In the January 2017 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, President Russell M. Nelson challenged all that were watching to increase their testimony of the Savior by studying every reverence of Jesus Christ in the topical guide.
He later also blogged about it.
I recently felt inspired to take this challenge, so I created a document that I have printed out to track my progress and to take notes. You can download it here if you would like to use it. -> JESUS CHRIST – Topical Guide
President Nelson left a great promise for those who accept and fulfill this assignment:
How can you increase in your discipleship? I have an invitation for you that will help—it’s an assignment, actually—if you choose to accept it. Commence tonight to consecrate a portion of your time each week to studying everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament, for He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Study His laws as recorded in the New Testament, for He is its Christ. Study His doctrine as recorded in the Book of Mormon, for there is no book of scripture in which His mission and His ministry are more clearly revealed. And study His words as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, for He continues to teach His people in this dispensation.
This may seem like a large assignment, but I encourage you to accept it. If you proceed to learn all you can about Jesus Christ, I promise you that your love for Him, and for God’s laws, will grow beyond what you currently imagine. I promise you also that your ability to turn away from sin will increase. Your desire to keep the commandments will soar. You will find yourself better able to walk away from the entertainment and entanglements of those who mock the followers of Jesus Christ. To assist you, refer to the Topical Guide for references under the topic “Jesus Christ.”
Most Christians are well familiar with John 3:16, as you can often see the verse on posters at football games etc.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The verse following it is not quite as popular, but really stood out to me this morning:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
This verse is just further evidence of God’s love. Sometimes we can feel we are not worth being loved. It seems we would rather have a pile of rocks heaped upon us that have to stand before God with all our imperfections. But here we are reminded that God did not send his son to condemn us, but rather to save us! This is good news indeed.
I think we can look at our church leaders in a similar manner. Sometimes when we have made mistakes that need to be confessed to our leaders we may be a bit scared thinking leaders may be so appalled that they will kick us out of the church. I feel Bishops are called to help us and allow us to be healed by the atonement rather than to condemn us.
Luke 6:12 reads:
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
I found this scripture rather interesting. I found myself pondering what Jesus may have been praying about all night. I try to pictures him speaking with his father all night. It must have been beautiful. For one thing, after this night he called his apostles. Wow, if he prayed that long to choose his apostles, how long should we pray when we have the responsibility to extend callings?
We all sin and fall short of our own expectations. We can really get down on ourselves. We may pray for forgiveness and feel that because of our sins our prayers do no make it past the ceiling. In these desparate times we may feel like we are unforgivable.
Isaiah 54:7 reads “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.” Yes, the Lord may forsake us for a small moment, but we must remember that it is for our good and that it will only be for a small moment if we continue to call upon Him. The next verse (8) reads: “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”
After reading verse 8, my mind recalled the words in the previous chapter, Isaiah 53:3 which reads, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
What does this mean that “we hid as it were our faces from him?” Here He is, despised, rejected, in sorrow and grief, and we hide our faces? For what purpose?
I wonder; do we often stop calling on the Lord because we feel He is so grieved and disappointed with us and our sins they we feel unworthy to even ask our Heavenly Father for forgiveness? It often feels that we are the reason for the Savior’s sorrow and grief. He may hide his face from us for a small moment in wrath, because obviously we know better and we have made covenants to keep his commandments, but He will return with everlasting kindness as we return and repent – as many times as we return and repent.
Psalms 30: 5: “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Here is an interesting thought about repentace.
When we sin, we naturally feel bad. But it isnâ€™t the sin that we should feel bad about (condemning ourselves), but rather we should feel bad about what Christ went through for our sins and how we caused him to suffer. That is godly sorrow and will keep us in the light.
There are many symbolisms of the sacrifice of the Savior in the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac. Not only is it similar in that a son was being sacrificed, but consider these points:
- Abraham had to travel a three day journey to get to Moriah, the place where the Lord
commanded him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gen 22:2). This is also the location of the Lord’s sacrifice for us all — Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (2 Chr 3:1).
- Isaac carried the wood for the offering as Christ carried his own cross.
- Lambs slain on the altar of the Temple were slain on the north side (Lev 1:11). Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, is on the north side of
the ridge of Moriah.
There are many other symbolisms between Abraham’s sacrifice and the Lords, and Abraham certainly recognized the symbolism as he called the place “Jehova-jireh” (Gen 22:14, John 8:56), meaning “the Lord shall be seen, or the Lord shall be provided.”
Christ hath trodden the winepress alone. (Isaiah 63:3, D&C 76:107). As obvious as it seems to me now, I never really understood the meaning of the phrase. I think I could also put it in these words: “Christ smashed the grapes by himself.”
Quoting from “Gethsemane” by Andrew C. Skinner:
Anciently, winepresses and olive presses were sometimes used interchangeably. Several people would get into the press, and a rock-lined pit with a mosaic or plaster floor, and, holding onto one another, smash the grapes or olives with their feet until the fruit turned into a thick pulp. Unless one held onto others in the press, it was almost impossible to lift one’s feet in the thick sludge to tromp the grapes into juice. It also became very slippery, and without others in the press to hang onto for support, it was very easy to fall. Thus, when the Savior says he trod the winepress alone, he means that at a certain point in Gethsemane no one was there to help him through his ordeal. Ironically, in a place named for an activity that required several participants, one Man suffered for all men. (p.118)