My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to Matthew 13 and Luke 8; 13 for a lesson titled “Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear.” The lesson was preceded by the following counsel: “As you read Matthew 13 and Luke 8; 13, think about how you will prepare yourself to ‘hear’ and appreciate the Savior’s teachings in these parables. What will you do to apply these teachings in your life?”
There are two powerful questions in the above paragraph. How do we prepare to be taught spiritual things and how will we apply them. I encourage all of us to prepare to be taught by the Spirit and to have spiritual experiences because I know that they come from preparation for them. Also, we must consider how we will apply such teachings because we will be held accountable for what we know and do. Where “much is given, much is required” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:3).
The lesson block contains many parables and other teachings of the Savior. The lesson was introduced with the following information.
Some of the Savior’s most memorable teachings were in the form of simple stories called parables. These were more than just interesting anecdotes about ordinary objects or events. They contained profound truths about the kingdom of God for those who were spiritually prepared. One of the first parables recorded in the New Testament – the parable of the sower (see Matthew 13:3-23) – invites us to examine our readiness to receive God’s word. “For whosoever receiveth,” Jesus declared, “to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:10 [in Matthew 13:12, footnote a]). So as we prepare to study the Savior’s parables – or any of His teachings – a good place to start is to examine our hearts and determine whether we are giving the word of God “good ground” (Matthew 13:8) in which to grow, blossom, flourish, and produce fruit that will bless us and our families in abundance.
There are many interesting topics in the scripture block that we could discuss, but I feel prompted to discuss information found in Luke 8:1-3. I will first share the information in the scriptures and then discuss it.
1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,
2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, [emphasis added]
3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
The scripture tells us who some of those “certain women” were and then tells us that they “ministered to him of their substance.” So, in what ways did “certain women” minister to the Savior? The following statement comes from Daughters in My Kingdom:
Female disciples traveled with Jesus and the Twelve, learning from [Jesus] spiritually and serving Him temporally…. In addition to receiving Jesus’s ministering – the glad tidings of His gospel and the blessings of His healing power – these women ministered to Him, imparting their substance and devotion (2017, 4).
Sister Linda K. Burton, then-Relief Society General President, spoke to the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the April 2017 General Conference. She titled her talk “Certain Women,” and she spoke of many of the women who ministered to Jesus Christ during His mortality and at His death. She reminded her listeners that certain women were with the Savior in His travels, but they were also there at the foot of His cross and at His tomb early in the morning on the first Easter.
I have read and passed over the seemingly unremarkable expression “certain women” numerous times before, but recently as I pondered more carefully, those words seemed to jump off the page. Consider these synonyms of one meaning of the word certain as connected to faithful, certain women: “convinced,” “positive,” “confident,” “firm,” “definite,” “assured,” and “dependable.”
As I pondered those powerful descriptors, I remembered two of those New Testament certain women who bore positive, confident, firm, assured testimonies of the Savior. Though they, like us, were imperfect women, their witness is inspiring.
Remember the unnamed woman at the well who invited others to come and see what she had learned of the Savior? She bore her certain witness in the form of a question: “Is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). Her testimony and invitation were so compelling that “many … believed on him” (John 4:39).
Following the death of her brother, Lazarus, Martha, the beloved disciple and friend of the Lord, declared with what must have been great emotion, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Consider her certainty as she continued, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” She further testified, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:21-22, 27).
We learn from these sisters that certain women are disciples centered in the Savior Jesus Christ and have hope through the promise of His atoning sacrifice (“Certain Women,” April 2017). Certain Women (churchofjesuschrist.org)
We now know some of the certain women who followed and administered to Jesus Christ. Who are the certain women of our day? In the October 1992 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Howard W. Hunter spoke to the women of the Church and shared ways that certain women would act in our day.
It must be comforting to you beloved sisters of his Church to remember that this same Jesus, our Savior through the Atonement, demonstrated his love and concern for the women of his time. He enjoyed the company of women and had close friends among them. One of his great parables was about ten virgins….
Is there any reason to think that he cares any less about women today? ...
As special witnesses of our Savior, we have been given the awesome assignment to administer the affairs of his church and kingdom and to minister to his daughters and his sons wherever they are on the face of the earth. By reason of our call to testify, govern, and minister, it is required of us that despite age, infirmity, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy, we do the work he has given us to do, to the last breath of our lives.
As our Lord and Savior needed the women of his time for a comforting hand, a listening ear, a believing heart, a kind look, an encouraging word, loyalty – even in his hour of humiliation, agony, and death – so we, his servants all across the Church, need you, the women of the Church, to stand with us and for us in stemming the tide of evil that threatens to engulf us. Together we must stand faithful and firm in the faith against superior numbers of other-minded people. It seems to me that there is a great need to rally the women of the Church to stand with and for the Brethren in stemming the tide of evil that surrounds us and in moving forward the work of our Savior. Nephi said, “Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men, [women, and children]” (2 Nephi 31:20). Obedient to him we are a majority. But only together can we accomplish the work he has given us to do and be prepared for the day when we shall see him. [Emphasis added.]
As we labor with our might to minister to needs in the same caring way that our Lord met those of the women of his day, so we entreat you to minister with your powerful influence for good in strengthening our families, our church, and our communities. (“To the Women of the Church,” November 1992) To the Women of the Church (churchofjesuschrist.org)
Most of us know some of the certain women of our day. How do we become one of them? President Hunter told us how we can become certain women. He said that the Brethren need certain women of our day to support and sustain the Brethren. We can do this by listening to their counsel and drawing closer to the Savior. We can strengthen our families, the Church, and our communities. We can minister to the people that are in our sphere of influence. We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and stand firm in our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be one of the certain women of our day. Will you join me?