If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 12
For March 16-22, 2020
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Why won’t they tell us if they’ve seen Christ?”
Things to consider:
- The men called as apostles in the Mormon Church (usually 15 men, who are also called as prophets, seers, and revelators) claim to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ. Some wonder if this means they have actually spoken with or seen Jesus face-to-face, but the apostles do not make explicit claims to such divine experiences, though their testimonies of Jesus may be ambiguous enough to allow a believer to think the apostles have actually walked with Jesus.
- Elder Boyd K. Packard explained regarding the question of whether he had seen Jesus, “There are some things just too sacred to discuss” (“The Spirit Beareth Record”).
- Elder Oaks elaborated. “While some early apostles and other members of the church have had the sublime spiritual experience of seeing the Savior and some have made a public record of this, in the circumstances of today we are counseled not to speak of our most sacred spiritual experiences, otherwise with modern technology that can broadcast something all over the world, a remark made in a sacred and a private setting can be said abroad in violation of the Savior’s commandment not to cast our pearls before swine”
(starting at about 58:51 in this recording).
- But, Jacob tells us “I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time” (Jacob 7:5).
- Many centuries earlier in the Book of Mormon, the brother of Jared visited with Jesus. “Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites. And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites” (Ether 3:17-18).
- Then, centuries after Jacob, Moroni tells us in the Book of Mormon, “And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things” (Ether 12:39).
- But, don’t forget that, “The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection” (Introduction, Book of Mormon). Certainly this event would have been among the most sacred in all history, yet the Church broadcasts this to the entire world, by internet, by missionary, to anyone regardless of expressed interest in the story.
- And, what about the first vision? Joseph Smith claimed he saw and spoke with Jesus (and God the Father depending on which version of the first vision you read), but there it is on the Church website (modern technology) to broadcast it all over the world, without regard to “swine” who might read it. As a missionary, like hundreds of thousands before me and hundreds of thousands after me, I taught anyone who would listen about Joseph’s face-to-face visit and discussion with Jesus. The Church commissions its missionaries to teach this to all. Certainly Elders Packer and Oaks aren’t saying their experiences are more sacred than the first vision, are they?
- Could it be, just possibly, that these modern men called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ don’t want to admit that they have not seen Jesus, that they’re testimony is nothing more than that of an ordinary member; but that they want to leave it to the imagination of their audiences that they actually do visit with the Savior?
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
Trivia, “And It Came To Pass That . . .”
The phrase “And it came to pass that” is used 31 times in Jacob 5. For Come Follow Me lesson 5 I brought up that the phrase “it came to pass that” is used 31 times in 1 Ne 16. Though Jacob 5 has nearly twice as many verses, so the repetition is only half as dense, Jacob 5 is distinguished because it has the phrase with the additional word “And” at the beginning each time. Kudos to Jacob for rivaling Nephi in repetition?
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 12