During all of the taunting, the abuse, the scourging, and the final torture of crucifixion, the Lord remained silent and submissive. Except, that is, for one moment of intense drama which reveals the very essence of Christian doctrine.
That moment came during the trial. Pilate, now afraid, said to Jesus: “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (John 19:10).
One can only imagine the quiet majesty when the Lord spoke. “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11).
What happened thereafter did not come because Pilate had power to impose it, but because the Lord had the will to accept it.
“I lay down my life,” the Lord said, “that I might take it again.
“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18).
Before the Crucifixion and afterward, many men have willingly given their lives in selfless acts of heroism. But none faced what the Christ endured. Upon Him was the burden of all human transgression, all human guilt.
And hanging in the balance was the Atonement. Through His willing act, mercy and justice could be reconciled, eternal law sustained, and that mediation achieved without which mortal man could not be redeemed.
He, by choice, accepted the penalty for all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality, immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror—for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth.
-Boyd K. Packer, “Atonement, Agency, Accountability,” Ensign, May 1988, 69