Saturday, May 3, 2014

Who is Jesus Christ?

A popular game that featured Disney trivia came out when I was young. This video/board game was highly entertaining as you had to take on many different challenging activities throughout the game. I loved a certain challenge called "guess who" the very most. Guess who is played by the system giving different descriptions of a character (starting from broad characteristics to specific ones) until the guesser can guess who the character they are describing is. The reason I loved this game so much was because Disney characters are really easy to distinguish because their stories, habits, physical looks, and other traits are all so different from each other. To me, it was easy points. 

Once I began Junior High, those kind of games simply weren't as entertaining or addicting as they once were. Until a day in class that I'll never forget. The teacher put together a class "guess who" where anyone who volunteered would go up and describe (nicely) someone else in the class. I remember they started and I was stumped almost every time. Because everyone seemed so similar. 

You might be wondering, why in the world I am talking about silly games when my title is about our Savior. It is because I believe we sometimes like to tackle the lesson of teaching who Jesus Christ is as a checklist of the things He said, did, and was. We combine all of the stories from the New Testament, especially the first four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and try and create our own "guess who" list from the stories and attributes given of Christ. This becomes problematic because sometimes we lose important key concepts that really differentiate between Christ and anyone who might have claimed to be Him. I guess this is only fitting because most of us have not had a personal face to face conversation with Christ, and we are all trying to figure out who he is from a different party of clues and suggestions. 

Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I feel I have been taught about Jesus Christ more than anything. One thing I feel I have been deprived from however, is a full study of the New Testament. We learn from multiple church leaders that together the Book of Mormon and the correct translation of the Bible together are the fullness of the gospel. I wonder why we sometimes cram together all the stories of Christ from the New Testament, when we rarely do this for the Book of Mormon. 

I have begun a New Testament class at BYU and this week we studied a rhetorical analysis of all the four authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and why they should be studied differently. The article consisted of who the authors intended audiences were, the language they chose to use, the highlights they chose to emphasize, and mainly the why questions for every book. Reading the article really opened my eyes and lead me to a deeper desire to study each gospel independently to come to know my Savior more than the perspective I have been gained from a limited study. 

As an example of the importance of the important lesson I learned from looking deeper into the gospels separately, I will give a new important detail I studied from independently looking into Matthew. In the essay, at the end of their discussion they talk about John the Baptist and how he told Pharisees that their salvation wasn't secure and they were required to repent or else "The coming one" would cast them out. Later in this Gospel we find John in jail sending one of his disciples to find Jesus and ask him if he was truly the "coming one" that John spoke of to the Pharisees. When Jesus replied, he replied with telling John that he was the coming one that was healing the blind, lame, death, and many others. 

Why would Jesus not take on the title of the "coming one" as portraying him of casting people out who did not repent? One day he will do that, as the article discusses, but why did Jesus focus on his healing miracles instead? I like to believe that Jesus wanted them, and us also, to focus on the changes and healing He can help us with. He desires us to see His love and His grace. He wanted John to know him as a healer. 

What does this have to do with me and you? So often we focus on Judgment day for the reasoning behind why we must repent. Of course we have to repent if we want to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, the highest of all the degrees of glory (more info on But is that all that Jesus wants us to see through his healing? I like to believe that, just like John, Jesus wants us to come to know Him personally as the healer, which we can do as we repent. I believe that because Jesus loves us, He wants to heal us because He Can. He was letting John know He can perform miracles on the seemingly hopeless cases, just like He can do for us. So in essence, as we use the atonement we come to know Christ through his healing and love. If we only look at Christ as someone who punishes, our eternal perspectives will be highly limited, because Christ wants us to see His love, feel it, and use it. 

These little details in stories are normally ignored as we "timeline" Jesus's life by compiling all four gospels into one. These little details could change everything for someone. I know on my mission I won't be able to convince every person I talk to that they need to be baptized, although I wish that was the case. I was inspired by Chloe Isaac's farewell talk when she said, "my goal isn't to baptize everyone, it is to let every person know they have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love them". This will also be my mission goal. 

In conclusion, I challenge all those who are currently striving to come to know Christ to: 
1. Use His atonement. Apply it every day in your life! Strive for the comfort you need during trials, and peace you need during repentance, that can only come from Him. As you diligently try to repent and become more like Him, you will know more about Him. 
2. Study about Him more fully by taking every account of Him separately and dissecting them all. Ask yourself why there are certain things included in some scriptures, and others not. There are certain thing emphasized in every account that you can come to know Him. This will help with your testimony that yes! There really was a Savior who came down to Earth and atoned for every single person, and yes! He lives today!! 
3. Be patient and listen to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will teach you more fully who the Savior is and how he loves you. One of my favorite quotes comes from a book called "suit up!" One of the authors say, "His hand is always open for us, we are the ones that must turn and grab onto it". We must seek him to come to him, and the Holy Ghost will be our companion in our journey. 

Here is a link to the intriguing article I read:

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