A while back, Jacob brougt up the idea of posting something devotional on sundays. It being conference weekend and all, I thought I’d make an effort. This is what I did between sessions.
On this blog there have been many stories or parables discussed. We have, of course, argued the intent of Packerâ€™s Mediator. We have discussed â€œthe parable of the bicycleâ€, and Geoff J has graced us with his own piano player parable,and another financial parable. In discussing the atonement in a recent thread, Blake brought up the idea of using the story of a Bishop who has a great capacity for empathy as a parable of the Atonement. Heck, I even once tried to compare the atonement to an eagle teaching her children to fly. (Sorry If I missed any.)
I would like to add another parable, but one that does not originate with me. It comes from â€œThe Redeemerâ€ a collection of essays published by Deseret Book in 2000. Truman G. Madsen titles one essay â€œThe Suffering Servant.â€ I am not aware if it has been published elsewhere, but I extract here a brief excerpt of a parable that I feel paints the most understandable yet simple parable of the atonement I have read.
As a mere lad, I once stood at the edge of a swimming pool, frightened of the water because I hadnâ€™t even learned to dog paddle. Friends prodded me to do what I had never done: dive in head first. A bully said, â€œIf you donâ€™t dive, Iâ€™ll throw you in.â€ My father intervened and then quietly coaxed me. But I would not move. An instructor slipped into the pool and reaching up said, â€œIâ€™m right here. I wonâ€™t let you sink.â€ Still I balked and backed away. My father said, â€œLook. Iâ€™ll show you how.â€ And he dived in. That helped a little. But I was saying to myself, â€œGood for him. He is a grown up. I am only a boy.â€
He read my face. â€œWait a minute,â€ he said and went to recruit my brother, just a little older than I, and brought him to the poolside.
â€œShow your brother how to dive,â€ Dad said. He plunged in and then stood waist deep, waiting. â€œCome on in; come on in. You can do it.â€ Still trembling but heartened, I finally dove. He reached down, lifted my head above water, and eventually helped me learn to swim. Ever since then I have been grateful for such a father and a brother.
To me, this answers one of the toughest questions of the atonement, which is â€œWhy would Heavenly Father cause Christ to suffer for the atonement, and not do the atonement himself?â€
The answer is that we are as small children, and as small children cannot understand how to become like God the Father just as a small child can not understand how to become momâ€™s and dads. Our Father, understanding our inability to see past the gap of experience that is between us to understand and become like him, has called on our wiser and more advanced brother, even Christ, to offer us the solutions to our struggles in life, and to lift us above the challenges we are not ready to solve on our own until we too learn to do and be as our Father is.