Saturday, March 26, 2016

Neal A. Maxwell on the blessing of the Atonement and Resurrection

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Oh, how we adore Jesus for his atonement! For his free gift of immortality to all! Consider for a moment, how would we regard Christ without the reality of his atonement and resurrection? How would we regard the Sermon on the Mount without the resurrection of the sermon giver and eventually all of us? Without the reality of God's plan of salvation and Jesus' atonement, how could the meek truly inherit the earth? How could the pure in heart really see God? (See Matthew 5.)
"No wonder Paul wrote of Christ, 'in him all things hold together' (Revised Standard Version, Colossians 1:17). When, collectively or individually, brothers and sisters, things seem to fly apart for us at times, what fitting imagery: 'In him all things hold together'! Given the centrality of the doctrine of resurrection, the Restoration has as one of its main purposes to witness not only of Jesus' resurrection, but that of all mankind."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "In Him All Things Hold Together," BYU fireside address, March 31, 1991
Click here to read the full talk

I love the word "adore." We sing it at Christmastime—"O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord." (I wish we had as many joyful and jubilant Easter hymns as we do Christmas anthems.) But Elder Maxwell, in his inimitable style, reminds us of the proper emotion for this season. "Oh, how we adore Jesus for his atonement!" He then asks us to consider whether the Savior's message and ministry would have had the same meaning and power without the culminating sacrifice and accompanying resurrection; a very interesting thing to ponder.

It's interesting to me that Elder Maxwell found particular insight in this case by consulting a different translation of the Bible than we are accustomed to.  In the King James translation, Colossians 1:17 reads, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." That statement is powerful in a different way; all things hold their existence because of Him, who existed before them and was the cause of them coming into being. But I love the ongoing power in the RSV's translation. It's not just for our initial existence that we are indebted; but we "hold together" or continue to survive only in Him. Truly, the Savior is the source of life, the fount of joy, and the very essence of our being. "Oh, how we adore Jesus"!!

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