When I picked up my manual to prepare to teach Gospel Doctrine this Sunday, I figured it would be a lesson about the spirit of Elijah (second week = section 2 = turning hearts, etc). I was surprised and delighted to find that Lesson 2 is instead about the atonement, highlighting powerhouse passages in Doctrine & Covenants sections 19, 76, 88, and 93. While reading the material I was reminded of a favorite quote from Chieko Okazaki on the topic and had a hankering to share it.
We know that on some level Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything–absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer–how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student-body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
The passage continues on, highlighting the fact that Jesus understands the suffering unique to women even though he is a man. This is a topic for another post (check Blog Segullah on Sunday if you’re interested). What I want to focus on right now is this line: It’s our faith that he experienced everything–absolutely everything.
That’s my faith. Is it yours? Why, or why not?