Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Understanding of the Atonement

Today I was reading from the Topical Guide again. This time it was Jesus Christ, Atonement, through. There are a lot of great scriptures there, but one in particular completely changed my understanding of the Atonement. I don't know if I'm right with this, but it helped me understand it a little more.

The end of Hebrews 2:9 says, "that he [Christ] by the grace of God should taste death for every man." I've always understood this to mean physical death. But perhaps it means spiritual death. Maybe Christ suffered so much because He felt what it was like to be separated from Heavenly Father forever. Being His only Begotten Son, that must have been so painful for Him! To literally feel what it was like to be separated from His Father forever. We can always try to imagine what that's like, but Christ, with His understanding of God's Plan, really felt the weight of that - the devastation of that.

The Atonement to me has always been more of a physical thing - He suffered our physical pains, such as sickness, anger, sorrow. But it was SO much more than that! He literally felt that separation from God. And He knew that if He didn't go through with everything, that we would all feel that same way forever. He loved us so much that He didn't want us to feel that despair. He died for us, so that we wouldn't have to suffer like that.

Yes, Christ suffered for our physical pains. But He also suffered for our spiritual ones. Most importantly, He took away the pain that we will never have to feel - separation from God (like that of Lucifer). He suffered it so that we will never have to.


Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You are spot on here, Laurie. Check out these quotes (I only have them handy because I teach an Atonement talk for EFY):

•“It seems, that in addition to the fearful suffering incident to crucifixion, the agony of Gethsemane had recurred, intensified beyond human power to endure. In that bitterest hour the dying Christ was alone, alone in most terrible reality. That the supreme sacrifice of the Son might be consummated in all its fulness, the Father seems to have withdrawn the support of His immediate presence.” (Elder James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 661)

•“In a messianic psalm David spoke about Jesus’ heartbreaking circumstances, including His being totally alone in the awful process! ‘Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink’ (Psalm 69:20-20). Jesus always deserved and always had the Father’s full approval. But when He took our sins upon Him, of divine necessity required by justice He experienced instead ;the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God’ (D&C 76:107).” (Neal A Maxwell, Lord Increase our Faith [1994], 13).

Julia said...

Wow, another dimension of the atonement that I hadn't really focused on before. Thanks for bringing this thought to my attention. Makes my appreciation and gratitude so much deeper. :~)

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