The Atonement of Jesus Christ: Why did He do it?
April 23, 2018
talk by Kristin Geliske aka GG with Lots of help!
A while back, so far back I don’t remember all the details. My Father was preparing our family to leave home for a time. He told us we would learn and make mistakes and that some of our siblings would get lost along the way. He told us He had a plan that would increase our knowledge and desire to come home again. He said our mistakes, heartaches and imperfections would dampen our desire and focus to come home. He said that we wouldn’t be able to get home on our own and that we couldn’t pay anyone to bring us back. Don’t worry, He said, I will provide help – someone will pay for us to come home and show us the way.
My elder brother said, “Here am I, send me”
Why would he do that?
Did He know how hard it was gonna be?
Did He know we wouldn’t remember how much we loved Him and how much He loved us?
Did He know there would be another blocking our every move to learn of Him, to serve Him, to obey Him, to love Him?
Did He know how much pain comes to one person tormented by his own mistakes and shortcomings?
Or how much grief one person feels due to the sins of others?
Did He comprehend the sorrow one person feels with the loss of a loved one?
Did He know that some of His brothers and sisters would commit such heinous crimes against their siblings?
Why would He do that?
I think we can comprehend sacrifice to a degree. We are parents, or we are brothers and sisters, we sacrifice all the time for the love of our children. We would all say that we would take a bullet for a family member or sacrifice our life to push a child out of the way of a moving vehicle. We have seen many accounts of heroes in the news. A teacher found dead lying over her students to protect them during a violent situation, a firefighter losing his life rushing into a burning building to save one more person. I have a friend who gave one of his kidneys to his brother to save his life.
Preparing for my talk I remembered the details of an event several years ago.
Do you remember where you were September 11, 2001?
(Twin Towers – NY City)
(Pentagon – Washington D.C.)
There was a series of 4 coordinated terrorist attacks on the United States Tuesday morning September 11, 2001.
The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured 6000 others. I had just dropped three of my young children off at school and got a call “Your husband is fine, he’s trying to get home.”
In less than 2 hours almost 3000 people were killed and fear escalated. Terry was working next to the Pentagon which had been hit by one of the planes.
As this event unfolded, we learned of people sacrificing their lives in hopes of saving another.
We witnessed passengers on a plane sacrifice their lives to thwart Satan’s plan.
Did our brother know the pain and devastation these families would suffer?
We may say we can comprehend the suffering and sacrifice these people experienced for the love of another.
But He agreed to be the one to save the lives and to pay the price and to suffer the pain of not only one person or one event but the pains of Billions.
He agreed to take it all, feel it all, suffer it all… so you and I could CHOOSE whether we wanted to return to live with Him again. He did this knowing that some of us would not choose to take advantage of the gift He so freely gave.
Why did He do that? John 6:38, 40.
“For I come down from Heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.
“And this is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day”
We feel emotion with this topic with the little bit of comprehension we have.
But we can’t remember or comprehend the love the Savior had for His Father and for us, his brothers and sisters, which compelled him to raise his hand and say “Here am I, choose me” which is why I think it’s so difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the gift and what it means for you and me as we are having this experience called life.
The magnitude of this gift is that Grace IS sufficient to cover us and lead us home.
Many times I’m motivated to do my best, to do what I’ve been commanded to do because I want to return home to live with my Father in Heaven.
Many times I forget that and in the moment I’m not at all motivated to do my best or be my best.
I think many of us see Grace as two points on a line graph; Point A at the bottom representing us and Point B at the top representing Jesus Christ and the line representing Grace filling the gap between us and Him.
We move along the line the best we can and in the end Christ’s Atonement fills in the gap.
If Christ’s Atonement fills in the gap after all I can do, what about the times I’m not doing all I can do?
In one of Brad Wilcox’s talks on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he explains that Jesus isn’t making up the difference between me being at Point A and Him being at Point B.
Jesus makes all the difference.
Grace isn’t filling in the gaps, it’s filling us.
There isn’t a line between Points A and B like a math equation.
Jesus filled the whole space.
He paid our debt in full; it was already paid before we were even born. It’s finished.
We will be resurrected.
The reason we choose to repent and change and the reason we choose to follow and obey is so that we are COMFORTABLE and we have a desire to be in God’s presence.
What’s required of us?
2 Nephi 2:7 “Behold he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law unto all those who have a broken heart and contrite spirit and unto no one else can the ends of the law be answered.”
Jesus Christ requires us to follow him and keep his commandments, not because we are EARNING heaven, “We are LEARNING heaven. We are preparing for it. We are practicing for it.”
It is true, we are saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ, absolutely, totally, and completely.
We are however offered to also be CHANGED by the Grace of our Savior Jesus Christ. A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.
Not only did Jesus Christ suffer for us, He has made a huge investment in us.
This Grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior.
Moroni 7:48 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
The Miracle of Christ’s Atonement is not only that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly.
John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”
The miracle of Christ’s Atonement isn’t only that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed. (Romans 8)
Scriptures make it very clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God.
Alma 40:26 “But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.”
The truth of the matter is no UNCHANGED thing will even want to dwell with God.
Think about it… When we are making wrong choices, or fighting with a family member… do we think to pray? Do we have a desire to draw closer to Heavenly Father? Or do you separate ourselves from Him and let things fester?
Do you think at the final judgement that the unrepentant sinner will be begging Jesus to let him stay? OR knowing Jesus Christ’s character, will he be the one saying, “please stay, please use my Atonement to change so that you want to stay.”
The miracle of Christ’s Atonement is not only that we can go home but that – miraculously we can FEEL AT HOME.
If Christ didn’t require faith and repentance there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family who have chosen to live without faith and live without repentance. They don’t want to change. They aren’t trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. They are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin.
If Christ did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only our willpower (and in my case that would be disasterous 😳), we would have no access to His power.
If Jesus didn’t require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalizing of changes needed over time.
Too many people give up on themselves and on the church because they are tired of feeling like they are falling short, they aren’t good enough.
They don’t understand Grace. We have almost 500 people in our ward with a little over 100 who attend.
People think there are just two options: perfection or giving up.
Growth and development take time.
Learning takes time.
When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering. That change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern of life.
When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness.
When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants “continue in patience until we are perfected” (D&C 67:13)
Christ isn’t waiting at the end of our life after all we can do.
He is with us every step of the way.
Grace isn’t a finishing touch. It is the finisher’s touch.
Have you heard, “Grace shall be as your day?”
As dark as night may become, we can always count on the sun coming up.
As dark as our trials, sins and mistakes may appear; we can always have confidence in the Grace of Jesus Christ.
Do we earn a sunrise? NO.
Do we have to be worthy of a chance to begin again? NO.
We accept these blessings and take advantage of them.
As sure as we are that the sunrise will be there again tomorrow, The Grace of Jesus Christ is constant, it is sufficient to cover our debt, to transform us, to help us for as long as it takes.
Grace isn’t the absence of God’s high expectations.
It is the presence of God’s power.
The feelings of inadequacy are normal knowing the immense distance to perfection we have to travel.
Why did He do it?
Because of Love, the love He has for his Father and the love he has for you and me.
We don’t remember that love, we don’t remember the choice we made to come here and trust Christ to make that sacrifice and pay that price for us.
It is hard to believe that Grace can truly save a wretch like me.
President Nelson shared a challenge that he took upon himself. He read and underlined every verse cited in the topical guide of the scriptures about Jesus Christ, under the main heading and all 57 subtitles.
After he completed this, his wife asked what impact it had on him and the man who was just a few months away from becoming the prophet of the world told her “he was a different man.”
He felt a renewed devotion to Him as he read the Saviors own statement “I came unto the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.”
We can’t remember but we can learn of Him, we can fall in love with him, we can renew our devotion to him. We can choose to allow Him to change us so that we are excited to return home to live with him someday.
I, a simple sister, have deepened my love for my brother.
I have renewed my devotion to Him.
I bear testimony that I know God lives!
Jesus is the Christ!
His church has been restored!
and we all chose to come here with a desire to return home and He has provided a way for us to do that.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.