Can you imagine the joy that would fill your souls if you were witnesses to the visitation of the Lord Jesus Christ? How could you possibly describe your feelings? How could you even handle the happiness that would overwhelm your whole being?
You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.
Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.
Can you imagine the joy that would fill your souls if you were witnesses to the visitation of the Lord Jesus Christ? How could you possibly describe your feelings? How could you even handle the happiness that would overwhelm your whole being? The faithful who had gathered at the ancient temple in Bountiful had spent a number of hours with the Lord Jesus Christ and now it was time for Him to go. Carefully searching the record, we have some sense of how the people felt, but even more importantly we have an amazing view of the Savior’s joy, His compassion and His love for His people.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and we are delighted to be with you for these few minutes together each week. This week we will be talking about three of the most beautiful chapters in all of Holy Writ—3 Nephi 17-19 where the Lord Himself says, “Behold, My Joy is Full.”
Before we get into our discussion, I want to give you an update on my own situation. It has been more than four weeks since my biking accident where I shattered my left arm and had other collateral damage to my lungs and heart. This is a long process of healing—my x-rays show that I clearly have a bionic arm now—full of titanium, complete with plenty of plates and screws and a very long stabilizing rod that hopefully will be removed the end of November. My lungs have been the slowest to heal, but I have to say I have been richly blessed with the Spirit of peace and assurance. I know all will be well and I so deeply appreciate the prayers, well-wishes, texts and visits to cheer me along. I am not good at sitting still, and this has been a time when sitting still is required.
Maurine, you have been a champion and you have even been patient with me trying to learn how to do your hair. I’ve learned one thing, men and women really do have different approaches to hair. I try to be obedient and follow her every command when using the curling iron, but all I can think about is the movie Little Women when Jo is doing Meg’s hair and burns off a big chunk with the iron. But Maurine is so patient.
Now, quickly, we have to pay for the privilege of doing this Podcast—so, as many of you already know, I have created a wonderful Church History Come Follow Me wall calendar for this coming 2021 year. It truly is so beautiful. I’ve taken some gorgeous images from the Church History sites, added in some very inspirational quotes from many of our heroes of those early days, included all the Come Follow Me reading assignments each Monday and added in the dates of some of the most significant events in early Church History as well as the dates of the revelations. You really will want this calendar not only hanging in your homes and offices, but at the pre-publication price of only $15, you’ll want to add this into all your gift-giving lists. These calendars will be a constant reminder of your rich heritage and add a spiritual tone into any room or home. You can look at them and order them by going to latterdaysaintmag.com/2021 that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/2021. Order yours today.
Scot, these first few verses of 3 Nephi chapter 17 are so incredibly tender. Let’s read a few of them together and then talk about a special experience we had together.
Starting in verse 1.
1 Behold, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand.
This is the last thing you would want to hear from Jesus—He’s saying, “I have to go now. I have other things I have to do. I have other people to visit. I have to return to my Father.”
He continues in verse 2:
2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
Remember, we have just a very small portion of the record. Don’t think that all He did was come to them, show His body, give the Sermon on the Mount talk and then leave—He had given them numerous other teachings and had interacted with them all that day—and we have only an equivalent of about 32 minutes of text.
That’s right, Maurine. I’m always pondering, “What things are we missing from the record? What else might He have said to them? How can I learn more?
The Savior told the people:
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
This is a great pattern for us in our daily studies and spiritual devotions.
- Go to our homes
- Ponder the words of the Lord
- Ask the Father, in the name of Christ, to understand
- Prepare our minds for further light and knowledge that He promises to give (and in this case—the promise is for the very next day)
I like that pattern. As I was studying these verses, too, I was thinking about all the personal experiences the people had with the Lord and hopefully, all the journal accounts or at least oral histories that were passed down through the families of these eyewitnesses. How wonderful this was for all of them. And again, I love that pattern the Lord gave us of pondering and asking for confirmation of the truths we are given.
And it’s the real thing. As we ponder the words of the Lord we receive, whether from the scriptures or from our living apostles and prophets or from our own personal revelation, we must ask the Father in the name of Christ to help us understand them—and new vistas will be open to our view.
Now, let’s read further, starting in verse 5 of 3 Nephi 17:
5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
This is such an intimate view of the attributes of the Savior, how He really feels about each one of us. For, are we not all afflicted in some manner? Are we not all lame in some manner? Do we not each one have some blindness? Have we not all been maimed by the experiences of life? You see the pattern—and He, the Savior and Creator of the world, looks upon us with compassion and with mercy. That truly fills me with joy.
Now, Maurine, this scene is so powerful, and at this point, we have to tell you, our listeners, about a time that was like this for us in our lifetime.
You all remember the amazing announcement on the 4th of April 1999 at the very end of conference. President Hinckley gave this in his second-to-the-last paragraph of his closing remarks and, as you well remember, he said this:
“In closing now, I feel impressed to announce that among all of the temples we are constructing, we plan to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. A member of the Church and his family have provided a very substantial contribution to make this possible. We are grateful to him. It will be a while before it happens, but the architects have begun their work. This temple will not be busy much of the time; it will be somewhat isolated. But during the summer months, we anticipate it will be very busy. And the new building will stand as a memorial to those who built the first such structure there on the banks of the Mississippi.”
An audible gasp went through the entire Church at that moment—a feeling of joy and wonder and amazement.
Just a little over three years later, Scot, you and I were privileged to attend that dedication. The Nauvoo Temple was placed on fast-track construction, that means the workers only had a portion of the plans given to them at a time and they would move forward on that while the next part of the plans would be sent to them. We attended the press conference the day of the dedication.
And, Maurine, you asked President Hinckley a question at that press gathering on the west side of the Nauvoo Temple.
I did. I asked, “Why the hurry, why this fast-track construction?” President Hinckley held up his walking cane and he said, “Do you see this cane? I use it for more than walking!” And then he went on to explain that he wanted the temple dedicated on June 27, the day of the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum. Then another of the press said, “Do you think Joseph and Hyrum will be with us today?” And President Hinckley said, “I’m sure there will be many with us today from the other side of the veil.”
That’s not something you hear in most press conferences! Well, then we all went into the Temple for that first dedicatory session. We were able to be in the Priesthood Assembly Room, not far from the Prophet and the other leaders of the Church. It was an awesome gathering. The Spirit was there so powerfully. They divided the Tabernacle Choir into 4 different 90-voice choirs, just for sheer logistics. And when the Choir started to sing, “Come, Come Ye Saints” our spiritual ears were opened and we could hear the angels join with the choir—this was not wishful thinking or pure emotion, this was a gift to all of us there. We heard the hosts of angels joining in singing.
I will never forget it. And then when President Hinckley stood up to speak he said, “I feel today, the presence of…” and then he did that little cough that he did when he would try to control his emotions—and we thought he was going to say: “Joseph and Hyrum,” but he paused and went on, “I feel today, the presence of the Father and the Son.” The Spirit rushed through the room and through our hearts as a mighty wind. We all felt it. And we were filled with joy. That whole meeting was so full of the Spirit we could hardly breath. It will always stand as one of the highlights of my entire life.
And for me as well. There wasn’t a person there who did not feel the power of the Spirit and the presence of Deity. Afterwards, we all went outside and some five or six hundred of us were gathered on the west side of the Temple. All of us were so happy. That feeling and presence of the Spirit continued. It was a Zion feeling—we were truly of one heart. We felt a rich outpouring of love among us. Most of us were in tears and we did not want this feeling to end. At that moment we looked up and there was someone in the window high above the entrance of the temple. It looked like he was waving—then we all realized it was President Hinckley and he was waving at us. We all waved back at him and we were filled even more with the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit of love.
It was another tender moment and an amazing feeling of oneness we all experienced. It lasted the rest of that day and no matter who we ran into on the streets of Nauvoo, friend and stranger alike, we all had that Zion “of one heart” feeling and we did not want it to end. It felt like we were part of the family of the Lord.
We talked to some of the construction workers whose jobs were now completed and asked how they felt. They said, through many tears, that they were so sad to leave this temple. They felt like the early saints who had built this temple and then turned their faces west to leave it. They did not want to leave. They wanted to tarry a little longer.
All of us felt to stay as long as possible. And it brought to our minds the visit of the Lord to the Nephites and how they were all in tears and they would that the Lord would tarry a little longer. It was that same kind of feeling in Nauvoo—Oh! Can this please just go on and on forever? Why does this have to end? Can the Spirit tarry with us? I will never forget that day, June 27, 2002.
It truly was glorious. Now back to our setting in the Book of Mormon.
9 And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, [We are in verse 9] all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17:9-10 emphasis added)
I think we can scarcely imagine what it would be like to be in His presence again—but this account gives us some sense of that wondrous experience for the Nephites and the Lamanites.
And it reminds me of the experience of Elder George F. Richards of the Twelve:
President Kimball reported this in the April 1974 general conference:
“‘The Lord has revealed to men by dreams something more than I ever understood or felt before.’ I heard this more than once in quorum meetings of the Council of the Twelve when George F. Richards was president. . . . He said, ‘I believe in dreams, brethren. The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar . . . or the dream of Lehi who through a dream led his colony out of the old country across the mighty deep to this promised land, or any other dreams that we might read in the scriptures.
“‘It is not out of place for us to have important dreams,’ he said. ‘And then more than 40 years ago I had a dream which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it to him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him.
“‘As a result of that dream, I had this feeling that no matter what might be required of my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do even to the laying down of my life. . . .
“‘If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life'” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Cause Is Just and Worthy,” General Conference, April 1974). End of quote.
And I am sure all the people who stood in the presence of the Lord at the temple in Bountiful had that same feeling all the days of their lives.
After the Lord had healed all that needed healing…
… he commanded that their little children should be brought.
12 So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.
I’m sure we all have our own image of this scene in our minds. Jesus is in the center and He is now closely surrounded by the children of the multitude. What a joy and privilege this was for these families—and for these children. Now, you know how little children are. Think about the natural curiosity of little ones as they got close to Jesus Christ. They would have innocently and fearlessly run up to him, or crawled to Him and touched His robes and wanted to hold Him. All the parents would have been weeping for joy to have their sons and their daughters have this privilege to be invited to be right there with the Savior and Redeemer of all.
13 And it came to pass that when they had all been brought, and Jesus stood in the midst, he commanded the multitude that they should kneel down upon the ground.
How could you do anything but kneel? There you are, surrounding the most glorious Being in the universe Who is just like Heavenly Father in every way, and your children are right there with Him. It is a scene beyond compare.
14 And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.
15 And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
Now, this is the first of 11 times that He prays with the people in His time with them. There certainly is a message in that—the Savior asks us to pray always and He Himself is praying to the Father as He is with His people. And I love the description the eyewitnesses try to give of this prayer—and notice how this goes from commentary to first person accounting:
16 And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
17 And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
18 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
They are overcome by joy and adoration and feelings they had never had before. They were certainly filled with great wonder, with bliss, with elation—even our English language cannot produce the words necessary to describe their feelings.
Now the Lord asked them to arise.
20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
22 And when he had done this he wept again;
So, now, even Jesus declares that His joy is full and He weeps. We have to stop here and make sure we don’t miss one point that Jesus took their little children—one by one—and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. This is so incredibly personal.
It really is. Wouldn’t you love to know about the lives of each of these children who got a personal blessing from Jesus Christ?
And yet we have been blessed with the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. (See D&C 107:3-4) This means that when righteous priesthood holders give blessings, and they are in-tune with the Spirit, they can speak words that are what the Savior would say if He were there giving the blessing. Of course, that is such a humbling thought, but it is also true!
And remember in this setting—all the people who needed to be made whole from various maladies had already been made whole. These blessings from Jesus to the children were an extension of His overflowing love and generous nature of giving blessings.
And I think at this point, as we see in the record, even the angels in heaven could not restrain themselves, as the Savior says:
Behold your little ones.
24 And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
Remember, the eyewitness here, who gives us this record, is Nephi and he tries to describe this scene. Nephi is not unfamiliar with angels—we know from chapter 7 of 3 Nephi that “so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.” (See 3 Nephi 7:18)
That’s right. And this same faithful Nephi had raised his own brother, Timothy, from the dead after he had been stoned to death by the people. And yet Nephi says, the people “saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire.” There are not sufficient words, at least in their language or ours, to describe this heavenly scene. It’s like the Prophet Joseph Smith trying to describe Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple:
3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters… (See D&C 110:3, emphasis added). This is a mortal trying to describe a heavenly thing.
It reminds me of a statement Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote in the preface to his Messiah series:
No mortal man, no matter how gifted he may be in literary craftsmanship, and no matter how highly endowed he may be with that spiritual insight which puts the words and acts of men into a true eternal perspective—no mortal, I say, can write the biography of a God. (McConkie, Bruce R., Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Vol 1., Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 1979, p. xvi)
Paul the apostle wrote:
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)
Though we just don’t have the language to describe all these things, in our readings this week, we see a lot of these kind of attempts and we get a glimpse into the generosity and giving nature of the Lord.
In chapter 18 of 3 Nephi the Lord institutes the sacrament among His people here in the ancient Americas. There are some things hidden from us in the record. Let’s look at the logistics.
The Lord tasks the 12 Disciples to go and get some bread and wine. They are to get enough for 2,500 people. This means approximately 156 – 300 pounds of bread and likely be no less than 40 gallons of wine and, depending on the amount each person drinks, it could be much more. Is this something the twelve could readily obtain? It’s possible that it is, but it is also possible that we are looking at another miracle here.
You remember the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000 during the Lord’s ministry? Remember for the 5,000 they had 5 small barley loaves and two fishes? (see Matthew 14:16-18) And for the 4,000 they had seven loaves and a few little fishes (see Matthew 15:34) And you remember that the Lord had said to the Nephites and Lamanites:
“I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem…” (See 3 Nephi 17:8)
We may have “the feeding of the 2,500” here.
And yes, this is the sacrament, but let’s look at the similar language between the accounts.
Here’s the Nephite account:
2 And while they were gone for bread and wine, he commanded the multitude that they should sit themselves down upon the earth.
Here’s the feeding of the 5,000 account:
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass…(Matthew 14:19)
And the feeding of the 4,000 account:
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. (Matthew 15:35)
But then we have this wonderful pattern that we see in each of the accounts:
Here’s the 3 Nephi account:
And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.
So he brake it, blessed it and gave it.
And the 5,000 account:
…and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
He blessed and brake and gave.
And the 4,000 account:
And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
He gave thanks or blessed it, brake and gave.
And in all three instances He gave to the disciples first and then they gave to the multitude.
Now, we know that the multitudes in the Galilee were physically famished—they were hungry. It appears in the ancient Americas they were receiving the sacrament—but note the three accounts say this:
And when the multitude had eaten and were filled…
And they did all eat, and were filled…
And they did all eat, and were filled…
It sounds like they are not only satiated as to the needs of the body, but they are filled with that which only Jesus can give to them—filled with His Spirit, filled with His love, filled with His care and His generous giving.
And I do love the pattern of the disciples receiving the sustenance directly from the Lord and then they are tasked to distribute it to the multitudes. It kind of sounds like the pattern of General Conference. And we see the extremely generous, giving nature of the Lord Jesus Christ in all four instances: the 3rd Nephi account, the feeding of the 5,000, the feeding of the 4,000 and the feeding of the multitudes at General Conference.
And in the Greek the word for ‘blessed’ yoo-log-eh’-o means: to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings upon, to celebrate with praises.
And the Greek work for ‘gave’ did’-o-mee is equivalent with “to furnish or endue” and it denotes strength, faculty, power and virtue.
We see, then, that in all cases the Lord generously bestows the Bread of Life or the sacrament upon His people to prosper them with the Spirit, to make them happy, to endue them with strength and power and virtue. And those who receive His gifts are filled—filled both physically and spiritually.
Jesus is the great Giver of all that is good.
He certainly is.
And I love the last verse of the sacramental story, verse 12, of 3 Nephi 18:
12 And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
Elder McConkie talked about this Rock and his teaching here is worth noting:
“Shall the gates of hell prevail against us?
“If we build our house of salvation on the rock of personal revelation, if we build it on the revealed reality that Jesus is the Lord, if we build it on him who is the Eternal Rock–it will stand forever.
“If we are guided by the spirit of inspiration while here in mortality, we will be able to withstand all of the floods and storms that beat upon us.
“If we are founded upon a rock, we worship the Father in the name of the Son by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“If we are founded upon a rock, we know that salvation comes by the grace of God to those who believe the gospel and keep the commandments.
“If we are founded upon a rock, we forsake the world, flee from carnal things, and live upright and godly lives.
“If we are founded upon a rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us. As long as we remain in our house of faith, we shall be preserved when the rains of evil fall, when the winds of false doctrine blow, and when the floods of carnality beat upon us.
“Thanks be to God that we, as Latter-day Saints, are founded upon a rock.” (McConkie, Bruce R., Upon This Rock, General Conference, April 1981) End of quote.
I am so deeply grateful that we are founded upon the Rock of our Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. He gives me strength. He gives me power. He gives me perspective.
He gives me assurance. That’s what has kept me going in these trying days of this accident I have been through. From the moment I slammed into the wall of that dark tunnel and shattered my arm and injured my lungs and my heart, though I was in excruciating pain, I was given an assurance that surpasseth all understanding. I was filled at that very moment with the knowledge that all would be well. It did not take away the time involved in healing, it took away the mental anguish that would come if I did not know know that healing would take place. That immediate assurance has truly carried me these past many weeks and will carry me for the months to come.
I have to just mention one of my favorite verses as we come to a close—it’s concerning those who have lost their way and are not worthy to partake of the sacrament for a season. Here’s what the Lord says in 3 Nephi 18:32:
32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.
What a hopeful approach for each of us, whether we are the wayward or the faithful.
Don’t miss studying 3 Nephi 19 as an individual, a couple, a family or a study group. The patterns of prayer that the Lord shows to us here are some of the most enlightening and beautiful in all the scriptures. We see intimations of the intercessory prayer here in verse 23:
23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.
And when the Savior prayed and the people were praying, they did become as one.
We see it in verse 25:
25 And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.
Perhaps this is the type of receiving His image in our countenances and that when we see Him some day, we will know Him and He will know us because we shall be like Him.
That’s all for today. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ve love being with you and we send our love to each one of you. Don’t forget to order your 2021 Church History Come Follow Me Calendar at latterdaysaintmag.com/2021 that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/2021. Next week we’ll be studying 3 Nephi chapters 20-26 with the lesson entitled: “Ye Are the Children of the Covenant.” Until then, blessings be with you and see you next time.