Easter
Scheduled for study March 30-April 12, 2020. We have been invited by God’s Prophet to come to Christ and hear Him. This Come, Follow Me is for the two weeks of General Conference and Easter. The topics are all about the changes that happen within us when we are affected by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

Day 1

2 Nephi 9:6–15, 22; Alma 11:41–45; 40:21-23; 3 Nephi 26:4–5 – Because of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, all people will be resurrected.

During the days leading up to Easter Sunday, consider focusing your personal and family scripture study on the Book of Mormon’s powerful testimony of the life, death, Resurrection, and atoning power of Jesus Christ.

Today’s lesson opened with a powerful question. At least it caught me off guard and made me think. I found that by considering what the resurrection really is about, why then have I habitually just passed it off as the last thing the Savior needed to do to finish his earthly ministry? I have almost considered it as just another checkbox that had to be marked as done. It had never occurred to me that the resurrection was the culmination, the pinnacle, the apex of all his achievements in mortality. The resurrection was the key that unlocked for all of us the promise made to us by our Father in Heaven before the world was even created, that He would guaranty each of us who came to mortality a glorified physical body with which we could advance and grow in the eternities.

As I read through the scriptures provided for today’s lesson, I noticed that they are all concerned with the middle of our story and journey in mortality. None of these verses deal with the magnitude and majesty of the resurrection and the promises and opportunities that surround it. So I wrote an article about my perception and understanding of plan of salvation and where the resurrection fits into it. I hope you will read it and ponder how all-encompassing this act of love is, and how important it is for our future happiness.

Day 2

Mosiah 3:7; 15:5-9; Alma 7:11–13 – Jesus Christ took upon Himself my sins, pains, and infirmities.

During the days leading up to Easter Sunday, consider focusing your personal and family scripture study on the Book of Mormon’s powerful testimony of the life, death, Resurrection, and atoning power of Jesus Christ.

Here are the three scripture passages referenced for today’s study: Mosiah 3:7; 15:5-9; and Alma 7:11–13. The verses are both specific about some things and vague about others. As you read them try to determine what they are being specific about, like events. Also, try to see where they are vague, like processes, timing, scope, etc.

Below I have included the three column headings from the manual. As you look at each verse during your reading, see how many of these three headings contribute to your understanding of his atoning sacrifice. My comments below only use the first verse of the three scripture sets suggested in the manual. I recommend continuing to ask questions about the other verses as well.

What did the Savior suffer?

In Mosiah 7:3 it says the following.

And lo, he shall 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 the abominations of his people.

Note that I have enlarged and colored the semicolon in the middle of the verse. The first half of the verse says Christ will suffer the kinds of suffering we all suffer. Does this mean he suffered these things during the first thirty years of his life, or mainly during his three year ministry? Or does it mean he would suffer these things during his atoning sacrifice? Do you think Jesus only suffered his famous big three temptations at the beginning of his ministry, or do you think Satan was constantly working on him to get him to make a mistake or act on an emotion he wasn’t supposed to act on?

I am guessing that he would have had to have already suffered these common pains and ailments of mortality before he could appreciate the human condition well enough to fully experience the “anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.” Do you think he could have fully understood what he was suffering for if he hadn’t already had some experience with the misery that is such a common lot in our mortal condition? Does your answer to that last question change your answer or perspective from what you thought about his suffering in the previous paragraph?

The second half of the verse is specifically referring to his atoning sacrifice. The only time the scriptures ever record Jesus bled from every pore was during his time in Gethsemane. What do you think his anguish was over? Was he feeling what every sinner would feel when called to be judged before God? Was he just feeling the weight of eternal punishment for crimes committed? Was he experiencing the whole process – the intensity of the urges of (for example) the drug addict, the temptations to do whatever it takes to fulfill the body’s need for the drug, the shame and remorse, and feelings of worthlessness after the fact, or was he also experiencing the full weight of what would be required of eternal law to rectify such sins? This scenario could be played out and the question asked for any type of sin known to humanity.

This is my observation. Our lives are complicated. We each suffer in our own individual way. We each have different temptations, and have experienced in our lifetime different shames and sorrows. Some of those sorrows come from physical weaknesses or deformities. Some from spiritual transgressions or physical abuses. The range of sources for pain is vast. Yet this one verse tells us he suffered more than any human could suffer, expect he couldn’t die, so he continued to suffer. Any mortal would have perished from the suffering he went through.

I realize we don’t have the answer to the following question, but ponder it, if you will. Was all of Christ’s appreciation for the suffering of humanity achieved just in his hour or so in Gethsemane and in the next 24 hours or so leading up to the cross? Or was his appreciation for the suffering of humanity being learned and internalized every day of his ministry as he walked among and helped his brothers and sisters who were in pain and in anguish? Was his suffering just for their physical conditions, or do you think he was also suffering for their lost privileges as he saw his brothers and sisters give themselves over to Satan and lose out on their eternal promises? One form of suffering is temporary, fleeting, while the other would cause eternal sorrow.

Why did He suffer?

Did Christ suffer for the sins of the world “just because” his Father told him to? How much of the why of his suffering was because of his love for us as well? How much was because of his own love for those he recognized as being eternally lost to him and his Father if he didn’t put himself in their place and suffer for the sins they did not have the capacity to suffer for themselves?

Keep in mind the constant comparison of Jesus being used as a sacrifice. The scriptures always refer to him as a lamb going to the slaughter. A little lamb is so innocent that it will walk right up to the person who is about to kill it, and without one protesting whimper will allow itself to be killed without even knowing why. Jesus was actually the only one who did fully know why he had to die. Yet despite his own personal knowledge of why he submitted himself to our Father’s will. God sent His son specifically so he could die for our sins. The atonement could not be of use to anyone if Jesus didn’t die then resurrect himself. It was the resurrection that made the Atonement of any use to mankind. Refer to yesterday’s article.

What does this mean to me?

Did Christ suffer over a period of time or just while in the garden and while on the cross? Does it really matter to me how, or when, or where the suffering took place? Isn’t the point that he did suffer for my sins? I think a more important question would be do I believe and accept that there is nothing I can experience in mortality that Jesus didn’t suffer sufficiently that he can understand how hard my life is, and how difficult it is to try to repent and change? Do I accept that he not only understands all of these parts of my life, but that he loves me inspite of it all. His grace and love are made readily available for me to use anytime I choose to come to Christ to make my life better. He beckons me constantly. He loves me unconditionally. He suffered the full punishment of the law, and he didn’t just bear my stripes, my punishments. He bore those stripes with the full and perfect resolve to always keep God’s commandments from this day forth. Forgiveness is not just about punishment, but it is about change and resolve to become like God, to do good all the days of our lives. We can’t be forgiven of our sins without this change of heart, so how could Christ have suffered for our sins without also committing himself to do God’s will in all things. With Christ, being committed to do God’s will was never in question. But this is part of the reconciliation and forgiveness process, and I don’t think it was left out of the atoning sacrifice.

Day 3

Mosiah 5:1–2; 27:8-28; Alma 15:3–12; 24:7-19 – The Atonement of Jesus Christ cleanses me and helps perfect me.

During the days leading up to Easter Sunday, consider focusing your personal and family scripture study on the Book of Mormon’s powerful testimony of the life, death, Resurrection, and atoning power of Jesus Christ.

The scriptures for today’s lesson are all about the inner change that takes place when the atonement becomes effective in our lives. The following article was too long to fit here, so I separated it out, just like the first day’s lesson. As you read it consider how you feel when you go to the Lord with your burdens of sin and lay them at his feet, asking forgiveness for what you have done. All four passages have some powerful imagery for you to ponder upon.

Improving Our Teaching

Live the gospel of Jesus Christ

This will be short and sweet. Ask yourself a couple of questions about teachers you love, respect, or admire. Do they live and breath their subject or are they completely unfamiliar with what they teach, with no insights from their personal life? One of the most powerful teaching tools we possess are the stories of how what we are teaching has affected our own life. What lessons did you learn from the experiences you went through? What struggles did you have and how were they resolved? Where was the Lord in all that happened to you? If you can recognize God’s hand in our life, and relate His influence in the affairs of your life, you can be a convincing teacher. It is not the eloquent words, but the heartfelt sincerity that brings the Spirit and moves people to make changes.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

BoM Weeks 14-15

(Easter)

(Isn’t it great that every one of us have the same front row seats to Conference? Enjoy! And don’t forget to take notes.)