I just wanted to let you know that I believe in Jesus Christ. I adore him, and am so thankful for his example and ultimately, his sacrifice. I am always amazed at the immediate calmness that floods my tempestuous little soul whenever I turn to the New Testament or Doctrine and Covenants or Book of Mormon to read about his amazingly simple, brave, and compassionate works, and to read his righteous words, spanning from 2,000 years ago in an unenlightened Israel until today. I believe that he asks me to follow him, keep his commandments, and to make and honor covenants with him. And I believe that when we do this, and give our all to him (which will not be a perfect offering, thank heavens he knows that), he will make up the difference, and someday bring us back to our Heavenly Father, the most glorious gift imaginable!! I believe that he rose from the tomb after lying there for three days, and thereby facilitated the eventual resurrection of all mankind. That fact still blows my mind. I look forward to the day when he will bring peace, equity, and truth to our world for the final and most wonderful time.
I often feel like I don't know him enough. I wonder what he would say to me if we sat down to talk, or if he called me like any of my beloved friends do on occasion (haha- tiny sidenote- my roommate Breanna has a friend Jesus, "Hey-zoos," in her phone, and she says she always jumps a little when his name pops up on her caller id. Funny). I once asked my former Stake President in Provo how he thought we could best get to know this Savior who we profess to be the center of our religion. His suggestion was to look for him in the symbolic ordinances of the temple, and to do the kind of works he would be doing in our place. Serve, in other words. Be kind. Be clean. Be smart. Be true. Be humble. Be prayerful. And you will understand who he is all the more. I am grateful for his counsel. I think he's right.
I just wanted to bear my testimony of that particularly wonderful Son of God for a moment. And now, share a work of art with you all:
Gethsemane, James C. Christensen (1942- ), Acrylic on canvas.
"And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." Luke 22:43
In an effort to understand the atonement, the artist was taken with the above scripture which states that an angel appeared to Jesus in the garden to strengthen him. Here, Christensen has placed the angel just behind the Christ figure as if he is about to place his hands on the Savior’s head and pronounce a priesthood blessing. The extreme darkness of this painting emphasizes the anguish of the garden experience.
James Christensen, a retired professor of art at Brigham Young University, began his career as an illustrator. Today he is considered one of the premier fantasy artists in the nation.
I mined Google for one of my favorite images of Christ by the artist Ron Richmond, but couldn't find it, and instead found this one and decided it'll do for now. The explanatory text beneath it came from http://www.meridianmagazine.com/arts/010417living2.html There are quite a few other intriguing contemporary images of Christ on that site worth contemplating if you have the time (including the one at the top of this post by my second-coming-BFF Minerva Teichert... even though we were born a century apart, I came to know her last year while I organized her personal papers in the BYU Special Collections Library. She's one of my heros).
BUT. Back to the point. I love this picture of Gethsemane because it isn't pretty. It isn't sweet. For a moment you don't feel there is any light coming out of it. The Savior took upon him the pain, anguish, and punishment of every person in the history "so that he may know how to succor his people." It was not a fun ride for him. In fact, it was the worst ride in history. Someone in conference stated that Christ could have chosen to understand the feelings of all others merely through revelation, if he so desired, but he wanted instead to gain empathy for his children by experiencing all their miseries himself. That is love.
Happy Easter my friends.