As we have been studying the New Testament this year, I often find myself wondering why the Apostles seemed to lack a real understanding of who Jesus was and what He was here to do. Luke confirms this in the following verses:
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
“For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
“And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
“And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken” (Luke 18:31-34).
Despite the miracles they witnessed and the Saviour's repeated explanations and bold declarations concerning His work, the Apostles did not grasp the entirety of His mission among them. They were there with Him for the Last Supper and tarried nearby at the Garden of Gethsemane, but still they did not fully comprehend the magnitude of the events.
After the prophesied Resurrection there was continued confusion and disbelief amongst those who were closest to Him. In Luke we read that despite what Mary told them, 'their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not' (Luke 24:11).
While I remain puzzled by their apparent lack of understanding, I realize that despite all of the witnesses I have received about the reality of the Saviour and all He has done, I sometimes struggle to feel that He is always with me and that I can be with Him.
Learn to recognize that the Saviour abides with us
As a new YSA [Young Single Adult] bishop, I enjoy the view from the pulpit as I look across the chapel and see the faces of the ward members that my wife and I have quickly grown to love and admire. They are men and women of great faith and have a great understanding of the gospel. Yet, some struggle to feel like they are truly connected to the Saviour or as I see it, they struggle to be with Him.
Like the Apostles of old, we have many witnesses that should help us understand the reality of the Saviour's constant presence in our lives and that He abides with us. We have the Church, the scriptures, the teachings and guidance of living prophets, ordinances, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord has provided all of this so that we can connect with Him and develop an eternal relationship with Him. The trouble is that we often listen to other voices and submit to the influences of the world. Even Nephi cried: 'O wretched man that I am . . . I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do easily beset me” (2 Nephi 4:17-18).
In a recent general conference, Elder Kim B. Clark promised: “If we will look to Christ and open our eyes and our ears, the Holy Ghost will bless us to see the Lord Jesus Christ working in our lives” (Kim B. Clark, “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear,” Ensign, November 2015). I take solace in this hopeful statement.
The physical presence of the Saviour was not enough for the Apostles to guarantee their sure witness nor their complete obedience and fidelity. For example, Peter denied the Christ three times and Judas became the great betrayer.
Elder Clark continued:
“Our time is a dangerous time—a time of great evil and temptation, a time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, the Lord’s prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, has called us to rescue the wounded in spirit, to stand for truth with courage, and to build the kingdom of God. Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts” (Clark, “Eyes to See and Ears to Hear”).
It has been eight short years since Elder Clark gave this talk and yet I feel like his words have truly come to pass. We must press forward and develop the Christlike attributes that empower us to endure.
The Apostles of the New Testament, while imperfect, were mighty men of faith and devotion. Most gave their lives while teaching about the Saviour and the Atonement.
Listen to the many who testify of the Saviour Jesus Christ
As I look at the members of my ward, I want them to know and to understand that the Saviour is just as “with” them as He was with Peter, James and John. The difference is that we are blessed to have such a complete understanding of who He is and what He has done for us. I feel we have an advantage over those early disciples. We have so much knowledge at our disposal and so many witnesses of the Living Christ. There is no reason to doubt or to succumb to the pervasive machinations of the adversary.
Sister Craig, recently of the Young Women General Presidency, declared:
“I witness that Jesus Christ loves us and can give us eyes to see—even when it’s hard, even when we’re tired, even when we’re lonely, and even when the outcomes are not as we hoped. Through His grace, He will bless us and increase our capacity. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, Christ will enable us to see ourselves and see others as He does. With His help, we can discern what is most needful. We can begin to see the hand of the Lord working in and through the ordinary details of our lives—we will see deeply” (Michelle D. Craig, “Eyes to See,” Ensign, November 2020).
I choose to be with Him. Through prayer, scripture study, attending the temple and serving His children, I feel close to Him and aligned with His desire to bless me and support me. It is tangible, and I offer prayers of gratitude on a daily basis for all that He has done for me and for those I love. There is no room for doubt because He has never failed me and I know He never will.