“What can we learn about becoming perfect from the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus?” Ensign, July 1975, 31
Gerald N. Lund, curriculum writer for the Department of Seminaries and Institutes: We have been told many times that there is, in the life of Jesus, a model to which we can turn as we seek to mold and sculpt our own lives into works of perfection. It matters not at which point we focus the eye of scrutiny. Examine the life of Christ as minutely as you wish. No hint of blemished conduct, no trace of lost control, no moment of foolish passion, no spot of crumbling weakness can be found. Jesus is the perfect man. Every moment of his recorded life inspires those who would bring themselves to that level of perfection marked out in the indelible chalk of Christ’s own life.
In the trial, arrest, and execution of Jesus we find no exception to this unmatched faultlessness. In those hours of life when he was being ground with merciless pressure, his balance was never threatened, his composure never marred. The betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the gross injustice of his trial, the savagery of the mob, the cowardice of Pilate, even the weeping of his mother at the foot of the cross—nothing could loosen his hold on perfect control; nothing could lessen his total mastery. Christ’s marvelous ability to face adversity without loss of balance or faith in God is one of the great lessons we can learn from him.
In addition, he taught by his own example that God’s will takes priority over all. Submission to the Father is paramount even if it means pain, ridicule, and death. Obedience must remain firm under all conditions, even unto death, if one is to be found worthy of him. (D&C 98:14–15.) Here again, the Son set the perfect example for us. Torture, injustice, the supreme irony of being condemned for blasphemy, the agony in the garden, the sadistically cruel death by crucifixion—all of these combined could not divert him from his determination to do the will of the Father.
Sometimes when circumstances corner a man and leave him no alternative, he may show great courage and strength of will. However, Christ showed those qualities throughout, even though he could have escaped at any moment. The powers of heaven, we are told, are controlled by righteousness. (See D&C 121:36.) Keeping in mind that his was a perfectly sinless life, fathom, if you can, the powers Jesus had at his command. How pitifully futile the might of Pilate’s Roman garrison would have been in the face of the 12 heavenly legions Christ could have summoned, but didn’t. (See Matt. 26:53.) How easy it would have been for the one who cast out devils to banish the arrogant high priest. How elementary for one who loosed the tongues of the dumb to stop the tongues of false witnesses. Yet he who brought worlds and galaxies into being stood mute before his mortal accusers. He who stilled the rushing winds and pounding waves of the Sea of Galilee stilled not the stormy cries of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” He who had escaped unharmed from the angry mob at Nazareth (see Luke 4:29–30) faced the small band of arresting soldiers with a simple “I am he.” (See John 18:5.) The awesome, infinite power at his command was not unleashed to spare himself the least pain, the smallest discomfort. His will was irrevocably interwoven with that of the Father’s, and nothing deterred him from its accomplishment.
One cannot help but be struck with the tremendous difference between Christ’s behavior during those terrible hours and the actions of those around him. Throughout, it becomes clear that Jesus was the only one who was not thrown off balance by the passions of that night and the following day. Judas betrayed him, then committed suicide, apparently in a great overflowing feeling of guilty remorse. The armed party sent out to arrest him fell back in fright when he told them he was Jesus. Peter vowed perfect support and then failed miserably as fear washed out his determination. The high priest was thrown into a rage by the calm demeanor of the accused. Pilate, symbol and wielder of Roman might, became a frightened vacillating man when faced with the King of the Jews. Even the hardened Roman soldier was awed by Christ’s manner of dying. Throughout, it becomes clear that Jesus was not the victim but the Master.
The tragedies and tests of life strike us all; they are inevitable. But they need not hurtle us down to destruction or defeat. Let the storms descend, let the winds howl in all their fury. By the eloquent testimony of his own life, the Master has shown the true meaning of living in a house built upon the rock.