Day 20: He Suffered and Died for You

Luke 22:

39 ¶ And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47 ¶ And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?

54 ¶ Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.

Matthew 27:

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 ¶ And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Mark 15:

22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

Luke 23:

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

John 19:

38 ¶ And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Matthew 27:

60 … and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Today I have posted just a few verses for a glimpse of the agony our Savior went through on that first Good Friday. His anguish began with the distress of the atonement in Gethsemane, followed by a painful betrayal at a friend’s hands, an unfair secret trial, the demand for His death by His own people, mockery and torment by soldiers who knew nothing of His mission or who He was, and finally a horrific death upon a cross. I would highly encourage you to read these chapters in each of the Gospels for your own personal understanding and insight of these events. (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19)

It is hard for me to put into words my feelings about these torturous last hours of my Redeemer’s earthly life.  As I read talks, listened to music and watched videos to prepare myself for this post I found myself weeping with compassion for my Savior, remorse for my own part in His suffering, and gratitude for what He was willing to go through for each of us.  His love-driven willpower is incomprehensible to me.  As much as I know His Grace is an offering free of my earning it, it does make me want to prove my gratitude through my actions.  I want to show my love to Him by using my time wisely and serving Him and those around me well. I think one of the other important ways for us to show our appreciation to Him for all He did for us is to accept the gift He has offered.  We must allow His atonement to be applied to us and not just believe in its effectiveness for other people, but to really believe we personally can be cleansed, sanctified and empowered by it.

When I was younger and tried to picture the atonement made in our behalf, I would imagine Christ suffering for culminations of individual sins, for instance, first He would suffer for all the lies that were ever told, then for all the murders that were ever committed, then for all the impure thoughts that were ever considered, and so forth.  A combination of study and spiritual growth over the years has given me a better understanding of the reason for what our Savior went through. He was willing to suffer for us because He loves us wholly and completely.  He loves us individually and wanted to understand us each perfectly so that He could succor us in the exact way we need to be attended to.  I believe the atonement was much more personal than suffering for clumps of similar sins.  I believe He suffered individually for each of us.  I believe He knows every moment of my life, my joys, my sorrows, my strengths, my weaknesses, my sins, my sicknesses, and every burden I will ever carry.  I do not know by what miracle this is possible, but I believe He is the God of the individual and this is the only way He could truly know me well enough to care for me in every way I need Him to.  And I believe He did the same thing for each of you.  It is a personal atonement.  An atonement made one by one.  And I believe He would have been willing to do it even if you were the only one.

Song:

Lay Down My Life

Song:

Peace in Christ

Talk:

Gift of Grace

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-gift-of-grace?lang=eng

Talk:

Pattern For All

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/a-pattern-for-all?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

How can you allow the atonement to work in your life? Is their something specific you need to repent of? Is there something you’ve repented of you need to forgive yourself for?

Day 19: Love Much and Do What You Can Do

Luke 7:

36 ¶ And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

This story is precious to me for a many different reasons, I will share three. I am amazed at the courage displayed by this woman to enter a home knowing how she was defined by those in her community because of her past mistakes. But she didn’t care. She cared much more about what Jesus thought of her than what anyone else did. I have carried my own heavy burdens of sin and I remember a particular time thinking, “What if people find out?” A few moments later I was led by the Spirit to a scripture that in essence said, “If you can stand before God at the last day with clean hands and a pure heart, what else matters?” This woman had learned that lesson and her story teaches us the same thing.

It is so obvious that she loved Jesus with her whole heart and truly understood His mission. She had faith in who He was and in what was necessary for Him to do to fulfill His purpose. She did more than just profess her belief vocally, but also acted on it by giving of her substance, love, and humility in a way that could be recognized by the Savior, by everyone else watching, and by those who would read her story for thousands of years.

Another reason why I love this story is how clearly it shows the tenderness of the Savior towards one who is remorseful and repentant. He knew what the other people in the room were thinking of her and He told them to leave her alone. He told them that He was well aware of her sins but that her love had more than made up for them. She was forgiven because she loved much! I see her example and I feel hope. Loving well is something each of us can do. We can love our Savior and care more about what He thinks of us than anyone else. We can show our love for Him by loving others and showing mercy to them. And honestly, I believe that is all God expects of us, to do our best and to love much. Because of this story, that has been my motto for many years now… Love much and do what you can do. I believe there is great mercy in that objective.

Song: Loving My Jesus

Talk:

He Means Me

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1979/04/he-means-me?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: What can you do to show your love for the Savior and an understanding of His mission? How can you better show your love for Him?

Day 18: It is Lawful to Do Well

Matthew 12:

10 ¶ And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

Mark 3:

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Luke 6:

6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

John 7:

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

There are stories in each of the Gospels of Jesus healing on the Sabbath.  I do not believe this is an insignificant thing. The traditions of their time were so concrete.  Christ bucked the system and this enraged the leaders of the day.  I have always told my kids that anger is a secondary emotion to a bigger underlying emotion.  I believe these men were scared.  They were scared of change.  They were scared of losing their status and their influence over the people.  They were scared to believe that the new teachings might apply to them. This fear paralyzed them.  It kept them from leaving their comfort zone. It kept them from progressing spiritually. It kept them from reaching out to others who needed them.  And clearly it kept them from feeling the Spirit witness of truth. Through His healing power and acts, our Savior was giving people back their lives!  And these men were so caught up in their rules and letter of the law that they had no compassion for the people hurting right in front of them or these miraculous changes that were happening right before their eyes.

Do we allow some of these fears to affect us?  Do we allow ourselves to get so caught up in the traditions of our culture (even within our church) to the point that we are incapable of leaving our boxes, of seeing needs that are outside those perceived lines?  Do we become so ingrained in the culture of our religion that we cannot feel the Spirit calling to us for change or redirection?  Cannot feel the promptings asking us to act in behalf of someone else?

Song:

Love Them Like Jesus

Talk:

Believe, Love, Do

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/believe-love-do?lang=eng

Soul searching Question: How can you demonstrate that people are more important than traditions or routines today?

Day 17: The First Stone

John 8:

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

My heart breaks for this poor woman. How humiliating to be drug into a crowd with all of your sins and shortcomings showing. She must have been so ashamed. She must have been terrified knowing the prescribed punishment for her sin. Then to be shown the tender mercy of Christ. The compassion of our champion is something to be rejoiced! Especially because that mercy is not reserved for this woman alone, but is extended to each of us. How relieved she must have been to hear the dull thud of the rocks as they dropped to the ground one by one.

I too have felt the gentle hand of Christ’s kindness rest upon my head when I was completely unworthy of it. He has pulled me up out of the dirt, dusted me off and sent me lovingly on my way. His mercy and compassion are offered freely with only one thing asked in return… that we likewise extend love and compassion to those around us. None of us is without sin. None of us justified in judging another. The rocks we so carelessly toss around we do at our own peril. Our Savior loves us perfectly and expects us to give freely of our love and kindness in return.

Everyone of us is doing the best we can. Every one of us falls short. Every one of us desires understanding and mercy for our mistakes and weaknesses. Can we really offer any less than we desire?

Song:

Compassion

Talk:

Compassion

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/04/compassion?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

How can you show compassion towards someone today?

Day 16: Jesus Saw Their Faith

Mark 2:

1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

This story of friendship is so beautiful to me!  I love that these friends didn’t just pray for their friend but acted in his behalf.  They carried him to find Jesus.  And when the way got rough, they didn’t turn around and go home, they tore the roof apart to get their friend the help he needed. It was their faith and their actions powered by that faith that got their friend where he needed to be to have his life changed for the better.  I have been blessed with some amazing friends throughout my life.  Friends that have laughed with me, cried with me, stood by me during my darkest times, lifted me with their words, and shown their love through acts of service and sacrifice. I have been blessed with friends that would tear a roof apart for me.  I feel truly humbled by their love and their loyalty!  Their friendship means the world to me!  The way they are makes me want to be a better friend, and not just to them but to everyone.  If you have those kinds of friends be sure to thank God for them.  If you don’t, be that kind of friend to those around you.  You never know what your acts of friendship may mean to someone who needs it.  Your sincere acts of love just might allow a miracle to happen in your own life.

Song: Circle of Friends

Talk:

Friendship: A Gospel Principle
http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/friendship-a-gospel-principle?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

How can you show faith on behalf of your friends? How can you show friendship towards someone in need?

Day 15: Born Again Because of Him

John 3:

1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14 ¶ And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 ¶ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

I am so grateful for Nicodemus and his courage to go against the traditions and feelings of the other Pharisees and seek Jesus out.  I am so grateful for all the beautiful truths we learn from this conversation he had with the Savior.  Just like Nicodemus, sometimes we do need to be chastened a little to recognize where we are falling short and where we need to put some additional effort into our studies and our self improvement efforts.  We learn from this conversation that it is not enough just to follow the traditions we were born into, but it is necessary for each of us to be converted to the Lord as individuals, to truly be born again.

I grew up believing in Christ and feeling very comfortable with His teachings and doctrine, but I know my own conversion didn’t come until I had children of my own.  They were very young when my husband decided he no longer wanted to be an active member of our church.  It was at that point where the road forked for me.  I knew that if I were to stay an active member it would be very difficult.  I would be taking two small children to church by myself every week.  I would have to be respectful for our different priorities as husband and wife.  I would have to ignore the judgments of others (or my own perception of these judgments) when I was not part of the traditional couple or family.  As I pondered on these obstacles I decided I really needed to be clear on what I believed.  I needed to be fully committed to the Gospel.  I needed to believe it so strongly it would be worth the sacrifices I would be required to make.  My praying became more sincere and my study of God’s word more intense.  I sought out help from other resources that held uplifting messages and counsel.  As I did this, I felt my relationship with the Lord change and my heart become soft and receptive.  I was given some very strong reassurances from the Spirit that the Gospel was true and that I was strong enough to take this path without my husband, and that I would never be alone.  Though at the time this felt like the biggest trial of my life because it was so unexpected, as I look back now I am so glad that I got the push that I needed to find my own conversion, to genuinely be born again.  My relationship with my Father and His Son are mine.  I know them personally and I feel their presence in my life.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.  It is because of Him that I can do hard things.  It is because of Him that I can continually grown closer to Him and become more like Him as He helps me overcome my insecurities and weaknesses.  He is ALWAYS there and yearns for each of us to be born again, to seek a personal relationship with Him.  But He will honor our agency and wait for us to make the first step.

Song:

Born Again

Talk/Article:

Born Again

https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1989/07/born-of-god

Soul Searching Question:
What can you do to become more converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Day 14: He Knows Us Personally

Mark 5:

24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

This story has always been one I could vividly visualize!  Even in my minimal struggles, I know the toll that physical afflictions can take on a body and finances.  It can be so overwhelming!  I can imagine myself as this woman, physically afflicted and yearning for healing.  Wanting healing so badly that I would crawl through a crowd of people to Jesus.  Her faith was so great!  She was so certain if she could just His clothes, she would be healed.  It must have taken immense effort.  She had so much hope in the reaching out.  And immediately when she touched the hem of his clothing, she could feel the change come over her.  She knew the effort had been worth it!

I can only imagine the fear that came over her when Jesus stopped and asked who had touched Him.  I imagine she suddenly had a knot in the pit of her stomach wondering if she had done something wrong, if He would be mad at her.  I admire her so much for her courage to speak up and take ownership of her actions, especially not knowing how tender His response would be.

I admit I giggle a little each time I read the very confused response of Christ’s disciples when He asks who touched Him.  The saw the size of the crowd.  There were being pressed on every side by it.  They probably were feeling very lucky not to lose the Savior amongst the mess of people.  But Christ’s alertness and sensitivity is so profound to me.  He knew someone had reached out to Him with intent.  He knew that His power had healed someone.  I am absolutely certain that He knew exactly who it was as well.  But He gave her the opportunity to connect with Him.  He allowed her the precious knowledge that what she had done would have been freely given to her.  She never needed to feel guilty about the power she had tapped into.  He knew her.  He knew her struggles. He knew her yearnings.  He knew her faith.  And He blessed her for these things, for her efforts.  It is such a witness to me that He knows the same things about us and that He also wants to offer us His power and His blessings.  We just have to make the effort to reach out!

Song:

Known

Talk:

One Among the Crowd

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/one-among-the-crowd?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: What can you do to reach out to the Lord? How can you show faith that He knows you individually and desires to help you?