The evening before Jesus is crucified is an important one. Jesus was participating in the festivities of passover and now in the evening he is apparently at a passover meal with all his disciples.
Symbolically the passover meal was meant to remind the Jews of their deliverance from Egypt. If you remember they put blood on the lintels of their homes and as a result they were "passed over" and their lives were sparred. As part of this yearly festival the Jewish priest would sacrifice the unblemished paschal lamb. They would also eat the flesh of the sacrifice.
In Matthew, Mark and Luke we find accounts of this "Last Supper". Jesus was bold in declaring at this supper that he was the lamb that the Jews looked forward to. He was the lamb who's sacrifices freed them from bondage and now as that Savior he would preform the final act of ultimate sacrifice latter that evening and into the next day. Thus the need for a passover remembrance was not needed but instead he instituted the sacrament using bread and wine as symbols to remind his followers of his sacrifice.
No longer would the blood sacrifice of unblemished lambs be needed to draw the peoples mind the the coming of the savior for he stood there in their midst. In a few short hours he would conclude his ultimate sacrifice and a new ordinance would be necessary to draw his followers minds back to the ultimate sacrifice rather than forward to it as the passover had done so well.
At the conclusion of this final meal the Savior concludes with what is known as the Intercessory Prayer wherein he asked that his disciples "be one". Once finished Jesus along with a couple disciples retired to a garden on the Mount of Olives to preform the Atonement.
I hesitate to write about the atonement only because I don't fully understand it. I know that it took place and I think I understand its importance but I am not I know everything that I should about it. Many of us know God's strict commands when it comes to returning to live with him. (D&C1:31) He wants perfection. Many of us also recognized our utter failure at achieving that standard. (Romans 3:23). Understanding that God requires perfection yet none is able to meet that standard can lead to despair. Not even one little sin can be admitted into the presence of God. So, if you have ever made a mistake you are disqualified, your not getting in. Now before you stop reading let me try and explain the rest of the story.
Understanding the true weight each of us are under because of our inability to meet God's standards makes what the Savior did that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane so important. A being with infinite capacity and resources, one who was in every way perfect was the only one that could do this. In that garden somehow he took upon himself the consequences of all the sins ever committed and yet to be committed by mankind. In other words every mistake you and I ever made he paid the consequence. Not only did he cover our mistakes but he also took upon himself all our sorrows and other pains.
As a bit of an aside from the story but very important to understanding the significance of that evening, when the savior did this he also opened up a way for each of us to return to live with God. In the supper he had just come from he eluded to this. He had paid for all our sins, he owned the power to give us a chance. His only requirement was instituted in the last supper. He merely wants us to covenant with him, have faith in him, repent of that which we do wrong, be baptized by one who has authority, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. If we will do that and renew that promise every week through participating in his sacrament he will cover our sins and our partnership will allow us to return to live with God and our families again.
Quick example, by binding ourselves through the sacrament to someone who has infinite resources we become infinite in our capacity as well. What is -10 plus infinity? Infinity! It matters not how vile an act we have committed or how hard a hand we have been dealt in life, what matters is our entering into this contractual, covenant relationship with an infinite being. This covenant will take us wherever we are, whatever or capacity or lack thereof and exalt us to an infinite status.
This is a nice video that describes the effects of the Atonement:
I am grateful for that evening of the Saviors life, I don't know how he did it, but I am so glad that he did. His outstretched hand is for everyone. As he suffered and great drops of blood flowed from every pore he opened a way for each of us to return to our heavenly homes. (Isaiah 1:18)