In the scriptures, Christ never referred to his Atonement with the symbol of a cross. The symbol the Lord chose to use was a cup. So in pondering about the Lord’s atonement, I’ve thought a lot about the bitterness of all of our sins and pains mixed in that cup which he partook of. Which leads me to ask, when Christ was suffering the infinite weight of the Atonement, were we anonymous to him? In the bitter composition of that terrible cup, could the Lord distinguish for what and for whom He was actually suffering? When I am drinking Kool-Aid, I am unable to distinguish the sugar, water and flavoring from each other. So were we also unidentified to the sins which we contributed to that metaphoric cup? Was there a name to each pain he suffered, or were you and I and our individual contributions to the awful sufferings, unknown to him? Were our individual contributions somehow mixed up in the cup beyond any ability to identify?
I’ve always wanted to believe that somehow I was not present in his mind when my awful contributions to his sufferings were placed upon him. Even now, the thought that I was identified and exposed before him as an individual and a co-contributor causes me the greatest sorrow and remorse; that I came before His pure mind and was associated with my sins terrifies me.
It seems that the only time people like to be anonymous is when they’ve done something wrong. Maybe that is why I have always wanted to think that when it came to Christ suffering for our sins, my sins were mixed in anonymously with everyone else’s.
So the question is, was there anonymity with the Atonement? Merrill J. Bateman of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke about this in particular when he taught:
“The Savior, as a member of the Godhead, knows each of us personally. Isaiah and the prophet Abinadi said that when Christ would “make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed” (Isa. 53:10; compare Mosiah 15:10). Abinadi explains that “his seed” are the righteous, those who follow the prophets (see Mosiah 15:11). In the garden and on the cross, Jesus saw each of us and not only bore our sins, but also experienced our deepest feelings so that he would know how to comfort and strengthen us...
“The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom” (emphasis added, “The Power to Heal from Within,” Ensign, May 1995, 14).
On a similar note, Elder John H. Groberg taught:
"I love the Savior. I feel that as he hung upon the cross and looked out over the dark scene, he saw more than mocking soldiers and cruel taunters. He saw more than crying women and fearful friends. He remembered and saw even more than women at wells or crowds on hills or throngs by seashores. He saw more, much more. He, who knows all and has all power, saw through the stream of time. His huge, magnanimous, loving soul encompassed all eternity and took in all people and all times and all sins and all forgiveness and all everything. Yes, he saw down to you and to me and provided us an all-encompassing opportunity to escape the terrible consequences of death and sin.” (John H. Groberg, "The Beauty and Importance of the Sacrament," Ensign, May 1989, 40)
It was an individual Atonement and individual suffering. If it were not an individual Atonement, then the Lord could not known us the same way. If he were only to suffer the breadth, width, height and depth of sin and suffering, but not actually our sins and sufferings, then he would know much of what we feel, but not exactly how we feel.
The Atonement was not a group plan, type of suffering. I do not believe that somehow everyone’s sins and suffering from this life were mixed together into some great mass, but that there was a name to each pain. Your name and mine. And perhaps even more, it was not just a name in his mind, it was not just our image in his mind, but I believe much greater, the summation of all that we were, are and ever would be was before his pure mind. For how could anybody ever know us more intimately then when feeling every fiber and moment of sin, shame, pain and sorrow from our lives? At the time of the Atonement, no one would ever know us more deeply than Christ. And because the Lord’s memory is perfect, He also knows us better now than any other ever could or ever will.
So during this sacred time of Easter, and all year, may we consider the personal love Jesus loves us with. May a better understanding of his love and goodness draw us unto him and help make us new people in Christ.
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
April 18th through 24th
Monday Passover (at sundown)
Tuesday National Hanging Out Day
Wednesday National Pot Smokers Day (420 -its the only commemoration today I could find)
Thursday High Five Day
Friday Good Friday & National Jelly Bean Day
Saturday Talk Like Shakespeare Day
I just realized there have been a few giveaways of my book on various blogs, but I have never done one on my own blog. So here it is.
Enter to win a signed copy of Impractical Grace to give to someone special for Mother’s Day (perhaps your mother?). The drawing starts today and will end April 30th. Mother’s day is May 8th. We will send a copy to whatever address you’d like. I’ll even (have my wife) wrap it for you.
As I hope you already know, it’s a wonderful book that can be life changing. On my website are great reviews and the first chapters you can download to get a taste of the book.
There are 3 things you can do to enter (each put you in the drawing once):
PS. If you can’t wait until Mother’s Day, it is also a great book for Easter.
- 1st leave a comment on this blog. www.johnbushman.com
- 2nd Share the link on Facebook. (and leave a comment saying you did that).
- 3rd Become a follower on this blog. (and leave a comment saying you did that).
Official Holidays & Observances This Week
April 11th through 17th
Monday National Pet Day
Tuesday DEAR Day (aka Drop Everything and Read)
Wednesday Thomas Jefferson Day
Thursday International Moment of Laughter Day
Friday Income Tax Pay Day
Saturday Husband Appreciation Day
Sunday Palm Sunday & Bat Appreciation Day
With certain gospel ordinances, there are phrases that must be said word for word. With the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost, there is a charge each new member is given to “receive the Holy Ghost”. I used to think of this as a one-time event that each new member was to do, and then they could essentially “check the box” on that event. But through the years I have grown to understand that this is a standing command; that it does not have a completion date, but rather receiving the Holy Ghost is something we are to continually do throughout our lives.
Football is a great example of this. On a team, there are those who are designated as receivers. And not all receivers are created equal. There is a great deal of skill in learning to run the plays and routes, and to anticipate what the quarterback might do. And if you get this skill down well enough, you could make millions in the NFL. Likewise, receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives is a skill that is developed. Rather than being something that passively happens to us, receiving the Holy Ghost takes an active, conscious effort every day. Just as a football receiver must learn to be in the right place at the right time, and to avoid those who are trying to stop them, so we can strive to be in the right places where we can recognize and receive the Spirit. And we can avoid temptations that might stop us from receiving as well.
In this last conference, President Uchtdorf commented on how we often live beneath our privileges, when it comes to having the Holy Ghost in our lives. But are some people just more privileged than others with receiving direction from the Holy Ghost? I strongly believe there are not; but the great spiritual men and women who often receive the Spirit’s direction have refined their abilities and talents in receiving the Holy Ghost. For instance, what do we do when we receive a prompting? Do we doubt, argue and not follow that prompting? If we are always pushing off promptings when they come, what will happen to the frequency of promptings? On the other hand if the Lord can always trust that we will follow those promptings, what will most likely happen with the frequency of promptings?
To me, President Monson is a great example of this idea. I believe that through the years, he has learned to quickly follow those promptings, so the Lord knows He can count on him, so he uses him all the more. May we also be quick to respond and receive the Holy Ghost in our lives every day; make that active, conscious effort.
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Official Holidays & Observances This Week
April 4th through April 10th
Monday Vitamin C Day & World Rat Day
Tuesday One Day Without Shoes Day
Wednesday Jesus's Christ's Birthday (D&C 20:1)
Thursday No Housework Day & Metric System Day
Friday Buddha Day
Saturday Winston Churchill Day
Sunday National Sibling Day