I have thought a lot about the atonement and how Jesus Christ is pleased when we follow him. Two separate occasions did he say, “If ye love me…” During one of those occasions, he said, “feed my sheep,” but the other time he also said, “Keep my commandments.” Obviously, it is important to him that we keep his commandments.
There are some obvious reasons for this. He suffered for our sins, and when we keep his commandments and follow him, not only does it ease his suffering, but he cares so much for us that what really matters to him is that it eases ours–that is, our suffering.
Yet, more recently, I have begun to wonder if there was even more to this. Jesus Christ came to this earth and walked as a man. His mortal ministry brought about lasting changes that still influence the world today. He was subject to temptation and fatigue and hunger, but even then, he was also subject to human emotion. Oh, in a very different way than we are, for he was perfect, and he was never angry, or hateful, or vengeful. But he did feel pain at the sins of the world, as expressed in many different ways through the duration of the scriptures, a prominant way being in 3 Nephi 17, when, as a perfected, glorified being, he turns to his Father in prayer, in anguish, for the sins of the people.
Many times during his mortal ministry, however, he was rejected. He was smitten and afflicted and even those who loved him for his miracles did not fully understand his divinity or his purpose. From the Garden of Gethsemane to the brutal judgement that followed, he was left alone by even those who loved him. On the cross, he was even left alone by his Father. I love Elder Holland’s thoughts about this moment–that the Savior needed to even know what it was like to be away from his Father’s presence–and so will leave it at that, but Jesus Christ knows better than any of us what it is like to be completely alone. And sometimes we undermine the fact that it must mean so much to him when hundreds and thousands of people today are willing to follow him, a Being they have never seen, to stormy persecution, to lands unknown, to strange nations, and even to death, if necessary. How much must it mean to him, after all he has done for us, that so many people are willing to return to him?
A while ago, a talk was given with the question, “Shall I Falter or Shall I Finish?” The real question hidden deeply in that is, “Shall I follow Christ to the end, or will I forsake him too?”
He will NEVER forsake us. That promise is very clear. He loves us. He will always love us. Not only did he die for us, but he bore the price for all of our sins and mistakes. The real question stands by saying, will we forsake him?
And hopefully we can all answer the same, with a resounding, “No, I will never forsake him.”
Yeah, I’ve done a lot of thinking this week 🙂