Although each of the four Gospels relates events from the night of the Passover and the Crucifixion the next day, they are reverently scant on details about Jesus’s suffering. One of the things we do know is that in the Garden of Gethsemane, “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Over a century earlier, an angel prophesied to the prophet-king Benjamin: “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” (Mosiah 3:7).
The saying goes that a sparrow shall not fall to the ground without God’s notice (a mixture of similar passages in Matthew and Luke). How much more then was every drop of His innocent blood He shed for us honored of His Father, in part because those drops fell for us, the rest of God’s children. Gethsemane being the garden of the oil press, Jesus there took upon Himself the incomprehensible weight of our sins, flaws, and other struggles. I would suggest that it was not some massive conglomeration of the horrors and heartaches of mortality that fell upon Him, but rather the cumulative weight of individual sins and pains, large and small, innumerable to us.
Such is the type of self-sacrifice that I attempted to depict in the Parable of the Prince and the Darkness—a venturing over and over into the deepest darkness against the most vicious monsters that the depths of that kingdom could hide. And only the best of us could survive it. Not just once, but every time.
When I wrote this parable, a story was being circulated by email in which a professor of religion one day offered each member of his class a donut. But for each person who took one, a particular member of the class (who knew about this in advance and was clearly the most athletic) had to do ten pushups. The farther along in the process it became, the harder it was for this student to do the pushups, and people started refusing. But the professor had the student do the pushups anyway so that the donut was an option for everyone.
This story has been criticized mainly for the triteness of representing salvation with a donut and trying to compare Jesus’s suffering to doing pushups. The other main problem I see with it is there is no connection between the pushups and the donuts. At the same time, the main thing it rightly illustrates is that Jesus paid for everyone to receive, whether they choose to receive the prize or not.
So I set about to write a comparison that connected the suffering with the prize. The king of course represents Father in Heaven, the prince is Jesus Christ, and we are the rest of the subjects of the kingdom. The darkness, monsters, and traps are all the tactics Satan has concocted and that we fall victim to in life that estrange us from God, and that Jesus faced down in order to bring forth treasure of inestimable worth. Jesus endured pain over and over that every individual can receive the gift of eternal life in God’s house, though not all will accept it. For various reasons, not all make the commitment and the journey required to lay claim to it.
He has done for me what no one else can, and that’s why I strive to make the journey. He is the Prince who overcame everything Satan can cast in our way and in its place offers all He has. He faced down the dark and emerged victorious. His sincere desire is for His victory to become ours.
On commenting: Please share your thoughts! You can leave an email address, but it’s not required. Leaving an email address may prompt you to sign in with a social media or WordPress account.