Below is an excerpt from Randall J. Brown’s book, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior (pp. 61-62). Experiencing Christ was published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc. In this excerpt Brown shares the truth that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the very root of Christian doctrine–and he explains how we can let that truth enter our hearts in a powerful way. Brown belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”), and is a devoted follower and disciple of Jesus Christ.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland [a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ] said:
The wounds in [Christ’s] hands, feet, and side are signs that in mortality painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect, signs that tribulation is not evidence that God does not love us. It is a significant and hopeful fact that it is the wounded Christ who comes to our rescue. He who bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love, the emblems of humility and forgiveness is the Captain of our Soul (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ And The New Covenant (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 259).
I think many of us are uncomfortable in deeply contemplating the Savior’s suffering, but experiencing His suffering is a way to know more fully the depth of His love for us. Experiencing His sacrifice is a form of worship.
In teaching and discussing the Atonement of Christ, we typically focus on His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering upon the cross, but He also endured the cruel torture of His scourging, the humiliation of being mocked and spit upon, and the symbolic blasphemy of being crowned with thorns. He also temporarily endured the bitter solitude of feeling forsaken by his Father.
All these things He suffered in order to restore us to our status in the royal family of God. Christ’s sufferings and atoning sacrifice were for much more than just the forgiveness of our sins—they were to heal every pain, illness, and affliction experienced in mortality. The prophet Isaiah saw our Savior’s wounds and described what he witnessed in these words:
Surely he hath bourne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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 53:4–5).
In the Book of Mormon, Alma describes some of the additional sufferings the Lord would take upon Himself:
And 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.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11–12)
Both Alma [a Book of Mormon prophet] and Isaiah testified that the Savior took upon Himself much more than our sins. He also took upon Himself our afflictions, our temptations, our infirmities, and our sorrows. Indeed, He took upon Himself all of our mortal experience, every pain, every discouragement, every disappointment, and every trial.
To save each of us individually, He had to walk in each of our shoes. For each of us to trustingly cast our cares and burdens upon Him, we must know that He, in reality, bore them.
Although His suffering was infinite and eternal, He also suffered for each of us in a deeply intimate and personal way. This He did that He might know (experientially) how to succor each of us according to our own unique weaknesses, infirmities, and trials.
He drank for us the bitter cup that He might know each of us and our specific situations perfectly. He drank it that He might have perfect compassion, perfect love, and perfect understanding.
His sacrifice not only reverses the effects of the fall, it also makes us like unto Himself—“heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).
Each time I learn about what Christ actually went through, I am truly humbled. He suffered that we could be redeemed. He suffered that we could have a friend to lift our burdens. And He suffered that He could be the truest of friends. I remember learning about Christ and how He felt my pains, illnesses, sorrows and disappointments in addition to the effects of my sins. I realized that He really knows exactly what I have gone through, am going through, and will go through. For instance, I recently injured my toe. He felt the pain of my toe, not just what a broken toe feels like, but my specific injury. I witness that He has felt that way for each and every person. He is truly the Savior of the world.
I invite you to learn more about the atonement of Jesus Christ and how it can personally benefit your life by meeting with Mormon missionaries–they can help you! I know with all of my heart that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and living gospel here on the earth–it is Christ’s church. Does that mean that Mormons don’t think others have truth? As the late Mormon prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, said:
We recognize the good in all people. We recognize the good in all churches, in their efforts to improve mankind and to teach principles that lead to good, stable, productive living. To people everywhere we simply say, ‘You bring with you all the good that you have, and let us add to it. That is the principle on which we work’ (interview with Philippines Television, 30 April 1996).
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.