At some point in time, you’re going to lay down on your back when you’re all alone and look to the heavens for answers. I don’t care who you are or what you believe…you will have this experience at least one time in your life. Most often, this sort of moment is going to come in a time of distress or confusion. Maybe you’ve just lost a loved one or witnessed a tragedy. Maybe you’re fighting depression or a physical malady. Maybe you’re just downright tired, lonely, or scared and you’ve got nowhere else to turn. Regardless of what it is, there is something that you must know about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
1. It’s Never Too Late To Come Home
Troubled teens sometimes run away from home for the wrong reasons. When they realize what they’ve done, the only thing that prohibits them going back home is pride or the fear of facing their parents and not being received back.
The primary reason for Jesus Christ coming to earth was to help us home. Our Heavenly Father wants us back, and He sent Jesus Christ on a rescue mission to “seek that which was lost”. Many of us fail to see the familial love that exists between Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and each of us. Christ literally volunteered to go into a relentless storm of persecution and pain in order to find each and every one of us as we lay spiritually lifeless on life’s battlefields.
When he found us in our darkest abyss, He effectually nourished us back to spiritual consciousness and then tells us about our heavenly home and how much we’ve been missed. He grabs us calmly by our shirt with tears in his eyes and says, “Look! I’ve come a long way to get you. I’ve plead your cause and paid your debts. There is nothing that you have done that I have not paid for. Will you walk home with me? It’s not to late.”
2. Christ Knew Us Intimately Before We Came to This Earth
I have often wondered how Christ was able to go through with the Atonement. How was He able to endure this type of pain for people that he had never even met in the flesh. It all came to me on the night of my first child’s birth.
She was born during passover time in April. The delivery wasn’t going as planned. Her heart was beating very fast and then painfully slow. They determined the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and it was choking her out. My wife was in all kinds of pain. We had been up for 36 + hours and I am standing there almost helpless.
At one point in time…it was as if time stood still and for the first time in my life I truly comprehended the love of God. I stood there not knowing why I was visualizing the Garden of Gethsemane at the height of this emotional roller coaster but it was all I could see with my mind’s eyes. I looked at my wife in pain and all I could think of was that I would do anything to take her place and take her pain.
My mind flashed back to the Garden of Gethsemane (Gethsemane means “oil-press”). I visualized the Savior being “pressed”, enduring physical and spiritual torment beyond comprehension.
I looked back at my wife.
John 15:13 came to my mind.
Then 1 John 3:16 came next…
and there it was…I was given insight into “how” Christ could have done what He did for us.
Because of the love I felt for my wife and daughter, I would have done anything…even to enduring a long and tortuous death if necessary in order to save them. I would fight tooth and nails until my last breath to make sure they live on…and that…I realized is exactly what Christ did for us in the Garden and on the Cross. The love I felt for them, was the love He felt for me as He atoned for my sins. The very thought of my family suffering… caused a love to stir within me that can only be described as divine.
Because Christ knew all of us before we came to earth, He was able to draw upon the memories and the love He had for each and every one of us. The very thought of our suffering motivated Him to go through with it. He didn’t want to do it. In fact, He asked for that “bitter cup” to be removed from Him, but His familial love is what enabled Him to endure.
Now He asks us to cultivate that kind of love not only for our family members but for even our enemies.
3. We Have a Very Protective Older Brother
The origin of the word “Atonement” comes from the Aramaic word “kafata”. This word “kafata” was used to describe the “embrace” that took place between the great lords of the desert known anciently as sheiks and those that were fleeing from their enemies and seeking refuge or protection.
Imagine a man running for his life through the desert with his enemies chasing closely behind. They have swords and clubs ready to fall on this man. They will not show mercy. The man knows that if he can reach the tent of the great sheik, that he can gain his protection. As the man approaches the tent of the sheik, he runs to him and kneels before him and declares, “I am thy suppliant”. The sheik and the man embrace becoming “At-One”. The sheik places the hem of his robe around the man to declare him under his protection.
In effect, the sheik raises his arms to the man’s enemies and says “What!…bring it”. The man’s enemies turn and go about their way because they don’t want any trouble with the sheik.
When you have nowhere else to turn and your enemies are bearing down on you, the great Lord of lords is waiting for you to commit yourself to Him. He wants to be “at-one” with you through a divine “embrace” so that he can bestow His kingly protection over you.
4. It was the most “Unfair” thing to ever happen on this planet.
When you contemplate what happened to Christ, your life will not seem all that unfair. One of the most frustrating things in life is watching unfair things happen to yourself and to others. “I didn’t deserve this or that.” “Why did that happen to this person.” “Life is so unfair.”
Try this on for size…
A baby was born in a cave among animals and feces on the ground. Then He was hunted by a wicked king and soldiers. He moved from place to place to avoid certain death and settled in a city called Nazareth.
At about age 30, He started going around helping people. He preached the gospel, performed miracles, and never sinned. He had more love in His heart than any person that ever lived. He went into a garden and bled from every pour for the sins of mankind.
He was spit upon and betrayed by one of his best friends. The people he went about serving allowed a known criminal (Bar-Abbas, Son of the Father) to go free instead of Him. Then he was scourged with a whip lashed with bones and other sharp objects. Most people died from scourging alone. Instead of lash marks and cuts being made, chunks of His back were ripped from His frame.
Then He carried a heavy cross to a hill outside the city by the road so that everyone could see Him hang there as they passed by. He watched his mom and his friends as metal stakes were driven though his wrists, His palms, and His feet. He was raised up on the cross between two criminals and to cap it off…His Father left Him all alone.
You’re right…life is not fair…but Christ is not asking you to go through anything that he didn’t go through already…which brings us to our next point.
5. There is Nothing You Could Go Through That He Hasn’t Gone Through
Christ didn’t only just suffer for your sins. He suffered for every physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain you have ever experienced. You cannot ever say “nobody knows how it feels” because someone does. The “thorns in the flesh”, mental illnesses, physical handicaps, betrayal, and every anguish imaginable…He has gone through it…so let Him carry some of your burdens.
You need to know that someone has your back. There is someone out there that loves you more than you love yourself. He’s your oldest brother and he’s been through it all. He’s sacrificed everything for you in order to help you through the unfair things that happen to you throughout your life. He is protective of you and longs for your embrace. He wants to become “At-One” with you and share the load because you guys were so close before you came to this earth…and now He’s asking you to get on the path that leads back home.