our king
Week 21 is scheduled for study May 15-21, 2023. Let’s look at the qualities of our King. This week we glance at his behavior, his majesty, and his importance in our lives.

Day 1

Before reading the ideas in this outline, read Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12. Record impressions that you could share with your family or in your Church classes.

Luke 19:1-10 – The Lord judges not by the outward appearance but by the desires of the heart.

Our love for Jesus is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the New Testament shows us time and time again how much he loves those around him. He demonstrates his grace and kindness over and over again. On the other hand, we see evidence that Jesus sees more of those he meets than just what we see. He can see the inner desires of the person’s heart with whom he is speaking. That makes me a little nervous as I seek to clean up my act in life.

When Jesus was passing through Jericho he spotted a man in a sycamore tree. He had never seen this man before, yet he was able to call him by name and felt comfortable telling Zacchaeus that he was going to stay the night with him. If it was anyone other than Jesus we would say that he was a man full of pride and that he had a very presumptive nature that he thought he could call on a stranger and presume to make himself comfortable in that man’s house for the night.

But this is Jesus we are talking about. He knew who Zacchaeus was. He could read the thoughts and intents of his heart, even as he was thronged with people and passing through an unfamiliar city. There is always a lot going on in his head that we cannot comprehend. Zacchaeus had climbed into that tree because his short stature wouldn’t allow him to see Jesus as he passed by in the crowd. He wanted to make sure he would get a good look at this man he secretly and desperately wanted to meet. So when Jesus stopped, looked up, called him by name, and told him he would stay with him at his house that night, that was a dream come true for Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was what his fellow Jews called a sinner. He collected taxes for the Romans, which was bad enough. But worse, he paid well for doing it. That just rubbed salt into the wounds of his fellow Jews, that he was getting rich off the taxes they paid to their oppressors.

Jesus said time and time again that he was sent to heal the broken hearted, the sick, and the sinners. The Jews, as usual, had missed the point. They considered someone like Zacchaeus to be off limits. Why? Because he was what they considered to be an openly sinning person, just because of his profession. Yet they criticized  Jesus for staying with a sinner. Jesus told Zacchaeus plainly that he came to bring salvation to his home that day.

Our sight

We may not have the inner vision of another’s soul that Jesus had, but we aren’t completely blind either. Jesus makes it very clear that we are to look at the fruits of someone’s behavior to judge their worthiness. But what if we haven’t known them long enough to see the results of their behavior? That is one of the big reasons for the gift of the Holy Ghost. He can tell us (if we are a Bishop or other church leader) of the worthiness of a person. Beyond that the Holy Ghost can help us be patient as we learn more about someone we just met. He can give us promptings and help us be more forgiving and tolerant of things about that person we don’t yet fully understand.

The presence of the Spirit in our lives gives us a way to be more accepting of others we might not yet feel comfortable with. He teaches us to say or do the things that will help us get to know that person better. Jesus knew immediately all that he needed to know about the heart of the one he was speaking to. We need time and involvement to even begin to approximate what Jesus knows instantly. If we don’t exercise patience as we get to know someone, we might be guilty of being like the Jews in Christ’s day who called someone they knew nothing about a sinner.

Day 2

Before reading the ideas in this outline, read Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12. Record impressions that you could share with your family or in your Church classes.

Matthew 23; Luke 20:45-47 – Jesus condemns hypocrisy.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it before, but there is a profound difference between the people, like Zacchaeus, and the Pharisees. People like Zacchaeus just needed to learn what they should do to be saved. The Pharisees however, should’ve known what was required. After all, it was their proclaimed job to be the arbiters of the law of Moses, which was supposed to prepare the people for the coming of their Messiah. They sinned rather openly and deliberately. In fact, their influence in society depended on it.

In Matthew 23:5-7 Jesus points out the first of a long list of their pretenses or hypocrisies before the people. The Law of Moses said they should wear phylacteries, which are small boxes worn on the forehead or arm, containing small scrolls with a part of the law of Moses written on them. This is to remind them of the law and their duties to live it. The Pharisees enlarged their phylacteries to make them more visible to others. There was the hidden assumption that if the box was bigger there were more scriptures within. Somehow this was supposed to make the wearer more righteous than those who had the normal-sized box.

The Pharisees were also guilty of pulling the same maneuver on the fringes of their garments. The law had them display things on the fringes to remind them of their duty to live the law. The Pharisees decided that enlarging these fringes to make a bigger show of devotion to the law somehow made them better Jews than their fellows. Their focus was always on the outward performances of the law. Jesus constantly rebuked the Pharisees for missing the point of the law. He wanted justice and mercy, the two things they avoided at all costs. As the giver of the law, Jesus knew what the law was supposed to accomplish and how it was to be done.

Matthew 23:24 is just a rewording of the story of the man who offers to pull the mote, or sliver, out of his neighbor’s eye when he had a whole wooden beam in his own eye.

24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

This statement by Jesus is a beautiful example of how the Pharisees labor strenuously to make sure they deal with the insignificant things regarding the kingdom of God, but they swallow sins willingly the size of a camel. That picture gives great perspective to the mote and beam story. His point to all of us is to worry more about the big things that will either get us into or keep us out of the kingdom of God, and let the little things go. The little things in life still count, but they are nothing when compared to the major principles and doctrines that will send our soul in one direction or another.

Day 3

Before reading the ideas in this outline, read Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12. Record impressions that you could share with your family or in your Church classes.

Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:1-8, 12-16 – Jesus Christ is my King.

I have puzzled over this title for Jesus. He most certainly is the Messiah, the Christ. We know from the scriptures he was ordained to that position by God, Himself. Perhaps I haven’t tried hard enough, but I can’t find any reference as to when Jesus was anointed as a King, at least in the biblical sense of being anointed. Don’t get me wrong, he is completely deserving of that accolade in every respect. I just can’t find his anointing in the scriptures. Hopefully you will be able to find it. But one way or another, the King of Kings he is.

Being the King doesn’t just mean that he is the boss of everything and everyone. Being King is also a designation of reverence and respect. It is an acknowledgment of his power, might, and majesty as the creator and redeemer. God, our Father may currently possess the position as the supreme power in the universe He had His Son create, but after the judgment is over it will all be given to Jesus. What happens after that we haven’t been told much about. For now, Jesus, representing the Father in all things, is our King, Ruler, Judge, Redeemer, our All. And I am very happy with that. There is no one more worthy and deserving of that title and position.

Day 4

Before reading the ideas in this outline, read Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12. Record impressions that you could share with your family or in your Church classes.

Matthew 22:34-40 – The two great commandments are to love God and love others as myself.

As a child, my mother used to tell us that the recipe for her beef stroganoff came from our Russian grandmother, her recipe for her tacos came from our Mexican grandmother. You would be amazed at how many grandmothers I had that I never met. Mom never admitted that she just made up the recipe or that she found it in a book. That would be too easy. Instead she invented a small army of grandmothers who personally supplied her with the delicious meals she served us.

When I say that, like our Jewish grandmother we look beyond the mark and overcomplicate the gospel, think of some fictitious grandmother my mother made up rather than just telling me the truth. When Jesus says that to obey the two most important commandments all we have to do is to learn to love and serve each other selflessly, he isn’t being cryptic. That explanation is the actual truth. It is we who complicate and twist what is needed to fulfill the two great commandments.

Too often we look at the complexities of this life and bring that complexity into the gospel. We introduce those difficulties. They aren’t there naturally. We tell our children something really easy, like “play nice.” It is they who come back justifying their behavior with statements like, “Well she started it!” We start accepting all the surrounding circumstances as reasons why we are justified in not being kind to one another. But the truth of the matter is that loving one another as we love ourselves isn’t rocket science.

The Biblical Jews were accused of not being able to see the trees for the forest. They loved complicated things. They forgot that God gives us what we want. Because they wanted complexity, they got things they could not understand. And it came at the cost of their own condemnation. What God gives us is simple. It is we who complicate His instructions with exceptions to the rule. Over and over again the prophets, then Jesus himself, told the people that instead of all the rules and minutia of the law all God wants is justice and mercy. He wants us to love each other and look out for each other, not find reasons to condemn and ostracize each other.

Don’t misunderstand me. It is not easy to figure out how to be kind to someone who means us harm. It is not easy to learn to live with someone we can’t easily trust. There are hard parts here. The point I am trying to make is that the core of the commandments we have been given is very simple, and if we will stop making excuses or trying to run away from the basic commandments, they can be surprisingly easy to live.

My personal suggestion here also came from my mother. When in doubt about how to act toward someone, chances are you will need to do that very thing that is most difficult for you, personally. If you see someone without a job, figure out if there is anything you can do to help them find employment. Whether they accept the help you offer them is up to them. I am not judged on how someone reacts to my efforts to be kind, but on whether I make the effort to be kind. It’s that easy. This is what Jesus would do.

FHE/Personal Study

Matthew 21:12-14 – How do we feel about the temple?

Before I make my comments, I invite you to watch this video by Book of Mormon Central. like all they do, it is well made and well thought through.

I believe that our view of the temple is very close to our view of the Savior. The more we reverence him, the more we value what his temple has to offer us. I know of no one who has a deep regard for the temple who does not also have a deep regard for Christ. If we understand that it is Christ who teaches us the value of the temple then we must learn to reverence them both.

John 12:1-8 – How did Mary show her love for the Savior?

First a side note: If it was anyone else but Jesus, the comment Jesus made in verse eight would have sounded really arrogant. Jesus acknowledged his own value to humanity. No matter what extravagance was gone to to show him appreciation for who and what he was, Jesus knew he was worth more than anyone could demonstrate. His time and mere presence was a value beyond any price that could be stated.

Now, about Mary. The spikenard oil used by Mary is very rare. It only grows in the Himalayan mountains of India and Nepal. Small wonder it was so expensive as to cost a year’s wages. The container only held a little less than 12 ounces (think soda can). That Mary had it at all is amazing. Spikenard is known for its lasting scent. The Savior’s crucifixion was still days away, yet the smell of the spikenard she anointed him with could have lasted through the crucifixion itself.

Spikenard was so precious that it was often only found used by royalty or the ultra wealthy. To anoint someone else with it, especially in death, demonstrated the ultimate homage to the status of the person being anointed. This degree of reverence for the Savior was what triggered the complaining of Judas Iscariot that Mary was wasting that which was more precious than even Jesus himself. Those weren’t his words, but that is the gist of the conversation. This is why Jesus had to remind Judas that he could do good to the poor anytime he wanted, but he, the Savior of mankind, would not always be with them. Her show of respect and reverence was well deserved.

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NT21-2023 – Behold Thy King Cometh

Week 21