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Question #71876 posted on 04/08/2013 7:34 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board

As someone who has seen my share of sin, guilt, and repentance, I keep wondering: how can Christ understand guilt, as someone who was without sin?

-a traveler

A:

Dear a ~

This is not official doctrine, so take this with a grain of salt.  It's simply my opinion.

I don't think that Christ actually suffered *everything*.  He was not a drug addict.  He did not look at porn.  He was never divorced.  He never committed suicide.  You get the picture?  However, that does not mean he didn't suffer the effects of all of those things.  We don't know exactly what the Atonement entailed, but I wouldn't be surprised one bit to find that he felt guilt for sin as if he had actually committed it.  Or to feel the pain of loss, betrayal, addiction, etc.

Have you ever had a dream that was so real you woke up with your heart pounding and it took you awhile to cal down and realize it wasn't actually real?  I wonder if Christ suffered through thousands, if not millions, of those (or something of the like), but on a much grander scale.  Again, total speculation.

I have no idea how Christ can empathize with everything.  We have no scriptural explanation for how He suffered things that don't seem possible for Him to have suffered.  But I do have a testimony that he can empathize, (not sympathize, empathize) with everything we struggle with.  I don't have to understand how something works to believe that it does.

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Dear you,

I wanted to comment that one of the main things that happens when we feel guilt is the withdrawal of God's presence. Christ never did anything to feel guilty for, but he did experience that. On the cross, he cried out "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He had done nothing to cause God's withdrawal, but he still learned what it feels like when each of us does something that takes us away from the Spirit of God.

~Anne, Certainly

A:

Dear traveler,

I want to back up Dragon Lady on this one. We don't actually know how He empathizes, but we know He does. My (personal, extra-scriptural) understanding is that Jesus did literally experience everything that we have experienced. One imagery I like is similar to how we take names in the temple and go through a short ordinance on behalf of that person, Jesus took your name, and walked your life on behalf of you.

It's not a perfect understanding, obviously, we have other instances of prophets in scripture seeing incomprehensible things, like Moses or Nephi seeing the history of the world in a short period of time. In the same vein, Amulek describes an infinite Atonement

So we know that Christ can empathize with your sins, your pains, and even your joys. I personally believe this is because He has literally experienced them.

 ~Hobbes