“We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.”
– Lucy Mack Smith (Joseph Smith’s mother)
I really like this video and the message about strengthening communities by serving together and having community-wide “days of service”. Drawing on an invitation by President Eyring, they looked for opportunities to serve in their community and sought inspiration from the Holy Ghost about which opportunities they should pursue. They then got help from families and others in their community to perform the service.
My wife and I drove recently to Seattle to see my brother in law and his wife get sealed in the Seattle temple, we drove through central Oregon and Portland (saw the Columbia river, green fields, rolling hills, snowy mountains, the Pacific Ocean, rainy beautiful green forests and saw an amazing waterfall) my wife commented to me, “how can people see all of this and not believe in God?” We all have the risk of being blind to spiritual truths that are right in front of our eyes if we choose not to see them and not to believe them.
John chapter 9 tells the story of the healing of the blind man, and gives examples of the terrible state of those who allow themselves to be spiritually blind and refuse to see the truth.
(John 9: 1-7)
“…who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2)
A pre-mortal existence is implied in this question, how else could the man sin prior to his birth? This belief in the pre-mortal existence of the spirit was apparently a belief held by the Jews of this time.
“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:3)
This man’s blindness appeared to carry with it for him a special mission that the “the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
Q. Why did Jesus anoint the man’s eyes with clay?
Believe it or not there was a specific prohibition by the Jewish rulers against the application of saliva to the eyes on the Sabbath. This strange restriction came into being because of a common belief that saliva was a remedy for diseases of the eye.
**** It would seem that Jesus was deliberately violating the Pharisees rules of the Jewish Sabbath.
“…Jesus is putting the people in the position of choosing between him as one sent of God to do the work of the Father, as one who can open blind eyes, and the traditions of the elders about Sabbath observance. They must make their choice at the peril of their salvation…”
– Elder Bruce R. McConkie (Mortal Messiah, 3:201)
So his neighbors see or hear about his miraculous healing and are amazed and not sure what to think, are we sure this is the man who was born blind? They ask him and he gives his testimony and tells what had happened and how he was healed by Jesus. This was the first time he shares his testimony
Their reaction is essentially to take him to the Pharisees to be judged. Wouldn’t you be happy for someone who was just miraculously healed?
He then bears his testimony to the Pharisees that he was healed and that Jesus is a prophet, he doesn’t appear to know more about Jesus than that but he defends what he knows is true.
His parent’s are brought before the Pharisees and questioned, they give a simple testimony – we know that this is our son and he was born blind, his parents were afraid to say any more. Why? The threat was excommunication for anyone who confessed Jesus was the Messiah. Does their testimony give enough witness/evidence to the Pharisees that the man is telling the truth about being healed of his physical blindness?
Q. Why do you think this man might have been chosen to have this special mission of being healed and having the works of God made manifest in him?
Did his life as a blind man (already somewhat of an outcast in his society) prepare him for what would likely follow of a hard road of being cast out of Jewish society and testifying to those who might reject him?
Q. What can we learn from (his example and) the way this man handled all the things that happened to him AFTER he was healed?
He not only had faith to be healed, he had faith to bear testimony of what had happened to him after he was healed in spite of heavy opposition and threats. This says a lot about why he was chosen to be a witness of this miracle of the Savior, he stayed true to what happened to him and stood up for that truth. He had integrity.
“Jesus saw the need of an individual…[He] performed the service immediately with just the resources he had—spit and mud and a desire to help. He didn’t transport the man to an exotic medical facility, organize a cornea transplant team, or didn’t make it into a media event. Sometimes we think we can’t serve because we’re not rich enough, not educated enough, not old enough, or not young enough. Remember, if we have the desire to serve, then our bare hands, a little spit, and a little dirt are enough to make a miracle.
[He] didn’t just dump that service on the man and walk away. He gave that man a way to exercise faith and strengthen the faith he had by asking him to participate in his own healing. It was a simple thing—washing in the pool of Siloam. But what if the man had refused? Jesus took that risk and let the man participate in his own miracle.”
– Chieko N. Okazaki, “Spit and Mud and Kigatsuku“
The Savior comes to visit him again after he is cast out of the synagogue (excommunicated), notably not until after the trial of his faith and testimony.
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:35-41)
Q. What does the Savior mean when he says those who see not will see, and those who see will be made blind?
“[Jesus] came into the world to sit in judgement on all men, to divide them into two camps by their acceptance or rejection of his word. Those who are spiritually blind have their eyes opened through obedience to His gospel and shall see the things of the Spirit. Those who think they can see in the spiritual realm, but who do not accept Him and His gospel will remain in darkness and be made blind to the true spiritual realities.”
– Elder Bruce R. McConkie
I got to watch my niece play soccer yesterday, she’s 5 years old, will be 6 in a few months. It was the first time I have gotten to go to one of her games and it was fun to watch. I noticed most of the kids seemed to be unconcerned about outplaying the other team, in fact I saw one of the goalies at one point run off the field so she could go see her baby brother or sister and the coach had to remind her to come back on the field
*** The things they seemed to be most concerned about what whether they were kicking or throwing the ball right or if they were standing where their coach wanted them to stand and especially if their family was watching them, they would keep looking over to the sidelines to make sure their parents could see what they were doing. (There is a correlation with the message the Savior teaches about becoming like little children.)
→ Matt 18:1-4
“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Q. Why were the disciples concerned about who would be the greatest?
Are we more concerned about a better church position or having a better car or a nicer house or boat, etc than our neighbor? Or are we more concerned how the Lord views us for who we are? Of course the Lord places high value on those who serve him faithfully, wherever we serve in the church, but he doesn’t seem to be as concerned with whether or not we’ve held high ranking positions, he’s more concerned with our willingness to follow his will– are we trusting and relying on him, are we humble and submissive?
→ Matt 18:6
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
– Pres. Hinckley on protecting children:
“My plea-and I wish I were more eloquent in voicing it-is a plea to save the children. Too many of them walk with pain and fear, in loneliness and despair. Children need sunlight. They need happiness. They need love and nurture. They need kindness and refreshment and affection. Every home, regardless of the cost of the house, can provide an environment of love which will be an environment of salvation.”
“…In terms of physical abuse, I have never accepted the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ I will be forever grateful for a father who never laid a hand in anger upon his children. Somehow he had the wonderful talent to let them know what was expected of them and to give them encouragement in achieving it.
– In verse 6 there seems to be a distinction made when it says “who believe in me”
Q. Why is this distinction made?
→ D&C 121:16-19
“Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the bchildren of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death— Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house.”
Christ’s children include all of his humble followers, the prophets, his servants, his saints. Just as cruelty to innocent little children is offensive to the Lord, so it is offensive to him when his faithful saints (his children) are falsely accused, maliciously treated, or more commonly, led astray with false teachings.
→ Mathew 18:21-22
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
– In the Savior’s time, the Rabbis taught that no one was under obligation to forgive a neighbor more than three times. Peter her is asking the Master for a ruling on that question, and suggested that seven times would be a good improvement on the rule of the Jewish teachers, but our Lord answered, ‘seventy times seven’.
Q. Does this mean we keep a spreadsheet? (We must always forgive.)
– Corrie ten Boom, a devout Dutch Christian woman …was interned in concentration camps during World War II. She spent a great deal of her life after the war working with those who had been in these camps and suffered the cruelties there, helping them to forgive their captors. Those who did not forgive she says, often lived as invalids, didn’t leave their house much and didn’t do much with their lives. Those who were able to forgive were more likely to live somewhat normal lives in spite of all they had been through.
She suffered greatly, but unlike her beloved sister Betsie, who perished in one of the camps, Corrie survived.
After the war she often spoke publicly of her experiences and of healing and forgiveness. On one occasion a former Nazi guard who had been part of Corrie’s own grievous confinement in Ravensbrück, Germany, approached her, rejoicing at her message of Christ’s forgiveness and love.
“‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
“His hand was thrust out to shake mine,” Corrie recalled. “And I, who had preached so often … the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. … Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
“I tried to smile, [and] I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
The Savior teaches us to love thy neighbor as thyself, I know that they way we can do that is to be humble, forgiving, and charitable. Its only through the Savior’s love and grace that we can and are enabled to do this throughout our lives.
I like it. How did he find these people that he helped, go door to door?
“Things work out, it isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out, don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in him, if we will pray to him, if we will live worthy of his blessings, he will hear our prayers.”
Feeding of the 5000
Q. What are some reasons the Savior performed miracles?
(Mark account has more detail, first written account)
setting of feeding the 5000
– needed physical rest, John the Baptist had just been killed and they probably thought it was a good idea to be in a safer place
– the feeding of the 5000 needed to take place in an open area, where there wasn’t food nearby so he could perform the miracle and provide that witness of his divinity
—>( Mark 6:30-34 )
(desert = solitary/private, was actually a very fertile area, speaks of them sitting on the grass)
– the people follow them, He has compassion on them and teaches them, and tells the disciples to feed them.
—>( John 6:4-10 )
Q. Why does he ask Phillip about buying bread when he already knew what he was going to do? Why didn’t he just tell Phillip what he was going to do?
-wanted Phillip to have faith
– During the Passover, Q. Given that has just fed them bread, is this significant?
- sacrificial lamb used during passover represented Christ
- feast of unleavened bread during passover used barley (loaves of barley), this is also used to add symbolism to his sermon about being the bread of life
– he is feeding them spiritually, and also physically
– he provides bread, disciples distribute it (pattern of service)
Q. Why do the apostles not seem to believe at first that he is able to provide food for everyone? (They don’t bring that up as a solution)
—>( John 6:11-15 )
Q. What are some reasons that the miracle of feeding the 5,000 was performed?
– as a witness that he is the messiah
– they were hungry, the Lord provides for all our needs while on the Lord’s errand
– this miracle sets the stage for him to teach that he is the bread of life
-Notice in v. 15, The people wanted to force him to be the king of the Jews, in the temporal sense
Q. Why do the people want to force him to be king?
– The people were caught up, with expectations of deliverance from the oppression of Roman rule, and saw him as a figure that would provide that.
—>( read )
“The multitude, now fed and filled, gave some consideration to the miracle. In Jesus, by whom so great a work had been wrought, they recognized One having superhuman powers. “This is of a truth the prophet that should come into the world,” said they—the Prophet whose coming had been foretold by Moses and who should be like unto himself. Even as Israel had been miraculously fed during the time of Moses, so now was bread provided in the desert by this new Prophet. In their enthusiasm the people proposed to proclaim Him king, and forcibly compel Him to become their leader. Such was their gross conception of Messianic supremacy. “
– Talmage, Jesus the Christ
(They were still thinking solely on the physical favors and advantages instead of spiritual, don’t we do the same upon some turn for the better spiritually?)
Q. Isn’t this evidence of the fact that miracles alone don’t produce faith?
(After the feeding of the 5000 they wanted more, bigger miracles in order to “prove” him as the messiah)
Jesus walks on water
– Write scriptures on the board
—>( Mathew 14:22-24 )
He goes to the mountain to pray, sends the disciples to their ship, the weather gets bad
Q. Why did Jesus go up into a mountain?
—>( Mark 6:45-50 )
– They are toiling at rowing (Greek: struggling at the oars). He sees this and goes to their aid (but waits for them to call to him)
– Do we sometimes feel like we’re spinning our wheels? There’s storms around us, We’re putting forth effort, maybe even a lot of effort but not getting anywhere or at least feeling like we’re not making progress. But have we fully enlisted the Lord’s help?
They weren’t progressing on their journey, he came to their aid immediately
Q. In what way does the Savior do the same for us?
Will walk on after to come help us if necessary
V.48 JST “as if he would have passed by them”. Waiting for them to ask for help. Once they do he calms the storm and helps them on their way.
V 50, they are terrified. Why?
—>( Mathew 14:28-31 )
Peter asks to walk with the savior on water
(Would you want to be in rough waters with anyone else?
With whom would you feel more courage and confidence being with in that situation than the Lord?)
“Were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure… and Their heart was hardened”
Q. Did the disciples fully understand what had just happened?
Q. Why didn’t they understand at this point, after having seen the miracle of the loaves?
Q. All of his miracles had a purpose (generally to help or heal or confirm someone’s faith), this one seems a little different. Why did the Savior perform this miracle of walking on water?
—>( John 6:21 )
Immediately the ship was at land
(Their problems were solved immediately)
I am the Bread of Life
—>( John 6:24-30 )
– v27, is a key part of this sermon, focus on spiritual, eternal perspective, not physical
—>( John 6:47-53 )
– I am the bread of life (Bethlehem means “house of bread”)
Q. Why did many of them not accept this symbolism?
—>( John 6:64-69 )
He that believeth in me hath everlasting life, sacrament
– will ye also go away?
Q. Didn’t they just ask him to be their king? Why are they now “going away” from him after hearing the sermon on the bread of life?
– couldn’t see past the physical to the spiritual life he provided
– He was separating the wheat from the chaff. Many left him.
I know that Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world. He is the way to eternal life, there is no other way. I know that when we rely on him we’re given new life and he can provide us the things we need on our journey back to him.
A great message for anyone who struggles with sore trials, and especially for those who struggle with sore trials that those around them don’t always understand even though they may care for the one who is struggling and try to understand. It’s evident to me that Elder Holland has struggled through much of the worst of such trials and I feel that he speaks here with authenticity, as one who does understand to great extent what it’s like.
[Some favorite excerpts]
Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through …self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary’s weapons against us.
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord shall fight for you.” In confirmation the great Jehovah said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”
…Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join another church? It was at least in part because “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” God’s grace is sufficient! The Lord would tell Joseph again and again that just as in days of old the children of Israel would be “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. … Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.”
What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny.
…Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going. With Paul, I say to all of you:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”