3) The Atonement was a covenant Christ made.
This is an idea rarely discussed in Sunday School, but Elder Callister explains that Christ didn’t just agree to accomplish the Atonement—He made a covenant to do so:
“In the premortal council the Savior covenanted with the Father to perform the Atonement. . . Based on that pledge or covenant we had faith in him. Based on that covenant the Father could promise remission of sins prior to the atoning sacrifice because he “knew” his Son would not fail. The issue was not that he could not break his covenant, but rather, that he would not” (page 74).
He goes on to emphasize that:
“The Savior observed every spiritual law with undeviating exactness apparently because of his compliance with each one, he received power upon power until he acquired the attributes of God, even in premortal ties. Such progress was a natural consequence of his exacting compliance. His godhood thus seemed to result not from a creation of these laws, but rather from compliance with them” (page 301).
If Christ had not fulfilled this covenant, there would be no one who could comprehend our pain and trials. But because He has, there is always someone who does.
“What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals? Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call—just some recognition from the outside world.
"Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence. Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home. Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion.
"Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged. Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end. Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior’s load.
"Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this? No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all” (page 105).
For more on how and why Christ fulfilled this covenant called the Atonement, check out The Infinite Atonement.