Christ, the Atonement and His Relationship with His Father
Christ, the Atonement and His Relationship with His Father.
4 years ago I contemplated the miracle of childbirth and fatherhood. With new found emotions and feelings never before felt, I realized that a very real void had just been filled. My marriage, up to that point seemed fulfilled and at times joyous; thus I did not understand that I was incomplete. I didn’t realize or know that I was not filled full.
The birth of my son and later that of my daughter, reshaped my perspective on this and many other things. I began to be more full, or complete in my way of thinking and my approach to life. My eternal perspective was one area profoundly affected by this experience.
I remember as a missionary memorizing a scripture that spoke of our eternal nature and Sociology. It stated that “the same sociology that exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” At the birth of my children I experienced joy beyond that, which I had previously felt. It helped me conclude that Adam falling and the subsequent joy to attend could be found in the “man might be” portion of Moses 1:39. As my children came to be, my joy became full, in a way that I had never experienced joy before. The newness of joy came with the newness of many things to come.
As a new Father, I felt close to the scriptural references of Fathers and Son’s. I was most profoundly affected by the relationship of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. As a new father I wanted to be party to every event in my son's life, both great and small. I wanted to be there at each of his milestone successes. I did not want to miss his first word or his first step.
My love and new found devotion for him also created new found fears, never before felt. What happened here? Where did this love and concern come from? I knew that something had changed in me. I found changing diapers and waking to provide for my son’s needs in the middle of the night, though at times inconvenient, was overshadowed by my desire to fulfill his dependency.
I seemed consumed for a time, by the thought of something tragic or harmful happening to him. The thought was more then I could stand. I even went so far as to become medically trained as an EMT and Fireman, in hopes that I could attend to his needs when the time arrived. The greatest fear I possessed was the fear of being unable to provide for him or for him to ever think that I would abandon him in his time of need.
During this time and while studying the scriptures, I began to note the many times in which The Father was visibly involved in the life of His Son. I noted also that Christ who is the first born in the spirit, was also the first and only earthly born of the Father in the flesh. As I am very interested in the future and purpose of my first born son, so it appears The Father is interested in the future and mission of his son.
There have been many times in my son’s young life where I have heard the pleas for comfort in the middle of the night or cries for help after he had fallen and skinned his knee. The thought of turning from my child in his time of need is simply an impossible thought. It is my moral and legal responsibility to provide for him. Beyond that, it is my love for him that would prevent forsaking from ever occurring.
Beginning before the birth of the Savior, Mary and Elizabeth received special witnesses of the divine nature of those special little ones they would mother. There is nothing that suggests that the Baptist’s and Christ’s divine missions or origin was withheld from them. I would like to think it was the contrary. It is my feeling that Joseph ,the adopted father of Christ, cared for and assisted in rearing the Savior here on earth. It is also my feeling that the Savior had a direct relationship with his Eternal and Natural Father, our Father in Heaven.
My reflections on my own son caused me to reflect further on the relationship of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. It seems clear to me that the Father relished in the Son’s momentous occasions. The Saviors willingness to be willing and obedient is the highest honor that the Father could receive. He uses the sweet term of beloved when speaking of him. It is not hard for me to use that word when describing my own son. The Father also knew something that I do not. He knew what the future would hold for his Son.
If I knew that my child would suffer in grave and agonizing ways and that his life would be shortened, how would I respond to my son? Would I make him more comfortable and what would my time spent with him be like? Would I strive to help him become stronger knowing what the future would hold? Would I reveal to him his future for fear that it would destroy him? Would I be willing to allow him to suffer?
These were natural thoughts that were provoked during my time of study. I read and watched the Father provide for the Son. Instruction started early. His mission was made clear. The Savior communed with His Father for strength as he fasted and prayed. His Father did not turn away. He provided for Him when He struggled or suffered.
I have read that "the Savior descended below us ALL". I wondered how is ALL to be defined? Does ALL mean ALL or does ALL mean those who have dwelt on earth? The Savior died that ALL mankind may be saved. Here or elsewhere.
During the Saviors final moments after such great suffering, wherein an angel was sent to comfort Him, the Savior yet faced his most difficult mortal moments. The loss of blood the Savior would have received during his scourging and during gethsemane would have killed most men.
The Savior’s spiritual senses were amazingly Keane. He felt and commented about losing virtue, when the woman touched his garment in faith. He relied on His Father’s spirit to help him carry on. As he was aware of the loss of virtue, He was just as aware of the withdrawal of the Father’s spirit while on the cross.
Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani” MY God, My God why has thou forsaken me? (Matt. New Testament) This statement seems sudden and came as a surprise. This seems also to be unfamiliar to Him. Many have asked the question, why did God withdraw or where did he go? Why on the cross and not before? Is there a reason?
As a Father myself, I cannot bear the thought of turning away from my child in his or her time of need. This must have been the greatest trial for the Father and the Son. I have often thought more of the Savior’s visible sacrifice and less of the Fathers hidden sacrifice.
Why did the Father withdraw for a time? Was it an accident or did it fulfill a part of the Saviors mission. I cannot answer this for sure, but I do know that the Savior descended below us all. The Saviors statement that “it is finished” came after the withdrawal of the Fathers spirit and before he commended his spirit into his Fathers hands, which immediately followed this shocking revelation.
Satan has been cut off and will be forever. Satan’s hollowness and emptiness fuels his anger and bitterness towards all things righteous. This form of lonely suffering appears to be the most difficult for both the Savior and Satan.
I do not believe that God that Father withdrew himself by accident. The Saviors physical suffering was not greater upon the cross. He was tortured and suffered tremendous agony before ever reaching Golgotha. I believe there is a reason for this brief withdrawal, a reason that was necessary before the Saviors mission would be complete or “finished”.
Those who have chosen to deny the Christ or those who will never inherit a body, have been cut off from the Father’s presence. It could be suggested that in order for the Savior to truly know how to succor his people, and to truly descend below us all, His mission would not be complete until he felt the loneliness of the withdrawal of the Fathers Spirit. As evident in Christ’s suffering, the withdrawal of the Fathers Spirit seems to be more then he could bear. Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachthani, My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me? The Savior would shortly utter the words “it is finished”. After letting out a cry, he gave up the ghost and commended his spirit into His Fathers loving, comforting and spirit filled hands.
I am grateful to the Savior and to our Father in Heaven for completing the atoning mission. I am also grateful that he allows us to understand through our associations the love that the Father and the Son have for us. I cherish the Fathers spirit and its influence on me and my family. I would be lost and lonely without it. I am grateful that the Savior descended below me and I have felt of His succoring balm in my life.
I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. I know that they stand together glorified, the Fathers glory in the Son and the Son’s in the Father. I pray that I may be more mindful and appreciative of the great sacrifice given to me and my son, to my wife and my daughter.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Jonathan J. Johnson