Come Follow Me Book of Mormon Central Taylor Tyler

VIDEO: Matthew 13; Luke 8; 13 | Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler | Book of Mormon Central | Scripture Central


Matthew 13; Luke 8; 13 | Mar 20 – Mar 26 | Come Follow Me Insights – powered by Happy Scribe

I’m Taylor. And I’m Tyler.

This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.

This week, Matthew 13, Luke 8, and Luke 13.

And our first episode we’re going to cover is Matthew 13. And to begin, let’s play a little game of Pictionary. I’m going to draw something on the board, and as soon as you can figure out what it is, you can just say it out loud from wherever you’re watching. There you go. Anybody know what this is? This is a pair of bowls. You think, because today’s lesson is on the parables. So a little play on words here. This isn’t just to be silly, it’s actually instructive because if you look in the Bible dictionary, what a parable is is a setting side by side. Two things. What you put into the one bowl is something concrete, something tangible, something knowable, something very familiar to the audience. What goes side by side in the other bowl is something that’s more abstract, something theoretical, something principle based, some idea associated with the gospel of Jesus Christ that maybe is harder to grasp with normal senses. And so by setting them side by side, you can teach incredible truths about these really lofty ideals and principles of the gospel so they’re a little more understandable. In fact, if you go to Matthew 13, you’re going to get eight parables.

And after he told the first parable, which we’ll come back to because it’s a significant one. Then the disciples, in verse 10, it says, They came and said unto him, why speakest thou unto them in parables? Why don’t you just speak plainly? And he answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. In other words, you can see some of the mercy of God here portrayed in that Jesus is now, instead of just teaching the principles of the gospel directly, he’s telling stories that are symbolic in nature so that those who have ears to hear and eyes to see and the help of the Holy Ghost and who seek to understand, they’re going to learn the lessons. And the more you know, the more accountable you are. So one way to look at this would be the Pharisees or the scribes or the Sadducees or people who really don’t intend to follow. He’s not going to give them his gospel or the higher law. He’s not going to teach them these truths because it’s going to set them up for more failure, perhaps.

One way to look at it.

So imagine the disciples are like really good students who decide to stay after class to ask the teacher more questions. And in the ancient world, when you would have rabbits out teaching, they might get a large crowd and they will teach several things people will be interested to learn. But then most people just go home. But a few really dedicated learners will stick around to ask more questions, to probe more deeply. And that’s what we see the disciples doing. And the word disciple means student. So we think about what we want to become as disciples, we also want to be students. We want to be sticking around after the main lesson has been done and to ask more questions, to dig more deeply and to ponder and explore more fully. So we see this interesting teaching and learning dynamic that Jesus is helping people to learn. And then there are few who choose to learn more deeply.

So let’s jump into our first parable. By the time we’re done, we’re going to have eight of these listed out in chapter 13. And this is a potential crossing over point between Matthew and Luke. Remember in Luke 5 when Jesus was ready to call Peter, James, and John as Apostles, he went and sat in Peter’s ship and then taught the people. Well, look at verse 1 and 2, The same day went Jesus out of the house and sat by the seaside, and great multitudes were gathered together unto him so that he went into a ship and sat, and the whole multitude stood on the shore. We don’t know if it lines up exactly with that experience right before going out for the great catch of fish in Luke 5, or if it was a later experience, but at least we can see the setting. You can picture him sitting on this boat with the people on the shore as he now begins parable number 1. So watch what happens as Taylor reads verse 4 through 8. I’m going to diagram it on the board, what he’s reading. And when the diagram that comes out on the board starts to look very familiar, just raise your hand and we’ll call on you through the screen.

Yes, they’re in the.

Front row. Yes. Let’s start on verse 4.

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up, they were scorched. And because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked them. But other fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some 60 fold, some 30 fold.

So that little diagram with circles and this line might look a little familiar to some of you. And what we’re demonstrating here, this is a concept that I first learned from my friend and colleague years ago, Wayne Dimmick. This is a beautiful lens through which to see this parable. Now, we need to pause here. Push pause. Some of you are noticing that this looks an awful lot like the three degrees of glory and outer darkness. As you go further into this chapter, you’ll find that the Apostles asked him all these questions, and it’s not as if they understood exactly what Jesus was teaching the first time he taught it. That’s why they’re asking these questions, what did this all mean? Well, as Taylor was talking about the students who stay after class, they clearly need some additional guidance. Teach us, what were you trying to say there? So if you look over at verse 18, he says, Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower, when anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catches the way that which was sown in his heart, this is he which received seed by the wayside.

So Jesus is now interpreting his own parable for them. So we don’t have to sit here in the 21st century wondering what Jesus meant by the parable of the sower because he told you exactly what he meant. In verse 18 through 23, he gives his interpretation. Something that I love when it comes to parables is an insight that I learned from Brother Bob Millett years ago, Robert Millett, when he said, when you’re looking at parables, there’s usually only one interpretation. There’s one main intent for why Jesus tells the story. But there are infinite numbers of applications, angles that you can look at this parable from these various angles to see other applications, how that parable and that interpretation can apply to your life. So what you have on the board here is one of those myriad applications that you could take, the approach of studying, is fascinating that this parable of the sower could be seen as Jesus and his apostles sowing seeds. But you’ll notice they’re not casting out bad seed. They’re sowing good seed, and those seeds are falling on various kinds of soils. Did you notice that the sower doesn’t change in the parable?

The only thing that changes, the seeds don’t seem to change in the parable. The only thing that is variable are the soils. It’s how people respond to the message of the gospel. Now, if you consider in antiquity, these sewers would go out into a field with a big bag slung over their shoulder, and they would reach in and grab the seeds, and they would just walk up and down the furrows, casting those seeds and they’re going to fall, and they’re going to fall in one of four types of ground. The wayside is the road, the side of the field where some of those seeds are going to hit, and there’s no germination. They don’t get a chance. They don’t even grow at all. There’s no potential for producing fruit on the way side.

They’re troddened under the feet of men. They’re as salt that has lost its flavor. It’s of no value, ultimately because of the soil.

Exactly. So no growth at all. Other seeds are going to fall on stony ground. And did you notice that those seeds will go onto that stony ground? They’ll get root, but they can’t get deep root because there’s not enough soil there. So they spring up, and then when the sun comes, they get scorched, they get burned. They can’t abide the day of his coming. And if you look at Doctrine and Covenant section 76, it talks about telestial kingdom kinds of behaviors. And all of a sudden now you can take this one of many, many possible applications for this parable and say, oh, wow. So the stones could be telestial behaviors, which are in many cases, if not most cases, thou shalt not commandments. It’s things that people are putting into their life. These stones are coming into their life to make it so that the word of God, the seed that he’s trying to plant, it has no room because we’re spending our time and our energy breaking the thou shalt not Commandments, doing other things. And in Doctrine and Covenant 76, it talks about the teelestial kingdom. Those are the ones, besides those who are headed for outer darkness, who will be burned at the coming of the Son of God.

And so you can see it lining up here at this parable with the coming of the Sun, scorching those seeds that have fallen among the stony ground, which now brings us to our application level of comparing a certain type of soil to thorney ground. So those seeds are growing, but unfortunately, they’re having to compete with thorns for the soil, for the nutrients, for the water, for the light and the energy that comes from the sun, and they’re not able to produce fruit, and so they’re being choked out. Well, once again, if we look at Doctrine and Covenant section 76, we’d say, what are the terrestrial kinds of descriptors? What causes a person in this context to be a thorney, grounded person? And one way to look at this would be to see the thou shalt commandments being broken. They’re not fully concentrated to the Lord. They’re holding back. They’re not true and faithful to the testimony of the Savior that has been given to them. And so the thorns could be the cares of the world that maybe aren’t wicked or iniquitous, but they’re just taking, they’re sapping my energy. They’re taking my time, my talent, my thought, my desires, my efforts, my wishes, all of that, and they’re diverting it away from what God would have me focus on.

And so I end up at the end of my life, having put all of this energy and effort into things. Brothers and sisters, thorns don’t produce nutrients for us as humans. They don’t give us fruit. So now, something that we could contemplate as an individual or as a family is, what are some thorns in my life or in my home or in my circle of influence? These things that are taking time and energy away from me being able to fully engage on the covenant path and move forward to become good ground, consecrated to the Lord to one degree or another. And you’ll notice the good ground has three degrees, 30 fold, 60 fold, and 100 fold. It’s a beautiful representation for the, the Celestial Kingdom, especially when you consider doctrine and covenant section 131 that talks about in the Celestial Kingdom being three distinct classifications. And it doesn’t tell us what classifies those three areas. It just states that there are three.

It’s interesting how Jesus uses this symbol of seeds producing more. So scientists have figured out that the seeds that people used anciently in the Galilee region may have produced, on average, you plant one seed, it might get you a 7 or 10 X return on that one seed. It’s pretty good. Imagine getting three times or four times that number, up to 30 fold. That’s a really incredible harvest. So if you’re expecting to plant a seed and get a 7 or 10 X return, that’s really great. But 30? Wow, that’s amazing. 60? That’s like almost unheard of. And 100? That’s far beyond what anybody could imagine. If you had a hundredfold return on your planting, you were blessed indeed. But any one of these would be essentially enormous salvation. You would have more than you would ever need in terms of abundance to satisfy everything that you might want or need.

Consider this parable from this angle. Jesus isn’t telling the people you’re either the wayside, the stony ground, the thorny ground, or good ground, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Jesus is teaching this parable, and he’s teaching all of his truths of the gospel to help people become more like him, to become the good ground, become more fruitful. We are not victims in this parable. We have a choice. In fact, sometimes we look at the gospel, we look at commandments, we go to church and we hear what we’re supposed to do, and some people feel like, man, they’re just beating me up. They’re telling me what I did wrong. They’re making me feel guilty and making me feel shamed. Rather than looking at it that way, what if we shifted our thinking and said, it’s a merciful, kind God who’s giving me opportunities to improve, to grow, to repent, to become better? I know of no better place to describe this than in a beautiful talk given by President Russell M. Nelson in the summer of 2022 called Choices for Eternity. Listen to this description. Because of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fullness, we know a lot about our postmortal possibilities.

We know that our father’s house has many mansions, or we could say in a parable setting, side by side perspective, many soils that we can become, and those soils will then produce certain outcomes. Back to the quote, we know that God loves his children so much that as President Delan H. Oakes has taught, all the children of God, with the fewest of exceptions, will wind up in a kingdom of glory. In this application, not Jesus’ interpretation, in this application, these represent kingdoms of glory. Just think of it. Our Father created kingdoms of glory, telestial, terrestrial, and the and Celestial to provide a glorious place for his children. Now, jumping down a paragraph, mortal lifetime is hardly a nanosecond compared with eternity. During this life, we get to choose which laws we are willing to obey, those of the Celestial Kingdom or the Terrestrial or the Telestial, and therefore, in which kingdom of glory we will live forever. You’re noticing I am not a victim in this parable. I get to choose, I get to decide. And there are stones, there are thorns in everybody’s life to one degree or another. And it’s ironic if you think through this in the parable sense, I am incapable as the ground to remove my own stones.

I need the sower to come into my life to pluck out those stones, to pull up those thorns and remove them from my life and make me more fruitful. But he’s not going to do that against my will. I have the choice. I have the agency. So instead of going to church and feeling beat up by commandments or by expectations or by all of these principles that are being taught, see them as invitations for us to open our heart, to let the Lord come into our life symbolically and start removing those stones. And it’ll be painful in some cases as thorns and stones get plucked up. But that’s what he specializes in doing, is making us fruitful and good ground. But at the end of the day, if an individual decides, no, I’m not willing to make that choice. I’m not going to let go of that thorn, or I’m not going to let that stone be taken out. That’s our choice. But keep in mind, based on President Nelson’s words and words of the scriptures, especially in the doctrine and covenants, there are consequences attached to those decisions, and I can’t change those consequences.

I can only change my choices. And brothers and sisters, God didn’t send us prophets and scriptures to teach us how to be stony ground or how to be thorny. He didn’t send prophets to show us the way to the terrestrial kingdom or to the teelestral kingdom. He sent prophets to teach us how to live Celestial laws and how to abide by Celestial principles and to become natural in the soil of our living and the soil of our words and deeds. I love having living prophets to guide us in these latter days and to give us these things that we need to be able to understand and see things more clearly that we could all gather together and decide what we want to be true and then live by that. But it may or may not line up with what the Lord has told us, and President Nelson has said in other places, truth is truth, and we can’t change it based on public opinion or based on my own preferences moving forward. So this is an amazing parable to prepare us to make those choices for eternity, not just because we want to check a box and say, yes, this is what I’m supposed to do.

It’s who we’re striving to become. Okay, that brings us to our second of eight parables in this chapter, and we’re not going to take that amount of time with all eight of these, of course. The second one begins in verse 24, Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seeds in his field. And while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tears among the wheat and went his way. So here’s our second parable of the wheat and the tears.

We actually have in ancient literature stories where farmers were feuding with one another and actually doing this to one another, where they’re throwing weeds into one another’s plots of land because they were mad at one another. What’s also interesting is we think we know what weed we’re talking about in the time of Jesus. It’s a weed that when it grew up, it actually, early on, was indistinguishable from wheat. And when it became fully mature, if you harvested and ate it, it actually could be poisonous to death. In fact, the scientific name is Lollium Temulentum. T he Temulentum actually means to be drunk. So people knew that this was a very poisonous seed that would make you feel as if you were drunk, which means you can’t control your body and your thoughts very well. So people knew about this. It’s powerful that Jesus uses this as an example about what happens in life, that sometimes there are two things growing up and you can’t yet distinguish. Oh, I should point out that this weed also literally would entangle its own roots with the roots of wheat. So if you did pull out the weed early on, the wheat would come with it.

So this was a very powerful story for these people to consider how God allows things to happen in life. And sometimes there’s pain and problems where you’re like, God, we want you to fix this immediately. He’s like, I have a plan here, but we have to let the process play out.

It’s interesting to see how the servants propose the solution when they realize what’s gone on. And Jesus’ response in verse 28, He said unto them, an enemy has done this. Somebody who is not our friend has done this. But we can’t gather the tears, verse 29, as Taylor was talking, lest, while you gather up the tears, ye root up also the wheat with them. So consequently, you get this parable where good and bad are growing intertwined right next to each other, a first indistinguishable one from another. It’s not until they get fully grown that the wheat with those kernel s of grain develop, and you can see that the tears have no grain that’s going to provide us with substance that’s going to help us, it’s going to hurt us. Now you can tell. And he says, so gather first, verse 30, let both grow together until the harvest. So if you’ve wondered why life is so difficult in our culture, in our society today and wondering, why is there so much wickedness? I think the answer is here. He’s going to let both grow together. The sun is going to shine on both. The rain is going to fall on both.

And it was Elder Neal A. Maxwell who once said something along the lines of, Don’t be surprised when the tears start looking more and more like tears as we get closer and closer to the second coming, the harvest when the Lord comes again. So he says here, Gather ye together first the tears, and bind them in bundles to burn them. But if you look at the footnote, the Joseph Smith translation changes the order that God doesn’t send down reapers into the field to first gather out the tears so they can be burned. Joseph Smith changes it to say, Gather out first the wheat into my barn, and the tears are bound in bundles to be burned. We’re not gathering tears. We’re sending missionaries, we’re sending the gospel out into the world to gather the wheat into the barn. It’s a parable. And since it’s a parable, there are layers and layers and layers of symbolism. Of course, there’s one interpretation that Jesus is intending for us. But all these symbolic applications, you could say, What could the barn represent? It could represent, gather them into the covenant of baptism, into the Church, the fold of God.

It could be the temple. It could be into our families, into our homes. It could be all of these beautiful symbols tied together. The point is, the barn is a place appointed for the wheat, for the children of God who also choose to take on the identity of child of the covenant and disciple of Jesus Christ. There’s a safe place, stand ye in holy places. There’s actually a place to be gathered to. We gather to Zion. That’s another symbol for the barn. And so then we bind the tears in the field ready for the burning. What is the burning in an end times context from scriptures, it’s the second coming. When Jesus returns again, the wicked will not be able to abide the day of his coming, but will be consumed in his presence. They’ll be burned up when he returns to the Earth again.

Then we have the next parable that he put forth, verse 31 and 32, The kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds. But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and become of the trees so that the birds of the air come and dodge in the branches thereof. So we’re not exactly sure what the specific seed he’s talking about. There’s a couple of possibilities, but the seeds we know of that would be possibilities are very, very small. It’s quite incredible that anybody could discover these seeds. They’re quite small. But they end up becoming these… The word here is tree, but it’s probably like a large bush that might be about as tall as any one of us, where a bird might perch for some time. And there’s lots of ways of looking at this, but one that I learned from a scholar some years ago was you take a seed and it becomes a tree, the seed doesn’t look anything like it will become. So it’s one thing for something small to become something big.

That is really incredible and miraculous. It’s quite another thing for one thing to be transformed into something that looks completely different. So just consider for yourself, look at any seed you’ve ever known and look at the plant that it becomes. Is there any correlation that the seed that you could predict without knowing in advance what the seed is, what it would turn into? So one of the ways we could apply this is that we may not fully know all that we could become if we work to have our hearts planted fully in the word of God, that we can be so fully transformed that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves that God has done so much good in our lives.

Which now takes us to this fourth parable, verse 33, Another parable speaking unto them, the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Watch what happens. When you start diving into and swimming around in a pool of parables, you can see all of these different layers of ways to start applying them and thinking about them and finding meaning and purpose for our life. So look at a contrast here with number 3 and 4. A mustard seed is fed externally for it to grow and to develop and to become this tree which has more seed to then be able to magnify. So it’s this external feeding as the gospel spreads, as the message spreads into other parts of the world, and seeds can then be planted further and further away to spread this message. This is a beautiful symbol for what we do with our missionary efforts. And think about 11. This is a very internal process. It’s not getting things from outside to cause that dough to rise and increase in its size. It’s being fed internally as it multiplies and expands internally.

Think about God’s command, the very first command given to Adam and Eve, to multiply and replenish the Earth, to have children, to increase the posterity, and to grow the kingdom of God internally. So again, I don’t think Jesus was trying to say this is the only interpretation for these two parables because there are thousands of ways we can look at that. That’s just one angle you can take. And before we get to number 5, this is probably a good place to pause and say that Joseph Smith gave us his view on all eight of the parables here in Matthew 13. So here’s what Joseph says, and you can find these in the teachings of the prophets of the Church manual for Joseph Smith. He says that all of these eight parables that we’re going to eventually fill in are connected to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostasy and the restoration of the gospel. So what you get in the parable of the sower and the seeds is Jesus Christ and his apostles in his dispensation, starting by sharing the gospel and spreading the word, and people are converted and come into the kingdom.

Then you get in the second parable, the great Apostasy, and the enemy doing his work to try to tear down the kingdom of God. And then God planting a seed in the restoration, a very small seed that could be applied to the church. That starts with six members in 1830, and now you look at the millions of members across the world, it’s growing into this large tree where angels can come down into the branches. Angels with keys can come down and minister to people in the church and to give things that are needed. Another way you could look at the mustard seed would be the Book of Mormon. The plates, the golden plates are planted as a small seed in a hill in upstate New York, the hill, Kimora, and then it comes forth and it grows and it multiplies and it spreads and it keeps going through multiple translations. And then the three lumps of leaven, Joseph Smith said, those are like the testimony of the three witnesses. And it’s the testimony of the three witnesses that was divinely appointed to be the means whereby this testimony of the Book of Mormon is going to spread and keep the lump of dough growing.

We now come to verse 36, where Jesus sends the multitudes away, and then he declares the parable of the wheat and the tears to his apostles. So this is the second time in chapter 13 where he’s given his own interpretation. We don’t have to wonder what he meant by the wheat and the tears. He tells you exactly that the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom, and the terraced are the children of the wicked one, and the devil is the enemy who is sowing these seeds of tears. Now we get to the fifth parable. Verse 44, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field, the which when a man has found, he hideth, and for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he has, and buyeth that field. So we get the land of Zion, this treasure in the field, Joseph Smith said. It’s tied into, once you’ve identified that Zion, you buy up that land, which in his day, they took that particular parable very literally, and they did that in Missouri.

But also, anciently in the time of Jesus, most people were poor and they may not have a lot of land or own much land. But there might be somebody who did have a lot more land that you could purchase and acquire over time. Connected to this is that when people would gather wealth or have any form of wealth, they often would try to preserve that coins, and they would have a lock box that they would bury in the ground. So people, just like in the time of Joseph Smith, people were often looking for buried treasure because they knew there were other people in their community who had gotten some coins and had put them in the ground somewhere. And if you could get access to that field, you would have that treasure. So people in Jesus’ day hearing this understand that sometimes it’s more than just the value of the field bringing forth food. There might be some unexpected treasure, a lockbox full of coins that could help your family in times of need that you could find.

So the sixth parable is in verse 45 and 46, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearl, who when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had and he bought it. It’s this concept of finding the gospel of Jesus Christ being worth more than everything else that we own in life. This Pearl of great price, the truth. How do you put a price tag on knowing what will lead to eternal treasure? How do you value that? How do you assess what it’s worth to sell or to give up in order to attain that? It’s a pearl of great price. Quite frankly, there is nothing that this world holds that can compete or compare with the mansions in the heavenly courts above. You’ve heard the silly joke told of the man who was so rich that he was dreading death because he would have to leave behind all of his riches. And one night he had a dream, and in his dream, Saint Peter comes to him and says, Hey, you can bring one briefcase full of anything that you want when you die.

So the man takes the very biggest briefcase he can find and he goes and gets the very finest gold that he has and has it melted down perfectly to fill the entirety of this huge suitcase, this briefcase. And then sure enough, the day came and he died. And he comes up to the perly gates, the proverbial perly gates, dragging this very heavy briefcase, so excited that he got to bring some of his riches with him. St. Peter says, What do you have there? And helps him lift it up onto the table and opens it up, smiles at it and says, Hey, come check this out. He brought pavement.

Brothers and sisters, there is nothing that this world has to offer you in riches, in glory, in honor, in kings, in prestige, in titles, in houses, in homes, in possessions. There is nothing all combined that this world has to offer us that can compare with the pearl that is beyond price, this pearl of great price that is eternal life that the Lord offers to give us freely. We don’t have to pay for it. We just have to give our heart and our soul to him to swallow our will up in his will to strive to become like that good ground back in the parable of the sower.

So why would people even think that a round white rock had any value in the first place? Why did pears matter to people? It’s because the effort that was required to find and acquire them was considerable. Consider this, pears came from the Asian Gulf area or India. So if you’re an Israeli living in the Galilee region, think about how much effort it would take to walk north through Syria, then back down through the Mesothamia, the Tiger, through Ferdes River Valley. Then you got to get to the seacoast of the Persian Gulf. Now, somehow you have to pay your way, have food all along the way. Hopefully, no bandits have caught you along the way. And now, then you actually have to go dive in to the Pr asian Gulf and dive down 10, 15, 20, 30 feet. You got to hold your breath. Hopefully, you don’t drown. You’re going to burn your eyes in the saltwater, and you got to figure out how to find that clam down there that’s got the pearl. It’s an enormous amount of effort. Oh, lucky day. You found a pearl. Now you’re going to make that seriously long journey all the way back to Israel and hope that nobody kills you and takes the pearl.

So pearl were extremely difficult to find and acquire. So one of the ways of understanding this particular parable is that the Kingdom of God requires work and effort. We talked earlier about experimenting. You have to get out of the house. You have to go try things. You cannot just sit on the couch and hope to be saved. Now, it turns out we all have plenty of time. We get to sit around. I don’t think God has a problem when we’re sitting. But the invitation here is that we have to work and strive for salvation and not just wait for it to just drop into our laps. Now, in some ways it has. Jesus has done all the hard work. He’s now asking us to follow Him and just do a bit of hard work to stay on that path with Him.

Which now brings us to the seventh parable. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, which when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. Joseph Smith’s interpretation of this parable was that this is the great judgment day. It’s the idea being when missionaries go out into the world, when prophets, seers and revelators go out into the world, their job is to gather of every kind into the gospel net, to bring them into the ship. And it’s once we have gathered everybody, then it’s the Lord’s job to do the separating. We don’t have a net that distinguishes between good fish and bad fish and only catches the good fish. It brings in everybody. And once again, it’s our choice. We’re not a victim of the net. It’s our choice whether we’re good fish or bad fish. We can change. We can make those choices for eternity. We can decide today what a person we want to be. We don’t need to be held hostage by what a person we were or even what a person we are right now.

We can decide to make shifts and adjustments in the way we’re living our life so that at that judgment day, we’re not cast off, but we’re gathered in.

And in Jesus’ day, he’s in the Galilee regions right there on the Sea of Galilee. People would have understood what he was talking about. The fishermen, often when they had these large nets, they would haul in. There’s lots of species of fish that are in the Sea of Galilee. Some are delicious. For example, Saint Peter’s tilapia is incredible. Just watch out for the eye. Or there are other fish that really weren’t very good at all. So when fishermen would haul us into shore, they would then have to, or even on the boat, wherever they would bring in the fish, they would have to separate out. There was good fish. Clearly, this is fish that we can sell in the marketplace that we want to eat. But there was also other fish that just wasn’t good and they’d have to throw it out. So people would have been super familiar with all of these kinds of activities. So earlier on when we talked about pair of bowls, you have concrete and abstract. The concrete, people would have seen this entire process of catching fish and throwing out the ones people don’t want to eat, keeping the ones you do.

And then Jesus wants people to go home and in their lives think about this, how does this work in my life? And so some of the ideas that we’ve been sharing here could build upon your own thoughts and insights about what God is trying to do for you.

Which brings us to our final parable, the parable of the householder who goes in and he brings out treasure. He bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. Joseph Smith is a powerful application, fulfillment to this parable. He’s a householder who goes into the treasury of the Lord and he brings forth treasures, both old, the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible. He gives us things that we’re very familiar with, but he brings forth the treasure, shines new light on the treasure. And he also brings forth treasure that is new, that you’ve never seen before, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and countless speeches. If you look at the number of pages of scripture that we’ve received today from various people through the history of time, in our current canon, not counting the Joseph Smith translation, not counting the lost 116 pages because we don’t have them, Joseph Smith is responsible for helping us receive 877 pages of Scripture.

How does it compare to people like Isaiah or others?

Well, if you add 116 pages, which, using their size pages, would equate to roughly 145 pages in our current Book of Mormon. Then the number now goes over a thousand pages. The next closest person is Mormon, who’s responsible for 339 pages that we have today. And after him is Moses, the five books of Moses, 308 pages. And after him, Paul, 122 pages. If you were to combine Mormon, Moses, Paul, and then Nephi, responsible for 117 pages, now those four combined for 886 pages of scripture. And without the 116 pages, Joseph Smith brings forth 877. So our next four combined to just barely more than what we’ve got in our current scriptures from Joseph. And then the list gets really small, the size of the pages from there. Thereafter, Luke would be number 5 with 103 pages between Luke and Acts. What an amazing thing to live in this dispensation with so many scriptures, with shall we say, so many seeds that the Lord, the sower, has cast out to us. And where the soil, we get to decide how we respond to all these seeds that he’s given us through all these prophets, through time, and it’s our decision.

We’re the ones who get to make those choices for eternity, to use President Nelson’s phrase again. And brothers and sisters, just know that of all the things you can pursue in this world, in this field, or in this boat, or in this net, or in this tree, whichever analogy works best for you, our invitation is to tune your ear more than ever before to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to you. Invite him into your field, into your boat to help you become more fruitful and more productive. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. So we spent a lot of time on Matthew 13. That was a long episode for part 1 this week. So we’re going to do a shorter episode for part 2 with Luke chapter 8 and 13. And if you jump into Luke 8, remember that Luke focuses often on a very balanced telling of the story. He’ll give you, if there’s a miracle or a story with a man, he’ll usually either right before or right after give you a story of a miracle with a woman. He’ll remember the downtrodden, the outcast, the sidelined, the marginalized in society.

And he opens up chapter 8 focusing on a group of people that many of the other gospel writers won’t spend a lot of time talking about.

We almost never talk about this particular group. It’s very interesting. It’s just hidden right here at the.

Beginning of the chapter. Exactly. And it came to pass afterward that he went throughout every city and village preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God, and the 12 who were ordained of him were with him. Joseph Smith adds that little line, who were ordained of him were with him. They have a special mission to be witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world. President Delan H. Oakes has spoken a lot about that, written an amazing book about what that means to be an apostle and the name of Jesus Christ and to be a witness of his name. Not just a bare testimony of him, but of his name comes into that verse there. Now, you look at verse 2, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils. This is the only place where you get that in all of the Gospels is this miracle of Jesus healing Mary Magdalene by casting out seven devils from her. And not just Mary by name, but verse 3, Joanna, the wife of Chosha, Harod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

It shows the humanity side of Jesus. Here he is, God with us. He has all his power, all his capacity, and technically, he wouldn’t need anybody to do anything for him. He could miraculously make his own food, provide his own drink at any time, in any setting, and be just fine. But he doesn’t do it that way. He walks our soil. He breathes our air. He took our flesh upon him. He became one of us. And he now partakes of their substance as they minister to him. I love this that Jesus didn’t just serve people, brothers and sisters. He allowed people to serve him as well.

I also love that we have these named women, including many other women who are not named, who are supporting the ministry of Jesus. We often talk about the disciples and specifically the 12 Apostles, these incredible men who dedicated their lives to following Jesus and teaching others to do the same. And yet we have a large group of women of substance. Now, you want to think about this. In the ancient world, women often didn’t have substance, not because they were not capable, but the laws and rules of society were set up so that the men were in charge and that women either got their access to substance and resources through a father, a brother, or their husband. Now, it’s very interesting that these women had enough means and resources to be able to support Jesus. So out of their own hard work, or perhaps they were connected to men that had more resources. In fact, it’s interesting, we have this woman, Joanna, the wife of Choseth, Herod Stewart. So this is Herod Antipis, who is the son of Herod the Great. And the guy who runs Herod Antipis’s household and basically is the steward of over everything.

His own wife, Joanna, is a follower of Jesus. So you see how interconnected these groups were, anciently. So one of the takeaways I see here is that Luke is trying to help us to see how broad the support is. And in particular, helping us to see a group of people who typically are overlooked, these women who had given their all to support Jesus in his ministry. And I feel grateful because because of what they did, they made it possible for us to have these resources today of God’s words.

So as we finish up these first three verses here, a question to ponder is, which end would you rather be on? The giving end, providing resources, taking food, doing nice things for other people, or on the receiving end? Many of you are hardwired, it seems, to just serve, serve, serve, give, bless, take things, help people, constantly lifting and building. When you get sick or when you’re facing adversity or trial in your life, it’s really hard for some of you to accept other people when they now are trying to serve you. It’s a beautiful principle of the gospel here that you see, and it’s so subtle and it’s so easy to just breeze by it and miss it. The fact that if you want to become more like Christ, you don’t just provide charitable acts and deeds for others, but you are willing to allow them the opportunity to serve you as well. In the doctrine and covenant section 88, Jesus teaches this principle very beautifully to the Prophet Joseph Smith in verse 33, For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

One thing that some of us could maybe do to try to be a little more like Jesus would be to more graciously receive some of those kind gifts and those offerings that people provide in times of need.

Just very briefly, I remember some years ago, somebody was trying to help me with something, actually to give me some resources. And I said no, like three or four or five times. And they finally prevailed. And then gently said, you know, this wasn’t really as pleasant as it could have been. I actually had the need and I made it hard for somebody to serve, and I made it hard for me to be served. And I know partly it was just my pride. And so this is just a great reminder that this world is established that we give and we receive, and we should lower the friction, particularly when it’s our opportunity to receive. And I’ve tried to be better about this in the future when people want to do things. I try to remind myself, I should just let them have the moment of service.

Now, Luke tells a couple of parables here, the parable of the sower and the interpretation of that parable, and then he jumps into other miracles. So you’re going to see this different writing style, this different storytelling style. Luke is gathering his information from a whole bunch of people and compiling it. He doesn’t seem to have been an eyewitness of any of these events as a gentile convert later on. Matthew, on the other hand, he seems to be clustering most of what he’s telling into these beautifully organized sections. So you noticed in Matthew chapter 5 through 7, he gives the sermon on the Mount. And then 8 through 9, he gives a whole series of miracles. And then 10, 11, 12, the calling and the commissioning of his Apostles. And then 13 is the parables. 14, now we jump back into miracles. So he seems to teach very thematically. Luke, on the other hand, doesn’t cluster all the parables together. They’re scattered throughout.

Yeah, it’s commingled. Yeah, it’s helpful to see this because it helps us to understand Matthew a bit more and Luke, that Matthew is clustering things almost thematically to say, Okay, to make it clear for my readers, we’re going to spend some time on just the words of Jesus. Okay, now we’ve done that. Let’s spend some time on the deeds or the actions of Jesus. Okay, now let’s go back to a bunch of words. So again, we have to remember that the Gospels were not written to follow a strict narrative chronological timeline. These stories were put together to help us taste and get a sense of the Kingdom of God and who Jesus is.

So we’ve already covered the parable of the sower. We’ve already covered the story of the of the stormy sea and the calming of that storm on Galilee, and the casting out of the legion of devils, the details in the rest of this, and the story of Jairus and his daughter with the woman with the 12 years issue of blood in the rest of this chapter. So we’ve already covered those. Let’s turn over now to Luke chapter 13. Here you jump in with verse 1, There were present at that season, some that told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Pilate has killed some Jews, mingled their blood with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering, said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? And so now Jesus launches into a little teaching moment here to say, be so careful that you don’t adopt this Greek philosophy that has been prevailing in their society for hundreds of years, up to this point. Keep in mind, Socratic was pre 400 BC. Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great. This whole region for three, four hundred years has been dominated by these Greek ideas.

And now Jesus is saying, be careful. The idea being that if something bad happens to you, if there’s a bad accident or a disease or an infirmity or some physical malady or mental disorder or something’s wrong, then that’s a sign of divine disfavor. You’ve clearly done something wrong, and the gods, in a Greek context, are punishing you. You’ve offended one or more of them and now they’re getting even with you. That’s how they saw these diseases or accidents as this natural consequence for something bad you did.

I find this helpful because I think it might be also human nature that when bad things happen, that we immediately jump to, Well, clearly, I’m being punished for something I’ve done wrong. And Jesus, now, that is true at times, that there are natural consequences for doing things that you broke some natural law. And I love how Jesus uses clear stories that they would have known of to help them to see that when bad things happen to people, it doesn’t mean it’s divine disfavor or these people are sinners. This is an interesting one. What he says in verse 3, I tell you, but accept your repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Meaning anybody who doesn’t repent… Bad things happen to everybody, but if you don’t repent in the last days, it’s not going to work out well for you. But he goes on with this story, Where are those 18 upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them? Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelleth in Jerusalem? He’s giving his hearers this thing to themselves. So these 18 people who just randomly, this tower collapsed and fell on them, were they the worst people you can think of who live in Jerusalem?

And most of Jesus’ heroes are thinking, No, actually, I could have a list of other people that I think are probably worse than them. The point here Jesus is trying to say, accidents happen, things happen, and don’t be so quick to interpret it as that person clearly is a sinner. We see this later in the Gospel of John, this blind man, Lord, who did sin? This man or his parents said he is blind. And Jesus is like, Neither. This is an opportunity for the Kingdom of God to roll forth for my acts of goodness. And I think today we could take a lesson here that when bad things happen, we see it not as divine to his favor, people are sinners, but an invitation for us to let the Kingdom of God will forth by us bringing good to the world where we can.

Now he gives us a parable in verse 6 through 10 where it begins, He spoke unto also this parable, A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon and found none. As you read this particular parable, you’re going to see a lot of interconnectedness with the allegory of Venus in the Book of Mormon in Jacob chapter 5. This idea of the olive tree in the vineyard and the Lord of the vineyard coming to that big field with all these trees and he can’t find any good fruit. In this case, it’s a fig tree, but you can see a lot of comparisons. Watch as it progresses here. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none. Cut it down. Why combereth it the ground? We’re even using many of the same phrases that are going to show up in Zenos’s allegory, which is a lost book of the Old Testament, we would assume that Jacob gets that story off of the brass plates that’s no longer in our Old Testament. Verse 8, And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it.

Let me nourish it. Let me dig about it. Let me prune it. Which ties in beautifully with the last 27 verses of Zenith’s allegory where the servants are saying, Don’t burn the vineyard yet. Don’t destroy it. Don’t cut it down. Let us go into that vineyard. Let us have a chance to labor in that vineyard because we think the roots are good. We think they’re going to still be able to produce good fruit. Let us work in the vineyard this one last time to produce another harvest. And that, brothers and sisters, is where you and I come into the story. Our opportunity to come down to this Earth, and it’s our turn. We’ve watched other people through the history of time in a premortal realm. We’ve watched others work in the vineyard. Now it’s our turn to work with these trees.

I see a couple of interesting connections here. I think about Mormon and Moroni, who continued to labor and try to make good spread throughout the world, even though they had some certainty that things may not work out for society at large. And then I think to myself, do I condemn society because I don’t think it’s where it should be? Or am I willing to jump in and say, Lord, just hold off. Let me and my friends who love the let’s go out in the world and let’s try to build thy kingdom and bring good to the world because there’s still more to be done. So I asked myself, do I really want God’s punishment to just rain down and just destroy the world because I’m just bothered by it all? Or am I willing to do the hard work like Mormon and Moroni did, and labor and act for goodness, even if it may not always turn out the way I want. I also say what I love about this story is just the deeply clear connections to Jacob 5 as Tyler is pointing out. And in my mind, my opinion, it seems that this allegory of the olive tree, the story of Venus, was probably known to these ancient people.

And it’s interesting that we can see something about Jesus’ teaching style. So instead of Him, let’s suppose that Jesus had some access to that story. Instead of Him repeating 77 verses, it’s like the longest chapter.

In the Book of Mormon.

He gives actually a very powerful summary of a very long, what would have been a very long chapter that he may have been familiar with. And good teachers do this where appropriate. They call upon the memory of a larger lesson people probably have heard somewhere else and hit the highlights to get them thinking again about core principles.

So in verse 9, this parable ends, And if it bear fruit well, and if not, then after that, thou shalt cut it down. Let’s give it one more time. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. So he’s in the synagogue. What is he doing? He’s not just there. He didn’t go to church because it’s the socially acceptable thing for a practicing Jew to do in his day. He went to the synagogue to teach, to lift, to build others. And there are times when you absolutely feel like your bucket is empty and you don’t have anything to give and you go to church and hopefully people around you recognize the need and the Spirit helps fill that bucket, those needs that you have. But if we shift and try to be more like Jesus when we go to church, we’re going to look for opportunities to lift and encourage. Somebody may be feeling like this barren fig tree saying, I’m a failure. I can’t do what I need to do. I don’t feel like I’ve done a good job with this. I don’t feel like this part of my life is fruitful.

I’m struggling. So it’s our job now to figure out, what does it mean to dig about? What does it mean to nourish people around us trees so that they can become more fruitful? To dig about, to ask questions, to listen, to get beneath the surface, to find out what’s really going on, what they’re really feeling, and then to nourish those needs so that it can be those kind, tender, healing words and deeds can become absorbed into that person, helping them now to produce fruit. It’s just a beautiful shift from going through the motions of going to church or doing our callings, fulfilling them, but just saying, what can I really do to help produce more fruit in this little part of the Lord’s vineyard that he’s given me to work with him, with this particular tree, in this particular plot of ground?

So it’s interesting, it then transitions to this healing story. And I remember some years ago, I was curious, why does so many healing stories in the time of Jesus happen in synagogues? I think today, I have seen healing miracles before, but I wouldn’t say that they typically happen inside a church building. It might happen at a hospital, people’s homes, or elsewhere. But there’s a number of stories where they happen in synagogues. And so I did some research on this, and it turns out that I was assuming synagogues were just a church building where you just show up on the sabbath day and you engage in scripture study. It turns out synagogues were more than that in the time of Jesus. They were almost like community centers. It would be a place where people come for social events, food for travelers or weary people for, in some cases, even lodging, and even a place where people where the infirm would go for help in their infirmities. So I’m like, oh, well, that makes sense. Jesus is going to the place where people need spiritual and physical help. So the synagogue was the place where people would go to be spiritually and physically nourished and replenished.

And that’s one of the reasons why Jesus is doing these healing miracles in synagogues. People are there wanting help.

So in this particular miracle, this might not seem unusual to you, but it is unusual. It’s specific to Luke. In Matthew’s Gospel, you get a very similar story with a man. Here it’s a woman, verse 11, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity 18 years and was bowed together and could in no wise lift up herself. You could picture some conditions like osteoporosis or something where somebody is withered with rheumatoid arthritis or other diseases that you might be familiar with today. But there is nothing this woman can do to stand up fully. When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said unto her, woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God.

This word here is very interesting. He says thou art loosed. He doesn’t say thou art healed. He says thou art loosed. This is an interesting word in Greek. It deals with being bound by fetters, but even being in slavery. So when they use the word loose, it meant you’re no longer stuck in slavery. You no longer have the fetters that bind you. And so this infirmity, this difficulty that she’s dealing with had been a form of bondage. And she’s now released. Now, remember when Jesus initially announced his mission at the synagogue in Nazareth, one of the things he did when he quoted Isaiah was to say, I am here to set at liberty those who are captive. This is an example to show that Jesus is fulfilling the mission, giving evidence that he is the King who sets at liberty those who have been in bondage.

So we’re sitting here celebrating that this woman has been set free from her bondage in the synagogue on the sabbath day, and there’s a different response in verse 14, The ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work. In them, therefore, come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? Don’t you recognize a need that your animals have, and so you go to effort, you do work to meet that need for your animal? Aught not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound? Lo, these 18 years be loose from this bond on the sabbath day? There’s no better day to heal her than on the Lord’s day. The symbol is beautiful that it’s a day where the captives can be set free. It’s a day that when I go to church, I go because I need the Lord to loose my bounds, my bonds, the things that are holding me back and preventing me from moving forward.

So now the response in 17, when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed, and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. And then again, we’ve told you before, Luke doesn’t cluster things the way Matthew does. So now he tells the parable of the mustard seed, and then he tells the parable of the leaven, and then he gives this little commentary. Verse 23, Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able. He’s telling them, look, the gate is straight. It’s narrow. It’s not a big, wide open freeway. It’s a little gate. You have to seek it. You have to find it, and then you have to choose to enter in. And some will not be able, not because they can’t fit. To me, they will not be able implies they’re not able to make that particular choice that will lead to those eternal blessings. They can’t let go of things of the earth. And brothers and sisters, the gate is narrow enough that I can’t bring with me a UHaul trailer filled with all of my worldly possessions.

It’s a straight, narrow path, and I’ve got to be able to find ways for my heart not to be quite so attached to those things that this world has to offer me. If you look at this sequence of events, you’ve got these people who are feeling very self righteous. They’re feeling like, because of who I am, because of my family lines, and because I come to this and I’d never break the sabbath day by healing anybody. I never do any of these bad things. I’m such a good person, they’re looking down on everybody else so judgmentally. Jesus really gets their attention when he says in verse 26 and 27, things like, You’re going to say, We have eaten and drunk in my presence, and thou has taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not, whence you are. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity. That’s going to get their attention. Wait, we thought we’ve been doing all the right things. And then he concludes, There shall be weeping and lashing of teeth when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves thrust out.

One of the cle principles that I’ve ever seen taught along these lines that Jesus is teaching this idea comes from a quote from C. S. Lewis when he says, Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of the good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material, but God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body, and when his body dies, all of that will fall off of him. And the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought were our own but which were really due to a good digestion will fall off some of us, and all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off of others.

We shall then for the first time see everyone as he really was. There will be surprises. I love this idea that we can’t know, we can’t judge. Those kinds of decisions are for God to make. And here Jesus is making some of them for those people saying, you are not going to make it, when other people that you might look down on are going to make it. And so, verse 31, what’s the outcome? Gratefully, there’s a positive outcome here.

Well, we actually can apply this principle right now. If I say the word pharisee, do you have a negative or positive thought about that group of people? I’m going to be very honest here. Usually when I hear the word pharisee, I usually have a negative connot. This is a group of people who just cause problems for Jesus, and yet I have to change my mind. I need to repent because listen to this, The same day there came certain of the pharisees saying unto him, get thee out and depart hence, for Herod will kill thee. It seems that they are worried for the life of Jesus. So I’ve had this world view that pharisees were all just bad people. And it turns out they were just people. And some of them did some dumb things. And yet here we have an example preserved by Luke that there were among the members of the pharists, those who are trying to help Jesus and to preserve his life.

So in closing, as we anticipate moving forward, seeking to find that straight and narrow gate and decrease our false judgments and serving each other and being willing to be served by each other as we consider all of these different principles. If we could just boil it down to the most basic statement, it comes in the form of that beautiful children’s song, I’m trying to be like Jesus in all that I do and say. May the Lord bless each of us to try, even try a little harder to be a little better, as President Hinkley used to say. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Know that you’re loved.

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