This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, (Luke, and John coming soon).
The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ–Assignment for Matthew 1
Read Matthew 1.
Even though the Atonement seems to be one specific point in Christ’s life, all of the other events of His life (including His pre-mortal life) point to His great mission: the Atonement. In other words, many things needed to happen in order for the Atonement to take place.
- What do you think the relationship is between Christ’s heritage and the Atonement?
- What do you think the relationship is between Christ’s stepfather, Joseph, and the Atonement?
- What do you think the relationship is between the announcement of Christ’s birth by the angel (and preceding prophecies of His divine birth) and the atonement?
- How can understanding the relationship between His pre-mortal life and His Atonement help us to understand the power it has in our lives?
I suppose that when I think about this series of questions–and the Atonement in our lives, I’m really struck by the whole idea of fore-ordination. Christ was foreordained to be the Messiah. He was meant to be born in the line of Judah—in the House of Israel…from the beginning of time. Here, we see the lineage starting at Abraham and Isaac— which is also a powerful reminder since Abraham is the Father of Israel. Not only that, but Isaac was a type of Christ when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his birthright son. Isaac went with his father willingly, just as Jesus sacrificed His own life for us.
Later, Joseph, when he finds that Mary is pregnant, is thinking on what to do with Mary and His espousal to her. Instead of choosing to make an example of her, he decides to end the engagement quietly. this is a pretty kind thing to do. Joseph is generous and merciful-fit to be the “step-father” of the Savior.
An angel appears to Joseph and teaches:
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21
Right here, we learn the entire purpose and mission of Christ’s life. He will save us from our sins. He will Atone. Christ wasn’t sent to earth arbitrarily. Even before He was born, there was purpose and planning. He had a divine mission to fulfill.
The Atonement wasn’t a reaction to the fall of Adam and Eve. It was always a part of the Plan, and Christ was foreordained to perform it.
I suppose that when I think of the Atonement and how it has been in the works long before Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane or the Cross at Calvary, I realize the mercy, the scope, the magnitude of Heavenly Father’s plan of Salvation, and His incredible love for us. The Atonement is the key to my happiness. As I develop my relationship with Christ and learn more about His Atonement, I can learn how to let it empower my life. It is not just some abstract idea to talk about sometimes during Sunday School. It is real. It is powerful. It is hope, mercy, love. It was designed long before Adam or Eve set foot in the Garden. It was prophesied many millennia before Christ came to the earth. And we still recognize and reverence the miraculous work He did for us now.
What do you learn about the Atonement from this chapter and assignment? How does it strengthen your faith in the Atonement and your relationship with the Savior?