We are pretty sold on ourselves. It has become common for us to read the verses in Mosiah 3 now to mean that Christ suffered the experience of every discomfort, embarrassment, hunger, ailment, injury, agony, shame, pain, etc that every person in mortality will suffer when he suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross, and that the reason this was the case was so that he could always say to any one of us about whatever we are going through that he had gone through that as well.
I’m sorry. That isn’t what Mosiah 3 says and it is frankly revolting doctrine.
The sacrifice of the atonement is the great show of mercy. Christ suffered for sins. The just suffered for the unjust.
But for what causes will the Father cause his perfect son to have to undergo incalculable agony?
Throughout the scriptures we see correct doctrine taught. I paraphrase it here:
Salvation for a fallen world: The Son of God, who was God before the world was, descended and conquered sin and death making salvation and eternal life possible for God’s children.
That is a notion found throughout the scriptures. But now we see a new idea being taught, added on top of the other won.
Empathy for a spoiled world: The Son of God suffered every pain – both emotional and physical – that anyone in this earth ever suffered so that he could empathize with them.
This new teaching has absolutely no sense of proportion. It is one thing that the Father would sacrifice his precious son because it was crucial to prevent his other children from being doomed to becoming devils and angels to a devil for eternity. That is a magnificent sacrifice, and it makes sense.
The idea that the Father would have his son suffer every piece of misery that every person suffered so that Christ, who was in and through all things, who knew all things past, present, and future, could empathize is, well, a revolting rejection of any sense of the majesty of the sacrifice of God himself for our own sakes.
Don’t we have enough reverence for the Christ, and enough of a sense of the justice of the Father, to realize that while the Father would ask his son to “suffer these things for all that they may not suffer if they would repent”, the Father did not make his son suffer anything that wasn’t necessary for him to suffer to conquer sin and death? Do we really think Christ had to suffer not only the punishment for our sins, as D&C 19 clearly states that he did, but to also suffer IN ADDITION TO THAT every individual sorrow, pain, worry, illness, infirmity, … that any person suffered just so that he could empathize with us?
Can’t we sense how cringe-worthy that idea is?
The verse that is the source of this states:
Mosiah 3:7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
When the scriptures states that Christ would suffer the pains of all mankind, everyone previous to this generation knew that it clearly referred to Christ suffering for the sins of the world. When the angel gives the summary statement that “for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people” that is meant to be the justification for the statement “except it be unto death”.
In other words. the angel is saying Christ will suffer temptations, pain, hunger, thirst and fatigue.
Then the angel is stating that Christ will suffer more than man can suffer without dying.
To justify the statement that Christ will suffer more than man can suffer without dying the angle then states that “for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people.”
The angel is NOT saying that Christ will suffer EACH of the things suffered more than man can suffer without dying. The angel is explaining that Christ’s suffering on earth will exceed any man’s because in addition to suffering the regular severe hunger, thirst, and fatigue Christ will suffer the infinite pain and agony of the atonement.
The punishment for sin was unavoidable. Someone had to suffer it. If I have earned something it is mine, and having earned punishment for sin is what we are referring to.
Temptations, hunger, thirst, and fatigue were things Christ did suffer. We remember that Christ fasted 40 days in the wilderness – he suffered hunger, thirst and fatigue. We remember that he grew up first a refugee in Egypt and then later in a conquered nation where one petitioned God for one’s “daily bread”. We remember that, though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.
Honestly I think this new teaching comes from being spoiled and ungrateful. It is no longer enough if God himself suffered for our sins. It is no longer enough that God is our Father. He has to have actually experienced what we experienced or it isn’t good enough for us. We won’t accept his comfort or believe he knows best unless he actually experienced precisely the same physical pain or mental anquish we did – not even just the same type, but he has to have experience our actual individual pain, otherwise we are too proud to think his comfort is genuine, his wisdom is right, and that his knowledge is sufficient.