184: Suffering, Part 1

This is part one of a series looking at the role of suffering in the life of the Savior, and how our own suffering brings us closer to Him.

The incident that I want to look at is recorded only one place in Scripture. And even though it only appears one place in the Scripture, I think it’s one of the most thought-provoking and potentially rewarding discussions about the Lord that appears anywhere else. I’m talking about the incident that Luke records of two disciples who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that the Lord rose from the dead. I’m gonna be using the Luke material throughout this as the exclusive source if Luke talks about it. If someone else talks about it and Luke didn’t, then we’ll look at that. 

But the distance that they’re going to walk is beyond what was then viewed as a Sabbath days’ journey, so they couldn’t take this walk on the Sabbath. They had to wait until the first day of the week when the Sabbath was over, which was also the day on which the Lord would be resurrected. 

The incident appears in Luke chapter 24, and it begins in chapter 24: Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared (Luke 24:1; see also Luke 14:1 RE). 

He doesn’t tell us this, but there’s a detail you can find over in John chapter 20: The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark (John 20:1; see also John 11:1 RE and Testimony of St. John 12:1 RE). All that Luke says is it was “very early in the morning.” John lets us know that this was not only very early in the morning, it was still dark out. If you brought your Scriptures it might be useful to use them as we go along. 

So, there is a walk that’s going to take place in which two disciples (we have the names of only one of the two) are walking back to Emmaus, and this is what the account reads, beginning in verse 13: 

Behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. (Luke 24:13; see also Luke 14:2 RE)

That’s about seven miles, which (clearly, under their tradition) would have been too far. 

And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. (vs. 14-16; see also 14:2 RE)

“Their eyes were holden.” The Lord is with them. He’s resurrected. He’s walking along with them, and they don’t recognize Him. Christ has the capacity to withhold His identity. As Paul reminded us in Hebrews chapter 13, verse 2: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. From this incident, on this day with the Lord, we learn that the strangers can include the Lord Himself. And so when He says to be careful how you treat “the least of these my brethren,” you ought not be surprised if, on the day of judgment, one of those “least” was the Lord Himself, and your eyes were holden that you should not know Him. 

And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that [you] have one to another, as [you] walk, and are sad? (v. 17; see also 14:2 RE)

Clearly a rhetorical question. This is the risen Lord joining this fellowship in their walk, and He’s asking them, “What are you talking about?” That ought to tell you something about Him. The Lord doesn’t make any effort to displace their attention from the subject they’re discussing. He joins them right where they are, on the subject that they’re focused on, as a ready participant in the subject that’s already on the table. That tells you something else about us. He really does want to help us where He finds us. Our concerns are really His concerns. 

And…one of them, whose name was Cleopas… (v. 18; see also 14:2 RE)

Now, I think that’s interesting, because I don’t want to read too much into that, but I think it’s very interesting that we have a name given to one of the two of them. And the name that’s given to the one of the two is Cleopas, which is the male… It’s like Stephanie and Stephen. The female is Cleopatra; the male is Cleopas. This is a male version of the name, Cleopatra, which we all think is an Egyptian name. But that’s not true, because Egypt was dominated at that point by the Ptolemies. And Ptolemy was one of Alexander the Great’s generals. He got that quadrant of the empire after Alexander’s death. So it’s really a Greek name derived from the Greeks. And I have a slight suspicion that the presence of that Greek name tells us something about him, maybe tells us something about his parents, maybe suggests that this guy was Hellenized, and if so (because he has kind of a Greek viewpoint), it explains why he’s going to omit from the text (or from his testimony or from Luke’s account of it, anyway) the thing that I want to talk about today. (You can’t be sure of that, and I don’t want to read too much in it because “Jesus” is a Greek name, as well, and He clearly was non-Greek. “Yeshua” or Joshua would have been His given name, but it was turned into the Greek name “Jesus,” and we call Him by that.) A truly Hebrew mind, however, would have been very interested in something different than what the text is gonna tell us about. In any event:

…Cleopas, answering said unto them, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem…

That’s kind of an amusing thought. See, Christ is not well informed about the local issues, he thinks. 

[…Are you] a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which have come to pass there in these days? And he said unto [him], What things? (v. 19; see also 14:2 RE)

This is the Lord: “What things? Tell me about it.”

At the time of the First Vision, the Lord says to Joseph: This is My Beloved Son. Hear [ye] Him! (JS-H 1:17; see also Joseph Smith History 2:4 RE). And then you have the Father and the Son—and a pause. “No sooner had I collected myself than…” Joseph writes. He goes on and asks his question. You have the controlling power of the Universe on standby, waiting for Joseph to formulate and ask the question. That ought to tell you something. 

“What things?” Christ asks, although He clearly knows. The Lord clearly prefers a dialogue with us. He doesn’t pontificate. He talks. He communicates. He wants it to be… I mean, He insists upon prayer for a reason; He’d like to hear from you—because in the process of hearing from you, you expose something to Him, and you expose something to yourself about yourself. He almost insists on treating us like we’re equals—even though, clearly, we’re not. And that ought to tell you something about yourself as well. All of these things are extraordinary revelations that the Lord is giving to us about who we are and who He is. 

…And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. (vs. 19-23, emphasis added; see also 14:2 RE)

That’s not what happened. That’s not what happened. This is a stranger they’re talking with, and this is what they’re willing to say to the stranger that they’re talking with about what happened. Now, I don’t know if they’re filtering the story because they don’t want to come right out with it or if, in fact, the way they heard it omitted the appearance of the Lord Himself or if they heard the version that was told about the Lord Himself appearing but just couldn’t bring themselves to believe that. But in this account, they admit that certain women went, that they made at least these two astonished. They were early at the sepulcher, no body was found, and they had a vision. That’s all the further they’ll go. But the vision, the “angel,” said He was alive. I have to assume that what Luke is setting out in this story is the version that Luke got from these people. 

You know, it’s also possible… In fact, this is a good text to go to, to answer one of the criticisms about Joseph Smith. One of the criticisms is that he wrote multiple versions of the First Vision. Yeah, he did—and they’re all instructive, and they’re all useful, but we’ve canonized only one of them. But there’s multiple versions of what went on on the very first day of the Lord having risen from the dead. In one account, we know that the Lord Himself appeared and that, among other things, He told Mary not to hold Him. The King James version says, “Don’t touch me,” but Joseph changes that in the Inspired Version to “Don’t hold me,” because I think implicit in the Joseph Smith change is that she did touch Him. She was not just a witness, but she was someone who felt free to embrace Him, and He said, “Don’t hold me, I have to go appear to my Father and your Father,” which is different than the version that we’ve got here where women are seeing the vision of angels, and they omit the Lord. Well, Joseph gave a version of the First Vision in which he discusses angels, but he omits the Lord. Now, is Luke lying? No more so than Joseph was. But we ought to be consistent in our treatment of Scripture anciently and modern and as fair with Joseph as we are with Luke. 

The first witnesses of the resurrection were women. This is another confirmation that the Second Comforter is not inhibited by priestly office or limited in His ministry to the brethren. The first witnesses were women, and that should tell us something. I am constantly amazed, however, at our ability to ignore the obvious. We tend to read into texts things that aren’t there, and we tend to read out of texts things that are glaringly apparent. We have encumbered ourselves with a trailer-hitch to the Catholic legacy of what it means to have a priestly class among you. And we tend to say, “Well there’s been a restoration, and that means something new is going on,” while at the same time putting on the same spectacles that cripple all of those in historic Christianity that needed the Restoration to occur. So, we ought to feel required to read the text and let it inform us without any predisposition. 

Okay. In verse 24: 

And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. (Luke 24:24; see also Luke 14:2 RE)

Sure enough, the tomb was empty; He wasn’t there anymore. But they didn’t see anything. 

So far, you see, the men have only the witness of an empty tomb and the testimony of the women. I would suggest that if law governs all blessings—and it does. The statement isn’t just “some”; the statement is “all.” And we probably ought to read it: There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of [the] world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated (D&C 130:20-21, emphasis added). Well, if there is a law, and if it is inviolate and it governs, then perhaps there were those who needed to grow more in their faith before they could encounter this experience, and the Lord was working to furnish witnesses who were already predisposed or prepared in order to help others come along as well. Perhaps faith needed to grow in the brethren before they could get what the sisters had already themselves witnessed. 

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27; see also Luke 14:3 RE)

This discourse would probably rival the Sermon on the Mount if we had it. Other than mentioning the subject, we don’t have anything left of this talk that He gave. What they will tell us is, “He lives!” The headline news is, “He lives; He’s come out of the grave.” Okay, what did He say when He came out of the grave? Because He’s going to take a seven-mile walk, and He’s going to begin at Moses and all the prophets and expound unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. That’s sort of an odd way to spend the day with the Lord until you think about it. That’s what He does. That’s what angels do. That’s what…  “Which church should I join?” whereupon, in a mingling of Isaiah and the apostle Paul, the Lord essentially quotes Scripture to Joseph Smith. “I undertook to find out what my standing was before Him because I had every confidence of obtaining a vision as I had had one before” (see JS-H 1:29; see also Joseph Smith History 3:1 RE). A column of light comes down, the ceiling opens, a man with a robe comes and appears and quotes Scripture. And here we have the Lord taking a seven-mile hike, beginning at Moses and all the prophets and expounding the Scriptures. 

Well, these disciples are more interested in the physicality of His rising from the dead, “Look! It’s a body, and it’s animated again!” because that solves the problem that the Greeks had, and it also proves that the Pharisees were right. So, the headline news is: “Pharisees got one up on the Sadducees” in this little cultural setting. But what the Lord wanted was to impart some intelligence about the Scriptures so that understanding the Scriptures, they might be believing. And if they by being believing through understanding what the Scriptures had to say about Him, they might then be able to move to where He would like them to go. He wanted them to understand how these things foreshadowed everything about His life. 

Similarly, as Christ asked, “Ought not these things to have happened?” one of the things that had happened was, in the dispensation of the meridian of time, Christ also passed through the cloud and entered into the presence of the Father. There were three disciples who were able to see Moses [and] Elias, but they were not permitted to see the Father, though they heard His voice. They heard the voice speaking from inside the cloud; only Christ passed into the Father’s presence. That is recorded in Matthew chapter 17, verses 1-8. The relevant part: 

After six days Jesus [take] Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them…to an high mountain apart, …was transfigured before them: …his face did shine as the sun, …his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, [it’s] good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make [thee] three tabernacles; one for thee, …one for Moses, …one for Elias.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. [It’s intimidating.] …Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, …be not afraid. And when they…lifted…their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8; see also Matthew 9:4 RE)

See, Christ tells these disciples to tell the vision to no man until the Son of Man shall be risen again from the dead. Well, on the road to Emmaus, He was risen again from the dead—there is no reason now to withhold the information about the Lord having passed through the veil on the Mount of Transfiguration into the presence of God the Father. So this would have been available subject fodder for the discussion on the road as well.  

In the rites of Moses, there was one occasion when it was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies. It took place only one time each year on a specific day. The day is set out in Leviticus chapter 23 where it says: 

On the tenth day of [the] seventh month there shall be a day of atonement… [Thou] shall do no work in that…day: …it is a day of atonement. (Leviticus 23:27-28; see also Leviticus 11:8 RE)

This orientation as to time and number orients us on the tenth day to remind us of the “Ten Commandments” at Sinai. Ten is whole; it’s complete. We use ten because of our fingers as the basis for a numbering system. And seven (on the seventh month) is a symbol of creation or completion or perfection. These two numbers combined in a symbolic testimony of the significance of the Day of Atonement, which is also testament of the perfection, the completion, the exactness of the timing of the actual atonement. It was no accident the Lord came and did what He did at the very moment that He did it, and it’s no accident that the angel appeared at the very moment he did. 

The Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur) was originally associated with the deaths of Aaron’s two sons. (That’s sort of an odd thing to think about. That’s where it comes from; that’s where it gets started.) They had taken incense into the Holy of Holies and burned it there in an unauthorized manner, and that offense (in entering into the presence of God in an unauthorized way) resulted in Nadab and Abihu being killed. Fire came out and devoured them. They were killed. The Day of Atonement was the day in which there was a method provided for Aaron to enter into the Holy of Holies without being destroyed. The entirety of the ordinance reaches out, first, to cleanse Aaron (or Aaron’s successor as the High Priest), and then to cleanse the temple, and then to cleanse all of Israel. It was a progression in three degrees—as if the atonement were intended to include redemption for the Celestial, the Terrestrial, and the Telestial, as if the mercy of God was intended to extend to every living creature regardless of their obedience to Him. It was intended to be all-inclusive and all-encompassing. 

In the context of the Day of Atonement, there was a prescribed use for incense. It symbolizes the cloud covering the presence of God, just as the cloud covering Sinai when Moses entered the presence of God—and the full account of the rite is set out in chapter 16 of Leviticus. Well, I want to take a look at what that says only for purposes of saying what necessarily the Lord had to suffer in order to enter into His glory. We don’t look at these old books anymore. We tend to think that they were all done away with—and they were. We don’t celebrate them anymore, but they were intended to give an orientation to who it was the Messiah was and what it was the Messiah was intended to do. It is a testimony. See, if God knows all things beforehand—and He does—then He knows how to set out in a ritual all of the details of what it is He’s about to do. 

Because it is fascinating to take a look at what the Lord suffered in the actual atonement in order to see what the rites were intended to reveal about it. You don’t understand the Lord until you understand what He set out in symbol to testify about Himself. 

So, if we go to Leviticus chapter 16, verse 1: 

The LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron [that incident occurred in Leviticus chapter 10, verses 1-3], when they [had] offered before the Lord, and died; …the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (vs 1-2; see also Leviticus 6:1 RE)

So, you don’t get to control the timing of events. The Lord reserves to Himself the timing of events. If you think that there are moments when you’re ready for something, you may not be. It’s the Lord who decides and the Lord who fixes the time, and those things are determined according to the mercy and the wisdom of the Lord, just as it was when Zacharias was surprised in the Holy Place. Verse 12 says: 

He [that is, Aaron, when he goes in—and his descendants] shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not. (vs. 12-13; see also 6:3 RE)

So, he’s supposed to bring from off of the altar a burnt sacrifice (coals) with him, and he’s supposed to bring a collection of incense with him, and he’s to enter into—through the veil—into the Holy of Holies, and there he is supposed to set the coals and set the incense in order for a cloud to be produced inside the Holy of Holies. So, he’s inside the veil of the temple, but he’s also being drawn into a further cloud (or veil) inside the Holy Place, “that he die not.” 

Well, unlike the room in which the altar of incense appears, the room in which this takes place is literally a cube. Every dimension is exactly the same inside this room. It is a perfect cube, and it’s significantly smaller than the room from which he’s traversed to get there. The incense behaves in a different way, and the cloud that’s produced there does not become columnar; it fills the room because it’s a much smaller space. And so while he’s in there ministering, he is inside the cloud and in the symbolic presence of God (just as Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration had accomplished that—and the elements from Sinai are brought as well). You have Moses on the Mount Sinai, you have Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and you have an ordinance. And the ordinance is symbolically recreating these actual events: one that had occurred at the beginning of the Dispensation; one that will occur in the Lord’s own life, and it is to be modeled every year on the Day of Atonement. 

The Messiah’s life necessarily included an ascension through a cloud or veil into the presence of God. He was touching on one of the required elements of His ministry when this ordinance was established and when He said: “Ought not these things to have occurred?” One of the things that ought to have occurred was the incident on the Mount of Transfiguration. It satisfied one of the elements of the Law of Moses which would identify Him as the Anointed One, as the Lord, as the promised Messiah. In all things, Christ was required to fulfill what had been foretold of Him. 

When He asked: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” on the road to Emmaus, it’s the same sort of question that He and John the Baptist exchanged at His baptism. “Suffer it to be so because we need these things. There’s a pattern here. I must conform to the pattern. I am the one who will fulfill the pattern, therefore, I must do this, John. It’s necessary. It’s essential.” And if so for Him, then for us also. When He said, “Come, follow me,” I don’t think He had in mind merely walking around Palestine, much to the rather organic view of Islam about what we ought to be doing. The Savior was talking about things that were transcendent. 

The great Day of Atonement had elements included throughout the ritual which associate with the events of Christ’s life and of Christ’s sacrifice. This conversation on the road to Emmaus surely turned, therefore, to the Day of Atonement to show the necessity of what He suffered. Let’s look at how Luke described some of what happened, in Luke chapter 22, verses 39-46: 

And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives. (v. 39; see also Luke 13:9 RE)

This is after He has introduced the sacrament ordinance, after Judas has disassociated himself. The Savior now goes out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22, verse 39).

And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And [he] said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. (vs. 40-46; see also 13:9 RE)

Here Luke identifies three elements of the Day of Atonement: 

  • First, he orients us to the place involved. It’s the Mount of Olives. This mount (the Mount of Olives) was east of the temple. 
  • Second, he identifies the sprinkling of blood upon the ground. Luke tells us Christ (at the eastern location) suffers until “drops” of His blood are sprinkled upon the ground. 
  • Third, Luke tells us that Christ was left alone at the moment of these events. No man accompanies Him. Those who were a stone’s throw away have lapsed into sleep so, as the blood is sprinkled on the ground, Christ is alone. Interestingly, the place that the priest would enter alone on the Day of Atonement is about a stone’s throw away from those that would be in the outer court waiting as he performed the ordinance inside the Holy of Holies. 

In our dispensation, the Lord confirms His suffering in section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants: I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me (D&C 133:50; see also T&C 58:6). This had to be a solitary event. So, if we go to Luke [Leviticus] chapter 16 and look at the Day of Atonement, look at verse 14. The High Priest, when he comes in: 

He shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward…

He comes into the east side of the mercy seat, and he sprinkles there the blood of the sacrifice that’s been offered, just as Christ went eastward from the temple into the Garden of Gethsemane, where he sprinkles the blood upon the ground. 

…before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle…the blood with his finger seven times. Then [he shall] kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, [he shall] sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place…

[Verse 17:] …there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place. (Leviticus 16:14-17, emphasis added; see also Leviticus 6:3-4 RE) 

Christ’s suffering and the “sprinkling” of His blood on the Mount of Olives was necessary to fulfill the Law of Moses. He needed to suffer these things in order to fulfill the symbols that identify Him as the Messiah, in the rites that He had established as the way to identify who He would be. It would be more correct to say that the rites needed to include these elements because the events would include the elements—because He foresaw the elements of what He would suffer before He ordained the ordinance itself, and the two of them fit together. 

Ought not these things to be and for Christ to enter into His glory? It had to be! The disappointment and the confusion and the uncertainty of these disciples, walking after the apparent defeat of the Lord in Jerusalem, didn’t understand. Everything about these events were essential for the Messiah—if he BE the Messiah—to accomplish. 

Isaiah chapter 53, verses 2-12: 

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground [as a root out of a dry ground—there was no drier ground than that; it’s remarkable that the Lord was able to take root there]: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (v. 2; see also Isaiah 19:2 RE)

You know, that “There is no beauty that we should desire him,” is the King James’ way of putting the verse. The Jewish Study Bible published by the Oxford University says, “There is no charm that we should find him pleasing.” Avraham Gileadi in his Apocalyptic Isaiah renders it, “There’s no pleasing aspect, that we should find him attractive.” If I were going to say what the gist of the idea is that’s being communicated here, I would say: He was uncredentialed; there was nothing about him that made him bona fide. If you wanted to recognize the Lord, it had to be in the content of His message. “Did not our hearts burn within us?” and not in the majesty of the office He held; for although He held the only true High Priest office of that day, at that moment, all of society was otherwise oriented. He didn’t don priestly robes; He didn’t own possession of the temple courts; He didn’t come through the lineage of Aaron—indeed, not even of the lineage of Levi. He was uncredentialed. There is nothing about His lowly position inside a society that was organized as it was that would recognize Him as being bona fide. Only those willing to “let their hearts burn within them” would recognize Him. As to everyone else? Just another common man. 

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: …we hid as it were our faces from him…

Look away, look away. We still do that, you know. Walking alongside on the road to Emmaus we still hide, as it were, our faces from Him. 

…he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (v. 3; see also 19:2 RE)

Yeah, it’s popular to disrespect, to question, to doubt, to trouble over. I love the question someone called Doug [Mendenhall] with yesterday. I have no credentials. I am no one. I am a member of the Church with a testimony. I preside over nothing. I hold no keys, and yet, I know Him. 

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried [away] our sorrows…

You know, that’s not just a statement about what it is He’s accomplished. That’s a statement of trust. That’s a statement of your confidence in Him. Because if He’s borne your griefs, it means you have to allow Him to do so. And if He’s carried away your sorrows, you have to permit Him to be the one who makes the carrying away. 

…yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (v. 4; see also 19:2 RE)

“Can…any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (see John 1:46; see also John 1:7 RE). Or—as some think—can any good thing come of this Nazarene?

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way… (vs. 5-6, emphasis added; see also 19:2 RE)

We don’t like His way, you know? We like to meddle with it, adjust it, adapt it, toy with it, alter it. We like to turn to our own way. 

…and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 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 open[ed] not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: …who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. …he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death… (vs. 6-9; see also 19:2 RE)

In a borrowed tomb from a rich man, He was buried; but with two thieves, He was hung on the cross, you see. 

…because [he’d] done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (v. 9; see also 19:2 RE)

When he said, “Tell me, are you the son of God?” and in response, “Thou sayest” (meaning, “What you’ve said”;  meaning, “That’s right”), there was no deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. (v. 10; see also 19:2-3 RE)

It “pleased” the Lord to bruise Him. Well, fortunately, we have an Anglican bishop who came to our rescue advocating, as he is, ordination of homosexuals (among other things) and the “utter nonsense” of the sacrifice of Christ. He wants Christianity and the Anglican Church to become a homosexual social movement. How you turn Christ into that is sort of an oddity, but… I mean, if the dispensation began with an old man reproducing, I would rather think it’s a heterosexual dispensation we’re talking about. But this bishop argues (in an article he published within the last month) the phrase, “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him” is absolute nonsense. But no less a prophet and seer than Enoch took joy in the Savior’s sacrifice. He describes it in Moses chapter 7, verses 45-47: 

And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life? And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance. And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me. (Moses 7:45-47, emphasis added; see also Genesis 4:19 RE)

It pleased the Lord to bruise Him. It pleased Enoch that Christ was bruised. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and enter into His glory? It’s a delightful moment. It is the moment at which the atonement gets worked out. It confers such blessings upon mankind that it was a happy event, causing actual joy for those who behold it with understanding, even now. 

Returning to Isaiah: 

He shall see…the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore [I will] divide him a portion with the great, …he shall 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 transgressors. (Isaiah 53:11-12; see also Isaiah 19:3 RE) 

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? Enter into His glory… See, there’s a statement that we’ve got, Jacob in the Book of Mormon (Jacob chapter 4, verse 4): For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us (see also Jacob 3:1 RE).

“Enter into His glory.” “A hope of His glory.” What is His glory? Behold, this is my work and my glory… (Moses 1:39; see also Genesis 1:7 RE). What is that? What is His glory? It’s you. It’s you. See, as He’s talking to them about the things that He ought to suffer in order for Him to be able to enter into His glory, He’s talking to them about them. He’s talking to you about you

All Scriptures are focused on the Lord’s ministry and message. They are one, and we err when we fail to see a consistent overall testimony of the Lord’s great plan of happiness for all of us within it. Christ’s apparent defeat and death were but a prelude to His great triumph over death itself. For those who follow Him, defeat while alive is irrelevant and ultimate defeat in death itself is irrelevant—because if you follow Him here below, you’ll be invited to follow Him to greater things above. 

Well, ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to have entered into His glory? The answer is, of course, everything that He did was according to a plan. Every step He took and everything that He taught was intended to bear witness of the ministry and the mission that He had. He satisfied all of the requirements—not only of the Law of Moses but of the law of the gospel as well, which He was in the process of introducing to them. I find it always amusing to consider what was going on on Mars Hill when Paul arrived there. And they were always interested in hearing some new thing—when, in fact, what Christ (on the road to Emmaus) wanted was not “some new thing” but a clearer understanding of the things that had already been given, a clearer understanding of the testimonies that mankind had entrusted to them already, a clearer understanding that His work and His glory was intended to encompass not only Himself as the Father of all those who will receive Him but also intended to encompass our own immortality and eternal life. 

In the spring of each year, all nature reawakens from the sleep of winter to bear testimony of the resurrection. And similarly, I want to add my testimony to those others that the Lord has risen. He conformed perfectly to the Father’s plan. His rhetorical question still remains, in my view, the best way to think of Him: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? 


The foregoing excerpts were taken from:

  • Denver’s talk titled “Christ’s Discourse on the Road to Emmaus”, given in Fairview, UT on April 14, 2007