Last time I was studying verses about the prophecies of Christ as a way to try and better understand if he truly existed. But I felt as though that was kind of the wrong way to go about it. I was trying to understand through reason the nature of Christ, but pure knowledge negates the need for faith. I felt I needed to focus more on studying the doctrine of Christ’s atonement to grow closer to him and, indeed, discover his reality in my life.
As before I’m going through 1-2 verses each day and writing down some commentary about them. I am using some study resources to give me a list of verses to follow, even though I’m not strictly holding myself to that list, just in case I feel a need to go elsewhere.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
So this is talking about burnt offerings in the Old Testament, and clearly we can draw a parallel between these sacrifices and the Savior’s sacrifice. I love how it equates life with blood, meaning that the blood of Christ is what gives life to us all. Just as the blood of an animal sacrifice was meant to be symbolic of God giving us life and therefore atone for our souls, as mentioned in this verse.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This verse (echoed in Mosiah 14:6) has an interesting correlation between going astray and the Savior’s Atonement. The verses before this talk about the Messiah’s suffering in great detail, some of the most striking prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, to be honest. But I like verse 6 in that it talks about how we have all gone astray, and then makes that connection with how the Lord takes that “iniquity of us all” onto him. It’s a clear correlation between the two ideas. I like that we find this in the Old Testament.
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
This whole section is kind of abstract but I like the symbolism of the atonement freeing prisoners from a pit with no water. It gives the impression that the Atonement is not only liberating, but live giving.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
This is a cool little nod to the Isaiah verses. Matthew is clearly drawing the connection, saying that Christ was fulfilling prophecy here. What I find interesting is that his miracles aren’t necessarily described as simply Christ healing, but as him taking on their infirmities, implying that the Atonement wasn’t necessarily a one-time event, but that he might have been doing part of it in this moment. Either that, or Matthew was just drawing a connection a bit too hastily, and the real fulfillment of prophecy was yet to come. But somehow I doubt that was really the case.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
In the verse before this, Christ say that “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” I like that in this verse, since he is, essentially, the chiefest among men, he also becomes the lowliest of servants, the greatest sacrifice, giving up his life for us. Once again showing himself to be the perfect example.
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
This is when Christ is administering the second part of the sacrament for the first time. Interestingly, there’s a footnote for the word “testament” that clarifies the Greek translation as being close to “Covenant” which makes more sense. So it’s symbolic of the agreement between Christ and us that we will do our part as he atoned for the sins of all. It’s also a “new” covenant because this is the passing away of the old law of Moses in favor of the higher law.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
This is also part of the first sacrament. I think it’s interesting that Christ was giving thanks for the bread as he was breaking it, just as we ought to give thanks to the Father for Christ’s sacrifice. And the word “given” is key. His atonement was a willing sacrifice, and the sacrament is our chance to remember that.