Come Follow Me Book of Mormon Central Taylor Tyler

Come, Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler| Matthew 19-20; Mark 10; Luke 18 | Scripture Central

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Taylor
I’m Taylor.

Tyler
And I’m Tyler.

Taylor
This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.

Taylor
This week, Matthew 19 and 20, Mark ten and Luke, chapter 18.

Tyler
We begin in Matthew 19, verse one. It came to pass that when Jesus had finished these things, he departed from Galilee and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. Just for cont text, historically, timeline purposes here, this is the last time Jesus will be in Galilee. He departs from Galilee for the final time to come down to Judea, and he’s going to begin in the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan. So he’s down there on the other side of the Jordan River. And the next time he’s going to be in Galilee will be after his resurrection.

Taylor
And the word coast here, you could think about the word a border. Now a coast like a beach is a border between land and water. But what we’re talking about here is like these are political boundaries. Even though you do have a river, there, the river Jordan, he’s probably down near Jericho.

Tyler
That’s right. So verse two tells us that there were great multitudes following Him and he healed them there, so he heals them where they are.

Taylor
I like this word healing. It comes from the Greek word therapato, which means therapy. Our word therapy comes from this. So therapy means to serve or to heal. And I think about the invitation all of us are given to receive the healing from God and in turn to serve and seek to heal others. So we follow the Master and we seek to do what he has done.

Tyler
I love the contrast of this idea of therapy and healing and lifting and blessing. In verse two, Jesus’s entire life seems to be turned outward and upward to God and to the people around Him. Now look at the contrast in verse three. The Pharisees also came unto Him, but they don’t come to be healed by Him. They don’t come to connect with Him and to make covenants with Him. They come tempting him. They’re trying to trap him. What an amazing irony here that they’re coming to the Creator of worlds without end. They’re coming to the God of the Old Testament who is now in the flesh, god with us, and they’re tempting Him. Instead of listening to Him, instead of following Him, instead of allowing Him to heal them, they’re tempting Him. And what is their temptation? Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Now we need to pause here and give some historical setting so you understand the situation of why they’re even asking this question. There is a debate within the different schools of thought in Judaism at the time. The two schools are Shamai and Hale.

Speaker 2
Shamai is very conservative. Halel is very liberal in their interpretation of the laws in the Old Testament or in the Torah, the five books of Moses. Keep in mind there were 613 laws, in the law of Moses, and in Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verse one through four, it’s the one place where Moses gives this provision for divorce. The school of Shamai, the very conservative side, is saying no, the only reason a man can give a writing of divorcement to his wife is for the cause of adultery. The school of Hale interprets those verses in Deuteronomy very openly, very liberally, and says no, a man can give a writing of divorcement for any cause. So Philo of Alexandria Josephus, our most prolific first century Jewish historian, who we have many of his writings today, he’ll tell you that he himself was divorced and he said we couldn’t give a writing of divorcement for any cause. Then they even list off some examples. She doesn’t please me anymore. She salted the soup too much. She talked ill of my family or of her in laws in my presence. Another woman pleased me more. Any cause you can give a writing of divorcement.

Tyler
And so you’ve got this debate going on and now they bring the debate to Jesus to trap him.

Taylor
They want him to take sides.

Tyler
That’s right. And they’re missing the whole point. You see, their focus is on the dividing, the divorcing, the separating of people. And Christ’s whole mission is on the unifying, the bringing together, the binding together of people, especially in the marriage covenant context.

Taylor
So it’s interesting, the word that’s used here for divorce in the Greek, here in Matthew, it’s one word, the same story in Mark. Mark uses a different word. So before I tell you what those Greek words are, let’s just talk about the English word divorce. You’ve heard the word divert, or even the word die, which means two. So divorce just means a part in the way, going in different directions, turning away from one another. It’s literally what it means. So the two Greek words that we find in these two different stories. So Matthew uses this word Apollo, which essentially means to set somebody free from a bond or an agreement. Mark uses a different word. Mark uses a word that you are familiar with. He uses the word apostasy, or apostasia as we call it in Greek, that there is a part in the ways, there’s a falling away, an asundering. And it dawned on me as I was looking at this, that when we think about apostasy, it’s actually divorcing ourselves from God. We are moving in a different direction from God, we are diverting ourselves from Him. So it’s interesting, these stories just use two different words that both have similar outcomes, that people are leaving one another.

Taylor
And we should also make it clear that the principle that Jesus is teaching is about binding people together. And some people have looked at Jesus’s teachings and we today almost have people debating like Shamai and Hale about Jesus’s words and missing the principle about Jesus is inviting us to be bonded together with god.

Tyler
It’s fascinating to me that Jesus was asked this question in a tempting sort of a way by these pharisees. It’s interesting to watch how he responds because once again, their intent isn’t to learn truth. They’re trying to trap him. So he doesn’t teach them much of the higher law. He sends them back to the old law, back to the Old Testament. Look at verse four. And he answered and said unto them, have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh.

Taylor
This underlying word of being cleaved or united, the Greek word is related to our English word glue. So think about what glue does. It binds things together. So the principle Jesus is teaching is covenantal, binding. And a marriage relationship should be symbolizing the relationship that we have with God. Which is interesting to go back to this word, apostasy. That the word for divorce in Greek meant to kind of fall away from somebody. So I find that compelling that our marriages should be a reflection of how we are covenantly connected to God.

Tyler
So look at verse six, wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. So he’s telling them, this is not your purview to separate things that God has brought together, especially this clause, for any cause. Isn’t it fascinating to look at the symbolism of a marriage altar in the temple of our God? When you have a man and a woman kneeling across that altar, notice how they begin marriage. Notice the position they’re in. They’re kneeling. They’re at an altar. What happens at an altar? Usually sacrifice. You have to pardon the play on words here. You have to alter your behavior. You have to sacrifice. Give up some things. You offer some things to the person and to the Lord and you peel back layers of symbolism for what that altar represents. It’s more than Old Testament, and it’s even more than the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. You peel back that layer of the atonement itself of Jesus Christ, and it’s a beautiful symbol for the Savior Himself, he who sacrificed everything, he who built the earth on which he could be sacrificed. All of these symbols point to Christ at the center of that marriage experience in a temple ceiling.

Speaker 2
Well, now think about what Taylor just shared of glue, that which binds together. The only thing to come between a man and a woman when they’re pronounced man and wife, legally and lawfully wedded for time and for all of eternity is this symbol representing Jesus Christ. It’s the Savior who brings them together. It’s God who’s joining them together. And there’s this beautiful symbol of what God hath joined together. Let no man divide asunder I love the fact that Jesus is emphasizing the unity and the oneness and the binding power of this marriage covenant that people enter into, and how flippantly people in the first century are treating that covenant and breaking it for any cause.

Taylor
I want to add to this. This is amazing, Tyler. This is super helpful. When you kneel, the Hebrew word for kneeling is related to the word for blessing. They come from the same root word. So if you want a blessing, you’re in a kneeling posture. And that’s what happens when we are in these covenant relationships. We are kneeling. Think about prayer, how often we’re asked to kneel before the Lord. It’s so that we can receive his blessings.

Speaker 2
And what an amazing thing to consider going into marriage and enduring years and years and years of the trials of life as a partner, an equal partner in that marriage covenant. I love the talk given in October 2022, general Conference by Elder Ulysses Suarez on marriage and that covenant and the equal partnership. It would be worth studying deeply again what this marriage covenant connection looks like in the ideal. And so you now look at them. He’s answered their question, he’s avoided their trap. And now look at verse seven. They say unto him, you can see the argumentative. You can almost hear the argumentative tone coming off of the page here, and.

Taylor
They’Re missing the principle, missing the whole principle. And this happens today. We often miss core principles because we want to fight over interpretation.

Speaker 2
Yeah. Or as Elder Lawrence Corbridge shared in a BYU devotional years ago, there are primary questions, primary concerns, and then there are secondary questions. And these pharisees in this instance, they are getting so caught up in secondary questions that they’re missing the primary point, the critical issue here, the core doctrine. So look at verse seven. They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement and to put her away? So if you’re saying this is such a bad thing, why did Moses in the law give us that provision?

Taylor
Well, it wasn’t Moses who gave the provision.

Speaker 2
They’re talking to the guy who gave the provision. The irony is so thick. Look at verse eight. He saith unto them, moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives. But from the beginning, it was not so he’s reminding them that Moses had given them or that he, through Moses, had given the people a preparatory law. Because when Adam, Enoch and Noah are on the earth and Abraham after them, they all, according to Joseph Smith, are giving the people the higher law, the law of the gospel, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, they’re getting the gospel. Then they fall into that Egyptian apostasy for 400 years approximately. And when Moses tries to get them out of that trough of apostasy, bringing them out into the wilderness. You’ll remember from our study last year in the Old Testament, in the Book of Exodus and Numbers, he brings them to Mount Sinai. He gets all of these amazing experiences and then tells the people, prepare yourselves, you’re going to be brought into the presence of Lord. He’s going to speak to you. You’re going to get his law.

Speaker 2
And their response was, no, we don’t want to talk to Him directly. You go talk to Him and tell us what he wants. So we end up getting a Stepper Law, a preparatory law. It will be an amazing thing if all of us who are in marriages can recognize that it’s difficult. There are sacrifices to be made. There are things that are going to have to be given up. You place on that altar more than your hand. You’re giving your spouse and the Lord your whole soul, your heart. And there are going to be times when it’s hard and you have to work through things. But that’s part of the process of growing to become one. And it’s a beautiful covenantal process, not just in marriage, but in our connection with God as well. There will be things that are hard, but we work through them and we become unified in the process. Then we’re there brought unto Him little children that he should put his hands on them and pray, and his disciples rebuked them. And if you look at the Joseph’s translation, it says saying, there is no need, for Jesus hath said, such shall be saved.

Speaker 2
It’s almost as if they’re saying, no, don’t waste Jesus’s time, because Jesus saves the little children, so they don’t need to come to Him. You don’t need to waste any of his time because he’s already saved them. A beautiful cross reference there would be Moroni, chapter eight in the Book of Mormon, where Mormon sends this letter to his son Moroni about how little children are alive in Christ. They can’t sin, they are redeemed. And it connects with that Joseph Smith translation idea that, yes, that is true, jesus Christ has already saved little children, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want little children to come unto Him. If you look at verse 14, his his line here is is so beautiful. But Jesus said, suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. If we’re not careful, what will happen in award setting is award counsel or a bishopric may think, ah, let’s get the really powerful and important people working with the adults and maybe the youth, because they really need our very best that we can put forth. I love something that my wife has repeatedly shared in those kinds of settings, the children are of primary importance.

Speaker 2
In other words, if we can put some of our finest teachers and leaders in with those little children and teach them and connect them with a savior at that early age. What a multitude of problems we’ll avoid as they continue to grow through the youth and the young, single adult and into their adult phases of life and discipleship. I love this story as I can picture Jesus inviting children. And in my mind’s eye, I picture Him inviting my own children to come unto Him. And I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel very nice and very good when people do nice things for me. And to me, oh, how it warms my heart even more when I see people doing nice things, kind things going out of their way to bless the life of my child or of my children. I can picture being there, watching Jesus take one of one of my children or a couple of my children into his arms, how that feels. And what an amazing thing as parents, for those of you who have children, to be able to recognize the fact that you weren’t their first parents.

Speaker 2
They have heavenly parents. And then the Savior, Jesus Christ came down on a mission from those first parents to save these children and to redeem them. It’s beautiful when you can see Him doing his work with children. Now, this next group of people that comes to Him. So have you noticed this pattern here’s? Jesus, the first group that came to Him, he healed them. The second group that came to Him, the Pharisees, they tempted Him. He worked through that process with them. Then they left. The third group, these little children came. He loved them. He blessed them. Now we get a fourth group. That’s a group of one, an audience of one. Verse 16. Behold, one came and said unto Him, good Master, what good things shall I do that I may have eternal life? Isn’t this interesting that he didn’t come up and say, what should I believe that I might have eternal life? Or what should I think or how should I feel that I should have eternal life? These Jewish people, they have this very clear idea that there’s a requirement, a set of requirements. What do I need to do to have eternal life?

Taylor
And remember culturally, when they got that law of Moses, god was giving them a set of instructions for how to show covenantal, love and loyalty. So the question fundamentally isn’t necessarily bad if there truly is sincerity in understanding how to be better. But if you just think there’s like, one single thing he says, what good thing is there just one thing I can do? And just chuck it off and kind of be done? And this is a really interesting exchange.

Speaker 2
This is fascinating. Now, before we get to Jesus’s answer, I find verse 17 to be incredibly instructive. He saith unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, and that is God. Did you notice that he won’t even let you call Him good, good Master? And before he even gets to the question. He says, Wait a minute, why are you calling me good? There’s only one good, brothers and sisters. If Jesus himself won’t absorb that little compliment, that little praise of oh, good Master, if he even deflects that compliment and gives the credit, the glory, the honor to Heavenly Father, if we want to be more like Jesus, then we’ll probably spend less time seeking for and absorbing the praise, the honors and the glories that this world has to offer. Even if they’re well deserved. There’s nobody who’s ever walked this planet who’s more deserving of the title good Master than Jesus, and he wouldn’t even take that and absorb it. So whenever success comes in our life, perhaps we could graciously follow the Savior’s example and just quietly and in a dignified way acknowledge the fact that we’ve done nothing on our own without the help of and the grace of God.

Speaker 2
And I just love that little intro to the rest of this story that often gets skipped over.

Taylor
I appreciate you say that, because sometimes we jump into stories and we miss little details that are purposely put in there. It’s interesting again, what happens that Jesus says in that verse 17, but if thou will enter into life, you want eternal life, be loyal to God, keep the Commandments. And then this guy, what does he say? Which one did he not understand when Jesus said Commandments? That’s a plural. It’s not a multiple choice. It’s not a buffet. And you’re like, I’ll just pick that one and that one. I’ll leave everything else out. And so Jesus then has to summarize for him the core essence of the law of Moses revealed at Sinai what we call the Ten Commandments. Like he says, verse 18 do no murder, do not commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t don’t lie, don’t bear false witness, don’t say things about people aren’t true, honor their father, mother. And of course, verse 20. The young man saith unto him, all these things have I kept from my youth. What lack I yet? But then we get to the heart of the matter of what Jesus truly invites all of us to do at some point in our lives, that we have to dedicate all to Him and not hold anything back.

Speaker 2
Did you see a pattern, by the way, in Jesus’s response there? If you look closely at verse 18, he picked up with commandment number six, gave number seven, number eight, number nine, and then went back to number five and then added kind of this overview of the second half of the Ten Commandments, which could all be summarized in how you treat people. The first four Commandments are how you treat God and how you love God and stay in this covenantal loyalty with Him. And then five through ten, he didn’t mention the thou shalt not covet here number ten, but he gave all the others of the second half which is how you interact with people, how you love your neighbor as yourself. And I think, as Taylor mentioned, isn’t it fascinating that this young man’s response was, all these things have I kept from my youth up? As if to say, yeah, I’m perfect at loving my neighbor as myself. I have no issues there. And maybe that’s true. I would guess that he’s probably not been absolutely perfect 100% of the time in that. But his question, his forward question, is still extremely profound.

Speaker 2
What lack I yet I can’t picture a single instance for anybody kneeling down to the Lord saying, I’ve done my best to try to do these things, and now the next step in my life. What lack I yet I can’t picture the Lord saying to anyone, nothing. You’ve arrived. You’re good in this life. There’s nothing you can do to be better at how you love your neighbor. Or if we could add, how you love God. But in this case, notice Jesus’s response to him, verse 21. Jesus saith unto him, or said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor. Thou shalt have treasure in heaven and come and follow me. Let go of everything that this world has given you. You’re very rich. Let it go and come follow me. He just got invited to be a disciple, a very close follower of Christ. And that word disciple is interesting.

Taylor
It is an interesting word. The word is Monteo. In fact, our word math and mathematics relates to the same word, and it literally means to be a learner. So imagine every time you read the word disciple throughout the Scriptures, what if you inserted the word learner? How does that enhance or magnify your understanding of what God is asking you to do? Think about the atonement of Jesus Christ is an invitation for you to learn. The atonement of Jesus Christ is an invitation to change. Learning requires change. The only way to become like God is to change. And the atonement of Jesus Christ gives you the power, the strength and the forgiveness to change. So these disciples are learners. They’re seeking to learn. It’s interesting here this guy, he has these great possessions. The underlying Greek word seems to suggest that it’s property. Now, you think in the ancient world, people didn’t have pension plans and stock market access. Land was often the way that you provided a living for yourself. And if you didn’t have land, you were dependent upon a landowner hiring you. We’re going to study this about the parable of the laborers who are dependent on landowners to hire them.

Taylor
It would be a massive sacrifice to let go of your property. And it was hard for him. He wasn’t willing to do it. And one of the lessons I take away from this is, what possessions do I have? May not be property, but is there some habits or some sin that I have become very comfortable with that I’m not willing to let go. I’m not really willing to learn. I’m not really willing to change. I’m not really willing to fully embrace the totality of the tone of Jesus Christ in my life. Don’t want to be a real disciple? I’ll be a disciple here, but not in this way. Jesus asks for total devotion, and what I love is that his grace is sufficient to give us the time to get there. Because even right now, as much as I want to be fully devoted to God, I am not yet perfect. As he said, if you are going to be completely devoted to me, here’s what you need to do. So this is a very sobering exchange when I read this, because I look at my own life and I realize I still have a lot that I need to let go so I can be more perfect in following Jesus.

Speaker 2
So he concludes this interchange with verse 22. But when the young man had heard that saying, he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. Can I just ask the simple question, what do you think that rich young man would say if he were standing here today? What? If he were here talking to us today? Do you think he would say, oh, let me tell you about all my land holdings. Let me tell you about all my fine clothes. Let me tell you about the foods and the banquets that I could put on. Let me tell you about my fine decorations and furniture that I was able to buy. Oh, it was amazing what I was in charge of and these possessions that I had during my lifetime. Do you think he would say that? Do you think anyone from the past, if they were standing here, would go on and on and on about how amazing it was, all the gold and silver and precious things and cars or houses or lands that they had? Isn’t it ironic how powerful those things are when we’re here in this setting of mortality? But when we die and go on into the next life, all those things pass on to other people, and they’re not ours anymore.

Speaker 2
I can picture that young man standing here saying to us today, please learn from my experience here. You can gain the entire world for a season. You can absolutely enjoy all the pleasures, all of the power and prestige that may come from all of these things for a season. But if you don’t learn how to love God and love your neighbor as yourself and recognize that those things were given to you by God as a means to build up his kingdom and build up other people, then they are going to die with you, so to speak. The rich young man is not benefiting from those riches today unless, at a later point, he made a shift in his decision to be a disciple, a follower of Christ. Anyway. That’s a consideration for each of us to make as we move forward in life is to stop seeing these riches as being the end all powerful things that the world tries to make them out to be. They’re a means to a glorious end if we let them be. Can you picture Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew? These apostles standing there listening to this teaching.

Speaker 2
It’s too much for Peter. He has to jump in at this point. Verse 27 then answered Peter and said unto him, behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee. What shall we have thereafter? It’s almost as if to say, okay, we’ve given up everything, so what great rewards are we getting in heaven? And his answer is verily I see unto you that ye which have followed me in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name’s sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life. Can you picture now what Peter, James, John, Andrew, any of those men or their families would say if they were now standing here? Do you think they would say, let me tell you about what I had to sacrifice. Let me tell you about that boat that I had to give up and those nets and that career and the prestige. Having caught the biggest catch in the history of the Sea of Galilee.

Speaker 2
It was so painful to have to give that up. Do you think at this .2 thousand years later, any of them are focused at all on anything that was sacrificed? Or if they are focused on it, perhaps it’s in the context of, oh, I wish I had 10,000 lives to be able to sacrifice all these things over and over and over again for the joy that comes in giving one’s whole soul your heart, your money, your goods, your talents. You give it all to the Lord and say, Here I am. Use me. I’ll serve any way I possibly can as an instrument in thy hands. What a privilege it is to be able to pay tithes and offerings, to be able to serve in callings, to be able to go and bless the lives of other people. This is not about giving things up. This is about loving God and Him being able to then give us more, to be able to continue to build up his kingdom on the earth.

Taylor
So let’s return to where we began. Verse two and great multitudes followed Him and he healed them there. And all of us are trying to follow Him and he finds us where we are and he heals us.

Speaker 2
Has there ever been a time when you felt like you. Were unfairly treated in that you didn’t receive as much as you thought you deserved based on what you see other people receiving, based on what they’ve done. See, we human beings. We have this really keen justice o meter in our nature, many of us, at least when it comes to comparing what we get with what others are receiving. And Jesus is really getting at that point here. So before we even dive into this Parable, I think it’s safe for us to start by saying our Father in Heaven is the most intelligent, most powerful, most all loving being that we can imagine. And he knows how to give the right kind of gifts at the right time in the right proportion to the right people. We have to trust that. And so let’s jump into the actual parable here. Verse one. Oh, before we actually read verse one, look at what preceded the Parable. It was the story of the rich man who couldn’t give everything up. And then this idea of verse 30. But many there are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Speaker 2
Sometimes we think, hey, we deserve more and we’re going to go first. And sometimes it’s actually the last who get to go into the kingdom of heaven first. So that’s kind of the key that Joseph Smith would say. Look at what brought on the Parable, look at the setting, and then you’ll be able to interpret the Parable better. Look at verse one. For the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man that is an householder which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. So common laborers would go to a designated location in the city or the village waiting for the people to come and hire them. These would be temporary laborers, and they’re waiting to be hired out. And if they don’t get hired out, they’re not going to be able to have the means to provide for themselves and their family that day. So it’s early in the morning. Verse two. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. So that is one penny is the common price paid to a laborer for a full day’s work.

Taylor
It’s a daenerys.

Speaker 2
It’s one daenerys. So there’s this whole group that goes in to the vineyard and begins working. And then he went out about the third hour and he saw others standing idle in the marketplace. They don’t have work. It’s the third hour of the day. And he goes and he agrees with them, and they went their way.

Taylor
But he also does say, whatsoever is right, I will give you. He doesn’t tell them how much he’s going to pay them, which is very interesting because we get in verse two, the very first group, I am going to pay you the fair daily wage, which is a penny. Everybody knew it. It’s one daenerys. No questions. So here these guys in verse four. They realize that they probably don’t deserve a daenerys because it’s not a full day’s labor. And so when he says, I will give you whatever is right, they’re agreeing to it. They realize there’s probably going to be some kind of discount on our labor today.

Speaker 2
That’s right. Now keep in mind in many of our cultures today in the modern world we’re used to working an eight hour day. In antiquity they would make hay while the sun shines. It’s sun up to sundown. So approximately, depending on the time of year, sunrise somewhere in or around 06:00 A.m., that’s your first group. And then that second group was in the third hour of the day. About the third hour, well, 3 hours after sunrise is approximately 09:00 A.m.. So then you pick up verse five. Again, he went out about the 6th and 9th hour and did likewise. So the 6th hour of the day, this third group is going to be at around twelve noon. And then the 9th hour of the day will be our fourth group, which would be 03:00 p.m.. And you think we’re done? No, he says verse six and about the 11th hour he went out and found others standing idle and saith unto them, why stand ye here all the day idle? The 11th hour, this fifth group you’re talking, 05:00 p.m., there’s only one more hour to work in the day before the 12th hour before sunset.

Speaker 2
And notice their response. They say unto him, because no man hath hired us, we’re standing idle because we can’t hire ourselves. We can’t go and force ourselves into a working agreement with anyone. We don’t have that power. We have to sit back and wait for somebody to come and say, come labor in my vineyard. And so he said unto them, go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. I can picture these these men in the 05:00 p.m. Group thinking there’s 1 hour left. We might be able to get just a pittance of a daenerys of the pay, but it’s better than nothing. And so they go and they work. Now verse eight. So when even was come, when the evening so the sun’s ready to set here, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, call the laborers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. Remember what preceded this parable, chapter 19, verse 30. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. So the steward calls this group now first. The last group now becomes the first to get called.

Speaker 2
And can you picture them all lining up in this queue ready to receive their pay? And they’re watching. And verse nine, when they came that were hired about the 11th hour, they received every man a penny. I don’t know about you, but I can picture being some of these earlier groups looking at that, thinking, wow. And he did, too. That group got one penny for 1 hour. Now, can you picture in the natural man’s brain the math starting to kick into gear? So if he gets a penny a full day’s pay for 1 hour, then those of us who came at 03:00 P.m., we’re going to get three pennies. And this group, they’re thinking, we must be getting six pennies. This was a great day at the vineyard, and their expectation for reward is growing as you go up this list. Now watch what happens. Verse ten. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more, and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house.

Taylor
I like how it says the good man of the house. It’s not just the guy who owns the land. He’s a good man. He is just and righteous, and he is a man of his word. He has a very righteous agreement. I’m going to pay you guys a penny, and he fulfills the bargain.

Speaker 2
And that’s what they’d agreed to 12 hours before in the market. And they were happy about it then, but now they’re not happy about it. Why? What’s happened here? This brings us back to President Ezra Taff Benson’s talk on Pride. The problem with pride is it’s rooted in this spirit of comparison. It’s a spirit of, I want more than what you have because I deserve it, I’ve earned it.

Taylor
Yeah, it’s such an interesting word. The root word for pride also comes from the same word for being first in front. And these guys are like, we should be the first. We should be out front. We’re better than everybody else. And Jesus is like, you were first, but now you’re last.

Speaker 2
So Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk in general Conference many years ago using this parable as the foundation for his talk.

Taylor
Yeah, it was April 2012. In my opinion, this is the best interpretation I have ever heard anywhere in this parable. I have spent a lot of time listening to lots of scholars on the Scriptures and Elder Holland’s talk on this is the best one I have ever seen.

Speaker 2
It’s beautiful.

Taylor
We follow living day prophets.

Speaker 2
We thank thee, O God, for prophets seers and revelators. So let’s dive in now to what is their complaint against the good man of the house and what is his response? Verse twelve. These men are saying to him, these last have wrought but 1 hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and the heat of the day. We have worked like crazy for 12 hours, and you’re treating us the same. But he answered one of them and said, friend, I do thee no wrong. Didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is and go thy way. I will give unto Thee this last even as unto Thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good? Brothers and sisters, the point is, Jesus was being the the good man of the house was being merciful to these people who came he came into the market at 06:00 a.m. And he gave them employment. They didn’t have to spend all day wondering and worrying and fretting stressing about if they’re going to be able to provide for their family and for their needs.

Speaker 2
They were given an opportunity to work in the vineyard and each group after that was given similar opportunities and it was agreed, I’m going to give you I’m going to be fair to you. But God’s idea of fairness isn’t always the same as the world’s idea of fairness and his point of, I know what I’m doing and I know how to give my gifts to people or the rewards to people. I’ll never forget my wife’s grandmother, Grandma Ruby. She was not a member of the church. She was in her late 80s. She was living with my mother and father in law and we were visiting, doing a scripture study with the family and and Grandma Blackmore happened to be there participating as she always did. And we were reading Second Nephi 31 and it was talking about the baptism of Jesus. And here’s Kiplin’s grandma who said, I’ve never been baptized the way Jesus was baptized. Is that something I need to do? And that opened up a whole conversation. And before you know it, she was taking the missionary discussions and she got baptized late 80s, went to the temple a year later and passed away not not long after that.

Speaker 2
And it would be easy for somebody born in the church to say, well, how fair is that? Is she going to be given celestial reward when she didn’t serve in the church? She didn’t pay tithing for all those years. She didn’t go on a mission. She didn’t do any of these things that I’ve been doing in the vineyard my whole life. How is it fair that she could get the same reward as I get? What a sad question to even ask, because what it’s implying is I want more exaltation, I want more celestial kingdom than somebody who gets baptized late in life or serves the Lord or engages in the gospel later in life than I engaged in the gospel. Brothers and sisters, that whole point is rooted in the idea that being in the gospel and being in the Lord’s vineyard doing the Lord’s work isn’t pleasant, that it’s miserable, and that I want to do as very little as possible and still receive the full reward. When in reality, the greatest joy in life comes to those who find joy in serving the Lord and serving others. Standing idle in the marketplace is not happiness.

Speaker 2
It’s not peace. And thank heaven for a God who’s willing to keep coming into the marketplace through the efforts of his missionaries and prophets, sears and Revelators and parents, and keep inviting people to come and labor in his vineyard and trust that he is a giver of all good gifts.

Taylor
So let’s continue on and hear the words of Elder Holland and his glorious interpretation of this parable.

Speaker 3
It is against that reading of the story that I feel the grumbling of the first laborers must be seen as the householder in the parable tells them. And I paraphrase, really only slightly. My friends, I’m not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage for the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I’m very happy with the way you served. You’re paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the others, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money. Then this piercing question to anyone then or now, who may need to hear it why should you be jealous? Because I choose to be kind. Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt and certainly not to feel envious when good fortune comes to another person. We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We’re not in a race against each other to see who’s the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.

Speaker 3
The race we are really in is the race against sin. And surely envy is one of the most universal of those. Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously, we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know.

Speaker 2
So let’s shift over now to Mark chapter ten, to pick up one more story. But before we jump to that story right at the end, let’s pick up one variation that Mark gives in that experience dealing with the little children that we talked about in the first episode this week. And you’ll see a subtle change in how Mark talks about Jesus’s interaction with the children compared to what we’ve already covered in episode one with Matthew’s version of that story.

Taylor
So let’s look particularly at verse 16 in Mark ten. And Jesus took up the little children in his arms, put his hands upon them and bless them. So that idea of taking them into his arms is a new insight we get from Mark’s perspective. It doesn’t show up in Matthew. And the underlying Greek word means to unfold. It makes you think about Nephi talking about being encircled in the robes of God’s righteousness. And what’s interesting about how this word is used in Greek, the arms. It means the arms are bent, ready and willing to carry a burden or something that has some heft or weight. All of us are actually our little children. And what is God doing? He is bending his arms so that we are in his embrace and he is carrying this burden. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just mean it as a descriptor that we weigh something and he is carrying us. This is such a great little phrase that Mark uses to help us understand what Jesus does for us. He unfolds us, embraces us, and he carries us.

Speaker 2
So as we begin this story, in verse 46, Mark 1046, it says, and they came to Jericho and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples. So let’s pause there. So remember that Jericho to Jerusalem. So here’s Jerusalem on the other side of the Mount of Oliver. Here’s Jericho down near the Jordan River in the Dead Sea region. You’re gaining. This hike would be approximately 4000 foot elevation gain spread over about, approximately 14 miles. That would be an intense, a difficult, long hike in that day. And remember that in Mark’s Gospel, jesus only goes to Jerusalem one time. This is it. He’s come down from Galilee into the Jordan River valley. Now he’s coming up into Jerusalem and his final day, his ascent. In fact, if you look at chapter eleven, the heading, the very first line, it says Christ rides into Jerusalem amid shouts of hosanna. So it kind of orients you on where we are. This is probably the week or a few days before his triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. At that point in Jesus’s ministry, do you think he has a few items on his to do list? Do you think there’s a little bit of pressure weighing down on him, realizing that when he goes into Jerusalem, if you look, turn the page back and look at verse 33, he told his disciples again in chapter ten.

Speaker 2
That he’s going to go into Jerusalem, and he says he’s going to be delivered under the chief priests and under the scribes. And they shall condemn him to death. And they shall deliver him to the Gentiles. So Jesus told them that in Mark ten. He told them that in Mark nine and in Mark eight in this Gospel. Fascinating to me that Jesus is giving three prophecies to his disciples. When I go to Jerusalem, this is the end, I’m not going to escape this. But he still goes to Jerusalem. I love that willingness to keep a covenant and keep a promise, even if it’s extremely hard. So it’s in that setting, it’s in that context that we get this miracle that finds itself in Matthew, mark and Luke. All of the Synoptic writers talk about this. In Matthew’s Gospel, he actually tells the story as two blind men near Jericho. And we would assume that it’s probably the same story, but he’s telling it with two men. Luke also tells the story, but just with one man and Mark gives you the added detail of telling you his name. If you stop and think about that for a moment, just mentally make a list of all of the people you can think of that received a miracle from Jesus Christ by name.

Speaker 2
Can you list off a really long set of people by name? For most of you, you’re probably thinking, well, he raised Lazarus from the dead. He cast out seven devils from Mary Magdalene, so we know her name. Some would say, well, he raised Jerus’s daughter, he called her Talitha from the dead. But you’re going to find that your list doesn’t get populated quite as quickly as you maybe had supposed. Because most of the miracles say things like a man who was born blind, or the widow of Nain’s son, or unnamed ten lepers among the Samaritans, or a man who had the palsy, or a father with a son. But we don’t know any of the names. Now, some of you are probably wondering, so why should we care about this name thing? It’s fascinating that the gospels are being written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, not in the real time, not as things are happening. They’re not sitting there writing their gospel as a journal entry that day that things are happening. It seems that they’re written after the fact and there’s an oral tradition. They’ve shared these stories and then sometime at a later date, they’re writing down these stories.

Speaker 2
And since we don’t have the names, we would assume, yeah, I remember that story when he healed the, the blind man or the, the man with the withered hand or the woman who was bent over. I don’t remember her name or his name. So whenever you do get a name, it might be significant because for that particular gospel writer, he remembered the name. He knows who that person is. And it’s almost as if to say, oh, this is the story of that individual that my audience is going to connect with and know something about. Now, why do I say that? Because I personally am holding out hope that because Mark actually gives us the name of this blind man, none of the others do, that somehow Mark knew who this man was and his audience knows who this man is. And I’m holding out hope that this is the story of Bartimaeus’s conversion that is going to last for years, to the point where when Mark is telling the story of Jesus making his ascent up to Jerusalem to begin his triumphal entry and open up the week of the Atoning sacrifice, that the last event that Jesus is going to.

Speaker 2
Or the last miracle, rather, that Jesus is going to perform before beginning the ultimate miracle of all, which is his infinite atonement. Up in Jerusalem this coming week is with a man by the name of Bartimaeus.

Taylor
Okay, so here we have verse 46. They came to Jericho and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples remember, the word disciples means learner. And a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the Son of Tamaus, sat by the highway side begging. So you have the name Bartimaeus given and then there’s a translation. It’s interesting that the name is the lesson. It’s a very interesting name because you have the first element of the name is Aramaic. Bar means son. And the second one is Greek Timaus. The word Timaus seems to be connected to an ancient Greek philosophical story told by Plato about people who are stuck in a cave, in darkness and don’t understand reality until light is received. If that’s the case, you have the Son of Tamaus, meaning the son of the story about discovering light and discovering reality. And here we have this man who is the embodiment of that experience, taking this name. Maybe this is his real name or maybe it’s given to him afterwards by Mark as a signal that this is what Jesus Christ does. Everybody who follows him and receives his atoning sacrifice will be brought into full reality and see light and truth and no longer be blind.

Taylor
It’s pretty powerful.

Speaker 2
So you’ll notice where this man is located. Jesus has went out of Jericho. He’s on that road up to Jerusalem. And Tamaus sat by the highway side begging. Remember, if we look at Jericho as a symbol, a type, a shadow of mortality of our fallen mortal condition and Jerusalem being a representation of heaven, of salvation, of coming into the presence of God, because that’s where the temple and the holy of holies is. If you picture that, how far has blind Bartimaeus made it on that journey from Earth to heaven? He’s just outside the city, by the highway side, begging. That’s the best he can do. He can’t get to heaven. This is a long, difficult journey of discipleship, if you will, and he can’t do it alone, and he knows it. So he’s stuck by the highway side in his beggar’s clothing in this dirty environment, relying completely on everybody else for his sustenance to keep him alive.

Taylor
And I love his enthusiasm. He is unwilling to be kept mute by the crowd.

Speaker 2
I love this verse. 47. When he had heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth that was passing by, he began to cry out and say, jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

Taylor
It’s interesting he doesn’t ask for healing, although the phrase Son of David is used very specifically in scriptures to signal one of the characteristics of God, of Jesus as a healer. So when you hear that phrase, one of the things Son of David means is this is somebody who brings healing.

Speaker 2
It’s beautiful. Can you imagine what the name Jesus of Nazareth would have meant? Among people in the disabled communities of the first century Judea and Galilean regions? The stories have been shared to the point where if you find out that Jesus of Nazareth is there. He’s the one who has healed all these people. So when Bartimaeus finds out that’s who it is that’s walking by in this crowd, he’s crying out. At which point verse 48 says many charged him that he should hold his peace. Once again, can you picture the to do list that Jesus has in front of him, knowing that he’s ascending to Jerusalem, and we’re right at the end of his life this entering this final week? And so people are telling him, be quiet. But he cried the more a great deal. Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Can I ask a really simple question? Would any of you be offended if Jesus, considering everything that’s on his mind, weighing on his soul all the people and places to go and things to do and things to still accomplish? Would any of you be offended if in that point of the story, jesus had simply thought, bartimaeus be healed, but he kept walking.

Speaker 2
He wouldn’t even need to break stride. He could have kept going with everything that he was trying to accomplish, and all of a sudden Bartimaeus is healed. Would any any of you be frustrated with that? I don’t think so. Or perhaps, maybe without breaking stride, he could have stretched forth his hand and looked back and said, bartimaeus, yes, your faith has made you whole. You’re healed. But he didn’t break stride. None of us, I think, would have been offended by that. But look at what Jesus does, considering what he has on his to do list. Look at verse 40. Nine’s first four words, and I have them marked in my wow color. And Jesus stood still. I want to be more like Jesus. It was President Thomas S. Monsoon who taught the doctrine there is no problem to be solved that’s more important than a person to be loved. And nobody models that better than Jesus the master. Jesus stood still, and he commanded him to be called. And they called the blind men, saying unto him, be of good comfort. Rise, he calleth thee. Now notice the sequence here, verse 50. He casting away his garment, he throws off his beggar’s cloak.

Speaker 2
He rose and he came to Jesus. He’s blind, but he rose. And you can picture people kind of guiding him as he comes to Jesus. And verse 51 says jesus answered and said unto him, what wilt thou that I should do unto thee? Do any of you find it odd that Jesus asks a question, the answer to which is painfully obvious? Everyone in the crowd knows what this man wants. So why is Jesus asking him such an obvious question? I don’t know the ultimate answer to that question. But I do know that there’s a principle of agency involved at every phase of our life. That the Lord’s command to ask and ye shall receive seems to hold true even in situations where it’s very obvious, where we can’t go through life thinking to ourselves, why isn’t God blessing me with this thing that he knows I need sometimes? It’s because we’re not asking and we’re not putting ourselves in a position to humbly and meekly go to the Lord counsel with him and make those petitions. So this man, the blind man, said unto him, lord, that I might receive my sight. I want to come into the light.

Speaker 2
I want to see. And 52 says and Jesus said unto him, go thy way. Thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus in the way. Can I just point out that the word way was used two times in verse 52? Jesus told the man, go thy way. And what did the man end up doing? He followed Jesus in the way. Will you know what Jesus’s way was that day? It was a serious, long, steep, difficult climb. And the man who could have gone his way chose to go Jesus’s way. Because at the end of the day, the man recognized more than just the light, of being able to see Jesus standing in front of him. But he can see spiritually that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. And there is no other way that really matters. But following Jesus in the way was a steep, uphill climb. I love Bartimaeus. Someday I can’t wait to meet him and thank him for following Jesus. And I’m assuming again, I’m holding out hope until I find out otherwise that this is the conversion of blind Bartimaeus that becomes now brother Bartimaeus that years later, Mark, when he’s writing his gospel, says, oh, yes.

Speaker 2
And this is where Bartimaeus, our good brother, was healed by the Lord, and he has been following him in the way ever since on his journey of life.

Taylor
So some of my concluding thoughts today are I hope we all can be like Bartimaeus, a child of seeking the light that we will get ourselves out of the world. Get on the path, shed the clothes of this world, whatever burdens have been placed upon us. And cry out to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, who has mercy to heal us, to enlighten our eyes. And then we follow seen. We represent in our person, in our name, the way we conduct ourselves, that we are children of the light. We are no longer stuck in darkness. We see reality because our eyes have been opened by Jesus.

Speaker 2
I love this story because as Taylor is pointing out here, ultimately it’s our story. I’m bartimaeus. You’re bartimaeus? We’re all blind to a degree. We’ve done our best, but the best we can do just gets us outside of the city and we’re stuck by the highway side, begging. And as Jesus passes by, if he’s willing to stand still for Bartimaeus on that day with that set of things in front of Jesus, he. Has all the time in the universe for you today to stand still as you seek to come to him and ask to be able to see and then to be able to follow Him on that journey of discipleship. I love the Lord. I love his perfect example. I love him for his perfect mercy, for his perfect love and grace, for his perfect knowledge. But most of all, for his perfect willingness to stand still for me and for you today. And I want to be more like him in the way I treat others as well. May the Lord bless us in those efforts. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Know that you’re loved.



 

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