“Lessons from the Final Days of the Savior’s Life,” New Era, Apr. 2012, 34–37
The first four books of the New Testament, or the “Gospels,” are some of the most celebrated books of scripture because they tell of the mortal life of Jesus Christ. The scriptures that cover the last week of the Savior’s life make up about one third of the record of the Gospels. By reading and studying these scriptures, we learn that the Savior was a Being of divine power who willingly gave His life as a sacrifice. He also fulfilled the prophecy that the “Lamb of God” would come to take upon Himself our sins (see Isaiah 53:7).
The Savior returned to the Jerusalem area for the final time with a purpose. When the Savior returned to Jerusalem during what is called His triumphal entry, it was to the shouts of many who received Him as their king. During the next several days, He would perform miracles, teach parables, and cleanse the temple a second time.
As the end of the week drew near, He turned His attention to the most important tasks to be accomplished—the Atonement and Resurrection—allowing all those who follow Him to return to the presence of Heavenly Father.
The Savior is a Being of divine power and authority who willingly gave up His life. He was not taken and arrested without His foreknowledge. He allowed Himself to be arrested to fulfill the will of His Heavenly Father. The Savior spoke to His disciples of His Crucifixion and Resurrection beforehand.
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
“Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2).
Jesus came to Jerusalem during the week of Passover to fulfill the scriptures—to give His life as the sacrificial lamb. One of Jesus’s titles is the Lamb of God. John the Baptist called Him the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul called Christ “our passover.”
Lambs were used in temple worship. They had to be both the firstborn and without blemish to symbolize the Savior’s great sacrifice. During the Passover each family would partake of a lamb that was slain to symbolize the Messiah, who would come to take their sins upon Him.
When the Savior was arrested, faithful Jewish households were likely celebrating the Passover, while the Savior, the Lamb of God, was taken to be sacrificed to fulfill the scripture.
Jesus Christ showed His divine power in two ways on the night He was taken captive. The first was when the soldiers came to arrest Him.
“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
“They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
“As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
“Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way” (John 18:3–8).
After Jesus merely spoke to them, the soldiers went backward.
During this time of confusion and fear, it was the Savior who was in charge, not the armed men who came to take Him. He allowed himself to be taken captive, to be scourged and crucified. He gave Himself as a sacrifice in obedience to the Father’s will and for our eternal benefit.
The Savior also healed the ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest, again showing forth His divine power. In John 18:10–11, we learn that it was Peter who drew the sword and cut off the ear of the servant.
“And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
“But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:51–54).
In Luke’s account we read that the Savior healed the ear in front of both the Apostles who were with Him and the soldiers who came to arrest Him, again showing His power:
“And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
“And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him” (Luke 22:50–51).
Jesus Christ had the power to save Himself from the fate that would befall Him, but in everything He was obedient to the Father’s will. The Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection overcome the effects of both spiritual and physical death. Because of His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, we can repent of our sins and return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. Because Jesus Christ overcame death through the Resurrection, we will be resurrected.
We can follow the Savior’s example by being obedient to the commandments, showing confidence in doing Heavenly Father’s will. And in all our difficulties, we can rely on the Savior for help in our lives because of His Atonement.