There is phrase in this chapter that has long left me puzzled as to its placement here. It is a lamentation of the House of Israel found in verse 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.
The Savior had just healed the multitude of its infirmities and was now about to bless their children in a most profound manner. However, he first makes this jarring lamentation. Today, as I read this, it strikes me as a realization, or a contrasting of two different groups of people and Christ coming to terms with the lack of faith of the house of Israel (those among whom he ministered for so long), when compared to the profound faith now demonstrated by the Nephite gathering. It is not just a lamentation, but also a realization that he had not done things differently and yet these people were much more faithful than the former, for whom he now prayed. Ever engraven upon his palms, those that didn’t have faith sufficient were still remembered by our Lord, even when about to bless those that did have great faith.
Preparation to Receive Further Instruction
The chapter starts with the Savior’s perception that the people had arrived at their physical limit and were not able to learn further. He had been commanded of the Father to deliver a set of instructions to the Nephite people, but was now not able to go further because of the mortal limitations of his hearers.
It is noteworthy that he took their personal well-being into consideration in the execution of the assignment. He wasn’t checking off boxes on a list. He had been commanded of the Father to teach specific things to these people, perceiving that they could not immediately receive his instruction, he gave other instructions, preparatory instructions, for when he would return.
The Savior’s intermediary instructions then are these:
- Go ye unto your homes.
- Ponder upon the things which I have said,.
- Ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand,.
- Prepare your minds for the morrow.
Each of these steps is significant in its order.
Go Ye Unto Your Homes
I was tempted to over look this bit of instruction as merely procedural in nature, but as I ponder it, there is great significance in that he instructed them to get into the environment that would be most conducive to spiritual preparation. He didn’t command them to get to the church house or the temple or anywhere else. He sent them to their homes, a place of refreshing and renewal. Perhaps more importantly, it is a place of intimate communion with closest family members, the smallest most fundamental unity of society where love and nurturing can take place in a why that no other society structure can afford.
Ponder, Ask, and Prepare for the Morrrow
The next two points of pondering and asking the Father for understanding of the things which Jesus taught are complementary to each other. As one takes time to ponder a point of doctrine and then to seek confirmation of that doctrine in prayer, then does the Spirit of God have the substance with which to communicate and affirm truth.
Preparation is not synonymous to pondering and asking, but are complimentary activities.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.Ezra 7:10 (emphasis added)
Preparation then is requisite to receiving the word of God and being enabled to obey it. How does one prepare to receive the word of God with the intent to obey? Submission, humility, repentance, cultivating the ground to receive good seed.
“And He Did Heal Them Every One”
After giving the large group that was there gathered instructions to prepare for tomorrow, Jesus looks out and is filled with compassion toward this people. He senses that they want Him to stay just a little longer with them.
So he proceeds to heal all manner of physical and mental ailment among the people. He heals:
- the sick
- the lame
- the blind
- the halted
- the maimed
- the leprous
- the withered
- the deaf
- the dumb
- any other form of affliction
What must it have been for any one of those persons individually to have been released from the binding effect of their impaired condition? What burdens had been lifted by those who had been tasked with their care? This very real suffering was removed by the Christ, unconditionally, upon the whole of the gathering.
And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him;Vs. 10 (emphasis added)
“So Great Was the Joy of the Multitude”
Reviewing this account again this morning brings several thoughts to mind.
And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.3 Nephi 12:8
This account moreover stands in the face of the diabolical assumption that man is permanently fallen and can achieve to no good thing in this life. This is the proof that there are hopes and dreams of things greater than this world that should be longed for.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.Hebrews 11:13-14,16
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
…But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
“Behold, Your Little Ones”
There are two things that stand out to me in this reading. After healing the sick, he turns his attentions to the children. Both are groups that can be overlooked. The children, constitute a special group, entirely defenseless, yet so impressionable and indicative of the future.
So many would oppress childhood, especially for their own personal gain or benefit. There is more to consider here.
The ending of this chapter is a record of the witnesses present. It is a reminder that “we speak of things as they really are” and that the gospel is based upon the testimony of witnesses. What then is faith?
And then there is the topic of the Little Children, of how such are the Kingdom of Heaven. Later in this 3 Nephi account of Christ’s ministry, the children have their tongues loosed so that they can speak, but the words that were spoken, these things were not permitted to be recorded? What where the circumstances at other times when the Savior forbad things to be recorded or published? Why was it allowed to be witnessed in person by the Nephites present, but not permitted to be published?