The Spirit of Holy Week
Applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ
First and foremost, faith is the power in all things. Christ is our perfect example, and faith is no less a part of that. He is a supreme example of faith. One of the things that I think is so miraculous is, that the Atonement was already active for us. Even primordially. Even when in the chronology of time it hadn’t been performed yet. That is what made agency, repentance, and spiritual resilience even possible for us before we came here. It was a virtual certainty by the merits of who Jehovah was. He was the first born of the Father, with all of the responsibilities and rights that we have learned the birthright son had and in accordance with the temporal and the priesthood roles that it was to be the first born son; to have responsibility for taking care of the family. His premortal example and character was such that we knew he would take care of our human family by making this ultimate sacrifice, performing the Atonement itself was an act of faith. I found this quote from C.S. Lewis that I had rarely thought about before, he is talking about how there had to have been a point when knowledge that this sacrifice had to be made was essentially withdrawn from the Savior. C.S. Lewis said, “It is clear that the knowledge of his death must have somehow been withdrawn from him before he prayed in Gethsemane. He could not, with whatever reservation about the Father’s will, have prayed that the cup might pass, and simultaneously known that it would not. That is both a logical and psychological impossibility. You see what this involves? Lest any trial incident to humanity should be lacking the torments of hope, of suspense, anxiety were at that moment loosed upon him. The supposed possibility that, after all, he might, he just conceivably might, be spared from the supreme horror. There was precedence. Isaac had been spared. He too, at the last moment. He also, against all apparent possibility, but for this last and erroneous hope against hope and the consequent tumult of the soul, the sweat of blood perhaps he would not have been very man to live in a fully predictable world is not to be man.” Lorenzo Snow said “It required all the power that he had and all the faith he could summon for him to accomplish that which the Father required of him.” I find it beautiful and important that Christ was not exempt from exercising his faith in his Father and in his Father’s plan, not to mention faith in himself. The same power that made the Atonement active premortally enabled Christ to fully perform the Atonement in mortality is the power that makes the Atonement now available to us. Merrill J Bateman said, “Faith in Christ is key to receiving access to a fullness of the Lord’s Atonement. Those who inherit the celestial Kingdom are those who receive the testimony of Jesus and believe on his name, enter into his covenants and keep his commandments. In contrast, those assigned to the terrestrial Kingdom, the honorable men and women of the earth receive not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh and are blinded by the craftiness of men. These good people are offered a witness of the truth but do not have the faith to receive it. Just as the Saviour exercised his faith in the Father and submitted his will to God in order to complete his mission so we will accomplish our earthly purposes through faith in them as well.” I love that last part, that this is the very same method that Christ used, that we will each have the opportunity given to also exercise our faith that we may gain the power made available to us through the Savior’s Atonement.
Next one, love is the motive. In Matthew 22, the Savior was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? And Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, love thy neighbor as thyself.’” It made me think about how using the Atonement in our everyday lives shows love for God, love for our neighbor and love for ourselves. When I think about showing love for God, I think about the best way to show gratitude for a gift that you’re given is to use it. When I was a young woman we had an experience up at girls camp. I had this experience with a particular girl who I knew, we had been in seminary together but we went to different high schools. We were in different wards. We didn’t know each other terribly well but she was having a really, really hard time at girls camp and. I felt impressed to take her aside and just talk to her. And it is one of the few moments in my life that I can look at and say that I was absolutely led by the spirit. One of the things that I said to her was, and I didn’t know that this was true doctrine at the time, but what I said was that Christ would have performed the Atonement, endured the same agony, if it had just been for her. If it had just been for you. If it had just been for me, he would have done the exact same thing. What does that mean, then? Well, that means that in choosing to use this gift, we are choosing to tell him that we’re grateful. That it matters to us. That we’re not just going to leave an unopened gift of eternal magnitude sitting on the shelf. And in doing that, we show him that we love him. I think of the line from a popular song that said, in talking about the Atonement, asking the question how many drops of blood were spilled for me? Are we going to allow them to have been spilt for nothing? Should Chris’s pain and suffering and sacrifice be for not? No. The more we can use the Atonement, the more we make it matter for ourselves and for him.
When it comes to loving our neighbor, I think about the gifts of the Atonement, such as forgiveness, repentance and healing. President Nelson shared a post Easter morning about forgiveness, which is enabled by the gift of the Atonement. I think that one of the most meaningful ways that we can show Christ-like love is to allow other people to have space to grow and make mistakes. And to repent and change. When we fail to forgive someone else what we’re really saying is that the Atonement can’t cover you. It can cover me, but what you did? Darn. It’s out of bounds. I’s been helpful for me, in my life, when I’ve had challenges and I’ve had to learn how to forgive other people, to look at it that way, to say, you know, am I really going to let my pride stand in the way of the Savior offering redemptive power to this person? Or healing power to me? So in giving space, I think we show love for our neighbors and then lastly, love for ourselves. We know that the worth of a single soul is great in the sight of God. And if that’s true, then the worth of our soul, we know, is great in the eyes of God. Choosing to allow the Atonement into our lives every day is one of the most eternally important and vital acts of self love that we can possibly conceive of.
All right, let’s talk about the spirit being the key. This ended up being a really great discussion in my Sunday School class because when I thought about it, I was thinking about the spirit and how the spirit is what leads us to repent, it’s what grants us remission of sins, it’s what encourages us to accept sacre ordinances such as baptism and priesthood power and temple covenants and it serves as the key to all of these things. But, in our Sunday School class, someone made a really interesting comment. They asked if the spirit is the key, then what is the door? And what are we trying to get to on the other side of the door? And in answer to that, another person said, “Well, I think that the door is us. We are the only thing that really stands between us and the other side of the door, which I would suggest is salvation and exaltation. That’s what we’re trying to get to, it’s the full realization of all of the blessings of the Atonement; eternal life and to be like God. And the suggestion that we are the door, we are the agent that stands in the way, that needs to be unlocked by the power of the spirit to fully come to realize all of those blessings. That was just absolutely profound to me. I think it’s so true, the spirit, indeed, is the key to understanding how to get out of our own way, how to put off the natural man and become a saint. How to be childlike, how to serve and see others the way that God would. The spirit serves all of these functions. The other thing that we talked about is how a key is really really useless if it’s just hanging on the wall. We, acting as agents, have to take the key and turn the lock. We are the ones that invite the power of the spirit into our lives, on a daily basis, or not. And the degree to which we do so is completely in our hands. But when we do, my goodness! Think of the miracles. Think of the vast array of knowledge and truth and glory that lies before us if we can intentionally take that tool and use it each and every day.
“What laws governed the inheritance of birthright in the Old Testament?” by Daniel H. Ludlow
“Lessons from the Atonement” by Merrill J. Bateman
“Doctrine of the Firstborn and Old Begotten” by Rodney Turner
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