Matthew 21–23; Mark 11; Luke 19–20; John 12
“Behold, Thy King Cometh”
I love Come Follow Me. Today in ward council, we were talking about ways that have worked and haven’t worked as families have tried to implement this program. It was so cool to me to see that even when we feel we’ve failed at doing this, we keep trying. We aren’t’ giving up on this thing because we’ve seen the blessings and know it’s inspired. As humans, especially this human, we tend to give up easily if something is hard. That’s another reason I feel this program is inspired. We aren’t giving up. No one is checking on us. There aren’t written requirements on how to implement this thing, and we are doing it anyway. Doesn’t that make you proud of us? It makes me proud of us.
I was chatting with a friend tonight, and he said, “I love what the church is doing right now.” And I do too. It’s so good.
This lesson starts out with the story of Christ, the disciples, and the fig tree. He is hungry. They have walked far. In the distance, they see a fig tree. “Yea! Some food.” But when they get there, there is no fruit on the tree. This is the beginning of the Savior’s lessons to us about hypocrisy – representing yourself as something that you’re not.
As Christ walks away from this tree, he curses it. He was hungry. But that tree wasn’t what it looked like. There was no refreshment there at all. I called it the false fig and asked what our false figs may be? What are we supposedly representing that really has no fruit? Are our churches beautiful buildings that attract strangers and then when they come in, we ignore or judge? Do we sometimes present ourselves as something we really aren’t? Is the sign on at Burger King but when we get there the drive up window is closed?
In Mark 11 we read the rest of the story.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have afaith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
First off, I always find it interesting that the apostles marvel at the things Jesus does. Peter said, “Hey! That fig tree you cursed, it died!” I think Jesus may have been thinking, “I shriveled a tree? That’s amazing? Yesterday I healed that blind man. Did you forget that?” But do we do this? Why do we constantly forget the things that the Lord did for us YESTERDAY? We need to remember how we’ve seen His power in our lives. Remember Eyring’s talk about seeing and writing down how we saw the hand of the Lord in our lives every day? We need to try harder to remember. Please don’t forget.
And then Christ said, “Peter, have faith in God. You can do amazing things if you have faith in God.” I think the Savior whispers that to us every day. “You can do amazing things! You have so much power in you if you just have faith and don’t doubt. Look what you can do! I believe in you!”
I recently read a book called “The Passion of Dolssa” by Julie Berry. I really liked it. It was set in the 1400’s in France and it was when people were being killed for heresy and the Church was trying to control and destroy anyone claiming power or authority from God. In the book, there is a character named Dolssa. She was a faithful girl who basically had Christ with her all the time. It was a gift. She was tried and found guilty of heresy and at the last minute, escaped her fate.
Long story short, she ended up in this town, and another character named Botille helps her. Botille sees the miraculous things about Dolssa. She is drawn to her and believes her. (I’m not really wrecking this book, I promise. You should still read it.)
One night Botille’s sister gets really sick and is dying. Botille runs in to Dolssa’s room and asks her to come help. Botille says, “Do something! You’re the holy one who talks to God all day. You’re the maker of miracles.”
And Dolssa questions, “Who said I…. “Botille interrupts, “I do! I’ve seen the things you’ve done! Dolssa counters by basically saying, “I don’t know what you are talking about. I can do no miracles.” Botille almost screams, “YOU CAN! I’ve seen you.” They argue back and forth all the while Dolssa questioning her gifts and Botille trying to convince her of the divinity within her. Finally, Dolssa gives in and prays and well, I’ll let you find out what happens. But I’m sure you can probably figure that part out.
Later that night Botille is pondering why in the world the Almighty would show up in a dingy little tavern like hers. She says, “
“I who peddled in ale and wine and brides, how could…? Why would…? Such holiness cross paths with me?” Her humility in this book was as beautiful to me as Dolssa’s power. Because it is the humble, trusting people who actually see the miracles. Christ hung out with the publicans and sinners. Because they listened to Him. They believed. They never thought they were better than anyone else, especially the Son of God. That’s why I loved this story so much and why I felt that part went along with the lesson. Christ is like Botille. He says to us as he said to Peter, “Look what you can do! Have faith! I believe in you. That faith of yours can do amazing things.” Listen to Him. You can do more than you think you can. Have faith. Do not doubt and watch the miracles the Lord can work in this world through you. It’s so beautiful.
Next is the story of Zacchæus. He was the rich man who ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree so he could see Jesus. I pointed out that I think there were a few cool things about this story. First, I noted that it was a tribute to his character that he actually wanted to see and meet the Savior. Jesus had been preaching how hard it was for a rich man to get into heaven and, “Wo unto the rich,” etc. Zacchaeus could have been offended. He could have been hurt by the words of the Savior, but instead, he still wanted to see Him. And then he went to great lengths to find him. And when Jesus finally caught up to where he was, Jesus called him to come down and chose to eat with him that night.
When we are humble, teachable, avoid taking offense, and really try to seek out Jesus, we will find Him. He will pick us. He will want to be with us as much as we want to be with Him. He loves all of us so much. It’s a cool story.
The lesson continues with more metaphors about hypocrisy. The Savior compares the Pharisees to cups that look so clean and beautiful on the outside, but are full of garbage on the inside. He talks about the Pharisees being like beautiful tombs that are actually filled with dead men’s’ bones. How they strain at a gnat but swallow a camel.
By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in a talk called,
On Being Genuine, “The God of Creation, who breathed life into the universe, surely has the power to breathe life into you. Surely He can make of you the genuine, spiritual being of light and truth you desire to be.
But this cannot happen if we hide behind personal, dogmatic, or organizational facades. Such artificial discipleship not only keeps us from seeing ourselves as who we really are, but it also prevents us from truly changing through the miracle of the Savior’s Atonement.
The Church is not an automobile showroom—a place to put ourselves on display so that others can admire our spirituality, capacity, or prosperity. It is more like a service center, where vehicles in need of repair come for maintenance and rehabilitation.
And are we not, all of us, in need of repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation?
We come to Church not to hide our problems but to heal them.”
The Pharisees were so caught up with appearing better than all of those around them, that they didn’t see how far they really were from actually being who they presented themselves to be. We need to be careful not to fall into that trap.
Be humble doers of the word, and eventually it will become who we are. When the Savior comes, we will be like Him because we followed Him and did what He said and believed in ourselves and saw the miracles. It will be a beautiful day.