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JESUS CHRIST AND THE ATONEMENT

- President Ronald E. Hansen - MTC Branch 20 -

To understand Jesus Christ we need to have a deeper understanding of vvhat lie did, especially regarding the Atonement.
Today we will journey from a telestial, to a terrestrial, to a celestial understanding of the Atonement. First let's review
what we understand about the Atonement by answering three questions:

1. Where did the Atonement take place? A.


In Gethsemane

2. What was the Savior doing there? A.


Suffering for our sins.

3. How long did it take the Savior to suffer for our sins?
A. (?) To help answer this question, let's read a statement by Orson F. Whitney.

Orson F. Whitneyfs Vision of Gethsemane. Then carne a marvelous manifestation, an admonition from a higher source,
one impossible to ignore. It was a dream, or a vision in a dream, as I lay upon my bed in the little town of Columbia,
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I seemed to be in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness o f the Savior's agony. I saw Him as
pia in ly as ever I have seen anyone, Standing behind a íree in ihe f ore gr ou rui ï beheld Jesus, with Peter, James and John, as
they carne through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after ielling them to kneel and pray, the
Son ofGod passed over to the other side, where He also kne.lt and prayed. It was the same prayer w/Y/? which ali Bible
readers are familiar: "Oh my Father, if it be possible, lei this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt.
" A s He prayed the tear s streamed down His face, which was toward me. I was só moved at the sight that I also wept, out o f
puré sympathy. My whole head went out to Him: I longed í o be witli Him as l longed for nothing else. Presently He arose and
walked over to where the Apostles were kneel ing - f as í asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender
reproach, untincrured by the Iças t show of anger or iinpaticnce, asked them plaintively if they could not watch with Him
one hour. There He was, with the awful wcight of the world's sins upon His shoulders, with the pangs of every man, woman
and chila shooting through His sensitiva sou! and they could not watch with Him one poor hour!

Returnïng to His place, He offered up the same prayer as before; then went back and again found them sleeping. Again He
awoke them, re-admonished them, and once more returned and prayed. Three times this occiured, until l was thoroughly
familiar with His appearance- face, form and movements. Pie was ofnoble stature and majestic mien - not at ali the weak,
effeminate heing that some painters have portrayed,' but the very God that He was and is, as meek and humble as a little
child. (Orson F. Wliitney, "A Vision of Gethsemane." Instructor, 103:63, 68. Feb. 1968.)

Só from this account we learn that the Savior prayed three times for a period of one hour each or 3 hours.

This then is basically a Telestial understanding of the Atonement:


•The Atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane where ...
•The Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world ...
•In about a three hour period of time.

To move to a deeper levei of understanding we must dig deeper than the surface or Telestial information.

Só today I would like to read you some statements regarding the Atonement and, as I do só, we w i l l look again at each of the 3
questions on the board.
To aid LIS in our study we must also have the help of the Spirit, to open our minds and hearts to a deeper understanding of the
Atonement — a Celestial understanding and testimony. Lefs begin by reading a statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

Bruce R. iVIcCoiikie: Ifwe interpret the holy word right, ali ofthe anguish, ali of the sarros, and ali ofthe suffering of
Gethsemane recurred during the final three hours on the cross, the honrs when darkness covered the l and. Truly there was
no sorrow like unto his sorrow, and no anguish and pain like unto that which bore in with such intensity upon him. (The
Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1979-811, 4:232)

From this statement we learn that the Atonement took place both IN GETHSEMANE and ON TM E CROSS. Só the
answer to the First question actually is ...

1. Where did the Atonement take place? •In


Gethsemane ... «AND on the
Cross.

Novv let's look at the second question: What was the Savior doing there? To gain a deeper understanding of this question
listen to these statements:

John Taylor: In a manner to us incomprehensible and inexplicahle, He [Christ] bore íhe \veight ofthe sins of the
whole world, not only of Adam, but ofhis posteriry; (The Mediation and Atonement [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book
Company, 19821 148-49)

Joseph Fielding Smith: This is what he did: He carried, in some way that I cannot understand anel y ou eannot
understand the burden ofthe combined weight ofthe sins ofthe world. It is hard enough for me to carry my own
transgressions, and it is hard enough for y ou to carry y our s. . . . I have seen men in the gall of bitíerness, in the
torments and the anguish of their soías, because of their sins. l have seen them cry out in anguish beeause oj their
transgressions-jiist one individual's sins. Can y ou comprehend lhe suffering of Jesus Christ when he carried, not
merely by physical manifestation but in some spiritual and mental condition or manner, the combined weight ofsin?
(Doctrines ofSalvation, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 7954-561, 1:129)

Jesus Christ: D&C 19:16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for ali that they might not suffer if they
would repent; 17 But ifthey would not repent they must suffer even as I; 18 WJiich suffering eaused myself even
God, the greatest o f ali, to tremble because ofpain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-
and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink-

Q. Só again - What was the savior doing there? Suffering for our sins.
Q. And was it painful for Him? (Yes -It eaused him to tremble because ofpain, and to bleed from
every pore, and suffer both body and spirit. Q. Now let me ask you this question. If he paid for the
sins of ali mankind ... How did He know what
sins to pay for? (?) To help answer this listen to the following statements:

Joseph Smith: The great Jehovah contemplated the whole ofthe events connected with the earth, pertainingto the
plan ofsalvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever "the morning stars sang together" for joy: the pás t, the
present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal "now;" He knew of the fali of Adam, the iniquities of the
antedihivians, of the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength,
their power and glory, apostastes, their crimes, their righteousness and iniquity: (Teachings ofthe Prophet Joseph
Smith, p. 220)

Só according to Joseph Smith how did Jesus know what sins to pay for? (He had foreknowledge.)
Neal A. Maxwell: Jesus, who is our advocate with the Father, know s "the weakness of man, "and He also knows
"how to succor them who are tempted." (D&C 62:1.) How does He know? Does He know by injerence or only in the
abstract? A special scripture tells us. He knows by actuai personal experiência because noí only did He sitffer pains,
afflictions, and temptations of every kind durlng H is second estale, bnt He took upon Hirnself our sins as well as our
pains, sichiesses, and infirmities. (See Alma 7$$-1"2.) Thns He knew, noí in abstraetion buí in actual'ity, "according
to the fiesh, " the \vhole ofhuman suffering. (We W III Prove Tliem Here\vith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book
Company, J 9821, 46)

Só according to Elder Maxwell how did Jesus knovv vvhat sins to pay for? (By actual, personal experience)

Só how did He know vvhat sins to pay for?


• From Joseph SmitlVs síatement we learn that Jesus had foreknowledge of our sins hefore He ever carne Io the Earth.
•From Elder Maxwell we learn that, in addition to living a mortal life of His own, in the Garden of Gethsemane He also
actually lived ali of our lives as well.

Só returning to question number 2 - the answer really is ...

2. What was the Savior doing there? «Suffering for


our sins ... «By actually experiencing
our lives.

Novv Ict's look at question number 3 again:


How long did it take the Savior to pay for our sins? Listen to this statement:

Stephen A. Robinson: Ali the negaíive aspects ofhuman existence brouglit about by lhe Fali, Jesus Chrisi absorbed
ïnto liimself. He experienced vicarioitsly in Gethsemane ali the private griefs and heartaehes, ali the physieal pains
and handicaps, ali the emotional burdens and depressions of the human family. He know s the loneliness ofíhose \vho
don't fit in or wh o aren't handsome or pretty. Pie know s \vhat it's like í o elioose up t c anis and be lhe last one chosen.
He know s the anguish of parents whose ehildren go wrong. ï fé knows lhe private hell ofthe abused child or spouse.
Pie knows ali these things personally and intimately because he lived thern in the Gethsemane experience. Having
personally lived a perfect life, he then chose to experience our imperfect lives. In that infmite Gethsemane
experience, the meridian of time, the center of eternity, Pie lived a billion, billion lifetimes of sin, pá f n, disease, and
sorrow. (Believing Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 19921 122-23)

From Orson F. Whitney we learned that the Savior suffered about 3 hours in Gethsemane. And from Bruce R.
McConkie we learned that His three hours of suffering was repeated on the cross. From Brother Maxwell we
learned that he actually experienced our sins. And now from Brother Robinson we learn that in Gethsemane he lived
a "billion, billion lifetimes." How could the Savior live "a billion, billion lifetimes?'1 Remember what Joseph Smith
said:

Joseph Smith:... the past, the present and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal "now"; (Teachings of the
ProphetJ. Smith, p. 220)

Só Gethsemane was not just a three-hour experience. In the Savior's mind - his real ity - time expanded -he
actually lived a billion, billion lifetimes. He actually experienced the life of every man, woman and child who
ever lived or will ever live.

Só the answer to question number 3 really is:

3. How long did it take the Savior to suffer for our sins?
•Three hours in Gethsemane ...
•And Three hours on the Cross...
•Plus a billion, billion lifetimes.
Só now you have a deeper understanding, a Terrestrial understanding, of the Atonement:
1. Where did the Atonement take place?
A. In the Garden of Gethsemane ...
B. And on the Cross.
2. What was the Savior doing there? A. Suffering
for our sins ... B. By actually
experiencing our lives.
3. How long did it take the Savior to pay for our sins? A.
Three hours in Gethsemane, B. Plus three hours
on the cross, C. Plus a billion, billion lifetimes.

Now that you have a Terrestrial understanding of the Atonement, it is time to have a Celestial understanding. Lefs begin
to gain a Celestial understanding of the Atonement by answering the following:

Q.If we are not baptized, what will we have to do regarding our own sins?
R.Suffer forthem ourselves

Jesus Christ: D&C 19:16 For hehold, I, God, have suffered these things for ali that they mighí not suffer if they
would repent; 17 But (f they would not repent they mus t suffer even as I; 18 Which suffering caused myself even
God, the greatest ofall to tremble because ofpain, and to bleed at everypore. and to suffer both body and spirit—and
would that Imight not drink the bitter cup, and shrink-

Now here is another question: If, when we die, we have to suffer for our own sins ... WHERE will we go to
suffer for our own sins? (Review the four realms of the Spirit World.)

1. When the "Righteous" die they go to: Paradise (Alma 40:12 - D&C 7650-70)
2. When the "Honorable" die they go to: Prison (D&C 76:71-80)
3. When the "Wicked" die they go to: Hell (D&C 7^-90)
4. The "Rebellious" are already in: Perdition (D&C 76:25-43)

Q. For the Savior to Atone for our sins, He first had to actually experience those sins.
Q. Só to Atone for our sins do you suppose the Savior also had to actually experience the suffering
required for our sins? Yes, He would have to suffer exactly what the we would have to suffer. Q.
WHERE do you suppose the Savior would have to experience the suffering required for our sins?
He would have to go to the same place that we would have go to. Q. Só if our sins would
require that we spend time in suffering in Hell, the Savior have to spend
time suffering in Hell as well. Q.
What is hei l like?

An eyewitness description of Hell: We were moving again ... and were now standing ... on the edge of a wide flat
plain ... The plain was crowded, evenjammedwith hordes ofghostly discarnate beings ... And they were the most
frustrated, the angriest, the most completely miserable beings I had ever laid eyes on.

"Lord Jesus!" I cried. "Where are w e ? "

At first I thought we were looking at some great battlefield: everywhere people were locked in what looked like
fights to the death, writhing, punching, gouging. It couldn't be a present day war because there were no tanks or
guns. No weapons ofany sort. I saw as I looked closer, only bare hands and feeí and teeth. And then l noticed that no
one was apparently being injured. There was no blood, no bodies strewed the ground; a blow that ought to have
eliminated an opponent would leave him exactly as before.
Although they appeared to be literally on top of each other, it was as though cach man was boxing the air; at Ias t I
realized that of'course, having no substance, they could not actually toiich one another. They could not kill, íhoiigh
they clearly wanted to, becanse their intended victims were already dead. And só they hiirled themselves at each
other in a frenzy ofimpotent rage.

Ifí suspected before that I was seeing hell, now I was sure ofit...

It was impossible to tell if the howls offrustration which reached us \vere actual sounds or only (lie transferenee of
despairing thoughts. Indeed in this disembodied w orla li didrít seem to matter. Whatever anyone thonght, however
fleetingly or unwillingly, was instantly apparent to ali around him, more complcíely than words could have
expressed it, faster than soiind waves could have carried it.

And the thoughts most freqiiently communicated had to do with the superior knowledge, or abilities, or backgroimd
of the thinker. "I told you só!" "I always knew!" "Didrít I warn y ou!" W cr e shrieked into the echoing air over and
over. With afeeling of sick familiar ity Irecognized here my own íhinking . . . in theseyelps ofenvy and wounded self-
importance I heard my sei f ali too well.

... however, no condemnation carne from the Presence at my s ide, only a compassion for these unhappy creatures
that was breaking His hearí. Clearly it was not His will that any one ofthem should be in this place.

Novv I do not read this to you to be sensational - but to help you really understand vvhat the Savior actually did
for us during and through the Atonemení.

•Só if we do not accept baptism ~we will have to suffer for our sins either in Prison or in Hell.
•And if the Savior is going to suffer for our sins, He would have to go to the same place that we would
•have to go in order to suffer for our own sins.
•Só the Savior not only lived our lives, but He also lived our deaths and our suffering.
•Movv long would the Savior have to suffer for our sins? Just as long as we would have to suffer.
•And what did the Savior say about us suffering for our own sins? He hás already suffered for them.

Jesus Christ: D&C 19:16 For behold. l God, have suffered these things for ali, that they might not suffer if they
would repent; 17 But ifthey would not repent they mus t suffer even as I; 18 Which suffering caused myself, even
God, the greatest ofall, to tremble because ofpain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—
and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink-

So, now lefs review again:


1. Where did the Atonement take place?
•In Gethsemane.
•And on the Cross.
•And in Prison and in Hell.
2. What was the Savior doing there?
•Suffering for our sins ...
•By actually experiencing our lives ...
•And by actually experiencing our deaths and suffering.
3. How long did it take Him to suffer for our sins.
•Three hours i n Gethsemane ...
•And three hours on the Cross ...
•And a billion, billion lifetimes ...
•And a billion, billion death times.

Q. Só now do you think you have a Celestial understanding of the Atonement?


Well, not quite, there is still more.
Q. While the Savior was paying for our sins in Hell, what do you suppose Lucifer was doing? Q. What did
Lucifer do to Joseph Smith just before the Father and the Son appeared to H i m in the Sacred Grove?
•Tried to destroy him.
Q. Now can you imagine what Lucifer vvas doing to the Savior while the Savior was suffering for our sins? Q.
Do you think Lucifer would let the Savior off early or give him a break, a chance to rest? Q. What would have
happened if the Savior had quit for even one second? Q. Now can you see why the Savior bled from every pore? Me
vvas hanging on with every ounce of Mis vvill.

Jesus Christ: D&C 19:16 For behold, I, God, have suffer ed these things for ali, that they niight not suffer // they
would repent; / 7 But ifthey would not repent they mus t suffer even as /; 18 Which suffering causccl myself even
God, the greatesí ofall, to tremble because ofpain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer hoth body and spirit--
and would that Imight not drink the bitter cup, and shrink-

Q. Só now do you think you have a Celestial understanding of the Atonement?


Well, not quite yet - there is still a little more. Q. Do you think the Savior suffered for us ali at the saine time
or did Me suffer for LIS one life at a time?
Did He suffer for us concurrently or sequentially?

Lefs find out: Listen to this account of someone who had a vision of the Savior in Gethsemane like Orson F.
Whitney did. But it was só sacred to him that he wanted to remain anonymous.

Anonymous Vision of Gethsemane: This was a very difficult time in my life. At the time l was serving as the Stake
Mission President in my stake. I was immersed in my calling and was enjoying a good measure ofsuccess. But ...
my consulting practice was very slow. In fact, at the time I had no clients and was financially without means to
provide for my family .... The Spirit called me one day as I sat hehind my desk and prompted me to pray ... l prayed
that day and for two succeeding day s. l prayed long and hard and for many things. Ruí the primary intent and f o
cus ofmy prayers was to know the Lord and to understand and appreciate the personal iinplications ofthe
Atonement in my life.

On the third day, July 21, 1981, l foiind myself kneeling again by my chair in fervent prayer to know the Lord.
Siiddenly l saw myself pray ing and the presence ofthe Lord was beside me. As I watched, the Lord spoke to my
mind and said, "Look. " I looked and for thefirst time in my life í saw myself as l really was, through the eyes of
Christ. What I saw I cannot fully describe in words. My whole soul was illwninated and l saw with complete clarity
and understanding the deepest recesses ofmy subconscious mind. I saw ... the effects ofall my sins ... of commission
and omission which had been repressed into the hidden regions of my mind. I was completely transparent.
Everything was now só painfully clear, my sinful motives, intent ions and desires ... even the good things I had d
one for the \vrong reasons were flashed before my all-seelng eyes. No act, word or deed escaped my view. I saw
everything. As I beheld myself thus, my mind was, to use Aima's words, "racked with torment' and "inexpressible
horror". Several times I tried to shut out the vision but. . . each time l tried to turn away the Lord would say. "Look,
" and I continued to look into my soul... Wlien l had final ly seen everything the vision ended and there was
darkness. I turned tofmd the Lord but he was no longer there. The scene instantly changed and I foiind myself
behind the brush on the outside o f a garden dearing. Again a voice carne to my mind and instriicted me to 'Look!".
My eyes turned to the garden dearing and there, in the midst, l saw my beloved Redeemer. Suddenly it became clear
to me that I was witnessing His act of Atonement. But what transpired I was not prepared to see. How can one
explain with mortal words the agony of a God. Anyíhing I say or wriíe somehow diminishes the irnpact. Be that as
it may, I saw the love and suffering ofthe Christ and l am a personal witness of it. I don't know how it is possible,
but I was in Gethsemane on the day of His Agony and I saw in great and terrible detail with my eyes and heard in
awful clarity with my ears that which is too sacred to descrihe to unprepared ears. His sobs and His cries pierced
my soul and l fel t the wrenching ofmy heart with each audible groan or quivering convulsion ofHis body. Then
carne the revelation that broke my heart: "Behold the love of God for you and His suffering for your sins. " It was
too much to bear. As I became aware that He was suffering such agony for me, because ofmy sins, because ofPIis
lovefor me, my heart broke and I íhought l would die ... í cried out and begged the Father to stop the suffering
ofmy Friend and Elder Brother ... l \vept, l sobbed and my body convulsed in anguish as I attempted to r each
through the hrush to hold Him, to somehow cornfort Him. But His suffering did not stop and there was nothing I
could do to help Him. Finally, resolving