" And having made peace through the blood of His cross to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him ..." Colossians 1:20
It is thru the blood of the Lamb that we are justified, forgiven and cleansed from our sins.
" being now justified by His blood" Romans 5:9 KJV
" we have been made right with God by the blood of Christ's death"
" Since we have now been justified by His blood." Romans 5:9 NIV
The *single* greatest act of sacrifice ever completed in the history of humankind was completed by our Lord, the Lamb of God on Calvary 2,000 yrs ago.
"Jesus being found in the fashion of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross." Phil 2:8
When I was a young child growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taken to mass daily during Holy Week. My mother would take me thru the stations of the cross. The stations of the cross are pictures/drawings of the last week of the life of our Lord. I recall seeing my mom shed tears and she recounted to me what our Lord did. Those memories are deeply embedded into my heart.
When I became involved with the LDS Church, I immediately noticed that the LDS do not place focus on the Cross. In fact, if you go to their chapels ( which are open to the public) you would notice that there are no crosses either on the inside or outside. The same is for their temples. The LDS believe they are to focus on the "risen" Christ not the crucified Christ. Well, Yes, Jesus is risen! Hallelujah! That is why most Christian churches have an empty cross adorning their steeples or inside their buildings. LDS members do not wear cross necklaces and their homes do not have crosses on their walls. As a missionary , I was instructed to encourage new converts to remove the cross from their walls and to not wear any jewelry with the cross on it.
For those that are not LDS, you may ask yourselves "why"? "If" the LDS claim to be a "christian" church, why do they not use the cross as a symbol of their faith? The answer lies in the fact that the LDS church does not teach that it was on the cross that Jesus paid the ultimate sin offering. No, the LDS officially teach it was in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus atoned or paid the price for our sins.
The art print above, is a popular print that can be seen in the chapels and temples of the Latter - day Saints. It represents Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The LDS officially teach it was there that Jesus bled for our sins. This print can be purchased in a set with other LDS artwork. It can be used by families to teach the LDS gospel in their homes. On the back of this art print is stated the following: " In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus suffered for our sins. Jesus prayed more earnestly and He sweat great drops of blood as He atoned for our sins." You can purchase this art kit or print from the LDS Church distribution center.
The art print below is from "New Testament Stories,pg. 111" a book for Children published by the LDS Church.
This pciture depicts Jesus in the garden, "bleeding" for our sins....... Here is the caption printed below this picture: " Jesus was praying. He was sad. He began to shake. Blood came out of his skin. All his body hurt. It hurt because he was suffering for the sins of all the people. While Jesus suffered and prayed and angel came to make him stronger. Jesus finished praying. He had bled and suffered for the sins of all the people."
The LDS canonized scripture , Doctrine & Covenants, is a book of scripture written by Joseph Smith. He writes about the garden experience in D & C 19:18
" 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 --- "
The LDS Church teaches that Jesus "bled" at Gethsemane and there suffered and took upon himself all of the sins of mankind. Aside from their teaching from Joseph Smith, they use a verse from the book of Luke and make a "twist " to it's meaning.
What does the bible teach about his garden experience and his sweat ?
" and being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Luke 22:44
" and being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. " Luke 22:44 NIV
" being full of pain, Jesus prayed even harder, His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Luke 22:44 NCV
This verse from the gospel of Luke clearly states that Jesus prayed earnestly and " his sweat" was as it were great drops of blood. I like to compare the various translations..... they all state that his sweat "was like" drops of blood, not literally drops of blood. Big difference. When comparing the account of Luke to Matthew and Mark's account, Luke is the only one that gives this description of sweating at all. "If" Jesus had truly suffered for all the sins of mankind in Gethsemane, shouldn't the bible state that? I will share later that indeed the Bible teaches it was the CROSS where Jesus paid the price and by his blood on the cross, not gethsemane ( there was no blood shed there) we are forgiven. The bible does not teach that the atonement was made in Gethsemane. It does not teach that jesus paid the price for our sins there. If so, Paul and others would have been preaching " gethsemane not Calvary"!
Joseph Smith changed the verse in Luke, to the following, and the entire meaning was changed:
" and he sweat as it were great drops of blood". JST Luke 22:34
Thus, the Mormon teaching of Jesus bleeding for our sins in Gethsemane is born! He changed the verse from saying that "he sweat as if it was blood to he sweat blood". Wow.
Later, after Joseph Smith, other LDS leaders would teach that Jesus atoned for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane:
" We speak of the passion of Jesus Christ. A great many people have an idea that he was on the cross and nails were driven into his hands and feet, that was his great suffering. His great suffering was before he ever was placed on the cross.. It was in the garden of Gethsemane that the blood oozed from the pores of his body. That was not on the Cross. That was in the garden. That is where he bled from every pore in his body." Joseph Fielding Smith , President & Prophet of the LDS Church, From the Garden to the Empty Tomb, Liahona April 2006, 8-11
" On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took three of the twelve and went into a place called Gethsemane. There he suffered the pains of all men. He suffered only as God could suffer, bearing our griefs, carrying our sorrows, being wounded for our transgressions, voluntarily submitting himself to the inequity of us all. It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on himself the sins of the world . " Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988, pg. 14
Now, you understand "why" the LDS do not revere the cross of our Lord, but rather the garden of Gethsemane was the place where Jesus atoned. Thus, the lack of crosses in their buildings and temples and in the homes of their members.
If pressured, the LDS will tell you that the cross was a painful death and surely not to be spurred at, but clearly and resoundly they preach Gethsemane and not Calvary.
Now, that you know what the LDS teach about "where" our Lord atoned, let's take a peek at what the Bible declares about the Cross. It is very important dear readers to understand that Jesus had to have died on Calvary. His death and the events leading up to his death on the cross were prophesied years prior. Here are a list of prophecies made about the events in the final days of his life that were fulfilled and finished on Calvary.
1. He was betrayed by a close friend:
Psalm 41:9 yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted which did eat of my bread, hath lifted his heal against me.
Fulfilled: Luke 22:47, 48 And while he yet spoke behold a multitude and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the son of man?
2.Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver:
Zech 11:3: And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price, and if not forebear. So they weighed out for my price 30 pieces of silver.
Fulfilled: Matt 26:14,15: Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests and said unto them, What will ye give me and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for 30 pieces of silver.
3. Accused by false witnesses:
Ps 35:11: False Witnesses did rise up, they laid it to my charge thing I knew not.
Fulfilled: Mark 14:57,58
And there arose certain and bear false witness against him saying, We hear him say I will destroy this temple that is made with hands and within three days I will build up another made without hands.
4. Silent to Accusations:
He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth, he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Fulfilled: Mark 15:4,5
And Pilate asked him again, saying: Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee. But Jesus answered him nothing so that pilate marvelled.
5. Spat upon and smitten
I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off their hair, I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Fulfilled: Matt 26:67
They did spit upon his face and buffeted him, and others smote him with the palms of their hands.
6. Vicarious sacrifice
Be he was wounded for our transgression, he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement o our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed.
Fulfilled: Romans 5:6,8
For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
7. Crucified with malefactors:
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death and he was numbered with the transgressors and he bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressions.
Fulfilled: Mark 15:27,28
And with him they crucify two thieves ,the one on his right hand and the other on his left hand, and the scripture was fulfilled and he was numbered with the transgressors.
8. Pierced though hands and feet
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.
Then saith he to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands and reach hither they hand thrust it into my side and be not faithless but believing.
9. Scorned and mocked:
All they that see me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip they shake their head saying: He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him seeing he delighted in him.
And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him saying: He saved others, let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
10. Soldiers Gambled for his clothing
I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vestures.
And they crucified him and parted his garments casting lots that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet.
11. Forsaken by God:
My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me? Why are thou so far from helping me and from my words roaring?
Fulfilled: Matt 27:46
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried, with a loud voice, saying " Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? That is to say, My God , My God why hast thou forsaken me?
12: No Bones broken:
He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken.
Fulfilled: John 19:32,33,36
And when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already they brake not his legs.
13 . His side pierced:
All I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced........
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and for with came out blood and water.
14. Buried with the rich:
And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death
Fulfilled: Matt 27:57-60
When the even was come there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, which also himself was Jesus' disciple.... And when Joseph had taken the body and he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb.....
All of these prophecies have been fulfilled. Jesus had to be sold for 30 pieces and betrayed by Judas, He had to be spit upon and scourged and crucified and pierced! All of these were prophecies that were to be fulfilled in the final hours of his life on earth!
Furthermore the writers of the Bible preached the Cross.
" For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be of none effect. For the preaching of the cross to them that perish is foolishness but unto us which are saved it is salvation". 1 Cor 1:17 & 18
What is the cross? SALVATION. To those that are perishing spiritually it is "foolishness". But oh to us, as believers, it is Salvation -- for on the cross our blessed Lord paid the final price for our sins -- it was there that Lamb of God completed the work -- it is there that IT WAS FINISHED. Jesus shed blood on the cross is what saves us! There was no blood shed in the garden. The blood had to be shed, and that blood was shed when Jesus was crucified and pierced.
Paul, gloried in the cross ....I love the passage when he states that the only bragging he will do is about the cross of our Lord........
" The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is my only reason for bragging."
Gal. 6:14 NCV
"But God forbid I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Gal 6:14 KJV
" May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. "
Gal 6:14 NIV
Paul states that believers should only suffer persecution "for the cross of Christ". Gal. 6:12
As believers, we are reconciled and made right with God thru the Cross!
" And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby. " Ephesians 2:16 KJV
" It was also Christ's purpose to end the hatred between the two groups ( Jews & gentiles) to make them into one body and to bring them back to God . Christ did all this with His death on the Cross." Ephesians 2:16 NCV
Jesus, the Lamb of God" humbled himself and became obedient unto death - even the death of the cross. " Phil. 2:18
Paul warned us of the "enemies" of the cross of Christ. Phil 3:18. I do not believe in any way that the LDS are enemies to the cross. I believe they are sincere in their beliefs. But, my dear friends "sincerity" does not equate truth. As sincere as they may be about their beliefs about Jesus atonement in the garden, it just simply is not the truth.
To my LDS readers, please dear friends consider that Jesus truly is the "author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross".......... Hebrews 12:2
It is by His stripes we are healed, and He has made peace *through* the blood of His Cross. God has made peace with us ... sinners, thru the blood of Jesus on the Cross . colossians 1:20
I know Jesus' atoned for us on the cross.
I know His blood was shed for me on the cross, so that I may have "peace" with God and live with Him forever.
I know that Jesus, is the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world -- my sins and your sins too..........
I boast of one thing and that is the cross of Jesus! Yes, I can brag about that ... I can brag about what my Jesus did for us all on that cross so long ago.
Yes, that 'old rugged Cross of my Lord!