We have been engaged in a parable of sorts, one that involves a lone man and a ladder. You can catch the details from the last two blogs of Morning Devotional. But here’s the main point: the parable is about the Atonement of Christ and how we are saved.
Last week we saw in the parable that one man alone had the proper ladder. He lowered it from above and climbed down to help us up. Christ is the one man and the ladder is a symbolic representation of His atoning sacrifice and ultimate resurrection. The ladder has two long planks, each of equal importance; each representing what Christ did when he partook of the Atonement.
The Importance of the Two Planks
The first plank represents the suffering he went through for each of us, both in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. The weight of all the sorrows, sufferings, sins, and pain of mankind pressed on Him for three hours during the night before His crucifixion. It caused Him to bleed from every pore. And yet he survived. He was the only one who could have, being divine in nature from His Father in Heaven. And the reason for this suffering? So that our weak and mortal bodies would not have to go through the agony. We would not have survived it. He was divine, he had the added strength and help from above. And his flawless life made Him the only one qualified to endure.
The second plank represents his ability to overcome death. While Christ had the power to remain alive, He was willing to lay down His life. He suffered on the cross for three hours before he gave up the ghost. This He did so that He could take up His life again for our sake, which He did when after three days in the tomb, His spirit was reunited with His body and He became a perfected being. Mary was the first to witness this event. She came to His tomb on the morning of the third day to dress and care for his body. She was met by an angel who told her He had risen. She was the first of many to witness the resurrected Savior. He visited His twelve apostles, ate with them, and allowed them to feel the wounds in His hands and feet so they knew of a surety that He had indeed overcame the sins, suffering, and mortality of the world.
We Must Climb the Ladder One Rung at a Time
This is the story of the Atonement. But our story with the ladder is left unfinished. We last saw the entire human race down in the pit with their Savior and the ladder. The people knew this man was the only one with the right ladder to save them. But what good is the correct ladder if you won’t start to climb?
Taking a step on the first rung of the ladder is an act of faith. We are taking his word for it at this point. How can we be sure? Sometimes we need to act in faith before a witness of truth can be seen. The first rung is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith that He is who He says He is. Faith that He will do what He says He will do. We may not have much to go by, but we can exercise faith, for at least one step. And that’s where the miracle begins.
We see He is there with us, right behind us, guiding our steps. If we are injured He helps us along the way. Some people are too weak to make it on their own. That’s alright. He will carry us when we need it. He does this for each and every one of us.
Now it’s your turn to get on the ladder. Do you hesitate or do you take the leap of faith and begin the climb? Christ is there for you just as he had been for the others. Your heart softens and you take another step onto the next rung—the rung of repentance.
I don’t know how anyone can begin the climb toward our heavenly home and not stop to give gratitude to our Savior who provides the way. If it were not for his suffering, we would never make it. If it were not for His crucifixion and resurrection, we would not be promised the same glorious outcome. Repentance is the perfect way to show our Savior the gratitude in our hearts for what He did for us. And the beauty of the matter is, each rung up the ladder represents other things we can do to show our gratitude, too.
The next rung is baptism—an ordinance of the gospel that even Jesus participated in. Baptism is an outward expression of our commitment to the Savior. Christ set the example by being baptized, and the practice continued from that point on. Babies and small children are innocent and do not require baptism, but those who are older need it. When people die without it, we should not worry for them. In Christ’s church, even back in Paul’s day, the practice of baptism for the dead by proxy was a common occurrence (1Corinthinas 15:29). Christ would not set up his church in such a way as to exclude some of His children simply because they died before baptism. He had a back-up plan because He is perfect.
The next rung is to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, another ordinance given to us when we decide to climb the ladder, or when we commit to the plan of the Savior. The gift of the Holy Ghost provides comfort, promptings, and clarity of mind to help us through our daily lives.
Most Important Rungs – Faith and Repentance
There are more rungs to climb, but what I love to remember is that two of these rungs come up more frequently than others—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance. Faith is an action word that drives us daily to make good choices which align our will to the will of our Savior—to stay on the ladder, so to speak. Repentance is a cleansing of the heart that can and should be done daily because we make mistakes along the way.
One more rung that comes up regularly is partaking of the emblems of the sacrament (or communion as it is called in other Christian denominations). Taking the sacrament is like being baptized again—we are washed clean of sin and we can start fresh. So while the “baptismal rung” comes up once, the “sacrament rung” acts in the same manner as the baptismal rung, but it comes up weekly as we attend church. This allowing us to climb one step further up the ladder toward Heaven.
Stay on the Ladder
The key is to stay on the ladder. Your Savior is right behind you. If you fall off, he’ll come down and help you back on, no matter how many times this might happen. He’s not going to pull up the ladder without you. Remember, no one will be left in the pit.
If we remember that the two planks of the ladder represent Christ’s part in the Atonement, and the rungs are like the ordinances and laws of the gospel, we’re ready to understand how this entire system is a two-way covenant between us and the Lord—the topic for next week.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.