"One Sunday morning our teenaged son stood with two other priests to administer the sacrament, as they had done on many prior occasions. They pulled back the white cloth, but to their dismay there was no bread. One of them slipped out to the preparation room in hopes some could be found. There was none. Finally our troubled son made his way to the bishop and shared the concern with him. A wise bishop then stood, explained the situation to the congregation, and asked, 'How would it be if the sacrament table were empty today because there were no atonement?' I have thought of that often - what would it be like if there were no bread because there had been no crucifixion, no water because there had been no shedding of blood? If there had been no Atonement, what would the consequences be to us? Of course, the question is now moot, but it does put in perspective our total dependence on the Lord. To ask and answer this question only heightens our awareness of, and appreciations for, the Savior." Tad R. Callister, "The Infinite Atonement" pg. 54.
I read this quote about 2 years ago and I still think of it almost every Sunday as I am partaking of the Sacrament. It is a pretty powerful image of just how vital the Savior's atoning sacrifice really is to our eternal existence. In fact, without His atonement, there would be no eternal existence for us to look forward to.
I am aware that trying to wrap our heads around this is tough and can cause a headache! Here is what I have been telling myself lately...
Fully understanding the Atonement may never truly happen to any of us in this life. Our finite minds may not be able to comprehend all things. That doesn't mean I shouldn't try. That doesn't mean I can't understand more than I do at this time. That doesn't mean I shouldn't ponder and study and pray. I do not want to be satisfied with a mediocre understanding of the greatest event in the history of the world.
I can't think of any greater topic to pursue, for the Atonement of Jesus Christ encompasses all truth. Begin a deeper study of the Atonement and you will begin a deeper study of the universe and all truth contained therein. Begin a deeper study of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and you will find yourself more devoted to Him and more determined to follow His teachings and His example. Begin a deeper study of the Atonement and you will begin a deeper study of yourself.
Because the Atonement happened FOR YOU!