An Angel Strengthens Christ during His Suffering in Gethsemane

Luke 22:43

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

Elder Tad R. Callister wrote:

“What was the Savior’s state of mind, physical body, and spirit at this crisis hour in the garden that an angel from heaven should need to come ‘strengthening him’ (Luke 22:43), a God? Do we presume that He, a God, was so weakened by this ordeal that He now needed strengthening? What divine messenger offered such aid? Was it Adam? Noah? Abraham? Certainly at such a critical moment in the destiny of man, this angel must have been a being of towering stature. Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggests it was ‘mighty Michael [Adam]’ [Ensign, May 1985, 9]. While we do not know with certainty the identity of this heaven-sent comforter, there are at least four reasons why it may indeed have been Adam [see Ensign, Apr. 1997, 10]. First, Adam, who was a joint creator of this earth and father of mortal man, would have had a supreme interest in man’s ultimate destiny. Certainly he had a vested interest to see that this earth and all its dominions were not created in vain. Second, it seems appropriate that he who triggered in part the need for the Atonement should now be the agent for mankind to assist Him who pled for its redemption. Third, as taught by Joseph Smith, Adam has a presiding role in the hierarchy of divine beings, since all ‘angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam’ [Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 107], and thus it seems no messenger would be more suited to strengthen and bless than he who was the presiding archangel. Fourth, Adam enjoyed a unique relationship with the Savior. Not only did he join with Him in the creation process, but likewise as he led the heavenly forces in battle (Revelation 12:7). Now, once again, Adam might momentarily stand by Him as the Savior participated in the most crucial battle of all. Adam could not take the Savior’s place (for the Savior must bear this alone), but what he could do, he no doubt wanted to do. Perhaps he was there to console Him, to comfort Him, to support Him, maybe even to bless Him.

“The scriptures are silent as to the nature of the exchange between Christ and His angelic visitor. No doubt this was one of those moments so sacred it was not to be recorded in the annals of man [see 3 Nephi 17:15–17]. Evidently certain thoughts of the spirit are so lofty, so poignant, that they cannot be reduced to the oral language or written word of man. They simply defy mortal expression. Surely this was one of those moments.

“Whatever the details of that divine encounter, surely the angelic guest must have extended to Christ the fullest blessing heaven could offer. Certainly this was a moment of transcendent pathos. Perhaps each wept and transmitted an intensity of love known only by the gods and angels. Perhaps the angel offered words of comfort and reassurance. Or perhaps the strength of his silent presence was sufficient. Whatever the divine exchange may have been, the Savior found sufficient strength, in the midst of unfathomable pain, to press on. Truman Madsen reminds us that the angel came ‘strengthening—not delivering’ [Ensign, Dec. 1982, 61].”

(The Infinite Atonement [2000] 123–24.)

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