One of my favorite topics to contemplate is the sacrifice and Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most basic and central truths of my faith, of the LDS doctrine, and of Christianity at large. No matter how much I study it, however, I never get tired of learning more and more about this event. The more I study, the greater faith I come to have in Christ, and the better understanding I grow to have of His Atonement and what it really means.
We use the word Atonement to summarize the Savior’s threefold sacrifice as He sweat drops of blood in the garden, as He died upon the cross, and as He was resurrected on the third day. In the dictionary, atonement is synonymous with a word I love: “expiation,” meaning “the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing.” This definition is exactly what the Atonement means to me; Christ makes amends and repairs guilt and wrongdoing, both when we have done wrong or when we have been wronged against. He can repair and make amends for what we cannot, making it all as new where without we could never make up the difference.
Isaiah’s words describing this aspect of the Atonement are some of the most beautiful in all scripture. He writes, speaking of Christ:
4 ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs , and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But 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 .
He was bruised for our sake. With his stripes we are healed. He paid for us and our sins with his suffering, with his blood and with his life. He took our punishment and chastisement upon himself. So we wouldn’t have to feel that pain. So we could always have someone who understands. This message never ceases to humble me, to amaze me, to bring tears to my eyes and deep gratitude to my heart. That I am loved enough that He would take the punishment I ought to have received. That my ability to find peace was worth His chastisement; He who never did any wrong, being chastised, bruised, wounded, so I can find peace. That my opportunities to heal come from His stripes (a blow with a scourge or lash). Knowing this feels like Him saying that I, and each one of us, is immensely loved, and absolutely worth it in his eyes. We are worth all the pain no ordinary man can endure; we are worth the stripes and the chastisement, the bruises and the wounds that He experienced. Anything saying we are not worth it is wrong. Because we are worth it to Christ.
I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and one of the only ways I know to show gratitude is to actually let Him help, to use the sacrifice He has made so we can become more like Him and therefore turn around and better serve Him and those around us. How can we take for granted a gift that came at so high a price? How can we say we are grateful if we will not take the hand reaching down to lift us up? The greatest thing we can do to show our appreciation to our Lord Jesus Christ is by making constant daily use of His Atonement through prayers for strength and through humble repentance. I can’t express how much it warms my heart and soul to think of my loving Savior and all that He has done and continues to do for me each day.