the miracle of the Atonement.

The institute class I'm in this semester is called "The miracle of the Atonement". On Monday we had class and my eyes were opened so much to what a miracle the Atonement really is. Yes I hear about it every week at church. I hear about it when I read my scriptures. I hear about it when my family has FHE lessons together. I heard about it in primary, in young women's, Sunday school, and now I hear about it in Relief Society. I'm always hearing how important the Atonement is, what a wonderful sacrifice, what a wonderful, miraculous blessing that Christ suffered and died for us. But do I realize how important, how crucial the Atonement really was for our salvation? Do I really realize the depth of his sacrifice? Do I realize the true miracle of the Atonement?

I thought I did... I just didn't really think about it deep enough to realize all I didn't realize about the Atonement. If anything should not be taken for granted, it's the Atonement of Jesus Christ... but I found myself doing just that. I have a testimony of the Atonement. I know that because of it I can repent and will be able to return to my Heavenly Father. But I guess believing that has caused me to sit back content to know just that. But Institute yesterday helped to open my eyes to what the Atonement really should mean to me.

My teacher had us turn to Revelations 12:7-11. We talked about the war in heaven, and the reality that we didn't know for sure if Christ would fulfill the Atonement. We didn't have a guarantee that he would overcome all things and be resurrected.

2 Nephi 9:8-9 says "7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.

8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness."

If Christ would have failed to complete the Atonement, to die for us and to be resurrected, we wouldn't have been resurrected either. Our "flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more." Our spirits wouldn't dwell with God after living a righteous life, but we would all be subjects of the devil. Knowing this, I feel like it's easier to understand why a whole third of our brothers and sisters in heaven fell away with Satan. His plan would have seemed so promising. We didn't know if we would return to our wonderful Father, and I'm sure that terrified us. Yet, verse 11 of Revelations 12 tells us that even with this knowledge, "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony". We had to act on faith in his blood- the Atonement. We had to have sufficient faith in something that hadn't even happened yet. We had to fight against Satan then as we have to now- with our testimonies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

So with Satan doing everything he could think of to tempt him and make the Atonement fail, Christ came to earth to do that very thing. We can't even imagine the suffering of the Atonement. It would have killed anyone else to experience pain equal to that which the Savior did in Gethsemane. Christ could do it because he was physically God's son. And even Christ, the only begotten son of God, suffered so profoundly that he bled from every pore. To experience the afflictions of every person that would ever live was so great that even he was "sore amazed" (Mark 14:33). How great would the suffering have to be in order to amaze or astonish even the son of God? His suffering was so extreme that even he asked his Father in Heaven "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me". He suffered for everything. Everything we would ever feel. Every pain we can even think of feeling.

(This is an excerpt from The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister. My institute teacher shared this with our class)

Jacob placed no qualifiers when he said the Savior would suffer “the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). These were pains both related and unrelated to sin or transgression. In other words, the Savior voluntarily took upon himself not only the cumulative burden of all sin and transgression, but also the cumulative burden of all depression, all loneliness, all sorrow, all mental, emotional, and physical hurt, and all weakness of every kind that afflicts mankind. He knows the depth of sorrow that stems from death; he knows the widow’s anguish. He understands the agonizing parental pain when children go astray; he has felt the striking pain of cancer and every other debilitating ailment heaped upon man. Impossible as it may seem, he has somehow taken upon himself those feelings of inadequacy, sometimes even utter hopelessness, that accompany our rejections and weaknesses. There is no mortal condition, however gruesome or ugly or hopeless it may seem, that has escaped his grasp or his suffering. No one will be able to say, “But you don’t understand my particular plight.” The scriptures are emphatic on this point—“he comprehended all things” because “he descended below all things” (D&C 88:6; see also D&C 122:8).

All of these, Elder Neal A. Maxwell explains, “were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement.” President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “There is no human condition— be it suffering, incapacity, inadequacy, mental deficiency, or sin— which He cannot comprehend or for which His love will not reach out to the individual.” This is a staggering thought when we contemplate the Mount Everest of pain required to make it so. What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals?

Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call— just some recognition from the outside world. Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence. Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home. Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion. Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged. Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end. Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior’s load. Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this? No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all.

The prophets have long testified of the Savior’s infinite, suffering nature. Years before his birth, Isaiah declared, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), and later, “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9; see also D&C 133:53). Alma understood the extent of the Savior’s descent when he observed, “He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11; emphasis added). So extensive would be this descent that King Benjamin observed, “He shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer” (Mosiah 3:7). No one in the limited experiences of mortality will scratch the surface of pain laid upon the Infinite One. He carried it all, even that aggregate of pain that has no origins in sin or transgression.

The Infinite Atonement, Tad R. Callister, pp. 111-13

I can't even begin to imagine or to comprehend all that the savior would have suffered there in Gethsemane. To think that I complain about getting a cold or a paper cut. We feel so sorry for those experiencing death and loss in their lives. We feel torn apart when family members or friends die. There are times we face that make some feel like they simply can't go on any longer because of the depth of their suffering. And he suffered it all. For every single one of us.

Despite all of this incomprehensible pain, despite his desperate plea to the Father to "take this cup from me", despite all odds against him, despite the constant fight of Satan to cause him to fail, he continued to humble himself during the height of all misery, and to tell his Father in Heaven "nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt". That is the miracle of the Atonement. That is what makes it something that I can never take for granted. I can not even begin to comprehend the miracle that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is to me and all my brothers and sisters.

He suffered so I could repent and be saved. He suffered everything I will ever experience, and he is here to comfort me in all those experiences which he understands perfectly. I can't begin to express the gratitude that fills me as I think of all of these things.

Needless to say, I couldn't be more excited for this semester in institute. The class is intense. Definitely not the simplest gospel concepts... but I can't wait to go to the next class the moment one is over. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true and I am so grateful to be a part of it and to have knowledge of it. And I'm so grateful to be enrolled in institute... :)

I know that was a very long post... with lots of words... but I just had to share the things we learned in that class and share with others the wonderful miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


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