I missed an important detail in the first verse of this chapter. Though he spoke with the twelve disciples, he did it individually, “one by one.” He asked each the same question: “What is it that ye desire of me?” But it was their replies that were divided into two camps:
- Most wanted to return to heaven after having lived to the age of man. (see verses 2 & 3)
- Three wanted to remain to continue their ministry (see verses 4 – 11)
(Now the bulk of this exchange doesn’t seem to support the idea that he was having individual interactions with each of the disciples, but perhaps it is also being abbreviated.)
Desire plays such an interesting part in these interactions. It was the desires of the lesser part of the disciples (the three) that the Lord then expounded further upon and called them “more blessed” for they should never taste of death. Yet these disciples initially felt shame or “sorrow in their hearts” for they would not speak the thing which they desired. This is all the scriptures say. Did they feel that their desires were wrong or not right before God? We don’t know. But it is interesting that Lord gave them according to their desires and then proceed to validate those desires with statements like “more blessed are ye.”
The remainder of this chapter documents in summary the ramifications of this granted desire, and the blessings that resulted because of their labors according to their desires.
Knowing that the Book of Mormon is given as a tool for the last days, and knowing that accounts and records were specifically curated for this time, our time, the account of the three Nephites is even more compelling. Statements at the end of this chapter cause me to consider things that I perhaps would not have considered previously.
Notable is the statements that say that they shall perform a great and marvelous work. This wording sounds like other prophesied scriptures of a marvelous work and a wonder.
It is repeated several times:
- “they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls” (vs. 29)
- “Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them” (vs. 31)
- “…among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them” (vs. 32)
How does one minister to others without being made known? How do you teach the gospel of Christ to people in such a way that it impacts them unto conversion, and not have theses people be aware of who you are? (See verses 25, 27, 28 & 30)
The only precedence that I can readily thing of in this regard is when Christ appeared on the road to Damascus to the disciples and he spent all of an afternoon and evening with them without them being made aware of his true identity. “A Poor, Wayfaring Man of Grief” makes a similar reference to the Savior being hidden from view.
Verse 34 and the footnote on the word “sent” (which leads over to the Matthew 10:5-42) are where I have spent the remainder of this morning reviewing.
I had a very curious experience last evening. Recently, I facilitated a discussion on a particular topic. At the end of the that discussion, I posed an question that also served as an invitation of sorts to those who answered it. It was well received and many responded. The following Sunday, our Sunday School lesson dealt with the same topic. Last evening, I overheard a conversation between two sisters in which they referenced that question/invitation and the multitude of responses that resulted from it, but they attributed it to the Sunday School teacher. Suddenly, the answer to my question from the morning’s studies came into full view.
Perhaps there is more preparation going on behind the scenes to receive the Gospel of Christ than we realize.
Verses 34 & 35 are a warning, a woe decreed against those that will not believe in the words of Christ. Mormon poses this stirring question: “For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come?” When I read these verses, they don’t do anything for me personally, for I have believed in the words of Christ, I think. Yet I am very interested in what this means for my family members who have not believed in the words of Christ.
The final verses of this chapter are for me some of the most instructive in this chapter, not for the topic that is discussed as much as for the manner in which the topic was received. Verse 36 – 40 seem to be offered as a postscript, and Mormon offers an explanation. In essence he says, “I didn’t know what the mortal state of the Three Nephites was after their transfiguration, but then I prayed about and asked the Father for further instruction, and here is what I’ve learned.” What this offers me is a validation of how prayer is used as a tool to receive further light and instruction. I can do what Mormon is doing here as I seek to grow spiritually.
I tried moving on, but there was some individualized instruction found for me in a footnote on “trampling” in verse 35.
Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people… yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.Helaman 12:2
Perhaps, I feel just a little indicted by this observation. I am not trying to forget Him, but it is an effort to successfully remember Him.
I am sitting with these verses for one more day and realizing that Mormon intended these for my personal consideration, not in the measured judgement of another, but of myself. He’s talking to me!
Going back to Heleman 12 one more time, I am brought to consider verse 1, in addition to verse 2. “Yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.”
God, the Father, is calling me back to Him. See also Psalms 1:2-3.
I have actually spent a second morning in these same verses, reflecting on my own path, and the blessings of the course of life that I have taken. The one thing that I can say is that my course in life is undefined by the world’s standards, and thus it seems unruly except in the Light of the Gospel. I do well not to depart from the law of the Lord, or to forget by what power I have been brought here.