27 December 2014

How did Jesus feel - how would I have felt?

I spoke on Sunday before Christmas 2014 on the theme of the mortal life of Jesus Christ. In my preparations I recalled a song I learned in Primary more than 50 years ago. Number 55 in the current Children’s Song Book.
1. Jesus once was a little child,
A little child like me;
And he was pure and meek and mild,
As a little child should be.

2. He played as little children play
The pleasant games of youth;
But he never got vexed if the game went wrong,
And he always spoke the truth.

So, little children,
Let's you and I
Try to be like him,
Try, try, try.

Words: James R. Murray, 1841-1905
Music: Joseph Ballantyne, 1868-1944

I realised during the week that in studying the scriptures, as challenged in Moroni 10:3-5, we are instructed to read these things, then to compare them to the Bible, to ponder and to pray. Four elements. We cannot fully remember (compare) how merciful the ‘remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things’ if we are not familiar with the accounts of how merciful the Lord has been to the children of men from the days of Adam to now. So we need to read both old and new scriptures in order to make a comparison between the feelings of reading each. Then we need to ponder, and to pray.

I also realised in likening the scriptures to myself, that Jesus was in a rather interesting situation. He grew up among children in Egypt in his early years. Then when his family returned to Nazareth He probably grew up with a missing cohort of children because Herod had exterminated two years’ worth of children. His mother had received a visit from Gabriel explaining the absolutely unusual situation of her being a virgin, but with a child of divine origin. Joseph had been reassured in a dream that it was alright to marry Mary because she was a worthy virgin. But did Mary’s parents believe her story? Did Joseph’s parents believe him? Did siblings and grandparents believe them? Did He believe His divine calling? He certainly was an ‘odd boy out’ with a very different story behind his conception, birth and upbringing, almost certainly prejudice about the nature of His birth. He had very great expectations laid on Him by his mother Mary, Joseph, and God. How would I cope if I were such an odd-one-out in school and community? I was in a school of about 1200 students and 10 LDS students. Many youth are the only LDS student at school. How about these unique circumstances that Jesus faced?

Jesus attended the festivals and received the ordinances expected of Him as He grew. Circumcision, Bar Mitzvah, baptism. He learned from the sowers, the reapers, the shepherds, the housewives, and from anything that He could. Then he used object lessons from these everyday experiences in His teaching. His study would have confirmed His divine mission, giving Him strength to accept and live up to the unique mission that He had in life. Does my study of the scriptures help to confirm my divine heritage? Do I seek to understand my divine heritage as I study?

It strikes me that He did not say something like ‘Choose a doctrine that appeals to you and affiliate yourself with the sect that teaches that'. He said in effect ‘My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.’ And ‘Come, follow me’. He was extremely patient with and encouraging to the repentant soul, but never condoned the unrepentant sinner.  He called all to repentance and to rise to even greater heights. To the worthy rich young ruler, who I would suggest was worthy of a Temple Recommend, He said ‘one thing lackest thou yet. Sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and come follow me’.  He affirmed this worthy young man, even loved him for his obedience and faithfulness, but did not say that was OK, but He challenged Him to reach for even greater things.

So, we need to be familiar with the scriptures and to reflect on them, learning, growing, gaining insight through comparison and pondering. We need to surrender our wills to the will of the Father as Christ did in Gethsemane. 

I bear solemn witness that Jesus is our Messiah, from eternity to eternity. I hope that I will always follow His example and challenge myself to reach for greater heights, to repent, to constantly improve.