love like Christ
Week 23 is scheduled for study May 29-June 4, 2023. Two lessons this week: remember Christ, and love like Christ. The best of humanity is displayed in Christ’s personal behaviors.

Day 1

As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; and John 13, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially those impressions that deepen your faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to Him.

Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9 – “She is come … to anoint my body to the burying.”

John 12:1-8 covers this same material. Look for it in the Personal Study section of week 21. I find it interesting that in both accounts of Matthew and Mark the woman remains nameless, and she anoints the Savior’s head. In John she is named as Mary, presumably the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and she anoints his feet. And she used her hair to do the wiping of the ointment.

Here are two versions of John 12:7. The first is the KJV. The second is the JST. Because the template I use automatically puts all quotes in italics, and the Church’s website italicizes the JST, I have chosen to underline his translation so you can tell the difference.

John 12:7

Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

JST John 12:7

Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this for she hath preserved this ointment until now, that she might anoint me in token of my burial.

Over and over again Jesus had told the disciples that he was going to be killed and that on the third day he would rise from the grave. None of them appears to have understood him. Yet Mary seems to have believed him. She believed that he was about to be killed, so she took this most expensive ointment, one that is often reserved for royalty alone because of its rarity, and used her hair to anoint his feet with it. The other gospel writers only say that she anointed his head. Either way, this was an act of supreme respect and reverence as she prepared him for the death and burial to come. Remember spikenard is known for its lingering scent. It seeps into the skin and lasts for many days. He may have still been able to smell it on himself as he hung on the cross, despite the mutilations that took place prior.

Something tells me there is greater significance to her anointing than meets the eye. It was important enough that Jesus told the disciples that this act alone would be honored for many generations to come, cementing her place in history. This was no insignificant act. Why it was so important I can’t say, but it was.

Day 2

As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; and John 13, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially those impressions that deepen your faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to Him.

Matthew 26:20-22; Mark 14:17-19 – “Lord, is it I?”

When Jesus declared that one of the Twelve would betray him, each of them wondered to them self, and many of them said out loud, “Lord, is it I?” Just the act of expressing such a thought tells me that they had not even considered such an act. Something tells me that Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon did not ask this question, for he had already decided to betray Jesus. The arrangements had already been made with the Sanhedrin. All he needed to do at this point was to bring them to Jesus to finalize their deal. Do you think they gave him his sack of money while Jesus was still standing there or was at least still within earshot?

We know that it is our responsibility to make the needed covenants then endure to the end in order to receive eternal life. And even though we may feel comfortable and happy in our life of service and obedience, for most of us there is still the niggling doubt in the back of our mind, “Is it I?” When times become difficult because of sickness or oppression, will I continue to remain faithful? Is there a “magic” pill out there that when fed in a time of crisis I will forsake my covenants? For many of us this is our fear.

My mother used to tell me that a little guilt never hurt anyone. In this case I think that a little fear never hurt anyone. We are battling for the disposition of our eternal soul. Keeping ourselves safe should be at the top of our list of priorities. If a little fear of failure helps to spur us on to greater obedience and greater humility then perhaps that kind of fear is a good thing. It certainly beats the alternative.

Day 3

As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; and John 13, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially those impressions that deepen your faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to Him.

Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25 – The sacrament is an opportunity to remember the Savior.

Speaking for myself alone, I can honestly admit that I hate being reminded of a commitment I have made. I made the commitment, so leave me alone and let me honor it how I see fit. I know, that is probably a very immature and self centered way of behaving. I’m still working on that. But this is what happens for many of us when it comes to our promise to always remember the Savior. If we aren’t reminded regularly then we get busy with life and forget that he is even in the picture. Out of sight, out of mind is a real truism.

The sacrament the Lord instituted is a simple, yet powerful reminder that we need to remember him on more than just our day of worship. To always remember him means that Jesus, his life, covenants, expectations, and his love for us, are ever present in our life. When we get up in the morning and listen to Conference talks or read the scriptures, do we take that remembrance with us into whatever we do next during the day? When we have dealings with others at work are we remembering to behave as we think Jesus would want us to behave? That can be difficult.

Becoming like Christ isn’t something that happens because we once made a promise to remember, but then never thought of it again. It doesn’t happen because we made the covenant then took the sacrament each week. Becoming like Christ only happens because we use our weekly reminder of the Savior as an opportunity to evaluate our current attitudes and behaviors, with the intent of improving them during the coming week. Only then can we take that time of reflection during the sacrament service into our daily life and spend time each day with Jesus and his expectations in the forefront of our thinking. When we do that his love will be more evident to us, and his mercy more precious.

Day 4

As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; and John 13, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially those impressions that deepen your faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to Him.

John 13:1-17 – The Savior is our example of humbly serving others.

Janus is a Roman two-faced god. The month of January is named after this god, because he says farewell to the old year while welcoming in the new year. When we think of Jesus our thoughts can get divided between the mortal Messiah and the resurrected Messiah. His roles were very different in each case. As the resurrected Messiah he is all powerful, and the judge and jury for all of humanity. He will come again as the destroyer of nations and the purifier of the planet by fire.

When Jesus was in mortality his role was to demonstrate to us the mercy and love of our Father in Heaven. His role was to show us what our Father would have done in his place. All of his behaviors were focused on love, forgiveness, mercy, and acceptance of our weaknesses. This is the side of Jesus that we are to emulate. It is not our place to be judgmental, condemning, destructive, or demanding of others. Our role is to be like Jesus was while in mortality.

You have been reading the New Testament this year. What are some examples you can think of where Jesus pointed out someone’s good behavior and applauded it? The leper who gave thanks and the widow who gave her two mites to the temple treasury come to mind. We should remember that Jesus ate in the houses of lepers, publicly declared sinners, and others the snobbish and self-righteous Jews condemned. He forgave the blatant sinners with the injunction to sin no more. And if anyone in the universe (besides the other members of the Godhead) was qualified to pass judgment, it was Jesus. Being a judge is now his current role, but then it was to show us that we can be forgiven when we repent, and that he will still love us just as much no matter what our choice.

There is nothing in any of the scriptures that condones any of us being anything but humble and submissive to God and the Spirit. We never have, nor ever will have the right to be someone else’s judge and jury. That is Christ’s privilege, since it was he who has already paid the eternal price for my sins and yours. Our responsibility is to live our life full of gratitude and humility for the love he so generously shows us. We do that by serving and loving one another.

Day 5

As you read about the events described in Matthew 26; Mark 14; and John 13, pay attention to any impressions you receive, especially those impressions that deepen your faith in Jesus Christ and your commitment to Him.

John 13:34-35 – My love for others is a sign that I am a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

As we talk about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, the Christ or Messiah, I suggest you refer back to these verses and see how our conversation relates to what Jesus commanded his disciples.

Here is something to consider. Did Jesus ever say anything nice about the Pharisees, Sadducees, or Scribes? Where did he compliment them or encourage them in their good behavior? If there was any good behavior on their part, I don’t recall it. Does that mean Jesus either hated them, or at least didn’t love them?

To give some perspective on the kinds of things Jesus said to those he criticized, here is a quote from President Russell M. Nelson, given at a BYU-Provo Devotional.

Sometimes we as leaders of the Church are criticized for holding firm to the laws of God, defending the Savior’s doctrine, and resisting the social pressures of our day. But our commission as ordained apostles is “to go into all the world to preach [His] gospel unto every creature.”8 That means we are commanded to teach truth.

In doing so, sometimes we are accused of being uncaring as we teach the Father’s requirements for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. But wouldn’t it be far more uncaring for us not to tell the truth—not to teach what God has revealed?

It is precisely because we do care deeply about all of God’s children that we proclaim His truth. We may not always tell people what they want to hear. Prophets are rarely popular. But we will always teach the truth!

The very people Jesus criticized were those who were going to spend eternity with less of a blessing than they could have enjoyed if they had repented. Jesus was raising the warning voice that they were in trouble with divine law and they needed to change. Mind you, the one doing the criticizing and warning is the judge of us all at the judgment bar. They were just getting a taste of his condemnation early, in the absence of living prophets to do it. His critical words had nothing to do with not loving them. He still paid for their sins. He was concerned for their eternal welfare.

Sometimes parents who have given rules to their children are afraid to be unpopular with those same children by upholding the rules they gave them. But it shows greater love to stick to the truth than to preach the truth then waffle on it when it becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable.

Always love

Jesus never demonstrated any kind of behavior other than that which he preached, which is to love others. As the Prince of Peace he only knows one way to behave, and that is behavior consistent with those who will inherit the celestial kingdom. His injunction to each of us, as those who have professed to want to become like him, is to learn to be loving to all people at all times. That means we must learn to love despite how that love is reciprocated, or how that love is spurned or ignored.

The life of Jesus as portrayed in the New Testament shows us that being loving is not easy, nor is it convenient. What I call love, others may deem to be controlling or manipulative. Love is complicated in execution, while simple in principle. But all joy comes only from expressed or felt love in one form or another. Learning to love like Christ is what we spend our lives practicing and mastering.

When Peter, for example, watched Jesus wash the feet of all the apostles, when it was his turn he was horrified that the Master would wash his feet. In worldly terms that was a real slap in the face to have someone of such importance do something that humble and subservient. But when Jesus told Peter that if he wouldn’t allow him to wash his feet then Peter had no interest in any part of him (Jesus), Peter replied (John 13:9) with “… Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Sometimes we have to be educated on how to receive love, as well as how to give it.

FHE/Personal Study

John 13:34-35 – Loving others

I know we just covered this a couple of days ago, but there is more to be said on the subject.

Think of someone you know about that you identify with Christ. What characteristic does that person display that has made you think of Jesus when you think of them? I am guessing that the odds are very high that the most important characteristic that defines someone as Christlike in most people’s minds is that they are loving.

Good people share many wonderful qualities, but the one that makes all people stand out from the crowd is their ability to love others. Can you even imagine a person being called Christlike who doesn’t love others? Makes my flesh crawl just trying to think of such an undeserved comparison. Many are kind, patient, caring, or tender, but it is the person who loves with all their soul who stands out in people’s minds as the most valuable kind of person to know. This is why so many people think first of their own mother when they need an example of Christlike love.

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NT23-2023 – In Remembrance