA, stay awake while I perform a difficult task (Matthew 26:38).
*Then, you go "a little further...fall on [your] face, and [pray] saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). You know that something incredibly painful and difficult needs to happen and even though you know the task needs to be performed, you ask your Father, your "Abba" (Mark 14:36), if there is any possible way for you to not perform the impending task, even though you know there is not.
For the next portion of our scenario, I turn to the book of Luke, chapter 22, and to the New Testament Institute Student Manual to help pain a picture of what happened next.
"Luke was the only Gospel writer to record the important detail that the Savior's suffering included 'great drops of blood' (Luke 22:44). The Savior's unparalleled suffering--the extreme pressure caused by taking upon Himself the infinite sin, sorrow, and guilt of all mankind--caused a physical condition in his body known as hematidrosis.
Maybe you are thinking, "Why didn't God help the Savior?" If this was truly His Only Begotten, why did He leave Him to suffer like this? We find the answer to that question in Luke 22:43. "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." President Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, offers some insights to this experience with the angel.
"...The Father's answer was to deny the plea of His Only Begotten Son. The Atonement had to be worked out by that lamb without blemish. But though the Son's request was denied, his prayer was answered. ...Strengthened [by an angel] from heaven to do the will of the Father, the Savior fulfilled His mission" ("Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ," Ensign, May 1994, 99-100).
Turning back to the New Testament Institute Manual: "But eventually even the angel left the Savior, for He was required to complete the great atoning sacrifice by Himself. In these latter days, the Savior has declared that when He comes to earth in glory, His voice will be heard saying, 'I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me' (D&C 133:50)".
Returning to our scenario:
*After this ordeal, the Savior returned to his friends, his disciples, and found them, once again, fast asleep. "Why sleep ye?", he says. "Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." (Luke 22:46)
*It is at this point in the scenario that the Savior is betrayed into the hands of those who wished to destroy Him. His "friend", Judas Iscariot, betrays Him with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48) and the Savior is bound and taken to Caiaphas, the high priest.
*You would have been in "terrible physical condition as [you] stood trial before Jewish leaders." You had just experienced the agony of Gethsemane. You had been "back and forth across the Kidron Valley. [You] would have also been experiencing the effects of blood loss and likely the effects of chills from the night air upon [your] weakened body. [You have] also likely not slept in many hours. It [is] in this weakened condition that [you face] additional abuse at the hands of [your] accusers" (New Testament Institute Manual Chapter 9).
*You are spit upon and buffeted (repeatedly and violently hit). You are blindfolded and mocked. All the while knowing that you have just suffered for all of the sins of those who are inflicting this pain upon you.
From author and emeritus Seventy, Gerald N. Lund:
"Imagine the Being whose power, whose light, whose glory holds the universe in order, the Being who speaks and solar systems, galaxies, and stars come into existence--standing before wicked men and being judged by them as being of no worth or value!"
"When those difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities.
I am loving my second chance at life.
What's Happening on
Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
All rights reserved.
All images and content are property of Desirae Ogden unless otherwise stated. You may not use images or content without express written permission.