This week I've realized that, although I have a testimony of the atonement, I don't truly understand it. Happily, the Sunday school lesson today was on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I wrote down some of the things that really affected me and helped me understand how incredible this sacrifice was, and how necessary for our salvation.
The Savior atoned for our sins by suffering in Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross. It is impossible for us to fully understand how He suffered for all of our sins. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the weight of our sins caused Him to feel such agony that He bled from every pore (D&C 19:18-19). Later, as He hung upon the cross, Jesus suffered painful death by one of the most cruel methods known to man.
How Jesus loves us, to suffer such spiritual and physical agony for our sake! How great the love of Heavenly Father that He would send His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die for the rest of His children. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16) (Taken from the Gospel Principles manual)
Justice and Mercy are upheld by the atonement - justice because the sins we committed have been paid for, and mercy because we are forgiven if we accept Christ as our mediator. (see President Packer's talk in the May 1977 Ensign, pp. 54 - 55)
Our sins are our spiritual debts. Without Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Mediator, we would all pay for our sins by suffering spiritual death. But because of Him, if we will keep His terms, which are to repent and keep His commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father. (Packer, April 1977 General Conference)
Something that I loved today was learning the definition of the word "succor". We've all heard it, that Christ will succor those who mourn. But do we realize what "succor" actually means? It means to quickly come to aide, relief. The Savior will quickly come to our aide when we are aching! The pain that the Savior suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane wasn't just the pain from our sins... he suffered and felt all the pain we would ever feel. Every ounce of pain I feel from circumstances outside my control (such as Lynn's current medical condition) has been felt before... by Jesus Christ. He knows our pain, he knows what we feel, and he is there to hold us if we only go Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit!
The Atonement means to come together. In Dan Brown's novel, The Lost Symbol, he breaks it down so simply ~ at - ONE - ment ~. Becoming one through the Lord. How beautiful it is that He loves us so completely, that he provided a way for us to overcome spiritual death. We are not alone. Ever.