My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to three chapters – Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3. The lesson was titled “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” and was introduced with the following paragraph:
Jesus Christ and His gospel can change you. Luke quoted an ancient prophecy of Isaiah that described the effect that the Savior’s coming would have: “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth” (Luke 3:5; see also Isaiah 40:4). This is a message for all of us, including those who think they cannot change. If something as permanent as a mountain can be flattened, then surely the Lord can help us straighten our own crooked paths (see Luke 3:4-5). As we accept John the Baptist’s invitation to repent and change, we prepare our minds and hearts to receive Jesus Christ so that we too can “see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6).
The lesson teaches much about John the Baptist and his opportunity to baptize Jesus Christ. It discusses much about how John went before the Christ to prepare the way for Him. Matthew quotes a prophecy spoken by “the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3).
John held the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood and had the power and authority to perform baptisms. He baptized many people before and after he baptized the Savior. However, he made it clear that he was preparing the way for someone else. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
I heard an interesting point of view over the past week that helped me to connect some dots that I had not previously considered. It is well known that John the Baptist was born six months prior to the birth of Jesus Christ to prepare the way for the Savior’s mission. However, I had not considered that John was killed prior to the Savior’s crucifixion and would have been in a position to prepare the way for the Savior to enter the Spirit World. What was John doing in the Spirit World that made it possible for the Savior to accomplish so much work during the three days that His spirit was absent from His body?
In addition, the resurrected John the Baptist returned to earth to restore the power and authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. On May 15, 1829, an angel appeared to the latter-day prophet and announced himself to be “John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament.” The introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 13 includes this statement: “The angel explained that he was acting under the direction of Peter, James, and John, the ancient Apostles, who held the keys of the higher priesthood, which was called the Priesthood of Melchizedek.” He promised Joseph and Oliver that the higher priesthood would be conferred upon them. Section 13 has only one verse as follows:
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
There are numerous principles taught in this scripture block, but I have taken the principle for this discussion from the Sunday School lesson manual: “Disciples prepare themselves and others to receive Jesus Christ.” This principle is discussed in Matthew 3:1-12 and Luke 3:2-18. These scripture blocks teach that John the Baptist was “preaching in the wilderness of Judaea” (Matthew 3:1). Matthew continued by telling us that John called the people to repent of their sins and be baptized in preparation to receive the Holy Ghost when the Savior came.
Disciples today are preparing themselves and others for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 80,000 missionaries serving in the mission fields of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thousands of missionaries were called home. The latest number of missionaries that I found since the pandemic is more than 54,000. They dedicate six months to two years of their lives to work for the Lord in preparing for His return.
Millions of other members of the Church of Jesus Christ are participating in family history and temple work to find their ancestors and to help them to prepare in the Spirit World for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Still other millions work to help the current members of the Church of Jesus Christ to prepare to receive Christ.
Disciples of Christ prepare themselves for His Second Coming by being baptized, receiving other ordinances, and keeping the covenants that they make with the Lord. They help others to prepare for the coming of the Savior by sharing the gospel with them, by teaching classes, by doing family history and temple work, and by teaching their own children and grandchildren.
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