Jesus Christ and a Broken Heart
The Book of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ, is the religious history of a people that inhabited the Americas from around 600 BC to 400 AD. It was translated by Joseph Smith from an ancient record by the gift and power of God. As its title indicates, its teachings about Jesus Christ combine with the teachings of the Old and New Testaments to help form the foundation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the nickname “Mormons” comes from its title. In the Book of Mormon, Jesus himself talks about how He no longer requires animal sacrifices. Instead, He requires the sacrifice of a broken heart:
I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…
Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin (The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:18-21).
In his new book, Enabled by the Power of Christ, E. Richard Packham describes how a broken heart can bring us to our Savior, Jesus Christ:
One day a number of years ago, I was using an unabridged dictionary to look up the spelling of a particular word. As my finger ran down the column of words, all of a sudden a very familiar term jumped out: broken heart. I could not help but stop and see what Mr. Webster had to contribute to my understanding. One concept proposed that the term meant, “A theological term meaning to be crushed spiritually.” The thought ran through my mind, “What is there in the gospel that would cause us to be crushed spiritually?” Every gospel principle that is taught brings joy and happiness—eternal marriage, the resurrection, the Plan of Sa1vation, and so forth. All of a sudden, the thought filled my being that perhaps as people, we come to understand the profound suffering of the Savior’s Atonement by realizing that we personally contributed to that suffering. We then are “drawn to Christ.” In this realization, it breaks our hearts and brings a contrition of spirit, increasing the commitment to a changed life that can come in no other way. It penetrates us to the point of not wanting to make that great offering of love, an offering made in vain. It produces godly sorrow to the point of breaking our hard hearts, opening ourselves to the commit-ment, and changing our lives to be completely submissive to Him who gave so much…
I obtained permission from Lynn McKinley, a retired professor at BYU, to quote a sacred, personal experience that profoundly describes this process as it happened to him:
Such laboring in the spirit I have never known before. My wife and children were away for an hour or so, visiting her mother, and I was in the house alone. I felt the old familiar earthborn loneliness but was entirely unprepared for that which came. I knelt down beside the couch, began to pray to draw the Spirit to my breast for comfort and relief. But soon I felt an overwhelming power fill my being—not a power of light and exaltation which I wanted and expected, that I’d tasted measurably before at times, but a power that seemed almost to bruise my flesh and crush my spirit with the awful knowledge of my earthly guilt. The shameful vivid memories of sins that I had committed—tore my heart apart as they passed before my eyes and settled in my bosom. I could almost feel the anguish that the Master bore for me there in Gethsemane; the aching sorrow that I felt, to know with burning knowledge every sin I had committed or—God help me—I might yet commit, had of necessity to be absolved by bitter pain within his own pure, perfect, patient body. How the sobs tore through my throat. My spirit groaned with grief. With all the strength in me I bared my soul, confessed as deeply as my consciousness could stretch and still beyond, and plead forgiveness at the feet of him, my Savior and my King. I offered him my life, whatever it was worth to him. He bought it with his blood, the blood that oozed from every pore.
Could such a total commitment come without an awareness of the incomprehensible suffering of the Savior? Truly, a broken heart is the final capstone in the repentance process that provides the commitment, the purging, and the cleansing that allows a knowledge of forgiveness to come. (Enabled by the Power of Christ, by E. Richard Packham. 2008. Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, Inc.)
When we truly allow ourselves to experience the effects of the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, it will break our hearts with a knowledge of our sins. But when our hearts are broken, they can also finally be purged and healed through His marvelous love and power as we turn our lives completely over to Him.
In humility, our Savior,
Grant thy Spirit here, we pray,
As we bless the bread and water
In thy name this holy day.
Let me not forget, O Savior,
thou didst bleed and die for me
When thy heart was stilled and broken
On the cross at Calvary.
Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving;
Teach us tolerance and love.
Let our prayers find access to thee
In thy holy courts above.
Then, when we have proven worthy
Of thy sacrifice divine,
Lord, let us regain thy presence;
Let thy glory ’round us shine.
(“In Humility, Our Savior,” by Mabel Jones Gabbott and Roland Prichard, Hymns #172)
Tags: Atonement, Book of Mormon, broken heart, broken heart and contrite spirit, Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, contrite spirit, humility, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, mormon, New Testament, sacrifice
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