Christ’s life and suffering qualify Him to be our Judge

King Benjamin makes it clear that Christ’s suffering and Atonement allow Him to be our Judge:

9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.

10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
Mosiah 3: 9-10

Reading this again, I was reminded of a statement by Elder Richard G. Scott:

I testify that with unimaginable suffering and agony at an incalculable price, the Savior has earned His right to be our Intermediary, our Redeemer, our Final Judge.

Richard G. Scott, “For Success in Life,” BYU Commencement Address, 14 August 2008

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Having faith in the character of the Savior

  President Young observed that real faith requires faith in the Savior’s character, in His Atonement, and in the plan of salvation (in Journal of Discourses, 13:56). The Savior’s character necessarily underwrote His remarkable Atonement. Without His sublime character there could have been no sublime Atonement! His character is such that He went forth “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations “no heed” (D&C 20:22).

C. S. Lewis has said that only those who resist temptation really understand the power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly, He understood temptation perfectly; hence He can help us. (See Mere Christianity [1952], 124–25.) The fact that He was dismissive of temptation and gave it “no heed” reveals His marvelous character, which we are to emulate (see 3 Ne. 12:48; 3 Ne. 27:27).

Jesus Christ, who by far suffered the most, has the most compassion—for all of us who suffer so much less. Moreover, He who suffered the most has no self-pity! Even as He endured the enormous suffering associated with the Atonement, He reached out to others in their much lesser suffering. Consider how, in Gethsemane, Jesus, who had just bled at every pore, nevertheless restored an assailant’s severed ear which, given Jesus’ own agony, He might not have noticed! (see Luke 22:50–51).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Enduring Well,” Liahona, Apr 1999, 10

Developing a plan to better understand the Atonement

Richard G. Scott I’ve appreciated the way Elder Richard G. Scott has encouraged us to learn about the Atonement of Christ. Here is a powerful invitation he recently left BYU students (italics added):

I energetically encourage you to establish a personal plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of the perfect fulfillment by Jesus Christ of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer. Profound personal pondering of the scriptures accompanied by searching, heartfelt prayer will fortify your understanding of and appreciation for the Atonement. Your understanding can be strengthened through related classes as well as by discussions with faculty and students. Your understanding could be enhanced by a pause in your university studies to fulfill a call as a devoted full-time missionary. Whatever path you follow, please establish for yourself a must-be accomplished goal to acquire a better understanding of the Atonement while you are a student at Brigham Young University.

This may seem to be a significantly added burden that you cannot realize because of the press of all else you are required to do while enrolled here. However, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ—and I do not use those words lightly—I testify that your understanding of the Atonement and the insight it provides for your life will greatly enhance your productive use of all of the knowledge, experience, and skills you acquire at this university.

(Elder Richard G. Scott, “To Establish a Secure Foundation for Life,” BYU Devotional, March 18, 2008)

Elder Scott gave a similar invitation in his October 2006 conference address (italics added):

I believe that no matter how diligently you try, you cannot with your human mind fully comprehend the eternal significance of the Atonement nor fully understand how it was accomplished. We can only appreciate in the smallest measure what it cost the Savior in pain, anguish, and suffering or how difficult it was for our Father in Heaven to see His Son experience the incomparable challenge of His Atonement. Even so, you should conscientiously study the Atonement to understand it as well as you can. You can learn what is needful to live His commandments, to enjoy peace and happiness in mortal life.

Elder Maxwell shared this thought about teaching the Atonement:

When we share the gospel as members or full-time missionaries, our friends and investigators need to feel our convictions and testimonies about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are teaching a deep concept, but we should also be sharing a deep conviction about that powerful doctrine.

The most important thing we can do in preparing individuals to receive the full blessings of the Atonement is to understand it and to believe in it ourselves. By understanding and believing in the Atonement personally, you and I can teach and testify of the Atonement with greater gratitude, greater love, and greater power.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement,” Ensign, Oct 2001, 10

The power of our belief in the Atonement

Many who think that life is unfair do not see things within the larger vision of what the Savior did for us through the Atonement and the Resurrection. Each of us has at times agony, heartbreak, and despair when we must, like Job, reach deep down inside to the bedrock of our own faith. The depth of our belief in the Resurrection and the Atonement of the Savior will, I believe, determine the measure of courage and purpose with which we meet life’s challenges.

James E. Faust, “Woman, Why Weepest Thou?” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 52

Irony, the crust on the bread of adversity

Several excerpts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s great talk on irony:

“Irony is the hard crust on the bread of adversity. Irony can try both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of such chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity. It involves outcomes in violation of our expectations. We see the best laid plans laid waste.

“Words then issue, such as Why me? Why this? Why now? Of course, these words may give way to subsequent spiritual composure. Sometimes, however, such words precede bitter inconsolability, and then it is a surprisingly short distance between disappointment and bitterness.

“In coping with irony, as in all things, we have an Exemplary Teacher in Jesus. Dramatic irony assaulted Jesus’ divinity almost constantly.

“For Jesus, in fact, irony began at His birth. Truly, He suffered the will of the Father “in all things from the beginning.” (3 Ne. 11:11.) This whole earth became Jesus’ footstool (see Acts 7:49), but at Bethlehem there was “no room … in the inn” (Luke 2:7) and “no crib for his bed” (Hymns, 1985, no. 206.)

“At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18–19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most. Yet the King of Kings did not break, even when some of His subjects did unto Him “as they listed.” (D&C 49:6.) Christ’s capacity to endure such irony was truly remarkable.

“You and I are so much more brittle. For instance, we forget that, by their very nature, tests are unfair.”

Maxwell notes many more ironies associated with Jesus, then, near the end of his talk, writes:

“We come now to the last and most terrible irony of Jesus: His feeling forsaken at the apogee of His agony on Calvary. The apparent withdrawal of the Father’s spirit then evoked the greatest soul cry in human history. (See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1916, p. 613.) This deprivation had never happened to Christ before—never. Yet, thereby, Jesus became a fully comprehending Christ and was enabled to be a fully succoring Savior. (See Alma 7:11–12.) Moreover, even in that darkest hour, while feeling forsaken, Jesus submitted Himself to the Father.”

What a teacher irony in adversity can be, but only if we are humble in trial, as was Jesus.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity,” Ensign, May 1989, 62. Italics mine.

"The Atonement is the central thing in the whole gospel system."

Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave a BYU Devotional at Christmas time in 1969 which was later printed in the New Era in 1984. In it he talked about the Atonement being “the central thing in the whole gospel system.” Here are selections of his talk, each prefaced by part of a verse from 3 Nephi 27.

I CAME INTO THE WORLD TO DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER
Christ elected, chose, and volunteered to come into the world and be born as God’s Son, undergo the mortal probation and ministry assigned him, and then climax it with the working out of the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice.

AND MY FATHER SENT ME THAT I MIGHT BE LIFTED UP UPON THE CROSS
And by virtue of this atonement, all things pertaining to life and immortality, to existence, to glory and salvation, to honor and rewards hereafter, all things are given full force and efficacy and virtue.

THE WORKS WHICH YE HAVE SEEN ME DO THAT SHALL YE ALSO DO
We have the obligation accordingly, because of the light and knowledge that has been poured out upon us, to walk as becometh saints, to rise above the world, to overcome the world, to be living witnesses of the truth and the divinity of the work.

IF YE DO THESE THINGS BLESSED ARE YE, FOR YE SHALL BE LIFTED UP AT THE LAST DAY
Just as surely as we are, we shall reap for ourselves peace and joy and happiness in this life. We shall have the true spirit of Christmas at this season and at all seasons, and then in due course we shall go on to the fulness of the kingdom of our Father hereafter.

3 Nephi 27:13, 14, 21, 22
Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Behold the Condescension of God,” New Era, Dec. 1984, 35.