The Atonement


We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (A of F 1:3).

Jesus Christ was in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a Jewish celebration to remember when the angel of death passed over the children of Israel just before pharaoh let Moses lead them out of Egypt.

Jesus’ disciples arranged for an upper room for the celebration feast, and Jesus and his Apostles gathered there for what would be his last supper with all of them. He taught them the ordinance of the sacrament. They sang together, and then the Savior offered a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to protect and strengthen his followers, since he knew that soon he would no longer be with them.

After the prayer, Jesus and his disciples left the upper room and walked across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus asked his disciples to “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder” (Matt. 26:36).

Jesus knew that he was about to face great suffering. The time of the Atonement had come. He went a short distance from his disciples and began to pray. As he made payment for all our sins, his pain was so great that he pleaded, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

More than one hundred years before Christ’s birth, King Benjamin prophesied that during the Atonement Jesus would “suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7).

Following the Atonement, Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified. After hanging on the cross for six hours, he said, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [died]” (John 19:30).

Jesus was buried in a tomb. On the third day, he rose from the dead, a resurrected being. He had broken the bands of death.

The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob, who lived before Jesus was born, prophesied of his Atonement, saying, “He cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

“And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great judgment day.” (2 Ne. 9:21–22.)

The Atonement accomplished two things. First, all mankind will be resurrected. Second, those who repent of their sins can be forgiven. Christ revealed to Joseph Smith that “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16).

[illustration] Painting by Gary E. Smith; used by permission of Blaine Hudson

[illustrations] Paintings by Harry Anderson