Showing posts with label Ether. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ether. Show all posts

Holy Week: Resurrection

Touch Me Not, Minerva K. Teichert

Mary Magdalene is among my favorite women in all of scripture. She is blessed with a personal interaction with the resurrected Christ that any disciple would love to have, as told in John 20:

 11 ¶ But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

The Greek in verse 17 properly translated from Greek doesn't mean to refrain from touching me yet. It is better rendered as "Hold me not," to refrain from holding me, which you are already doing. Mary Magdalene threw her arms around the Savior, greeted him enthusiastically and without restraint. She had received an undeniable witness of the Resurrection not just with her eyes, but with her own hands. She was the first person after the death of Christ to have such a witness.

She was not the only one to receive such a witness ahead of the apostles. There were multiple women who then saw Jesus after their interactions with the angels at the garden tomb. From Matthew 28:

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is arisen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

These women also received an undeniable witness by touching Christ. They could not know with a greater certainty that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When they did as they were instructed by the angels, to tell the Twelve what they had seen and experienced, the Twelve didn't believe them. They did not trust the women as reliable sources of truth.

From Mark:

 9 Now when Jesus was arisen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

From Luke:

10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

And because of that refusal to listen to the women in their lives, the women who were closest to Christ and who had received that witness before them, they had to wait until they got all the way to Galilee to see him. Which really is incomprehensible when you consider that he walked with them to on the road to Emmaus and none of them recognized him. He had to baby step them into being able to see him, then cajole them by eating something in front of them, and eventually break down what they were seeing for them in scriptural terms for them to finally receive the witness, the truth the women already had. (See Luke 24:12-48)

In almost two thousand years, this has not changed as much as it should have by now.

Believe women. Believe our words. Believe in the power of our faith. Believe in the gifts and talents God has given to us. Believe in our potential. Believe in our ministries. Believe our leadership. Believe in us the same way Christ believes in and trusts us.

What happens to church that dishonor and disgrace their women by withholding this love and trust from them?

They have the fullness of truth and power withheld from them, their access to Christ curtailed, the same way the Twelve did. And in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12 explains why:

12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

It's not just faith in God that matters. It's also the faith we have in ourselves and in each other. When that faith falters, no one can help us, not even the perfected and resurrected Christ. If we want to be in a condition where Jesus Christ CAN help us, it requires us to confront and dismantle our own unconscious biases, the disrespect and prejudice we hold for other people. There is no room for any of that in the kingdom of God, and that spiritual deprivation begins here and now, on Earth. It will last as long as it takes us to do the work to overcome that way of thinking.

Where is the power of Jesus Christ on this earth today? It's in many places. Wherever there is love, wherever there is compassion, wherever there is faith in the future, wherever there are sincere souls who see wrongs and are trying to make them right, there is Christ. And it stands to reason, and shouldn't go without saying, that the power of Jesus Christ is in the hands and hearts of women.

What does learning the lessons of the past, the lessons in the ministry of Jesus Christ this Easter?

Among many of the valuable lessons that others will teach today, let this one be included: Believe, and believe in, the women who serve him.

Testimony

Bearing testimony of our Savior is the privilege of my life and the calling of my generation. This blog would be of little or no use to anyone if it ever deviated too far from the miracles and majesty of Jesus Christ. Because of that, I want to deal directly with the topic of Christ now, and share the heart of his gospel message.

After Christ performed the powerful miracle of the Atonement and was crucified, we read in John 19: 30 that after he had finished everything he had set out to do in his mortality, "he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." Leaving this world in perfect submission, He gave his life and his power, bore the burden of our sin and mortality... surrounded by the vilest of hellions and in the face of complete and total despair, Christ performed a perfect sacrifice by offering everything He had ever earned as a payment for our salvation and exaltation.

Why? Because He loves us with a perfect love. He loves all life, and believes fundamentally and fiercely that life should continue--that our lives should continue. He believes each and every one of us have purpose, meaning, and something of infinite worth to contribute to the kingdom of God. In short, He believes in the divinity that is within all of us, and because He has seen what that divinity can become, He doesn't want us to settle for anything less than the perfect joy of our Father in Heaven.


We read in Ether 12: 7 the following:

For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world. 

Akin to that though is this portion from 2 Nephi 2: 8:

...there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

These scriptures tell us that after the Resurrection, Christ no longer had to appear to anyone who did not have faith in Him. As Zion's builders, we have to understand this crucial information to rise to our fullest potential in these latter days.

If we want to perform our latter-day mission to build Zion and have Christ return and claim her unto Himself, we must be a body of people who believes completely and lovingly in His Resurrection. In the Church, it's easy to focus so much on the Atonement that we forget that it would have been incomplete without the Resurrection. But we must grow beyond this lack of understanding.

Think about it. If Christ had offered to cleanse our lives without ever taking up His life again, we'd still be damned. Death would still hold us captive, halting the plan between birth and rebirth. Our earth could never be exalted and heaven could never come to us. The dead might be redeemed, but they'd never be resurrected. If they were never resurrected, they could never inherit the kingdom and glory of the Father, becoming heirs of salvation with Christ. Zion would never truly come forth, would never fully put on her beautiful garments of priesthood power. (D&C 113: 7-8) We as latter-day servants would not be able to finish the work we were assigned--to build Zion--if it wasn't for the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The house of Israel must be redeemed, and we will bring the gospel to them through our testimonies of Jesus Christ as His ordained servants. Our faith in His Atonement and Resurrection will make it possible for us to regain His presence. In a world that seems to believe more and more fully each day that only seeing is believing, we must remember the power of faith--for this is the only way to appreciate the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

May we more fully become valiant saints of that testimony together, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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