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Garden of Gethsemane © Intellectual Reserve • Mormons believe Christ suffered for the sins of mankind in the garden.

Doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds that the atonement wrought by our Savior, Jesus Christ, was performed both through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by the voluntary surrender of His life on the cross.

Gethsemane is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron Valley from the "Old City" of Jerusalem. Jerusalem at the time of Christ was just 230 acres inside her walls. An area of 1 square mile encloses 640 acres. It was a tiny city, with just 40,000 residents, but famous in all the known world. Gethsemane was just a short walk eastward from the Temple Mount. It was there, after sharing the Passover with His Apostles, that Christ retired to pray. It is written by Matthew that the Savior was overtaken by a despondent spirit:

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And then he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matthew 26:37-39).

It is incomprehensible to man the suffering that Jesus bore in the Garden. In Gethsemane He took upon Himself all the sins, sorrows, and suffering of every being that had lived, did then live, or would ever live on the earth. He suffered the wrath of God in their behalf, so that if they would only repent and believe on His name, they might be spared the just punishment for their sins and qualify for God's mercy:

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
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—
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie was a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He spoke in General Conference shortly before his death. He knew he was to die shortly, and this talk was his last testimony. He said the following:

We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death. We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal. As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours. Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall. And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave. Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life. If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life. And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. [1]

  1. Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign, May 1985, 9.