Book of Mormon Lesson #39: “Behold, My Joy is Full”
3 Nephi 17-19
1. Ezra Taft Benson: [3 Nephi 17:3 – ponder] Man must take time to meditate, to sweep the cobwebs from his mind, so that he might get a more firm grip on the truth and spend less time chasing phantoms and dallying in projects of lesser worth. … Take time to meditate. Ponder the meaning of the work in which you are engaged. The Lord has counseled “Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds” (D&C 43:34). You cannot do that when your minds are preoccupied with the worries and cares of the world. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 390.
2. Joseph B. Wirthlin: Pondering, which means to weigh mentally, to deliberate, to meditate, can achieve the opening of the spiritual eyes of one’s understanding. Gen. Conference, April 1982.
3. Bruce R. McConkie: [3 Ne. 17:10 – they did worship him] To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him. It is to walk in the light as he is in the light, to do the things that he wants done, to do what he would do under similar circumstances, to be as he is. To worship the Lord is to walk in the Spirit, to rise above the carnal things, to bridle our passions, and to overcome the world. Doctrines of the Restoration, p. 371.
4. Michaelene P. Grassli: [Christ’s] invitation in [3 Ne. 17:11] was neither casual nor inconsequential. “He commanded that their little children should be brought.” And notice what verse 11 doesn’t say. It doesn’t say never mind the little ones because they aren’t accountable yet. It doesn’t say the children were to be taken elsewhere so they wouldn’t disrupt the proceedings. And it doesn’t imply that the children won’t understand. But it does teach that children need to learn the significant things of the kingdom. God’s children share with all of us the divine right to spiritual enlightenment. “So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst.” (v. 12) Do any of us ever consider serving children to be beneath us? Clearly the Savior felt that the Nephite children were worthy not only to be in his presence, but they were also worthy of his time and his attention. The children needed him, and he stood right in their midst. Verse 12 also indicates that Jesus waited “till they had all been brought to him.” He wasn’t looking for a representative sample, and he wasn’t content with just some of the children. He wanted them all to be there, and he ministered to them all. Then Jesus prayed unto the Father so powerfully that “no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things.” (v. 17) And the children were there! They heard that prayer; they saw that event, and they were affected by it. Children can understand and should witness marvelous events—events like priesthood blessings, special ward and family fasts, the testimonies and prayers of their parents and leaders, and gospel discussions with people they love. “He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.” Jesus was ministering to a group of about 2,500 men, women, and children. Consider how much time it must have taken for him to bless and pray over each child, “one by one.” He must have held many of them in his arms or on his lap. And he wept because he was overcome with joy. “He spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.” (v. 23) Jesus specifically directed the attention of the multitude to the children. To me, the word behold is significant. It implies more than just “look and see.” When the Lord instructed the Nephites to behold their little ones, I believe he told them to give attention to their children, to contemplate them, to look beyond the present and see their eternal possibilities. “And as they looked to behold … 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.” (v. 24) I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the multitude had just looked and not beheld with spiritual eyes. Would they have seen the angels descend? Could they have watched their children encircled about with fire? Would they have been able to observe as the angels ministered to their children? It’s significant to me that later the Savior gave the most sacred teachings only to the children, then loosed their tongues so they could teach the multitude. Is it any wonder that following the Savior’s visit to the Nephites, they lived in peace and righteousness for two hundred years? Because of miraculous instructions, blessings, and attention they and their children received, righteousness was perpetuated by their children’s children for many generations. Let us not underestimate the capacity and potential power of today’s children to perpetuate righteousness. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1982.
5. Gordon B. Hinckley: When I was about five years of age, a very small boy, I was crying from the pain of an earache. … My mother prepared a bag of table salt and put it on the stove to warm. My father softly put his hands upon my head and gave me a blessing, rebuking the pain and the illness by authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ. He then took me tenderly in his arms and placed the bag of warm salt at my ear. The pain subsided and left. I fell asleep in my father’s secure embrace. As I was falling asleep, the words of his administration floated through my mind. That is the earliest remembrance I have of the exercise of the authority of the priesthood in the name of the Lord. Gen. Conference, April 2000.
6. Graham W. Doxey: [3 Ne. 18] Partake of the sacrament. Don’t merely take the sacrament. Think of the covenants you are remaking. Truly witness unto the Father that you will take upon yourself the name of his Son, even Jesus Christ. Recommit yourself to always remember him, to keep the commandments which he has given you. Your obedience will entitle you to have his Spirit to be with you. If this sacred ordinance has become commonplace in your worship, if you let your mind wander elsewhere during this weekly opportunity for spiritual renewal, if you just take the bread and water as it passes with no thought or recommitment in your life, then you have turned off a significant aid to your hearing of the Spirit. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1991.
7. Ezra Taft Benson: [3 Ne. 18:15 – watch and pray always] We must constantly be watchful as well as prayerful to ensure that our thoughts, words, and deeds stay in the “spiritual safe zone.” Just as the Savior promised protection to the Nephites, his promise is likewise conveyed to us today through the scriptures and living prophets who testify that if we are diligently watchful and prayerful, we will be given the strength to shun any temptation. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 435.
8. Wilford Woodruff: [3 Ne. 18:18 – Satan desireth to have you] Lucifer has great influence over the children of men; he labors continually to destroy the works of God in heaven and he had to be cast out. He is here, mighty among the children of men. There is a vast number of fallen spirits, cast out with him, here on earth. They do not die and disappear; they have not bodies only as they enter the tabernacles of men. They have not organized bodies, and are not to be seen with the sight of the eye. But there are many evil spirits among us, and they labor to overthrow the church and kingdom of God. … Do you suppose these devils are around us without trying to do something? … I say … we have got a mighty warfare to wage with these spirits. We cannot escape it. What will they do to you? They will try to make us do anything and everything that is not right. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 238.
9. Harold B. Lee: There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil, and just the moment we lower the defense of any one of those ports, then becomes the D-Day of our invasion. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1949.
10. Gordon B. Hinckley: [3 Ne. 18:21 – pray in your families] I feel satisfied that there is no adequate substitute for the morning and evening practice of kneeling together – father, mother, and children. This, more than soft carpets, more than lovely draperies, more than cleverly balanced color schemes, is the thing that will make for better and more beautiful homes. … I know of nothing that will help to ease family tensions, that in a subtle way will bring about the respect for parents that leads to obedience, that will affect the spirit of repentance which will largely erase the blight of broken homes, than will praying together, confessing weaknesses together before the Lord, and invoking the blessings of the Lord upon the home and those who dwell there. Ensign, Feb. 1991.
11. Joseph Fielding Smith: [3 Ne. 18:28-29 – partaking of the sacrament unworthily] If any of the members are not in good standing; if they have in their hearts any feeling of hatred, envy, or sin of any kind, they should not partake of these emblems. If there are any differences or feelings existing between brethren, these differences should be adjusted before the guilty parties partake. … We should all see that our hearts and hands are clean and pure. Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p. 343.
12. Spencer W. Kimball: Unless a person forgives his brother his trespasses with all his heart he is unfit to partake of the sacrament. Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 264.
13. L. Tom Perry: Never let a day go by without holding family prayer and family scripture study. Put this, the Lord’s program, to the test; and see if it does not bless your home with greater peace, hope, love, and faith. I promise you that daily family prayer and scripture study will build within the walls of your home a security and bonding that will enrich your lives and prepare your families to meet the challenges of today and the eternities to come. Gen. Conference, April 1993.
14. Heber J. Grant: [Recalling prayers in Brigham Young’s home when he visited there as a boy] Upon more than one occasion, because of the inspiration of the Lord to Brigham Young while he was supplicating God for guidance, I have lifted my head, turned and looked at the place where Brigham Young was praying, to see if the Lord was not there. It seemed to me that he talked to the Lord as one man would talk to another. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, p. 173.
15. Gordon B. Hinckley: Pray and listen. Most of us pray the way we order groceries by telephone: pick up the phone, place the order, and hang up. Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, vol. 1, p. 340.
16. Bruce R. McConkie: [3 Ne. 19:18 – they did pray unto Jesus] Jesus was present before them as the symbol of the Father. Seeing him, it was as though they prayed to the Father. It was a special and unique situation that as far as we know has taken place only once on earth during all the long ages of the Lord’s hand-dealings with his children. Promised Messiah, p. 561.
Next week: 3 Nephi 16, 20-21 “Then Will I Gather Them In”