The Lord is with us-
I can only imagine how the Savior felt before his death, he tried to teach his disciples that he would always be with them. “John 14: 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” As we increase our faith and commitment, we will draw nearer to our Father in Heaven. This was just before his sacrifice and atonement. He knew that because of this sacrifice he would be able to be present with us through every moment. He knew of this transcending power and tried to help his followers understand. Because he died for us, he never really left us. We are not alone.
He further developed a weekly reminder for us to remember this principle. He instituted the sacrament. “Matthew 26: 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” The sacrament is an ordinance in which Church members partake of bread and water in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. This ordinance is an essential part of worship and spiritual development. Through this ordinance, Church members renew the covenants they made with God when they were baptized.” Because he established the sacrament, we are able to remember his atonement, draw nearer to him and therefore continue in his presence.
Mark 14: 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
I was confused about this entire verse, and figured it was because I didn’t know the historical context. So, I did some research on what this vial was. It turns out it was a highly perfumed ointment used for ritual uses, anointing priests and kings, and was considered a wonderful gift for a king because of its value. It was worth an entire year’s wages. We read that “she broke the vial.” This may refer to the small neck of the vial which she broke that she might pour it freely. I think that the breaking of the flask was an expression of the whole-heartedness of her devotion. Because it is now broken, it can never be used again. She pours it over his head and anoints his feet and wipes his feet with her hair.” Her actions also demonstrate her deep devotion and love for the Savior. I couldn’t help but notice it seems as if she is aware of His identity and purpose in the atonement. I wondered why they said it was wasted. I followed the footnote and it took me to D&C 117: 4, which says, “Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord.” I think this verse finalizes and teaches that she gave up such a costly worldly possession to show her devotion because she understood that Jesus was a King. She knew he was her Savior who must die for her and that the reward and promised blessings of repentance are worth any monetary amount. . She undoubtedly recognized her sin and need of a suffering Savior and did this as an act of faith and devotion. She understood the reason for His death (her sin), and the significance of His death (her salvation).
I struggle with the pharisees. They are depicted as the enemy, yet the Pharisees were, to some extent, well-meaning people. They studied the law and knew it as well as anyone. Yet, Jesus often reprimands them. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” So, what was so bad? And how can we watch ourselves, and prevent us from becoming like the pharisees? I think it comes down to attitude and motive. Their downfall, among other things, centered on their self-justification and self-importance. Here are some of their mistakes I identified, that we risk making today. First is the idea that “You Shouldn’t Hang Around People Like That.” The pharisees often are taken back at Christ’s attitude towards sinners and the like. Aside from loving them unconditionally, he understood that for the church to grow, were going to need to befriend non-members. And Jesus paid a price for that among religious people. They couldn’t fathom why he would hang out with tax collectors, hookers, and other notorious sinners. When was the last time we sought out and befriended those who need it most?
Foremost is the mentality that “I Follow the Rules.” And if you do, awesome. But that’s not what got us into the Gospel. We (hopefully) got in because of the mercy which Christ extended to you when you broke the rules. Following the rules doesn’t keep you in the love of God any more than it got you into the love of God. Following the rules is a response to the love of God. And your attitude should be one of gratitude, amazement, and humility.
Mary and Martha inform Christ about Lazarus, who was a friend of theirs. His initial reaction is to weep. This is beautiful. Upon seeing the savior weep, the Jews remark; “35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, behold how he loved him!” There is just one verse that tells about Christ’s reaction. The footnote however leads us to D&C 42:45 and gives us a little more background. “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.” Everything Jesus did in life was done with a purpose. Secondly, he showed and challenged culturally constructed gender roles. The Savior of the world, and not on this occasion alone, openly weeps. His simple act validates and legitimizes men who feel and express emotion. Just think, he is perfect and a child of God, and even he showed vulnerable, human emotions. Today, gender often dictates that women act as nurturers, are kind and tender, are weak and emotional. Men are compelled to be strong, tough, unemotional, assertive and forceful. The world and even other men are suspicious of men who publicly cry or who show emotion. These are, of course, are generalities. He showed that constructive expression of emotions is acceptable. He is compassionate, caring, nurturing, considerate and yet he is also strong and capable. We are commanded to be even as he is; and he would have all his disciples, male and female, be kind, compassionate, caring and strong. He would have us “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.
Matthew 16-18; Mark 9; Luke 9:18-62; John 7-10.
Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
It is in this verse that Jesus gives his apostles the keys of the priesthood and teaches us in latter days about the sealing power the priesthood has. He says that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven as well. This testifies of the eternal nature of families and sealing marriage are essential to return home to him.
While at the temple, Christ teaches in John chapter 7 verse 17 that “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Faith without works is dead. It’s similar with the priesthood as well. You can be worthy and hold it, but you also need to exercise it. It’s given to us to serve and help the world, not for our own gain. We need to act to develop faith of our own and to develop strength in the priesthood.
Jesus also taught his disciples that with the priesthood we still need two witnesses. In John 8 verse 17 he says, “It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.” Often we see the presence of two beings to bear witnesses. This witness confirms that certain events took place and that God-given doctrine and principles are true. The first duty of a witness is to testify. A person who can testify to the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is speaking of things he or she knows to be true. With the Lord and his true witnesses there is truth that reaches beyond worldly understanding.
After reading this verse in John Chapter 8 verse 17; ““It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.” ” I wondered why we not only need two but why we need witnesses in general in the priesthood. There are countless examples of witnesses in the church. Such as the first vision, the fact that we have the bible and the Book of Mormon, There’s the 3 witnesses and their testimony as well as the “cloud of witnesses” referred to by Paul as the first presidency, the twelve, and the seventy. My thoughts were that this witness confirms that certain events took place and that God-given doctrine and principles are true. The first duty of a witness is to testify, after all. A person who can testify to the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is speaking of things he or she knows to be true. With the Lord and his true witnesses there is truth that reaches beyond worldly understanding. I could only think that two is always better than one. I’ve been studying talk on it, but what do you guys think..?
Structure: “He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”
The Savior to easily distribute the loaves and fishes has a structure. He blesses it and then through his disciples it trickles down to the members. Similarly, like when Christ was on the earth, our latter-day church has a similar structure. The prophet receives revelation and it is given to the members using area 70, stake presidents and bishops and the like. This testifies to me of the truth of modern day revelation, priesthood, and the structure they give us.
We see a similar use of divine structure used on the old testament church as well. Most areas of the Church are divided into stakes, which usually consist of five to twelve congregations called wards or branches. The term stake was used by the prophet Isaiah. He described the latter-day Church as a tent that would be secured by stakes. This structure is set up to ensure that each member is cared for their needs are met. Christ understood that this structure was need to reach individual members while allowing the church to grow.
Reflecting: Christ in these chapters is the master of knowing when to reflect and mourn and when to get up and serve. Upon seeing the multitude, he chooses to serve and preach to them. IT ends up being one of his more powerful sermons. However, that does not mean he is immune to grief. After serving his people, “And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.” He doesn’t not brush aside those feeling of sadness. He acknowledges them and relies on his father as we must do in those dark times.
Faith when you can’t see it:
“And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There, shall no sign be given unto this generation.” This verse in Mark chapter 8 verse 12 stuck out to me humorously at first because it seems as if he is complaining about this generation like many do today about my generation. It got met thinking about how my generation today is exactly the same. My generation is focused so much on science and technology many of them fail to develop faith that is needed to rely on Christ when we don’t have the answers. And we won’t always have the answers and when that time comes Faith in Christ is essential.
- Judging Righteously; Forgiving
A pharisee caught Jesus allowing a woman that had sinned to touch him. He responded with forgiveness. I Luke chapter 7 he says to Simon; 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, thou hast rightly judged. In Teaching Simon, he also teaches us to love the sinner first before looking at their sin. Often, we may wonder how or why someone can do such and such thing and then show up to church on Sunday. Following the Saviors example, we should love them and love that they came to church. Judge righteously and love before we judge.
- The second principle can be found in Mark 4 verse 39- 40; And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
If he has the very power to command the surge of a storm and hundreds of gallons of water to just immediately stop he certainly has the power to do the same thing to our troubled hearts. Often, we are like his disciples and are fearful when we see the storm just cease. I tend to worry when I stop worrying. This verse helped me realize that I am lacking faith when the Lord calms my storms.
- Light – Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Christ gave the disciples two new commandments that replaced the hundreds of mosaic laws. They were as simple as love God and love thy neighbor. Compared to the previous laws these are both easy and light. That is why Christ teaches us that his yoke is easy and his way light. It’s as simple as being more Christlike. Following Him is so simple. The “yoke” of coming to God is easy. We don’t need to over complicate following God. As we master loving God, and loving people, and live by the spirit. Our burden will be light, and we will spread that light.
We can make the Atonement effective in our lives through sincere repentance. In the sermon on the Mount the Savior also makes the point that that fasting is a means of comfort and a way to seek guidance and connection from the Lord when we feel He is not readily near. Perhaps fasting is effective in communicating with the Lord because just as He sacrificed Himself for us in the Garden of Gethsemane, we also are sacrificing something of value to us as a way to honor/access the Atonement. One principle the savior taught on the sermon on the mount was the higher law. Its teachings replaced some aspects of the law of Moses. Similarly, in our day we will eventually replace tithing with the law of consecration. The principle I think Christ is teaching here is growth through repentance. That’s why we chose to come to earth to grow and learn through repentance. The Savior is not being inconsistent in his commandments, he is simply expecting more from his children as they are developmentally ready and willing to express their faithfulness to him.