The two greatest events in the history of mankind
were the Savior’s atonement and resurrection.
The atonement began in Gethsemane,
continued on the cross,
and culminated with the resurrection.
The depth of our understanding and belief in the atonement
will largely determine our ability to cope with life’s greatest challenges.
Repentance and the Atonement
When the atonement is accessed through repentance, the Lord allows us to put our mistakes, sins, and feelings of guilt from the past behind us. Forgiveness of sins is available to everyone all the time, no matter how large or small the sin, on condition of repentance. We can choose to repent, conform our lives to the teachings of the Savior, and literally be healed and born again as sons and daughters of Christ, born into a state of righteousness through the power of the atonement.
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world…and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (John 5:4; 3:9)
In addition to forgiveness of sins and healing the transgressor, the atonement also heals the innocent who suffer because of the transgressions of others, providing relief from their pain and suffering. As the innocent exercise faith in the Savior and in his atonement, forgiving the transgressor, they too can be healed. It is difficult, but possible, to forgive all those who have wronged us, forgive those we have wronged, and forgive ourselves.
Healing Power of the Atonement
Life seems unfair when we consider all who suffer, until we learn to see things within the larger vision of what the Savior did for us through the atonement and the resurrection. With the exception of sins of perdition, there is no pain, sorrow, or transgression which is outside of the healing power of the atonement.
Suffering is like a refining fire, purifying us for a higher purpose. It is through righteousness and faith in the atonement that all of the inequities, injuries, and pains of this life can be fully compensated for and made right. Faith enables us to hope that blessings denied and physical limitations in this life will be fully recompensed in the eternities. Hope brings a calming influence to our lives and helps us look beyond today and forward with an eternal perspective to the future, where we can gain eternal happiness made possible by the atonement.
The Lord’s Hand is Outstretched
The Lord is very mindful of our challenges, and he is not a silent observer. He may choose to actually heal our pain, or lift our burden so we cannot feel it. He may choose to give us strength to bear our burdens, so that we may rise above our pain and develop qualities such as humility, faith, courage, strength, love, patience, kindness, compassion, tenderness, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, and charity.
It does not matter the circumstances, trials, or challenges that might surround us—because an understanding of the doctrine of Christ and his atonement will be the source of our strength to endure, and our ability to feel the peace he promised to deliver. Christ was not speaking of peace which is achieved by military force or by negotiation between nations. He was speaking of the inner spiritual peace we can have in our own lives when we turn to him and live the teachings of Christ.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” (Psalms 29:11)
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalms 119:165)
“…observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
“…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
The Lord promised to bless with peace those who are faithful, keep his commandments, and seek him through prayer. Christ taught us how to live, and he taught us how to prepare to die, so our salvation will be secure.
The Ultimate Act of Love and Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a supreme expression of Christian love. When we come to truly love Christ, our ability to love and forgive ourselves and others will expand, because that ability lies within Christ’s atonement—the ultimate act of love and forgiveness.
Christ came to earth to do the will of his Father, and our Father.
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)
Christ offered himself a sinless sacrifice for the sins of all mankind who will repent and obey God’s laws, so that we may return to live in God’s presence. Christ’s unconditional love for his Father and all mankind enabled him to endure the incomprehensible agony, pain, suffering and crucifixion, all without complaining, and willing to forgive all who caused him to suffer. Little did the world know when they crucified the Savior, that he held their destiny in his hands. As the author of forgiveness, the Savior’s final words as he hung on the cross reflected charity—love, mercy, and forgiveness toward those who persecuted him and were attempting to take his life.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Christ Suffered for Us. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ chose to personally and willingly suffer intense agony in order to comprehend all human suffering. He knows personally all that we pass through and how to extend his perfect mercy, as well as how to help us and relieve our pain. We can trust him—he earned our trust in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. If we develop and exercise faith in him, he will respond. He will strengthen and preserve us in our time of need.
In addition, each of us can repent, access the blessings of the atonement, and not have to personally suffer the effects of our mortal trials, temptations, sinful desires or acts, sorrows, pain, sickness, affliction, fear, and every other iniquity known to man, woman and child.
The atoning sacrifice that was made for the entire human family could only be made by one who had not sinned himself—the sinless Son of God, because fallen man could not atone for his own sins. Men can neither forgive their own sins, nor cleanse themselves from the consequences of their sins. Christ paid the demands of justice and extends mercy to all who will repent and follow Him, so that we may be made clean enough to return to live forever with Christ and our Heavenly Father.
“Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:17)
“Christ suffered for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.” (Luke 13:3)
“…(he) who knew no sin (was) made to be sin for us.” (2 Corin. 5:21)
Every person who has ever lived owes Christ an enormous debt of gratitude to be invited to participate in His atonement. At the last moment, he could have turned back—but he did not. Knowing that every accountable person sins in some degree every day, without the atonement we would all be forever banned from returning to the presence of God. Without Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, our decayed bodies would have remained dead forever, never to be resurrected and restored to our spirits. (1 Corin. 6:9-10; Ephes. 5:5) It is only through His atonement, love, and grace that we can all be saved from spending eternity in hell with Satan, and can hope to receive the gift of eternal life with God.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
When the resurrected Christ stood before Mary Magdalene, the first mortal to see the risen Lord, he asked, “Woman, why weepest thou?” (John 20:15) If Christ had never lived, or had failed to complete the atonement, we would all have reason to weep. Christ is not dead—He lives, and his spirit can be with us today. His great atoning sacrifice and breaking of the bonds of death will wipe away the tears of all those who have tried to keep his commandments and follow in his footsteps.
Salvation is a gift of mercy to all who do not actually deserve it, but have done all they can to earn it. As we each stand before the Savior on our day of judgment, those with forgiving hearts will invite the highest level of mercy the Savior is able to give to us.
To pay our debt to Christ
, we must be willing to give away all
of our sins. Daily scripture study will increase our love for Christ and his teachings, and our desire to do all that he asks
. This love for Christ will claim a presence in our thoughts, desires, priorities, choices, and actions. As the Savior’s teachings become engraved in our minds and in our behavior—we will then think like Christ, act like Christ, and have no more disposition to do evil.
“Wilt thou draw near the nature of the Gods? Draw near them then in being merciful. Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge.” William Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus, Act 1, sc. 1, 1.117-119)The atonement applies to each of us on a very personal level.
We each play the roles of both the Offender and the Offended one countless times throughout our lives. Forgiveness and the atonement can heal both sides of any offense. There are also two sides
of the atonement, and the Savior stands in the middle—
One Side of the Atonement
One side of the atonement is for the sinner, or the one we feel has wronged us. Christ has already suffered and fully atoned for the sins of those who have wronged us and repented. Even the Son of God cannot forgive without repentance—the Lord forgives people only when their sins are fully repented of, never in their sins. There is a forgiveness that we are entitled to have, if we will just ask for it. It’s the forgiveness that Christ wants to give to each of us.
Those who refuse to repent will eventually be judged by a wise and just God according to their deeds, and then suffer themselves for their sins. (Luke 13:3-5) There is no need for us to personally pre-judge or pre-punish anyone. No one will escape the penalty of his deeds, and no one will fail to receive the blessings he has earned. Leave judgment and punishment to a wise and loving Heavenly Father.
The Other Side of the Atonement
The other side of the atonement is for the one who feels he has been sinned against. There may be a tendency to only give part of our suffering to Christ, so we can remember and prove to ourselves and others that we have suffered, especially from the choices of others. Some may be unwilling to leave judgment to the Lord, fearing He might be too merciful and not punish the offender sufficiently. Whatever our reason may be, our refusal to forgive others is a rejection of Christ’s atonement. By forgiving others, Christ has atoned for our pain and the burdens we carry which have resulted from our own actions or the actions of others.
The Savior Stands in the Middle
The Savior stands in the middle between the offender and the one offended, to absorb the sins, pain, and suffering of all. That is why Jesus was called the “great physician.” His ability was not just curing physical diseases. He was also an expert in curing people with sick souls. He prescribed the remedies of “love your enemies…think no evil…forgive one another.”
Christ does not prevent pain and suffering;
instead, he views our suffering and stands as a resource to us. The Savior can “bind up the brokenhearted,”
and “comfort all that mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
His sacrifice was sufficient for all people in all situations, so there is no need for our
added suffering. He offers to heal and save all concerned, if we will accept His atonement, repent of grudges, give up enmity, and release all of our pain to Him. We may have to live with the consequences of the actions of ourselves and others, but He promises to lift the burdens off of our shoulders, heal our broken hearts, and fill them with what they lack—either washing away the pain or sustaining us in it. Christ strengthens and comforts us as he stands ready
to extend his love, companionship, understanding, support, and power to heal, to all who will come unto him. Sometimes the Lord removes our burdens, sometimes he sustains us by giving us strength, understanding, patience and peace to bear our burdens, and sometimes he lifts the burdens off of our shoulders so we cannot feel them. Sometimes, the only way we can find peace and solace in and from our pain and our sins—is to come unto Christ with a humble heart.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Trust in the Lord to heal both the one forgiven, and the one who forgives. The power and peace of the atonement is always available to all, but we each must activate it in our own lives by believing in Christ, repenting, obeying his commandments, forgiving others, praying, and casting all of our sorrows, big or small, at his feet. Allow his love and forgiveness for you to fill your heart—then, extend love and forgiveness to others so they can also feel peace and hope.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
If your life, or someone else’s life, seems broken beyond repair
—remember, there is a perfect remedy, because everyone’s life can be mended. We can choose to either carry our heavy burdens alone, or share them with the Lord. Those who lay their burdens at the feet of Christ will be supported, strengthened, and comforted in their trials and afflictions. The atonement lifts every individual from the burden of mistakes, sins, disappointments, sorrows, heartaches and despair. God loves broken hearts, because they diminish our pride, allowing us to be more receptive to his guidance and wisdom as we experience learning, growth and change. (God loves broken things! Listen to the lyrics of “Broken” by Kenneth Cope) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3Phc3vsDZ0
Christ knows the mind and heart of each person,
and loves each one, because each person
is of infinite worth to him. He chose to suffer and endure all pain for his own personal learning experience, in order to understand us perfectly. No one can teach Jesus anything about temptation, pain, affliction, fear, discouragement, suffering, hurt, disappointment, or sorrow. He suffered everything known to man, plus more.
“He is despised and rejected of men…Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
Christ knows each individual perfectly,
and he knows our hearts. He has felt our personal pain, knows exactly how it feels, and knows exactly
how to heal each individual in the way that is best for them and those around them. Christ has not left us alone—he stands beside us, waiting to heal our hearts; help each individual convert every weakness to a strength; overcome imperfections, trials and temptations; and open the door of heaven for all who will follow him.
After we have done all we can to forgive others, the strength to complete that forgiveness is often achieved only as a gift from the Lord for those who sincerely seek his help to change their heart.
Christ beckons all who have sinned or are suffering, to invite him into their painful life and have the courage to ask and allow him to heal and change their hearts. Return the pain and suffering you took away from Christ—suffering which he already endured and owned—and give it back to Him. Mentally gather all of your anger and resentment in your arms, or write them down on a piece of paper, and return them to the feet of the Savior. God can only heal our broken heart if we truly desire to change, and are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, revenge and resentment, and “forgive all men.” Those who can truly forgive their enemies are then able to rebuild their lives, no matter what physical or emotional scars may have burdened them before.
Two thousand years ago Christ remembered us,
and did not turn his back on us
under the pain of Gethsemane and Calvary’s hill.
Have faith in Christ—
He will not turn his back on us now.