This month’s First Presidency Message from President Uchtdorf highlights an experience from one of my favourite scriptures, Luke 22:43:
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
Ever since I discovered this scripture while I was on my mission, there’s been something about this scripture that’s stuck out to me.
There is something comforting about the idea that the suffering Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane was so intense, he needed an angel to visit him and give him more strength (or perhaps assure him that he already had the necessary strength).
Consider the previous verse:
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
It seems that perhaps the angel’s arrival was an answer to Jesus’s cry to his father. The idea that Jesus saw his sacrifice as something unbearable is to me equally comforting as the angel’s visit itself.
These two verses remind me of two other scriptures.
Shortly after he began his ministry, Jesus was staying in Peter’s home with Peter and his family. After healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus quickly became well-known throughout Capernaum for his healing ability, and the entire city came to the home.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Mark 1:35 seems to indicate that perhaps Jesus was overwhelmed by the demand on his physical, mental, and emotional strength with having to heal all those people combined with his lack of experience.
The second scripture is John 11:35. Lazarus had died, and Jesus was on his way to see Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters. Martha met him partway, then returned to tell Mary, who also came out to meet him. She collapsed at his feet, weeping. Those who were with her were also weeping.
Jesus doesn’t seem to be crying at the death of Lazarus. To me, it seems that he is crying out of compassion, mourning with those who mourn.
Something all these verses have in common, to me, is that they all seem to testify to Jesus’s humanity. What sticks out to me is how these scriptures illustrate how Jesus experienced mortality: overwhelming burdens, empathetic compassion, weakness, fear.
I think we have a tendency to lean heavily on the rhetoric that Jesus is perfect, that he is divine, that he is the ultimate example for us to follow. This makes Jesus less approachable.
Jesus’s humanity is what appeals to me. Because he experienced mortality, it assures me that when he judges me, he will do so from a position of understanding.
It also makes our emulating his example something attainable. After all, if he could live the life he did despite his mortality, perhaps it gives us hope that we might be able to get there one day, too.