Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Story: Passion of the Christ

Jesus and the eleven apostles journeyed to a hill outside of Jerusalem.  Here at this point called Gethsemane, the Savior's ultimate triumph would begin.

As they approached the gate, eight of the apostles were left at the entrance as Peter, James, and John followed the Savior deeper into the garden.  After a time, the Master turned to his followers and told them to "tarry..and watch with me (Matt. 26:38)."  Jesus Christ proceed a little further and began to pray.  In agony He pled with the Father saying "all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me" but as obedient as always added "nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36)."

"No Greater Love" by Greg Olsen
In this moment, our dear Savior took upon himself the sins of the world.  He also took upon himself all of our physical, emotional, social, and mental pains.  Any suffering we go through was magnified in that moment for our Lord;  He who is greater than all descended below all things.  So great was the suffering that blood flowed from every pore and the Savior suffered both in the body and in spirit (see D&C 19:18).

After the suffering was over, Jesus was greeted by the traitor, Judas Iscariot, and his followers.  Judas betrayed Christ with the sign of a kiss.  Even in his suffering, the Savior's presence shook the soldiers who came for him.  Christ willingly gave himself up to save not only his apostles, but that the will of the Father might be done so that all man-kind could be saved.  Thus commenced the Savior's last night in mortality, being arrested for crimes he did not commit and betrayed by one of his closest friends. 

The Savior's love is overwhelming to me.  How grateful I am for His willingness to take upon himself not only my sins and my pains, but the sins and pains of the entire family of God.  I cringe to think how many drops of blood were shed on my behalf, especially the ones I caused through my own stupidity and pride.  I know that we can feel His love continually and find peace as we give the Savior our burdens which he has already carried. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Story: From Palms to Passion

There is a church here in Billings advertising this week's sermon on their marquee.  It is entitled From Palms to Passion.  As the Easter season is upon us and tomorrow is what Christianity generally refers to as Palm Sunday, I felt it appropriate to look at the Savior's last week of mortality, beginning with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem up until He and His disciples leave for the Garden of Gethsemane.

"Christ's Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem" by Harry Anderson

On the Sunday morning before the Passover ceremony, the Savior and some of His followers were approaching Jerusalem.  Jesus Christ instructed two of the disciples to go to a nearby town and retrieve a certain donkey, a white colt.  As they returned, Jesus rode into the great city of Jerusalem on the colt.  As he entered the city, the people shouted for joy and laid their clothes in the path and waved palm leaves.  In this moment, one of the prophecies of the prophet Zechariah was fulfilled (see Zechariah 9:9).  Unfortunatley the zeal for the Savior and His cause would not last very long.

Jesus then spent the week teaching in the temple everyday.  He was giving His final directions and instructions relating to the gospel to the Jewish nation as a whole.  Some of these include the parable of the ten virgins, the law of marriage, signs of the Second Coming, and counsel to render to God's that which is rightfully His. 

As the Passover commenced, Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles met in the upper room of a home.  Here the Savior taught those who would be continuing the church after His death.  He taught them to love one another, promised them that they would receive the Holy Ghost, and offered the great intercessory prayer.  At some point during the meal, Judas Iscariot left to go find those with whom he and conspired against his Lord with.

"In Remembrance of Me" by Walter Rane
Above all the words and works in that upper room, the sacred ordinance of the sacrament was instituted by the Savior Himself.  He blessed and broke bread, explaining that it was in similitude of His body.  The Savior then blessed wine and taught that it was in similitude of His blood which would soon be shed for the sins of the world.  Evening had come and after singing a hymn, Christ began the walk to Gethsemane, followed by the eleven remaining disciples.

What does this last week of Jesus' mortal life have to do with us?  Everything!  Were it not for the sacrament, none of us could have the continual remission of our sins from day to day.  I am grateful for the Savior's teachings in this His last week.  It all leads up to the most important event to ever occur in human history.  Check in soon for the next part of the Easter story, "Passion of the Christ"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I am a mighty oak

There is a poem that the former mission president in our mission, President Fisher, loved and shared with all the missionaries.  I never had the oppurtunity to meet President Fisher; however, this poem has lasted and been a source of inspiration and motivation for my misison.  It is entitled "The Oak Tree" and was written by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.  It says:
A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree's leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?
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