Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
Branch President in the Missionary Training Center
August 2, 1981
Branch President in the Missionary Training Center
August 2, 1981
Presidents of the fourteen stakes on this great Brigham Young University campus and your wives, President Holland and Sister Holland, President Christensen and Sister Christensen, all of you wonderful young brothers and sisters, and you remarkable missionaries, all dressed as you should be dressed:
I have the privilege of presiding over the Addison Pratt Fourth Branch at the Missionary Training Center. There are generally forty or fifty missionaries in that branch preparing to preach the gospel. There are 30 missionary branches in the Missionary Training Center. Each is named for a great missionary of the past. Addison Pratt was one of the first missionaries to go to the South Sea Islands and one of the first to learn a language. He was called by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1843.
But of all the missionaries, there was one little fellow that seemed to impress me more than any of the others. (For some reason or other, my young brothers and sisters, I like little men.) And that little fellow was Dan Jones. I would like you missionaries and every one of the rest of us to remember two expressions of this remarkable man, Dan Jones, who went to Wales and who set a record that no missionary since that time has ever equaled. In less than four years, that man converted almost 4,000 people, an average of 1,001 a year. And when he was asked by his mission president, Orson Spencer for his formula, he said this—and I hope we’ll all remember it:
We fight hard for all we get, and contend, toe to toe, and point to point, for every inch of ground we gain. And who would not fight when immortal souls are the prize and laurels of victory? [Wendell J. Ashton, Theirs Is the Kingdom, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970), p. 342]
I hope you missionaries and every one of the rest of us who has a responsibility in the Church will take the attitude of Dan Jones about the importance of his calling. He was asked by some of the Welshmen, “Who are you?”
Now listen to this gentlemen’s words. His reply was (he was a college graduate):
I am a minister plenipotentiary for the King of Kings, an envoy extraordinary, bearing important dispatches, fraught with life and peace to the best, having my credentials emanating from the high court of heaven, sealed with the kingly authority of Omnipotence. [Ashton, Kingdom, p. 336]
Now that’s a mouthful, and you remember it.
Well, it’s just wonderful to be here. You know, years ago when President Holland was just a little boy in St. George, I went down there to visit some of my students. I went to a farmer’s place—I think it was in Washington. I had a boy in a class at Brigham Young University. His father used the horse to cultivate the crops, and I asked this father, “How is John doing on the farm since he has been attending Brigham Young University?”
He said, “Well, he’s just as good a farmer as he ever was, but I’ve noticed that since he has been to BYU, his language has changed. When he used to get to the end of a furrow, he would yell out, ‘Whoa there, Becky, get around there, giddap.’ Now when he gets to the end of the furrow, he calls out, ‘Halt, Rebecca, pivot and proceed.’ And so, with that, my brothers and sisters, I will proceed with my talk.
Having lived in Jerusalem for a period of time with Sister Barrett and having traveled over the land of Israel extensively, I can say with Daniel S. Twohig: “I walked today where Jesus walked.” In Nazareth and Galilee I have walked over the rolling hills and along the shore of that lake that Jesus loved so much and knew so well. I have drunk of the water from Jacob’s well where the Savior taught the Samaritan woman and to her statement, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things,” he replied, “I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:25–26). I have walked over the Mount of Olives to Bethany, where he raised Lazarus from the tomb and where he later ascended into heaven. I have bowed in prayer and humility in the garden called Gethsemane, knowing that our Savior suffered so intensely that he bled at every pore and would that he might not drink the bitter cup and shrink. I have been in the Temple Court where he drove the money changers out and have climbed the hill of Calvary or Golgotha where on the cross he died. And I have sat in the Garden Tomb and read the words of St. Mark: “He is risen. He is not here” (Mark 16:6).
As I look around, many of you have walked where Jesus walked, and I am inclined to believe that you have felt him close to you. But I would like to ask the question, How many of us are walking in his steps—his life steps—his example? He invited us to do so when he said, “Come follow me. The things that I do ye do also” (see John 12:26).
In June 1977 in the Alkazar Hotel above Wadi Jos in east Jerusalem, I talked to the owner and some of his Arab friends. One of them, Riad Tahbamb, said, “You Christians don’t know anything about the Moslems’ beliefs. The Moslems believe in Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary. No true Arab can be a true Moslem and not believe in Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary.” I asked him if he believed Jesus to be his Savior and his Redeemer, and that he rose from the tomb. He replied, “We believe in his ascension, that Jesus never died. We believe in Jesus the Messiah. You Christians don’t know what Messiah means.” I informed him that Messiah in the Greek is Christ, meaning the Anointed One.
“Oh no,” exclaimed Tahbamb, “it means the Eraser—one who wipes out.”
I asked, “Does that mean he makes your life as though it were a clean sheet?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“Mr. Tahbamb, if you accept Jesus as your Savior and Redeemer and obey his commandments and repent of your sins, then they will be erased by him, and you’ll start with a clean sheet,” for
He marked the path
And led the way,
And every point defines
To life and light
And endless day
Where God’s full presence shines.
[Eliza R. Snow, Hymns, no. 68]
Recent discoveries (and we’re all very much aware of this) urgently call attention to the need for peace, for brotherhood and mutual understanding, if our civilization is to survive. We must have peace, or we might have nothing.
We must not minimize the evils of envy, greed, intolerance, and lust for power while cynicism and materialism must be resisted and replaced by spiritual vitality.
My young friends, as we glimpse what the future holds, let us ponder the poem written by the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier entitled “Problems” and hear his concluding couplet:
But solution there is none,
Save in the rule of Christ alone.
Louis Pasteur, the famous French scientist, had the power within him to overcome impossible obstacles. Although paralysis made him a useless cripple, he nevertheless contributed more than all the soldiers of France; his researches have saved countless lives. One day he revealed his secret when he said, “The secret of what I have been able to do lies in the One to whom I surrendered my life. Christ made me what I am.”
May we follow Christ, the Prince of Peace. He invited us to do so with this comforting promise:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. [John 14:27]
May each of us follow that, and may each of us, my young friends, enfold within our very selves the ideals for perfect living left us by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. President David O. McKay often said:
The highest of all ideals are the teachings and particularly the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and that man is most truly great who is most Christlike. What you sincerely . . . think of Christ will determine what you are, will largely determine what your acts will be. [Gospel Ideals (Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953), p. 34]
Someone else has said (and this is often quoted; you’re familiar with it):
Ideals are like stars. You cannot succeed in touching them with your hands but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them for your guides and by following them reach your destiny. [Carl Schurtz, quoted by Harold B. Lee, Youth and the Church, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1970), p. 36]
All we have of the record of Jesus’ boyhood and young manhood is a snapshot, a Kodak portrait. Just one line which tells us that his growth was normal, but well integrated. In his boyhood he did nothing unusual or spectacular. Later, when he began his ministry and returned to his hometown of Nazareth, his old neighbors were astonished at his wisdom and deeds. They asked, “Didn’t he grow up right here in town? Isn’t he the carpenter, and don’t we know his mother and his brothers and his sisters?” (see Mark 6:1–3).
He laid in his young manhood the foundation for his later life. He sensed his sonship to his Heavenly Father. He knew then what many people do not learn until they are old, and some never at all: that the greatest thought ever to enter a man’s mind is his responsibility to God. We see him in the temple at the age of twelve, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46–47). When his mother and Joseph found him
they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me: Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? [Luke 2:48–49]
On the day of his martyrdom in the Carthage Jail with his brethren, the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of his Savior and commented on his boyhood:
When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and made their theories and practices appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person, and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death. [HC 6:608]
I remember well when President Harold B. Lee was talking to the student body here. He counseled them thus:
We’re here for only one purpose, and that’s to develop the whole man or the whole woman. Instead of you growing up to be just an intellectual giant, we want you to grow up to be a whole person. We want you to be spiritually attuned.
Jesus grew that way. Luke gives us that snapshot of his growth:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. [Luke 2:52]
Years ago, when I had the opportunity of being president of the Northwestern States Mission, Sister Barrett, my assistants, and I rewrote the missionary handbook. We started it out with “Preparation for You, the Missionary,” and we quoted those sublime words of Luke, and then we listed: physical preparation, mental preparation, social preparation, and spiritual preparation. At that time, the missionaries’ free day was called “diversion day.” We changed it to “preparation day.” About the only thing I can remember from my stay in the missionary home fifty years ago was an expression given by a tall, handsome apostle, David O. McKay, “Preparation precedes power.” I think all of us need more than one day to prepare for our lives. In fact, the Greek words used by Luke was translated into English increased but originally was made up of the words cut and forward. It seems as if Luke wanted us to understand that in his youth Jesus cut his way forward. What he gained he acquired by effort. Say the scriptures,
And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace, . . . continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first. [D&C 93:12–14]
Jesus increased in wisdom, and so should we. Our minds are the center of our actions. You know, my young friends, as shown by the Savior’s public ministry after he became a man, those early years were spent in active effort, both physical and mental. Jesus was a close observer of nature and people. He drew illustrations from the varied occupations of the time, of the professions, of the trades—the ways of the lawyer; the ways of the physician; the manner of the scribes and the Pharisee and the rabbi; the habits of the poor; the covetousness of the rich; the life of the shepherd, yes, even the life of the fisherman.
When the people heard him speak of the lilies of the field, the woman baking bread, the laborers and the vineyard, the king going to war, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the unforgiving servant—understanding life and all its facets, perplexities, joys, sorrows, and testings—exclaimed: “Where did this man learn wisdom, seeing he never learned?” He never went to the synagogue schools of the day.
The poet has said:
He talked of grass and wind and rain
And fig-trees and fair weather,
And made it his delight to bring
Heaven and earth together.
He spoke of lilies, vines and corn,
The sparrow and the raven;
And words so natural, yet so wise,
Were on men’s hearts engraven.
[Copied from an old pulpit commentary and quoted by Obert C. Tanner, The New Testament Speaks (Salt Lake City: Department of Education, 1944), p. 246]
He counseled us:
Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. [D&C 88:118]
I hope that each one of us cultivates the companionship of good books, especially the scriptures. Abraham Lincoln referred to the Bible as the best book God has given to man. Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the keystone of our religion, the Doctrine and Covenants as the standard of our faith. May we each heed the injunction of the Savior to “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Thomas A. Edison, when a boy, had the insatiable urge to read every book in the library. After reading fifteen feet of books, he gave it up, saying:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. [Francis Bacon, “Of Studies,” Essays]
Will you picture with me a boy named David O. McKay riding on a wagon from Huntsville to Ogden, reading, as he rode along, the classics, the scriptures, committing to memory many choice quotations which he later used most effectively as an apostle and a prophet of God. There are too many of us, my young friends, who have the attitude of the boy who said, “There are only two books that ever done me any good: my mother’s cookbook and my dad’s checkbook.” Yes, we are ever pursuing but never completely encompassing. Hudson put this idea into a compact paragraph when he said:
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and looked at the crowded heaven, and I said to my spirit, “When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of everything in them shall we be filled and satisfied then?” And my spirit said: “No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.” [Quoted by Hugh B. Brown, “Mussings and Browsings,” Continuing the Quest (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1961), p. 501]
Certainly to become as perfect as our Savior is an eternal quest.
The principle of knowledge, as each one of us knows, is the principle of salvation. The Savior said to the Jews that believed on him:
If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. [John 8:31–32]
In our day, he described truth as being the “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24).
And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. [D&C 130:19]
Will you please remember the words of President Joseph F. Smith, speaking to a group of young people such as yourselves. He said:
Educate yourself not only for time, but also for eternity. The latter of the two is the more important. [GD, p. 269]
From out of the best books we fill our minds with wholesome thoughts. After all, our lives are pretty well determined by our thoughts:
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [Matthew 12:34]
The Savior said, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), and then warned that “whosoever looketh . . . to lust . . . hath committed adultery . . . in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). I hope we’ll all remember that lust is the devil’s choicest temptation, and the archenemy of love. Self-mastery is here enjoined by our Savior:
Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart. [3 Nephi 12:29]
I hope that you, while you’re young, will avoid the very appearance of lustful temptation. I hope you young men and women will remember the little pioneer girl who was taken for a buggy ride by her young escort. They rode down a deserted road, and the horse stopped. The young man clucked at the horse and gently clapped the lines over the horse’s back, but the horse just stood there. So he sidled over to the girl, pulled her over to him, and said, “Honey, how about a little kiss?”
She asked, “What’s the good of a kiss; what’ll it do for me?”
“Oh,” he said, “a kiss will make you so happy and lively.”
She said, “Then kiss the horse, and let’s get out of here.”
Jesus increased in stature. He grew physically into a perfect specimen of manhood. The scriptures tell us that he was without spot or blemish, and let me give you a picture of his inheritance, as it were. With God as his Father and Mary, “a virgin most beautiful and fair above all other virgins” (1 Nephi 11:15) as his mother, what a perfect person in every way he was! In his premortal state he said to the brother of Jared:
Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.[Ether 3:15–16]
Elder Orson F. Whitney saw in vision the Savior praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and each time I visit the garden, I remember this beautiful vision. He was able to look upon the Savior and later described him:
He was of noble stature and majestic mien—not at all the weak, effeminate being that some painters have portrayed; but the very God that he was and is, as meek and humble as a little child. [Orson F. Whitney, Through Memory’s Halls, 1930, pp. 82–83]
Certainly as a young man Jesus was no physical weakling. He pushed the plane and swung the axe. He slept outdoors and spent his days walking around his favorite lake and over the hills of Palestine. His muscles were so strong that when he drove the money changers out of the temple, not one dared oppose him. Jesus was no namby-pamby with forearms. He was strong, vigorous, and handsome.
The Prophet Joseph Smith has said:
We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. [I hope we get that.] The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none.
All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. [Teachings, p. 181]
Being created out of the elements of the earth, my brothers and sisters, we have enough water to fill a 10-gallon barrel, enough fat to make 7 bars of soap; carbon for 9,000 lead pencils, phosphorus for 2,200 match heads, iron enough to make a small or medium-sized nail; enough lime to whitewash a small chicken coop, and small quantities of magnesium and sulphur—all of which can be purchased at the corner drugstore for $10. Yet when the Lord breathed into us the breath of life, we became the temples of God. Said Paul:
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. [1 Corinthians 3:16–17]
And then this modern scripture:
For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy.
And when separated man cannot receive a fulness of joy. [D&C 93:33–34]
Like Jesus, may we increase in stature. May we take the most precious care of these bodies, which one day we’ll be required to present to our Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom.
Jesus grew in favor with God. To grow in favor with God we must know him. In the Lord’s great high priestly prayer, he prayed:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. [John 17:3]
The Prophet Joseph Smith, in his King Follett discourse, said:
There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. . . . If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. [Teachings, p. 343]
In August of 1977, Sister Barrett and I were invited to the home of Dr. Abraham Ziv Baron, head of the philosophy faculty at Hebrew University. He invited in a number of colleagues and their wives. The evening was spent in discussing our belief in God. After telling them the character of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of his fathers and the God of ours, that he has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s, Dr. Baron said, “The rabbis teach that God is a spirit.” And then he added, “I do not believe the creature can ever become like the Creator.”
His wife spoke up and said, “When God appeared to Moses, he was a flame of fire.” Another gentlemen in the group observed that when Moses and seventy of the elders saw God, they saw his back parts.
“Indeed they did,” said I, “because God is a divinely exalted man in whose image we are created. Have you not read in Exodus 33:11, ‘And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend’?”
“This is a new idea about God,” said Dr. Baron, “but I like it. I have never before understood the true character of God.”
And then I quoted to him the words of the Prophet Joseph, and I think we can all observe them and meditate on them, even the missionaries in the high multitudes up there:
Ask yourselves, turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with him. This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. . . . What kind of a being is God? [Teachings, p. 343]
Then I said to Dr. Baron, “He answered his own question. He is a prophet, and here is a man who knew whereof he spoke because he had seen God.” Joseph said:
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . . If you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked, and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another. [Teachings, p. 345]
A few days after our evening with Dr. and Mrs. Baron, we met them coming from a large auditorium near David Markus Street. (When you go to Jerusalem, you can pick that out.) They had attended and participated in an international gathering of philosophers, and Dr. Baron had given the keynote address. He smiled all over as he said, “My lecture was on the nature and character of God. I thought you’d like that.”
And Sister Barrett asked, “Did you give it right?”
Jesus revealed to us our Father. According to President Joseph F. Smith, the first of the five subjects that constitute the heart and soul of the gospel of Jesus Christ is “the fatherhood of God” (see GD, p. 29). Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). To Mary Magdalene he said, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father” (John 20:17). The Son-Father relationship of Jesus and our Father was perfect. We need to develop knowledge of God and personal contact with him as Jesus did to grow in favor with God.
Heber C. Kimball, the grandfather of our beloved prophet today, said that after he and Vilate Murray were married, President Brigham Young’s father came to see them almost every day. He told them stories, and he sang songs and did everything he could to make them happy. And then note this: “I cannot refer to any of my acquaintances in my life as being so much like God as Brother Brigham’s father.” (W. R. Werner, Brigham Young [New York: Harcourt Brace, 1925], p. 6)
Is our Heavenly Father interested in our happiness? Well, I should say. You and I know he does all he can to help us be happy. After all, the object and the design of life is happiness, and it will be the end thereof if we follow the path that leads to it. That path is keeping all the commandments of God. And then note this, my young friends: President Brigham Young, way back in 1857, said to the Saints in Salt Lake Valley:
I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our Heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. [JD 4:216]
He even went on to say that when we see our Heavenly Father, we will want to run up to him and embrace him just as we would want to run up and embrace our earthly father because we’ll know him, for we once knew him. The soul of our religion, my young friends, is prayer. It began with an answer to prayer. Jesus enjoined, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). I’m a firm believer that prayer keeps one from sin, and sin keeps one from prayer. Among the Nephites Jesus prayed, and “so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man” (3 Nephi 19:34). Then he said to the Nephites:
Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father. [3 Nephi 18:24]
A Nobel Prize winner had this to say, and it’s worth our pondering:
When we pray, we link ourselves with the inexhaustible motive power that spins the universe. When we address God in prayer, we change both body and soul for the better. Prayer is the most powerful form of energy we can generate. [Alexis Carrel]
As we grow in favor with God, let us be assured that
If radio’s thin fingers
Can pluck a melody
From night and toss it over
A continent or sea;
If petaled white notes
Of a violin
Are blown across a mountain
Or city’s din;
If songs like crimson roses
Are called from thin, blue air,
Why should mortals wonder
If God hears prayer?
[Quoted by William R. Sloan, CR, April 1930, p. 114]
A clean life, my young fiends, puts us in a condition to pray and ask our Father for his sustaining protection and power throughout life. A little boy was dressed up in his Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes by his mother and told to sit out on the porch and not get dirty. He sat there in his Little Lord Fauntleroy clothes. (This was many years ago. You youngsters, even these folks on the stand, don’t know anything about Lord Fauntleroy clothes, but as a little fellow, I wore them; and I could describe them, but I shan’t.) He sat there on the porch, and he was amusing himself until the butcher boy came down the street. He saw this boy dressed in his go-to-meeting clothes and yelled out, “Hello there, you sissy.”
Well, that’s more than any red-blooded American boy can take. He ran off that porch and into the street, punched the butcher boy in the face, and knocked him down. But the butcher boy soon got up and shoved this boy in his clean Sunday clothes into a mud puddle, then he ran down the street laughing. The boy got up and tried to brush the mud and water off of him, and, crying, he ran toward the house. As he reached the porch, he heard the ice cream man coming down the street ringing his bell and calling out, “Ice cream cones, five cents.” He forgot all about his disobedience to his mother and his dirty clothes. He ran through the door and said, “Mother, give me a nickel so I can buy an ice cream cone.”
His mother scrutinized him from head to foot and said, “Look at yourself. You’re in no fit condition to ask for anything.”
John Milton, as a youth of twelve years, had a heart wish that he might write a heroic poem, a poem that would live and influence mankind. He knew that anyone who would write a heroic poem must live a heroic life, so he chose Jesus as his hero, and all his days he tried to exemplify in his daily contacts the ideals of a noble character. Out of his experience came the immortal poem Paradise Lost. In his last moments, as he moved into the valley of the shadow of death, he whispered, “Still guides the heavenly vision.” To follow in the footsteps of Jesus, my young friends, we too may be sustained, as Alma declared that “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be sustained in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 36:3).
And Jesus grew in favor with man. Note this, my young friends who like the extracurricular activities at BYU which you missionaries cannot indulge in for two years. Jesus was a social man. He was no killjoy. That the wedding festivities might not be saddened or hampered, he performed his first miracle, changing water to wine. He was the most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem and Capernaum. The criticism which proper people made was that he spent too much time with the publicans and sinners and enjoyed society too much. They referred to him as a “man gluttonous, and a winebibber” (Matthew 11:19). He loved people. As Peter declared after Pentecost, he “went about doing good.” People responded. Thousands followed him in his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, singing and throwing palm branches. He cheered and comforted: “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). “Be of good cheer” (John 16:33). These are the words by which he wished to be remembered. He gathered around him a circle of friends. During the last supper he said to them, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). And he enjoined: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
The Prophet Joseph Smith made this statement, and I love to quote it:
Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism”; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers. . . . It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love—show forth our kindness unto all mankind . . . cast our bread upon the waters and we shall receive it after many days, increased to an hundredfold. Friendship is like Brother Turley in his blacksmith shop welding iron to iron; it unites the human family with its happy influence. [Teachings, p. 316]
Walking in the steps of Jesus will give us peace amidst turmoil, courage to face all perplexities, and assurance we’ll meet him later and behold his face. One of the most sublime passages in scriptures is in Doctrine and Covenants 93:1:
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.
Now, my young friends and some of you who may not be so young, we shall see him as Elder Melvin J. Ballard in vision saw him, “the most glorious Being my eyes ever have beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds.” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1956], p. 266–27).
I hope that our greatest expectation is the one expressed by President Harold B. Lee when he said, “My greatest expectation is that one day I may be in the presence of my Savior eternally.”
As we walk in his steps and keep his commandments, we shall have that joyous privilege, for which I humbly pray in his sacred and hallowed name. Amen.
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Ivan J. Barrett was a branch president in the Missionary Training Cener of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 2 August 1981.