Wednesday, October 24, 2012

General Conference Notes: October 2012 Part #2

So here is part #2 of my General Conference notes and thoughts. I am only covering one talk. This talk was AMAZING! It was so good I have basically copied the whole talk. If you know me you know which general authority I most look forward to. He is one of the twelve apostles and favorite to many....Elder Jeffery R. Holland!

His talk goes hand in hand with what the seminary students are currently learning and what Sister Blaine has recently taught in seminary. It was an answer to my prayers in understanding what I was reading in the New Testament. I remember reading over the chapters that covers what Elder Holland spoke about and thinking very little of it. I am grateful for his talk and for a better understanding of the first four books of the New Testament.

Sunday Morning - Jeffery R. Holland "The First Great Commandment"

I think we sometimes forget just how inexperienced they (the apostles) still were and how totally dependent upon Jesus they had of necessity been.

Three years isn’t long to call an entire Quorum of Twelve Apostles from a handful of new converts, purge from them the error of old ways, teach them the wonders of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then leave them to carry on the work until they too were killed. Quite a staggering prospect for a group of newly ordained elders. I never thought of the apostles lives like this. How quickly they changed their old ways to follow the Savior, someone they hardly knew to do things that they had never done before. Three years isn't that long...

Then, after such a short time to learn and even less time to prepare, the unthinkable happened, the unbelievable was true. Their Lord and Master, their Counselor and King, was crucified. His mortal ministry was over, and the struggling little Church He had established seemed doomed to scorn and destined for extinction. His Apostles did witness Him in His resurrected state, but that only added to their bewilderment. As they surely must have wondered, “What do we do now?” they turned for an answer to Peter, the senior Apostle. These words spoken by Elder Holland bring me to tears. Read it again and think about what the apostles must have felt like without their mentor there to guide them. Just sit and think about this as though you were Peter. He had ten men depending on him the way he depended on the Savior for guidance and he knew not what to do.

Peter answering the questions of his fellow apostles: "So you ask, 'What do we do now?' I don't know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to 'go a fishing.'" And at least six of the ten other remaining Apostles said in agreement, "We also go with thee." John, who was one of them, writes, "They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately."

But, alas, the fishing wasn't very good. Their first night back on the lake, they caught nothing, not a single fish. With the first rays of dawn, they disappointedly turned toward the shore, where they saw in the distance a figure who called out to them, "Children, have you caught anything?" Glumly these Apostles-turned-again-fishermen gave the answer no fisherman wants to give. "We have caught nothing," they muttered, and to add insult to injury, they were being called "children." "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find," the stranger calls out-and with those simple words, recognition begins to flood over them. Just three years earlier these very men had been fishing on this very sea. On that occasion too they had "toiled all the night, and [had] taken nothing," the scriptures says. But a fellow Galilean on the shore had call out to them to let down their nets, and they drew "a great multitude of fishes," enough that their nets broke, the catch filling two boats so heavily they had begun to sink. Now it was happening again. These "children," as they were rightly called, eagerly lowered their net, and "they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." John said the obvious: "It is the Lord." And over the edge of the boat, the irrepressible Peter leaped.  After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, "Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?" Peter said, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, "Peter, do you love me?" Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, "Peter, do you love me?" by now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically-but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher's question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily,a almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, "Lord,...thou knowest that I love thee." To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my non scriptural elaboration) (I love how Elder Holland interprets this story. I just had to include it because I don't think it could have been explained any better), perhaps saying something like: "Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn't it obvious then and isn't it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples- and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly, loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not a hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be cosigned to the ask heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me." I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this part!  Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: "Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?" I love these last few questions Elder Holland asks in his interpretation. Think about the death of Christ as a nonbeliever...."Did you, did they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me?" I wonder how those nonbelievers felt after the death of Christ, seeing his work continue. Maybe then they believed.  My beloved brothers and sister, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: "Did you love me?" I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of the all, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,a and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." And if at such a moment we can stammer out, "Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee," then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.    This talk was amazing! I hope that everyone got the chance to watch it or read it. Don't go by my words alone...go read it! One more post about General Conference to come!

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