John 20

John 20: The Risen Christ

Early in the morning, when it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the Sepulchre where Jesus was laid to rest. When she arrived she found that the tomb had been opened and immediately ran to Peter to tell him what had happened. Peter and the other Apostles ran to see for their own eyes. It is interesting that it specifically mentions; “…the other disciple did outrun Peter…” (John 20:4) I don’t know why this was important; perhaps the other Apostle had a stronger desire to know for himself? Maybe Peter was out of shape?

The Apostles leave and Mary stays behind weeping, she takes a look in the tomb and finds two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had been laid to rest and they ask her; “…Woman, why weepest thou?” (John 20:13) and she responds; “…Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” (John 20:13) Mary turns back around and sees a man [Jesus] (who she assumed was the gardener), Jesus asks her the same question and she asks the gardener to help her find the body of Jesus. But in that same instant; Jesus called out to her; “…Mary…” (John 20:16) and she immediately recognized His voice and she said; “…Rabboni [which means Master]…” (John 20:16) Mary must have been really excited and most likely reached out to Him as she called Him, because Jesus responded; “…Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) We learn from this scripture that Jesus Christ is separate from the Father, or else why would He ascend unto Himself? Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and God the Father is His Father and OUR Father. What does that make Jesus to us? He is our brother! But we need to look at Him with respect, because He is our eldest brother, and He has become like our Father being a god.

Mary Magdalene went to the other Apostles and told them about her interaction with Jesus. That same night the Apostles were gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus had found a way to get in without anyone noticing and stood in the midst of them and said; “…Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19) Jesus invites all gathered to feel and see His hands and feet to see where the nails had left prints from the Crucifixion. Jesus also gives them the Holy Ghost. Thomas was the only one not present at the time. The next time the Apostles saw Thomas they told Him that had seen Jesus and felt His prints. Thomas was a difficult one to persuade and said; “…Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

Eight days pass and they gather again, this time Thomas is present and Jesus comes to him and says; “…Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27) After hearing these words, Thomas said to Jesus; “…My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) It took seeing Jesus for Thomas to believe, however Jesus does not attack him for this, but instead gives everyone else a great reminder; “…Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Anyone who follows Jesus, follows with Faith, for only the Prophets and Apostles of old and new have seen God or Jesus Christ.

We learn that Jesus performed; “…many other signs… in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30-31) I like how this chapter ends by saying that Jesus performed many more miracles and signs in their presence, but that they are not written in this book. Many things are not included in the scriptures, but some would be revealed later and some are revealed through modern day prophets. For this reason we cannot go with the Bible alone, we need Power, Authority, we need GOD’s Church on earth. The Bible is great and any God fearing Christian should love and cherish the Bible, but to remember that it isn’t conclusive. For God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow… He will continue to call prophets and instruct His children. The good news is that He didn’t just leave us with the Bible, He has also given us the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

John 5

John 5: Salvation of the Dead

                After the feast of the Jews, Jesus left to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at a ‘sheep market pool’, which was called Bethesda. This pool had many lined up to be healed, but only for a short period after the waters were troubled could anyone be healed. A certain man, who had an infirmity for 38 years couldn’t walk and it made it difficult for him to jump into the water. The man asks for Jesus to help him into the water; however Jesus decides to just heal the man.

Jesus said unto him; “…Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” (John 5:8) and immediately the man was cured and took his bed and ran off. Soon after, a Jew spotted the man carrying his bed and was told him; “…It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” (John 5:10) The man responded that he was cured by a man, and that man told him to take his bed and walk.

The Jews find out that it was Jesus who had been healing people on the Sabbath day, and begin to persecute Him. But Jesus responds to them; “…My father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17) But this only angered the Jews more, because Jesus had said His Father, was God! Jesus tells them; “…The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19) Jesus goes on to explain that the Son does the will of the Father, but that the “…Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22) Everyone should honor both the Son [Jesus Christ] and the Father [God], for not honoring one, you dishonor the other. For God has given His Son power and authority (see John 5:27).

Jesus teaches about Baptisms for the dead; “…for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) In modern day LDS temples, baptisms for the dead are performed so that those who did not have a baptism by the proper authority in this life can be baptized by proxy. Meaning, someone else is baptized in place of the deceased. Because without baptism, no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore it is necessary that someone acting on their behalf is baptized in the flesh so that they can receive the baptism and the saving ordinances that come with it, while still in the Spirit. Later in the New Testament Peter also teaches about this; “…for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6)

Jesus explains that in the judgment day, He will be the one doing the judging; “…as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

                Jesus tells the Jews, that they received Moses and he came in the form of Moses. Jesus, being the Son of God comes in the form of the Son, and is rejected. Essentially Jesus is telling them; If you do not believe the Son, you do not believe in God. Moses wrote of Jesus, and rejects those who reject Jesus. Yet the Jews were so fond of Moses, yet not fond of Jesus.

Jesus ends with this wisdom; “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

Mark 12

Mark 12: Taxes, Celestial Marriage, Two Great Commandments

Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees and the Scribes, tells them of the Parable of the Husbandmen;

“…A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to the husbandmen, and went into a far country.” (Mark 12:1)

Jesus explains that God built the world; the ‘vineyard’ and left people to tend it.

“And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed and many others; beating some, and killing some.” (Mark 12:2-5)

Jesus explains that God Prophets to the world; the ‘servants’ to receive the fruit of the ‘vineyard’. However, every time that God sent someone to the people of His world, they rejected them. Some of the prophets were wounded, beaten or killed.

Finally God sends His ONLY BEGOTTEN, His Son. “…he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.” (Mark 12:6-9)

God, after having sent all His servants, sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the world. However, the people rejected Jesus as well. Therefore when God returns to His vineyard, He will destroy those who do wickedly.

After hearing this; the Scribes and Pharisees knew that Jesus spoke of them in that Parable, and they feared the reaction of the people. Instead they decided they would try and catch Jesus in His words. They come to Jesus to tempt Him; “…Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” (Mark 12:14)

                Jesus, being frustrated, asks them why they tempt Him and commands them to bring Him a penny. After they brought Him the coin, He asked them; “…Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 12:16-17) They were astonished by His teaching.

The Sadducees then came to Jesus to ask Him about Resurrection; “Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.” (Mark 12:19) They go on to explain that the wife ends up marrying all 7 brothers, never raising any children. They ask him, when the wife finally dies, whose wife will she be? After all she had been married to all of them, right? Jesus responds to them; “…Do ye therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark 12:24) Jesus goes on to explain that marriage will not be given in the next life, because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

One of the scribes, perceiving that Jesus had answered very well, desired to know which of all the commandments was the greatest? Jesus responds; “… thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and will all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

                While Jesus sat and discussed these doctrines, a poor woman came into the treasury of the temple and cast two mites, which made a farthing into the treasury. Jesus stood up and said; “…Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did was cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:43-44) We too should give more than just our ‘abundance’, but be generous in helping others and giving beyond what we are expected.

Ezekiel 3-4

Ezekiel 3-4

Chapter 3: A Prophet’s Duty

Ezekiel is commanded to eat the scroll, and it tastes as sweet as honey. Yeah, you read that right! God commands Ezekiel to eat a book!

“MOREVER he said unto me… eat that thou findest; eat this roll [scroll/book], and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll… cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll… Then did I eat; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3)

So here is the question, would you take this to literally mean eating a book? I don’t think so. What we can learn here is that God wants us to indulge in the scriptures, make it part of a daily routine… just like we do with eating! If we stop reading his word, we should feel hungry! If we let it become part of a daily routine, we will be spiritually full!

The chapter goes on to explain that Ezekiel, a prophet is also a watchman. God warns Ezekiel that if he does not warn the wicked, and the wicked die because of their iniquity, Ezekiel is answerable for it! However, if Ezekiel tells them and the wicked do not heed him, he is not answerable. Likewise, Ezekiel is answerable if a righteousness man commits iniquity and is not warned.

See Ezekiel 3:18-21 for the Purpose of Prophets.

Chapter 4: The Famine of Jerusalem

Ezekiel represents Jerusalem with a ‘tile’ (a brick or maybe a rock/stone of some sorts) and uses an iron pan to make a models of a fort and battering rams to signify the forthcoming siege by the Chaldeans.

Ezekiel is then commanded to lie on his left side for 390 days (because the house of Israel has had 390 years of iniquity) and on his right side 40 days (because Judah has had 40 years of iniquity). While Ezekiel is doing this, he is commanded only to eat the worst kinds of grain, and have only cow’s dung for fuel, to represent the scarcity of provisions during the siege of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 55-56

Isaiah 55-56

Chapter 55: Salvation if Free

The Lord invites those who are thirsty to come and be richly fed.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) Don’t wait around to call upon the Lord to help you… call upon His help, while He is there.

The everlasting covenant is talked about in terms of the sure mercies of David. The wicked will be forgiven if they forsake their ways. The Lord’s thoughts are higher than men’s thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) Simply put: we don’t understand the ways of God.

Sometimes we question why things happen in the world in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Why did God cause a natural disaster to occur, why did someone die before their time… etc. Everythin has a reason, but we may not fully understand why. But an all knowing, all powerful God… does! “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

The Lord’s word shall make the earth fertile. Psalm-like image of the mountains and hills breaking forth in singing. Out of this fertile earth will come the word of the Lord, and He said: “…my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

One thing to keep in mind in verse 11, God said His “word”, and His word is not “a” book, it can be multiple books, like it was before the Bible was formed by MAN. Jesus even said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 13:31) Notice how it said “words”, if word was meant to be “a book”, like the Bible… then we are only talking about one book and not multiple books. This is why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in an OPEN Cannon of Scriptures, where revelation is alive and not dead, where God’s words are not limited to the one single book.

Chapter 56: Keep the Commandments

A call is made to be righteous, and not defile the Sabbath. The foreigner and the eunuch will not be separated from the Lord. The Lord will judge the “…greedy dogs… shepherds that cannot understand…” (Isaiah 56:11) I believe this is referring to the pastors of churches, which are built for gain. In the Spanish “Reina-Valera” version of the Bible it uses the word “pastors” in place of Shepherds.

Isaiah 25-26

Isaiah 25-26

Chapter 25: Tyre shall be overthrown

God is praised for his righteous judgment, and for assisting the needy. A feast will be prepared on Zion. Death will be swallowed up forever, and all tears wiped away.

“…Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord…” (Isaiah 25:9)

People will proclaim a God they have waited for, and who has saved them.
The pride of Moab will be brought down, as the Lord spreads out his hands like a swimmer reaches out to swim.

Chapter 26: Men Shall Change the Scriptures

The strength of the city will be celebrated. The Lord is the source of the city’s strength. The Lord will bring down those who dwell on high. The upright will desire the Lord, and the wicked shall remain unaware as the fire of enemies devours them. All masters other than the Lord are dead. We have been in pain, as if in labour. The dead shall rise. The day of the Lord’s judgment will come.

Through all of this we can learn something about patience the Lord speaks to His people: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” (Isaiah 26:20)

                We need to remember that the Lord works on His own time, but if we are patient the Lord WILL save us! Sometimes it might feel like a long time, but we have to remember that our life on this earth is short compared to eternity… our pain and suffer is a “little moment” in the Lord’s eyes.

Isaiah 23-24

Isaiah 23-24

Chapter 23: Tyre shall be overthrown

The burden against Tyre. The sailors will agonize when they hear about the destruction of their home port. The pride of Tyre will be dishonored. Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years. God will allow Tyre, symbolized by a prostitute, to continue her gross materialism with all the kingdoms of the world, but her gain and her pay will be set apart for the Lord.

Chapter 24: Men Shall Change the Scriptures

The land will be emptied and laid waste. The earth will mourn and fade away, because people “…have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 23:5). The simple doctrines and ordinances taught by the Savior were debated and changed to conform to worldly ideas. This would lead to the need for a Restoration of the Gospel.

The Book of Mormon expands on what happened:

“And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away…this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men… after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book… And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles… Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen….

 behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb…. And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true…. These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.(1 Nephi 13:26-40)

                In the last days the Book of Mormon will come forth as Another Testament (or evidence) of Jesus Christ.