It is one thing to hear about something. Especially good if whoever tells you about it is good at explaining things with detail and passion. But, as they say, it is another thing to experience it yourself.
I believe that the Savior wants us to experience the gospel for ourselves. But it goes deeper than that.
Most of the world doesn’t know that Jesus Christ visited the Americas after His ministry in Jerusalem, though he hinted to the fact during His mortal ministry in the Old World (John 10:16). That visit to the New World is rich with principles, truths, doctrines, and teachings. One of the most powerful moments has less to do with words and much to do with action.
After appearing to those who had gathered around the temple awaiting His arrival, Jesus invited each of them to
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. (3 Nephi 11:14)
Importantly, the people come forward to feel those tokens of the Atonement, but they came forward “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15). Apparently there were at least 2500 people in the large group (3 Nephi 17:25), which would have created quite a line.
If each person touched the Savior one at a time, and each person had ten seconds to do so, this experience lasted roughly seven hours. Seven hours.
I realize that there is a lot of information we don’t have. I don’t know if each person had ten seconds. I really don’t know. But I know that the Savior was willing to take a significant amount of time to allow each person to have a person experience with His sacrifice. The Savior wants each of us to have an individual, one on one experience with the atonement.
How does that happen now? Rather than just read about or hear about other people’s experiences with the atonement, we need to come unto Christ through the process of repentance. When we strive to repent, we experience the power of the atonement in a very personal, private way. Once that happens, we become not only beneficiaries of the blessings of the atonement, we become witnesses of the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Jesus Christ thinks we’re worth the effort. And I hope, so do we…