Friday, April 3, 2015

Jeffrey R. Holland on the Savior's solitary journey

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (1940- ) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior's solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: 'I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me.... I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me].' (Isaiah 63:3, 5; see also D&C 76:107; 88:106; 133:50.)
"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: 'I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].' (John 14:18; see also v. 23.)
"My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ's lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death' (Mosiah 18:9), for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "None Were with Him," Ensign, May 2009, pp. 86-88
Click here to read the full talk

In this tender excerpt, Elder Holland discusses one of the challenges that comes to almost every one of us during our mortal experience: the feeling of loneliness. Reflecting on the Savior's uniquely difficult and challenging life, he identifies the reality that He really was called upon to do much of his work "utterly alone" — particularly in those crucial final days and hours. And because He was willing to accept and complete that task, the glorious truth results: "Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are."

Elder Holland helps us by specifying the many resources we have for our journey; we need to learn to turn to them for help and encouragement during those times when we feel that we are abandoned or beyond help.

The third paragraph makes the message beautifully personal. Symbolically, it is now up to each one of us to make sure that neither the Savior nor any of our brothers and sisters in mortality are left alone. We must learn to turn to Him; and we must learn to be ready for others to turn to us as His agents. What a profound invitation to ponder during this Easter season: how can I become, more fully, a disciple of Jesus Christ?

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