Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being With God

We had the privilege of listening to Elder David A. Bednar at our Regional Conference on Sunday at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He spoke about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck with me the most was his admonition to study the life and character of the Savior, because we need to receive His image in our countenance – and in order to become like the Savior, we need to know the Savior.

I thought it was interesting that Elder Bednar specifically mentioned studying the gospels and 3 Nephi, because during the Relief Society Broadcast I felt a distinct prompting to study those exact scriptures – to really study the life of the Savior so that I could become more like Him.

As I have been reading in Matthew (I have a goal to finish the book of Matthew by the end of October, but I’m only on chapter 5… I guess I have a lot of reading to do in the next few days!) I have been trying to be mindful of the footnotes, including the Joseph Smith Translation. Last week I got to Chapter 4 where Jesus fasts for forty days and Satan tempts him. The Joseph Smith Translation makes some really significant changes in our understanding of what happened.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God.” The King James Version says that the spirit led the Savior up into the wilderness “to be tempted of the devil” which sounds really strange – because we know that it is foolish to put ourselves in the position of being tempted by Satan. He gets enough chances to tempt us as it is, so why would we give him more opportunity? And surely the Savior would want to stay as far away from Satan as possible. I don’t think He said “Let me go find Satan and let him tempt me so that I can show him how tough I am.” That the Savior went into the wilderness to be “with God” makes a lot more sense. It also teaches us about the character of Christ – He valued being away from the world for at least a time, so that He could commune with God.

Jesus-fasting-in-the-wilderness As mothers, could our “wilderness” be escaping from our responsibilities as wives and mothers for a few moments? How often to we go “into the wilderness” (away from home) to be tempted of the devil? I can’t think of times when I have wanted to get away from home and my kids so that I can pursue worldly interests – maybe a career, maybe simply shopping. An example that comes to mind is the race I ran this weekend (more about that tomorrow). How often do we go “into the wilderness to be with God”? I can think of once when I left the kids at home with my husband so I could go to the temple. That one-on-one time with God was so healing for me, and so peaceful. When I came back home I was a much better mother. I need to spend more time in the “wilderness” with God rather than with other things. My wilderness comes in the mornings, usually, and sometimes it is hard to use those early morning hours for communing with God rather than reading news articles, “liking” Facebook posts, or  commenting on blogs, and before I know it, the children are awake and the opportunity is lost.

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterward an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil.” It is significant to me that the Savior communed with the Lord before he was left to be tempted. He had been with God first, which I am sure gave Him strength for when Satan came around. Do we commune with God often enough that we have strength for when Satan comes around to tempt us?

When the King James Version says “then the devil taketh him up” to the different places, the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that it was actually the Spirit taking the Savior to the different places. This makes sense, of course, because the devil has not power over Christ. It is almost as if the Spirit was taking Christ away from Satan, and Satan just kept tagging along like a lost puppy.

Elder Bednar pointed out the translation of verse 11: “Then the devil leaveth him, and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and behold they came and ministered unto him (John).” This translation is significantly different than the Savior having angels minister to Him. The Lord knew that John was in prison, and he had just been fasting for forty days and forty nights and had been dealing with the father of lies, and instead of worrying about himself, the Savior sent angels to minister to John.

I am so grateful for the scriptures and the opportunity I have to seek the Lord and find Him and learn about Him. President Uchtdorf has said, “The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him.” I hope that as I seek the Lord I can diligently seek Him and eventually, come to know Him.

How do you diligently seek the Lord? Have you studied the life of Christ? Do you study His life frequently? Have you found that you are coming to know Him? What gems from the Joseph Smith Translation have you found that have helped clarify the character of Christ for you?

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