Legions of Angels

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Question: Although Christ had the power to call down “legions of angels,” why did he chose to endure the mockery of evil men?

Answer: Although the Savior had power to call down “legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53), He voluntarily chose to endure unjust trials, cruel mocking, and unimaginable physical pain. Why did He do it? “Because of His loving kindness.” Nephi testified, “and his long-suffering towards the children of men” (1 Nephi 19:9).

John 19:5-12

5 Then came Jesus forth (where the crowd could see him), wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man (just look at the man)!

6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

7 The Jews answered him, We have a law (a law against blasphemy, or mocking God, making it punishable by death), and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself (claimed to be) the Son of God.

8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

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9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou (where do you come from)? But Jesus gave him no answer.

10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? (Don’t you realize I have power to have you crucified or to set you free?)

11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he (Caiaphas) that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

12 And from thenceforth (from then on) Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar. (If you release him, you are not loyal to Caesar, because Jesus claims to be the king, instead of Caesar.)

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Ezra Taft Benson:

To have any measure of appreciation and gratitude for what He accomplished in our behalf, we must remember these vital truths:

Jesus came to earth to do our Father’s will.

He came with a foreknowledge that He would bear the burden of the sins of us all.

He knew that He would be lifted up on the cross.

He was born to be the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.

He was able to accomplish His mission because He was the Son of God and He possessed the power of God.

He was willing to accomplish His mission because He loves us.

No mortal being had the power or capability to redeem all other mortals from their lost and fallen condition, nor could any other voluntarily forfeit his life and thereby bring to pass a universal resurrection for all other mortals. Only Jesus Christ was able and willing to accomplish such a redeeming act of love.

We may never understand nor comprehend in mortality how He accomplished what He did, but we must not fail to understand why He did what He did. Everything He did was prompted by His unselfish, infinite love for us. Hear His own words:

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“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; …

“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 19:16, 18.)

As was so characteristic of His entire mortal experience, the Savior submitted to our Father’s will and took the bitter cup and drank. He suffered the pains of all men in Gethsemane so they would not have to suffer if they would repent. He submitted Himself to humiliation and insults from His enemies without complaint or retaliation. And, finally, He endured the flogging and brutal shame of the cross. Only then did He voluntarily submit to death. In His words:

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“No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:18.)

This power to revive His own life was possible because Jesus Christ was God—even the Son of God. Because He had the power to overcome death, all mankind will be resurrected. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19.)

How we reverence His name—yes, even the hallowed titles that represent His deeds!... Because of His love for us, He showed us how to rise above petty weaknesses and to demonstrate affection, love, and charity in our relationships with others.

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Joseph B. Wirthlin:

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Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance.

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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 90; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 320-321; Excerpt from General Conference, October 1983, “Jesus Christ: Our Savior and Redeemer,” by Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Excerpt from General Conference, April 2005, “The Virtue of Kindness,” by Joseph B. Wirthlin, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.