With the deepest reverence and love, President James E. Faust bears witness to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and explains its meaning in our lives.
Jesus Christ was appointed to be our Redeemer before the world was formed. With His divine Sonship, His sinless life, the shedding of His blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, His [painful] death on the cross and Resurrection from the grave, He became the author of our salvation and made a perfect Atonement for all mankind.
Some years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley told “something of a parable” about “a one-room schoolhouse in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them.
“Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied. He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk. The first day of school, the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. The class came up with ten rules, which were written on the blackboard. Then the teacher asked, ‘What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?’
“‘Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,’ came the response.
“A day or so later, the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen. The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old.
“As little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on. ‘Take your coat off,’ the teacher said. ‘You helped make the rules!’
“The boy took off the coat. He had no shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body. As the teacher hesitated with the rod, big Tom jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the boy’s licking.
“‘Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?’ the teacher asked.
“After five strokes across Tom’s back, the rod broke. The class was sobbing. Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. ‘Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!’”
President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah:
“‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. …
“‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our [sins].’” (Isa. 53:4–5.)
No man knows the full weight of what our Savior bore. His [deep] suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He took upon Himself all the sins of all other mortals, caused Him “to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).
The Atonement and the Resurrection accomplish many things. The Atonement cleanses us of sin on condition of our repentance. Christ’s resurrection gave us the assurance of life after death.
Our Redeemer took upon Himself all the sins, pains, and sicknesses of all who have ever lived and will ever live (see Alma 7:11–12). He knows our trials by firsthand experience.
Because the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, He can help the weak to become stronger. He understands our pain and will walk with us even in our darkest hours.
We long for the ultimate blessing of the Atonement—to become one with Him, to be in His divine presence, to be called individually by name as He warmly welcomes us home with a radiant smile, beckoning us with open arms to be enfolded in His boundless love (see Alma 26:15; Morm. 5:11; Morm. 6:17; Moses 7:63).
(See Ensign, November 2001, pages 18–20.)