Witnesses of Christ

Twitter

(This is an excerpt from the book Christ and the New Covenant.)

But surely the most sublime, the lengthiest and most lyrical declaration of the life, death, and atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ is that found in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, quoted in its entirety in the Book of Mormon by Abinadi as he stood in chains before King Noah. Abinadi was, of course, a prefiguration, a type and shadow of the Savior, a fact that makes his moving tribute to Christ even more powerful and poignant (if that is possible) than when Isaiah wrote it. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been invited to seek everything that is "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy," a fitting description of the Holy One of Israel as declared by Isaiah and Abinadi in their testimonials of him. Consider these elements of his life, love, and gift to all:

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." Sometimes we forget that Christ was born into mortality not only to die for us but also to live like us. He experienced his infancy, childhood, teenage years, and adulthood so that he might more fully understand the challenges associated with life spent in a world that is not our home. Under the watchful eye of his Heavenly Father, he was "tender" in at least two ways—he was young, pure, innocent, and particularly vulnerable to the pain of sin all around him, and he was caring, thoughtful, sensitive, and kind—in short, tender. In his childhood and youthful years with Joseph and Mary, at which time he was only a plant, he was to anchor himself and become a mighty root; then he would grow to become the Tree of Life. (The tree of life as a symbol includes the tree on which he would be slain for the sins of the world.) This would all be accomplished within a few square miles of dry and rocky terrain in ancient Palestine, and in a climate of dry and sterile Judaic legalism that had long since choked out the lifegiving strength of earlier gospel dispensations.

"He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." We have no reason to believe that Christ was unattractive physically, but this verse may suggest that he was plain—as in "plain and precious." In any case we know that his power was an inner, spiritual gift, and that as the son of a mortal mother, he did not stand out in any distinctive physical way, leading his surprised and offended contemporaries of the day to say of him and his messianic announcement, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He certainly did not come to them in a way that filled the people's traditional hopes and views of a Messiah who would be striking in visage or powerful in politics.

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Ultimately Christ was rejected by the people to whom he had come, with even some of his closest disciples growing fearful and (at least temporarily) abandoning him in the end. When he was cursed, vilified, mocked, and spat upon, no one stepped forward to protect or defend him. This was, of course, according to divine decree that the full weight of the Atonement would be borne by Christ and Christ alone. Certainly as he bore the sins and sadness, the heartbreak and hurt of every man, woman, and child from Adam to the end of the world, it is an understatement to say he was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

Part of the pain here is the fact that some thought this man of Galilee was getting what he deserved, being "smitten of God." The Savior's most piercing cry may have added to that misunderstanding: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

But surely the most sublime, the lengthiest and most lyrical declaration of the life, death, and atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ is that found in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, quoted in its entirety in the Book of Mormon by Abinadi as he stood in chains before King Noah. Abinadi was, of course, a prefiguration, a type and shadow of the Savior, a fact that makes his moving tribute to Christ even more powerful and poignant (if that is possible) than when Isaiah wrote it. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been invited to seek everything that is "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy," a fitting description of the Holy One of Israel as declared by Isaiah and Abinadi in their testimonials of him. Consider these elements of his life, love, and gift to all:

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." Sometimes we forget that Christ was born into mortality not only to die for us but also to live like us. He experienced his infancy, childhood, teenage years, and adulthood so that he might more fully understand the challenges associated with life spent in a world that is not our home. Under the watchful eye of his Heavenly Father, he was "tender" in at least two ways—he was young, pure, innocent, and particularly vulnerable to the pain of sin all around him, and he was caring, thoughtful, sensitive, and kind—in short, tender. In his childhood and youthful years with Joseph and Mary, at which time he was only a plant, he was to anchor himself and become a mighty root; then he would grow to become the Tree of Life. (The tree of life as a symbol includes the tree on which he would be slain for the sins of the world.) This would all be accomplished within a few square miles of dry and rocky terrain in ancient Palestine, and in a climate of dry and sterile Judaic legalism that had long since choked out the lifegiving strength of earlier gospel dispensations.

"He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." We have no reason to believe that Christ was unattractive physically, but this verse may suggest that he was plain—as in "plain and precious." In any case we know that his power was an inner, spiritual gift, and that as the son of a mortal mother, he did not stand out in any distinctive physical way, leading his surprised and offended contemporaries of the day to say of him and his messianic announcement, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He certainly did not come to them in a way that filled the people's traditional hopes and views of a Messiah who would be striking in visage or powerful in politics.

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." Ultimately Christ was rejected by the people to whom he had come, with even some of his closest disciples growing fearful and (at least temporarily) abandoning him in the end. When he was cursed, vilified, mocked, and spat upon, no one stepped forward to protect or defend him. This was, of course, according to divine decree that the full weight of the Atonement would be borne by Christ and Christ alone. Certainly as he bore the sins and sadness, the heartbreak and hurt of every man, woman, and child from Adam to the end of the world, it is an understatement to say he was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."

Part of the pain here is the fact that some thought this man of Galilee was getting what he deserved, being "smitten of God." The Savior's most piercing cry may have added to that misunderstanding: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Then, as today, many thought that if there is suffering, there surely must be guilt. Indeed, there was plenty of guilt here—a whole world of it—but it fell upon the only utterly sinless and totally innocent man who had ever lived.

"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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." In a way that is as monumentally merciful as it is beyond our ability to comprehend, in a way that fills us with as much wonder as it does gratitude, Christ personally took upon himself, beginning in the garden of Gethsemane and continuing on to the cross at Calvary, both the spiritual and physical burden of the transgressions and iniquities of everyone in the human family, for all "like sheep have gone astray." Every accountable person who ever lived—except Jesus—has sinned "and come short of the glory of God." Furthermore, we know that Christ took upon himself other lesser but still painful burdens as well—sicknesses and afflictions, sorrows and discouragements and infirmities of every kind—that these sufferings might be lifted along with the suffering for sin and disobedience.

He who most deserved peace and was the Prince of Peace had peace taken from him. He who deserved no rebuke, let alone physical abuse, went under the lash that his taking of such stripes might spare us such pain if only we would repent. The total cost of such combined spiritual and physical suffering is incalculable. Yet the iniquities, including the sorrows and sadness, of every mortal being who ever has lived or will live in this world were laid across one lonely set of shoulders. In the most magnificent display of strength ever known in the world of human endeavor, they were carried until full payment had been made.

Then, as today, many thought that if there is suffering, there surely must be guilt. Indeed, there was plenty of guilt here—a whole world of it—but it fell upon the only utterly sinless and totally innocent man who had ever lived.

"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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." In a way that is as monumentally merciful as it is beyond our ability to comprehend, in a way that fills us with as much wonder as it does gratitude, Christ personally took upon himself, beginning in the garden of Gethsemane and continuing on to the cross at Calvary, both the spiritual and physical burden of the transgressions and iniquities of everyone in the human family, for all "like sheep have gone astray." Every accountable person who ever lived—except Jesus—has sinned "and come short of the glory of God." Furthermore, we know that Christ took upon himself other lesser but still painful burdens as well—sicknesses and afflictions, sorrows and discouragements and infirmities of every kind—that these sufferings might be lifted along with the suffering for sin and disobedience.

He who most deserved peace and was the Prince of Peace had peace taken from him. He who deserved no rebuke, let alone physical abuse, went under the lash that his taking of such stripes might spare us such pain if only we would repent. The total cost of such combined spiritual and physical suffering is incalculable. Yet the iniquities, including the sorrows and sadness, of every mortal being who ever has lived or will live in this world were laid across one lonely set of shoulders. In the most magnificent display of strength ever known in the world of human endeavor, they were carried until full payment had been made.

Twitter

Related Content

Salvation Is Not a Cheap Experience Salvation Is Not a Cheap Experience
This video is a portion from the bonus DVD included in Elder... Watch
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland holds a Q&A with Harvard Law students Elder Jeffrey R. Holland holds a Q&A with Harvard Law students
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed students at Harvard Law School... Watch
Grace Grace
Introducing a major new doctrinal work written by Elder Jeffrey R.... Read
Abinadi Abinadi
Introducing a major new doctrinal work written by Elder Jeffrey R.... Read
Living the Gospel in Our Own Sphere Living the Gospel in Our Own Sphere
This video is a portion from the bonus DVD included in Elder... Watch
Witness Witness
Introducing a major new doctrinal work written by Elder Jeffrey R.... Read
An Infinite Atonement An Infinite Atonement
Introducing a major new doctrinal work written by Elder Jeffrey R.... Read
Broken Things to Mend Broken Things to Mend
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
Continuing in Prayer Continuing in Prayer
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
Prophets in the Land Again Prophets in the Land Again
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
To My Friends | Bonus Content To My Friends | Bonus Content
Content from Elder Holland's new book. Read
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Speaks at the Harvard Law School Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Speaks at the Harvard Law School
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed students at Harvard Law School... Watch
Let There Be Light Let There Be Light
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
Let Virtue Garnish They Thoughts Unceasingly Let Virtue Garnish They Thoughts Unceasingly
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read
Lehi Lehi
Introducing a major new doctrinal work written by Elder Jeffrey R.... Read
Created for Greater Things Created for Greater Things
From the book Created for Greater Things Read
Our Experiences Are For Us Our Experiences Are For Us
From the book Created for Greater Things Read
"Because She Is a Mother" "Because She Is a Mother"
Most of us feel broken at some time or another. We face personal... Read

Conversations

Fridge Quotes:

Seek by Deseret Book