Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Reason it's a Miracle

I have contemplated how to write this post for several weeks, since a very good friend of mine had to give a talk on the Atonement at church. The problem is, once again this is a topic that I can't possibly give due justice with my mere words. I pray it touches a heart somewhere and makes us think about why we really celebrate this time of year.

Think with me for a minute about the following situation...A young woman, mid-teens to be a little more specific, finds herself pregnant and scared. She's not married, and where she lives this is a BIG deal. When the time comes to have the baby, there is not a comfortable bed for her, no epidural, no sterile hospital room and trained staff. It doesn't sound fun, but it's really is not THAT big a deal. It happens every day in our world. If you don't believe me, visit Africa or perhaps just the streets of downtown where you live.

Now add to that situation the fact that the mother was visited by an angel and told that she would bear the Son of God. Without question, Mary was willing to face the ridicule of her family and friends, to be ostracized and even perhaps bullied, to do the will of her Father in Heaven. How grateful I am that she was willing to do so, and that Joseph was willing to stand by her side, even when it was not the popular thing to do. That is only one piece of the puzzle though. The circumstances of the Savior's humble birth really wouldn't matter THAT much without the reality of His Atonement. Bruce R. McConkie said "His Atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation's dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity."

Read that again, His Atonement not His birth.

One more situation for you to consider for a moment...

Infinite agony, suffered in a garden beyond what any mortal man could bear. Agony that caused blood to leave a body from EVERY pore. Agony that caused even our Savior to wish not to drink that bitter cup. Agony that was willingly born for each of us.

Then, once His body was drained of all energy, He confronted Judas (who was supposed to be His friend, a trusted disciple) and was betrayed by even him. Taken to trial on false accusations and convicted of crimes He did not commit.

They spit on him, they beat him, they caused blood to pour from his head with a crown of thorns, and then they scourged him with forty lashes save one with leather straps that had been woven with metal and flesh piercing bone. Many at the time died from this type of scourging alone, but not Him.

He then rose and carried His own cross until He could go no further and collapsed in agony.

Finally, on Calvary's hill, the Roman soldiers laid Him on the cross and drove large spikes of iron through His hands, wrists, and feet and hung Him on the cross for people to deride and defame, which they did for three more hours.

Then, He hung on the cross for another three hours while the pains of Gethsemane were revisited.

Finally, when all that the Father had asked of Him was fulfilled, He voluntarily gave up His life as only He had the power to do.

But then came the beauty of it all. Three days later the Savior took up His body again and was Resurrected. He overcame physical and spiritual death that we might each do the same, but only through Him. He alone had the power to overcome the world and He did it FOR us. For me, for you, for your neighbor, for your enemy.

THAT is the miracle of this season. If there had not been the miraculous Atonement, the birth really wouldn't be all that spectacular. If there had been no Gethsemane, would we even know of Bethlehem?
I know this to be true. I know that He is the only way. I'm grateful for this time of year when we can celebrate the birth of our Savior and I pray we may truly remember HIM in all we do this holiday season.


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