I coordinate a sacrament service at a local seniors’ residence. Usually, a member of our ward presents a message, but occasionally, someone doesn’t show, so I need to step in. Such was the case today.
Given that it is Easter Sunday, I decided to use a text discussing the sacrifice of the Saviour. There are several to choose from, but I picked Alma 7.
Alma teaches the people of Gideon about Jesus during this chapter, but verses 11 and 12 were what I referred to specifically, starting with just verse 11:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
After reading this verse, I highlighted the fact that Alma made a point to specify that the Saviour suffered pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind.
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it seems like we focus on Jesus suffering for our sins and that atonement is a vehicle for our redemption.
The Atonement—at least according to Alma—seems to be much more. If he suffered not only for our sins, but also for our pains, afflictions, and temptations, it’s no wonder he bled as if from every pore.
Isaiah spoke of this, too, in verse 5 of chapter 53:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
He makes it clear in this verse that Jesus suffered for our sins. However, echoing Alma’s thoughts (or perhaps Alma was echoing his, Isaiah touches in the previous verse about his suffering encompassing more than just our sins:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .
It is a great blessing that not only has he made it possible for us to have our sins taken from us but that our other sufferings can be, as well.
To me, I think there are three reasons why Jesus did this for us.
- So he can develop mercy
- So he can judge righteously
- So he can carry our burdens
1. Developing mercy
In Alma 7:13, Alma teaches that Jesus suffered these things so he can develop mercy.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
In fact, not only did it help him develop mercy, but it filled him with mercy. Because he knows what it feels like to go through what we have to endure, he can plead our case with mercy when he intercedes in our behalf. When we pray for relief and peace, he can confirm that what ails us is difficult and trying.
Likewise, I think this establishes a pattern for us: if we want to develop Christlike mercy, we must be willing to suffer for others.
2. Judging righteously
In Mosiah 3:10, King Benjamin teaches us that all Jesus endured (see verses 5–7 and 9) was so “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.”
If a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, Jesus will know what was going through the man’s mind and what drove him to do this thing.
When passing judgement on us, he will use his sufferings and trials to judge more than just our actions (see D&C 137:9; Alma 18:32; D&C 6:16).
This is also why it is important that we should not judge others. We can see only their actions; we cannot understand what motivates them, what causes them to do something we would not do.
3. Carry our burdens
In my mind, this concept culminates in the ideas Jesus himself espouses at the end of Matthew 11:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I believe that his having experienced all these pains, sorrows, griefs, afflictions, and temptations is what allows him to make such a remarkable offer.
May we this Easter season remember that Jesus’s suffering was for more than redemption from sin and deliverance from death. He suffered that our lives could be made easier.