Come, Follow Me: September 28 — October 11
This lesson covers two weeks because of General Conference. We can study more deeply these 3 chapters because of the extra time.
When people reject the Book of Mormon without ever reading it, yet they profess a belief in Christ, they miss these accounts of His teaching, ministry, and miracles that far surpass anything in the Bible, because the Nephites and Lamanites were more worthy to have these things revealed. At the same time, we need to realize that part of this account has been withheld from us, because we aren’t yet worthy to receive it. Consider what a blessing it is to be trusted with the account that we do have.
As you read these things, try to imagine being there.
Jesus needed to depart—to return to His Father and to show Himself to the Lost Tribes (verse 4). He perceived that the people didn’t understand everything He had taught them, so He wanted them to return home to ponder and pray (verses 2, 3).
Look at verse 5. Jesus looked at the people and what did He see? Can you imagine yourself there? Because of the compassion He felt for them, Jesus stayed and invited them to come forth to be healed (verses 6 – 8). How much time do you think this took? Note that Jesus needed to go in order to serve His Father, but He stayed to serve His Father. Did He do the right thing? Do we have to make the same decisions?
After He healed the people (verses 9 – 10), He commanded that they bring their little children to Him (verse 11). The little children were all brought and they sat on the ground around Him. Jesus commanded the adults to kneel (verse 13). In verse 14, Jesus confesses to God that He is troubled because of the wickedness of the house of Israel. This is an interesting thing for us to try to understand. The members of the Godhead and indeed all those who have inherited the Celestial Kingdom experience a “fulness of joy.” (See verse 20.) Yet, they sorrow and weep over the lost of mankind, the wicked. How can these two things exist together?
Jesus knelt and prayed “great and marvelous things.” It appears that either these words have been withheld from us, or they can’t be written because there is no language with the means to write them. The people were overcome with joy (verse 18). In verses 20 and 21, Jesus blesses the children one by one and weeps over them—this time, He weeps for joy. The heavens opened and angels came down in the midst of fire and ministered to the children. Can you imagine this happening among the Jews in the Holy Land? Why would it have been too much of a miracle for them?
While His disciples brought forth bread and wine, Jesus had the people sit on the ground. Jesus blessed the bread and passed it to His disciples first and then to the people. Notice that Christ Himself did not partake. He didn’t partake at the “Last Supper” in Jerusalem, either. The reason is that there are 5 covenants in the Passover meal (Exodus 6:6 – 8):
Christ won’t partake of the sacrament until He can fulfill all of these covenants. The event where Christ will partake is described in Doctrine and Covenants section 27:5 – 14. It is the convocation at Adam Ondi Ahman where Adam, the Ancient of Days, turns over all keys to Christ and Zion and Jerusalem are established, opening Christ’s millennial rule: “…for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth…”
Jesus taught them the meaning of the sacramental bread (verses 4 – 7). Why do we always need to be reminded to remember these things? He then had His disciples pass wine to the congregation and He taught them what the wine represents. Note that in the ancient world, these rituals sounded barbaric to the Gentile pagans, even though they participated in human sacrifice themselves. The rumor they spread sounded like this: “They eat the body and drink the blood of their god.” In fact, many people in the Holy Land turned away from Christ when He shared these things. How do we make sense of the meaning of the sacrament? What does it really represent? (See verses 8 – 14.)
Look at verse 15. Jesus used the words “watch and pray.” The word “watch” in Hebrew includes “to guard,” as in “watching over sheep.” How to we guard ourselves and those we love through prayer? Jesus then went on to talk about prayer (verses 15 – 21). How and when should we pray?
Here is a wonderful talk on prayer for you to study and discuss: “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 8).
In verse 24, what does it mean to hold up your light? What is the difference between being a bright light yourself and taking glory upon yourself and reflecting the light of Christ, bringing glory to Him? In verse 27, Jesus gives His chosen disciples another commandment. What does it mean to take the sacrament unworthily? How should the disciples treat people who were unworthy to partake of the sacrament (verses 28 – 33).
In verse 34, what does Jesus say about disputations? Are there disputations in the Church today? Why? Before Jesus departed in a cloud, He touched His disciples and gave them the authority to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. Which priesthood is necessary to baptize in Jesus’ name? Which priesthood is necessary to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost?
After Jesus ascended, the people dispersed and went to their own homes. However, look at verses 2 and 3. What did the people do instead of going to sleep? If you have children, ask them how they would get the news out without cell phones and social media? How much effort would it take to inform the whole neighborhood? The entire city?
Verse 4 lists the names of the disciples (apostles) called by Jesus. Which of them do you know about from other chapters in the Book of Mormon? The people who showed up in the morning to see Jesus outnumbered greatly the group from the day before. The disciples divided them into twelve groups and had them all kneel and pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. In verses 8 and 9, we see that the Twelve ministered to the people, teaching them what Jesus had taught. The people prayed for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they all went down to the water for baptism. Nephi was baptized and then baptized the Twelve. Do you think these men had been baptized before? If they had been, why would they be baptized again?
Look at verse 13. The baptism by fire can be defined as receiving the Holy Ghost. You can be baptized by fire and not feel any sensation of fire, but what happened with these Nephites and Lamanites? (See verses 13 – 15.) What would it be like if we had an account like this in the Bible?
In verse 16, Jesus commands the people to kneel and pray again. In verse 18, we see that they prayed to Jesus. Jesus removed Himself from the group to kneel and offer thanks to God for giving the Holy Ghost to the Twelve. He prays that all who believe their words will receive the Holy Ghost and that they would be one with Christ and the Father.
Look at verse 24. The Twelve were praying things that they had received by revelation. So, God was telling them what to pray for. This begins the process of receiving blessings because you first have asked. Asking is an important part of the process. Have you ever asked God what you should pray for?
Look at verse 25. Why did the Twelve glow like Jesus? Is there any other event in scripture where this happened?
When Jesus returns to His own prayers (verse 28), He thanks the Father for purifying the Twelve. What does it mean that Jesus is glorified by them (verse 29)? Read verses 31 – 36. The people heard Jesus pray words that cannot be written or spoken by man, but they understood His words in their hearts. Talk about what might be happening here. In verses 35 and 36, why couldn’t Jesus do miracles like this in the Holy Land?