I wanted to do this painting, but I didn’t want it to focus on the suffering aspect of the Atonement. I wanted to portray the Savior’s resolve to overcome the suffering of his ordeal. I wanted this painting to express a feeling of Christ’s love and devotion to His Father — His willingness to complete His earthly mission as He had been ordained to do from the beginning. I didn’t want a painting of a tortured, suffering man, but of the Savior of the world, nearing His victory in spite of His suffering.
We know that the soldiers who tortured and crucified the Lord were not in charge of the situation. Priests mocked the Savior, saying that if he really was the Son of God, to come down from the cross. He was not at the mercy of the executioners. Instead, He was willingly saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
I asked my son to pose for this painting. His attitude was “since it’s my dad, I’ll do it for him.” We discussed the painting and prayed together, and we really wanted to communicate what the Savior must have felt during the culmination of His earthly mission. As my son had helped, it struck me – here is my son, doing something for his father. Then I really began to think of Christ suffering not only for us, but doing it for His Father as well. I thought of the tremendous love He has for His Father. Then I thought of my feeling for my own son, as he was doing this thing for me, and was overwhelmed with the feelings that the Father must have had for his son.
The emotion in my son’s eyes turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The eyes of my own son, willing to do this for me, show just the feeling I hoped to capture – eyes looking heavenward with willingness and determination to do His Father’s will. In the finished painting, the eyes are the only features that resemble my son.