Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The Sacrament: Our Weekly Protection
The first half of today's reading was like a heavy sweet chocolate desert: rich and gooey and so satisfying that the enjoyment, and even the taste will linger in your mouth for hours.
Christ is ministering to the Nephites. He heals their sick, prays for them with language so powerful, so personal, so sacred that it cannot be written. He blesses their children as a group and then individually. This is Christ unrestrained. This is Christ operating at a celestial level. This is the Christ who finally can stop holding back and pour on the miracles and the love and the joy because here are people faithful enough to receive all he wants to show them: what it feels like to be perfectly attune with the Father, to feel the overwhelming joy and love that comes from being at-one with God: joy so pure and overwhelming that even Christ weeps and weeps again.
I wanted to be there. I wanted to hear the words of the Savior. I wanted to see the ministering angles and rings of fire. I wanted to feel that pure joy so great that the multitude was overcome and even the Savior himself wept tears of joy. I want to crawl into the pages on the book and shut myself in.
After Christ has shown them miracle after miracle, witness after witness of his divinity what does he do? I would think that with such a powerful personal witness, I or anyone else would be set for life…. We would have an unshakable testimony that we could pass on to the next generations and even carry us triumphant to our graves. I would think I had it made, that I wouldn't be tempted anymore, that I would be above such human frailties? What does Christ do? He institutes the sacrament, tells them that they must remember him and witness of him and then warns them that: [ 3rd Nephi 18: 18] Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
He admonishes them to meet together oft, to refuse none to worship with them, but he strongly admonishes them to make sure that none partake of the sacrament unworthily. If a person is known to be unworthy, then we are to work with that person to guide him through the repentance process if possible.
I am amazed that after giving these Nephites the greatest outpouring of spiritual gifts and heavenly manifestations ever recorded in scripture Christ provides these people whom he loves dearly with the protection they need from Satan's temptation. The miracles are given as a spiritual gift, but they do not provide "protection." Christ called Twelve Disciples, taught baptism, and instituted the sacrament for the further blessing and protection of these people.
This Friday when I attend my Sacrament service in Dubai, I will be remembering this scene from today's reading. When I partake of the sacrament I'll be remembering my Savior and how he gave the sacrament to the Book of Mormon people. He gave them the Gospel and then he gave then The Church: the same church we attend. Through Joseph Smith, our loving Savior has restored the same Gospel and Church for our blessing and protection. Maybe I'm present at a miraculous event every Sabbath but I didn’t realize it.
My family has often used Deut.18:15 as Biblical proof that Mohammed was a prophet of God. Here Christ quotes the prophecy and states that it refers to himself. 3rd Nephi 20: Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
Now, there we have it from "the horse's mouth" as we Americans say. Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the prophet whom we must "hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people."