Friday, May 2, 2014


It's that time again to share my thoughts on my studies within the New Testament. This week I've chosen to write about my feelings about the miracle of turning water into wine. Before I get to my feelings on the subject, let me give you some background to this particular miracle.
At this time Christ is with his family in Cana of Galilee. (John 2:11) He has just called his Disciples and was recently baptized by John the Baptist. I envision his family being the hosts to an important wedding ceremony. His mother and he, Jesus himself is there along with his disciples. Mary looks to her son and says that there is no wine at the ceremony. For you and I, and those who don't partake of wine at these celebrations feel like this isn't a big deal. So there isn't wine at the ceremony. We would move on and be okay with it. This is part of why I tend to believe Mary had some responsibility to this wedding, however, I could be wrong that it is part of the custom. Either way, Mary looks to her son and I can only imagine in panic saying, "We have no wine."
Jesus and His Mother, Mary
What is to follow, I feel, is where the lessons are to be taught and learned. Christ says to her: "Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; for mine hour is not yet come." (John 2:4 JST)
First off, let's address why The Savior calls his mother Woman. I have always been taught that this is a term of endearment. Today, women are so quick to find the negative connotations and forget the divine in this one word. Elder Talmage states in Jesus the Christ that "To every son the mother ought to be preeminently the woman of women; she is the one woman in the world to whom the son owes his earthly existence; and though the title 'Mother' belongs to every woman who has earned the honors of maternity, yet to no child is there more than one woman whom by natural right he can address by that title of respectful acknowledgement." (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp.144-45.)
It is this moment that we see Christ exude the love He has for His mother, knowing that if He performs this miracle His time to prepare His people for His Father's message will have come to an end. But, because of His unwavering love for her, he performs a miracle of turning water into wine.

Let me pause here too and point out the very next verse. Mary turns to the servants and says, with all her faith we already have seen from her, "Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." Do you think Christ and Mary have already had countless discussions about why He was sent here? He has already chastised her once before when He preached to the priests in the temple. They knew He was to be on His Father's errand. He told them so at the tender age of twelve. Yet, here she is asking for His help in something so mundane, nothing that would seem a nobleman would do. Just as I love those sweet discussions with my own son on the mundane and can feel the love he has for me, I'm sure the Savior's love for Mary is tenfold, and she knows this! She also knows who His father is and where this sweet child who is now a man comes from. She knows His power and with commanding wisdom, she tells the servants to do it! Can the lesson be applied to us too. We know Mary, we know her story, we've seen her faith, her trials and yet something so simple as: Whatever he tells you to do, do it!, we let it go and forget that what he tells us to do isn't for His good, but for ours. Mary's faith is undoubtedly one of the strongest among women who have walked this earth. I know for me, I can see why Heavenly Father chose her to be that vessel. There are times we fight the simple because the miracle is only to look and be healed, or wash in the river seven times. I know the lesson that I need to learn here: it is in the simple that the greatness is found.
So these wise servants realize that Mary is right, the do what they are told to and fill six water-pots of stone, containing two or three firkins (we'll get back to those) with water. They fill them to the rim. The governor of the feast  (I can only imagine he is the officiator, or the actual groom, but rather important person) is caught off guard by how the best wine he has ever tasted is still being served so late into the celebration. He compliments the "kitchen staff" and the hosts of the feast.
So why then the miracle. Remember those firkins? According to the New Testament Institute Manual a firkin is about nine gallons. So each stone water-pot contained about 18-27 gallons of water. Christ turned about 100-150 gallons of water into wine that evening for the wedding celebration. (NT Institute Manual, (4-12) pp.29.)

So what impresses me the most about this miracle? I don't know if there is only one thing that impresses me the most about this miracle, or if it's the things that happen around it. In Doctrine and Covenants 46:12-26, we have a long list of Gifts of the Spirit; I often find myself being turned to these scriptures because I think there is something wrong with me. I'm awed by the miracles that Jesus has performed, including the ones that still happen today. However, I'm more inspired and uplifted by the change of what happens to the people around the Savior when a miracle occurs. I've been told on many different occasions that if it took a miracle for me to get baptized, gain a testimony...(please fill in the blank here) that it would take a miracle to keep you there. In that time while Jesus was on the earth, I think those miracles had to occur. These people had records of what the promised Messiah would be able to do. He would heal the sick, raise the dead, he could turn water to wine. Moses was able to turn water to blood. Christ's abilities as the Savior of the World, had to be greater than His prophets that were before Him. He had to perform the miracles. But for me, I have to know who He is. With or without the miracle, He is my Savior who died upon the cross for me. He is the Son of God who took my sins upon Himself, for me.
This then leads to the last of John 2. Christ continues on His journey into Capernaum where throws the money changers out of His Father's house or temple. He then states that "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." To these men, these Jews who knew the law, knew the time it take to build a temple, laugh at Him. "It has taken 40 years to build this, and you say you can rebuild it in 3 days." I'm sure they thought He was crazy. We know that Christ was speaking of His resurrection. Christ was speaking about the "temple of his body." We are so quick to forget what we went through to receive this body, this temple. It is when we remember that it is a temple, we see that just as Christ overcame death, so can we. It may not happen in 3 days after our passing, but it will happen. It is the gift that has freely been given to us because we chose to follow Our Heavenly Father's plan in the pre-exsistence.  Because of His triumph over death, we too will receive it. What a wonderful gift to be given, because long before I can remember, I chose My Savior, My Brother, My Friend.
Resurrected Savior in America

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Different Kind of Post

So I know that I've been absent for a long while from my posts, so let me quickly fill you in. I am back in school and taking an Institute Class. Part of my assignments are going to be to (since this is what I chose) to blog my thoughts on what I've learned or on a principle here or there. I wanted to keep a journal, and this was the closest way for me to do it that could be "graded". So please read and know that these thoughts and insights are coming from my heart and what I hold dear and know to be true.

I am taking a New Testament Institute class. I have fallen in love with these teachings while in the mission field and they have stuck with me these last 12 years since being home. I have a deep and abiding love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I never took the time to truly understand all of the preparatory work that went into His ministry. For this reason, I've chosen to write what and why I feel John the Baptists birth and ministry was so important. I hope my thoughts will enlighten yours too.

The question I was given is to summarize the reasons many people would rejoice over John the Baptist's birth and mission. I don't know if I can do it in one paragraph, but here it goes.
When Zacharias was told that his wife, Elisabeth, who was barren would conceive and that "thou (Zacharias) shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he (John) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, ...and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their god. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1: 14-17) In order to rejoice about John's birth, we need to know why it was so important. The angel Gabriel told Zacharias the purpose of the son that was to come to him and Elisabeth. John the Baptist was to be an Elias; "a title given for one who is a forerunner; one as a preparer or one as a restorer. John was the last prophet under the Mosaic Law, he was the first of the NT Prophets and he brought the Aaronic Priesthood to the dispensation of the fullness of times." (Bible Dictionary)
John the Baptist's mission was a preparatory mission. He prepared the people to receive the Higher Law that would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Just as we are prepared within the church to receive understanding whether it is doctrinal or spiritual understanding, the people were prepared too. I can see why so many would rejoice in his birth and mission. Prophecy was being fulfilled. The people could see the fulfillment in John's coming. I can only liken this to how you and I would feel if we saw prophecy being fulfilled for the Second Coming. We would rejoice and prepare, heed, follow and know what to look for.
I love that we know that Zacharias was fulfilling his priest duties. We know that John the Baptist would fulfill his priest duties too. That is why the Savior went to him to be baptized. John the Baptist could do it, pleasing Heavenly Father because he was faithful to his duties and to his calling. I would be so bold as to say that John the Baptist magnified his calling in humility and love. His life was nothing but preparatory work. He would send others to the Savior for deeper understanding and knowledge. "There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." (Mark 1: 7-8) John the Baptist knew his mission, he knew his cousin, he knew his job. As in all things, there is a preparatory work that NEEDS to be done. I don't know how far in life any of us would be if there wasn't a plan, road, structure, or lesson to follow. His mission was essential to fulfilling the Plan of Salvation. I know this to be true! How grateful I am for John the Baptist's work. For his ability to understand and know what his role on this earth was. It feels like his life was written for him. Wouldn't it be great if that could happen for us? To already know where to go, how to act, what to say, and what to believe. A lesson manual for parenthood would be great to have with each child. You would know their temperament, their likes and dislikes, their strengths and weaknesses. Oh, to know the mission of your child! Wouldn't it be great?!