Below is an excerpt from Randall J. Brown’s book, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior (pp. 59-61). 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.
Experiencing His Wounds
President Henry B. Eyring once said he heard President Hinckley say, “We must do better at getting the gospel down into our hearts.” President Eyring then said: “I believe the one way—the best way, and possibly the only way—to meet President Hinckley’s challenge . . . is to focus all we do on the Atonement of Christ” (“The Root of Christian Doctrine,” BYU Magazine (Fall 2006): 45).
Part of experiencing contact with Christ is experiencing contact with the emblems of His suffering—the sacrament. The Atonement of Christ is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root—if they have been cut free from that truth—there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. Thomas B. Griffin said, “Contact with the emblems of Christ’s suffering should shock us, humble us, and evoke a deep sense of gratitude” (Ibid).
When Jesus Christ appeared to his “other sheep” on the American continent, He introduced Himself saying:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth (3 Nephi 11:10–12).
The whole multitude fell to the earth when they realized the prophecies about Christ’s coming had been fulfilled. Perhaps there were other reasons as well. Maybe some were caught completely by surprise, maybe some were filled with wonder and amazement, but whatever the reason, the Lord commanded them to arise and come unto Him. He wanted each one of them to personally experience for themselves the wounds of His suffering. He said:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world (3 Nephi 11:14).
This likely was not a quick process. It is possible these people waited many hours, if not all day, for their opportunity to experience their Savior. However, each of them stood patiently waiting their turn to tangibly experience the marks of their Savior’s sufferings.
This experience of standing in the presence of the resurrected Lord and touching the marks of His crucifixion must have had a powerful effect on each of them personally. Third Nephi chapter 11 tells us as the multitude went forth and felt with their hands and saw with their eyes that “they did know of a surety” this was the Savior of the World.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come (3 Nephi 11:15).
This experience had such a profound experience on them that they all cried, “Hosanna!” meaning “Save us now!”
And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him (3 Nephi 11:16–17).
The multitude then fell to the earth a second time; however, this time was for a different reason. This time when they fell to the earth, they worshipped Him. They had personally experienced the emblems of His suffering, of His great and last sacrifice for each of them individually. I am sure the realization of what Christ had suffered was meant to be shocking. I am sure it was to awaken them to a realization of the Savior’s love that they could not have experienced in any other way. This experience created within them a deep desire to worship Him.
We too should experience a sense of shock that reverences us toward that which our Savior suffered for us individually. As we partake of the sacrament, the emblems of His suffering should also create in us a deep desire to worship Him. It should cause us to cry out, in a deeply meaningful way, “Hosanna.”
Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, taught that we might become children of Christ and joint-heirs with Him if we suffer with Him. He said, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
I witness that the apostle Paul spoke truth–we can become joint-heirs with Christ as we embrace the truthfulness of the atonement; consequently we will have greater contact with the emblems of the sacrament (the bread and water to represent Christ’s flesh and blood). For Mormons, partaking of the sacrament also is a reminder of their baptismal covenants (a two-way promise between man and God). Just this morning I read an inspiring quote that relates to remembering covenants, given by a Mormon apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland:
[Covenants are] the most fundamental thing we can discuss in the gospel plan, because only covenant makers and covenant keepers can claim the ultimate blessings of the celestial kingdom [the highest part of heaven]. . . . When we talk about covenant keeping, we are talking about the heart and soul of our purpose in mortality (“Keeping Covenants: A Message for Those Who Will Serve a Mission,” Ensign, Jan 2012).
I invite you to learn more about the atonement, and how it relates to making the covenants that are available through the Church of Jesus Christ by meeting with Mormon missionaries. I witness that if you do, you too will be able to experience Christ’s wounds in a symbolic but very real way. I will ever be grateful for the missionaries who taught my family members and who allowed the blessings of the atonement to enter our family. It has changed my eternities.
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.