Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ponderize - Isaiah 53: 5

3 Nephi 27:20
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

I could have hoped to have learned more about this verse. I still don't know, for example, how the reception of the Holy Ghost sanctifies us. Nor do I know how my next ponderizing verse is supposed to work.

For this week, I have chose to ponderize Isaiah 53: 5: 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.

How could His suffering heal us? This isn't a game where Health Points could be transferred from one character to another. Hurting one person doesn't automatically heal another, and healing one person doesn't directly harm another, so I'm not sure how Jesus' stripes are supposed to do any real good.

Of course, Isaiah could be using the term "stripes" loosely. Maybe he wasn't referring to the whipping specifically, but to all of Christ's suffering, including His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, but that still doesn't explain how Jesus could have paid the price for our sins. In Alma 34, we read:
Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
Then, how is it that Jesus' suffering could satisfy the demands of justice for us? The law of justice demands that we pay the price for our own sins. Having Jesus suffer for our sins is like punishing an innocent bystander for someone else's crimes. No just legal system would let anyone else take my punishment for me, no matter what arrangement my scapegoat and I worked out between us.

On the other hand, Jesus was there when this "legal system" was written, so He might have worked in a loophole to allow Himself to take our punishment, but I still don't understand it. Maybe I never will.

Whether we understand the Atonement or not, it's important to think about it, to remember what it cost our Savior and what it means to us. I don't imagine that, by the end of the week, I'll understand the workings of the Atonement any better than I understand the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, but it'll give me an excuse to listen to Handel's Messiah again, and if it encourages me to avoid sin, it'll be worth the confusion, even if I never figure anything out.

1 comment:

Barbara Robarts said...

When we think of it as punishment for sins, it is pretty hard to make it work, despite the nice story of the big boy that took the beating for a small hungry boy who had stolen a lunch. When we think of it as a debt incurred as in "The Mediator", it is easier to understand. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1977/04/the-mediator?lang=eng&media=video
While we do not understand HOW it works - I don't understand electricity, plumbing, or my car, either - we can receive a testimony and be grateful that it DOES work. I cannot really comprehend such totallove and courage, but I love Him for it. How great is our God and Savior!