My brothers and sisters: I publicly express my deep gratitude to the Lord, to our remarkable and beloved President Kimball, and to his counselors for my call to the Twelve—among whom I shall be the least, long after being the last so ordained.
I express deep love and appreciation to my wife, who is splendid in every way; to my goodly and gracious parents and sisters; to my children, who are committed to the kingdom and who have been wise enough to have married committed eternal partners.
I realize that my life, of course, must constitute my real acceptance of the apostolic charge. Even so, this poor tongue now seeks to speak in praise and testimony of our Divine Redeemer.
Whether descriptively designated as Creator, Only Begotten Son, Prince of Peace, Advocate, Mediator, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Author and Finisher of Salvation, King of Kings—I witness that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved! (See D&C 18:23.)
I testify that He is utterly incomparable in what He is, what He knows, what He has accomplished, and what He has experienced. Yet, movingly, He calls us His friends. (See John 15:15.)
We can trust, worship, and even adore Him without any reservation! As the only Perfect Person to sojourn on this planet, there is none like Him! (See Isa. 46:9.)
In intelligence and performance, He far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.)
He rejoices in our genuine goodness and achievement, but any assessment of where we stand in relation to Him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneel!
Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways we cannot comprehend, our sicknesses and infirmities were borne by Him even before these were borne by us. (See Alma 7:11–12; Matt. 8:17.) The very weight of our combined sins caused Him to descend below all. (See D&C 122:8.) We have never been, nor will we be, in depths such as He has known. Thus His atonement made His empathy and His capacity to succor us perfect, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials. There was no ram in the thicket at Calvary to spare Him, this Friend of Abraham and Isaac.
Can those who yearn for hearth or home instruct Him as to what it is like to be homeless or on the move? Did He not say in a disclosing moment that “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”? (Matt. 8:20.)
Can we really counsel Him about being misrepresented, misunderstood, or betrayed? Or what it is like when even friends falter or “go a fishing”? (See John 21:3.)
Can we educate Him regarding injustice or compare failures of judicial systems with the Giver of the Law, who, in divine dignity, endured its substantive and procedural perversion?
Cannot the childless who crave children count on His empathy? For He loved children and said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven”; and “one by one, [He] blessed them,” and “he wept … and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again.” (Matt. 19:14; 3 Ne. 17:21–22.)
Do we presume to instruct Him in either compassion or mercy? Even at the apogee of His agony upon the cross, He, nevertheless, consoled a thief beside Him, saying, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43.)
Can we excuse our compromises because of the powerful temptations of status seeking? It was He who displayed incredible integrity as the adversary made Him an offer which could not be refused—“all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” (Matt. 4:8.) But He refused!
Can we teach Him about enduring irony? His remaining possession, a cloak, was gambled for even as He died. (See Matt. 27:35.) Yet the very earth was His footstool! Jesus gave mankind living water so that we shall never thirst again, yet on the cross He was given vinegar! (See John 4:10–19; Matt. 27:48.)
Can we lecture Him on liberty, He who sets us free from our last enemies—sin and death?
Can those who revere human freedom yet complain about human suffering ever achieve real reconciliation except through His gospel?
Can those concerned with nourishing the poor advise Him concerning feeding the multitudes?
Can those who are concerned with medicine instruct Him about healing the sick?
Or can we inform the Atoner about feeling the sting of ingratitude when one’s service goes unappreciated or unnoticed? Only one leper in ten thanked Jesus, who asked searchingly, “But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17.)
Should those concerned with lengthening the lifespan offer to enlighten the Resurrector of all mankind?
Can scientists, whose discipline brings the discovery of the interweavings in the tapestry of truth, instruct the Tapestry Maker?
Should we seek to counsel Him in courage? Should we rush forth eagerly to show Him our mortal medals—our scratches and bruises—He who bears His five special wounds?
Does not His “word of power” actually bring entire new worlds into being and cause others to pass away? (See Moses 1:35–38.) Yet in the midst of such galactic governance, He interviewed His Twelve unhurriedly “one by one” (3 Ne. 28:1) and later called a farm boy in rural New York.
Has He not invited us to observe His cosmic craftsmanship in the heavens that we might see “God moving in His majesty and power”? (D&C 88:47.) But do we not also see Him “moving in His majesty and power” as each prodigal finally completes his homeward orbit?
Did not the resurrected Jesus stand by an imprisoned Paul, telling him to be of good cheer and calling him on his mission to Rome? (See Acts 23:11.) Likewise, Jesus stands by the righteous in all their individual ordeals.
Did not this good and true Shepherd forego repose after the glorious but awful Atonement in order to establish His work among the lost sheep, disobedient in the days of Noah? (See 1 Pet. 3:18–20.) Did He not then visit still other lost sheep in the Americas? (See John 10:16; 3 Ne. 15:17, 21.) Then still other lost sheep? (See 3 Ne. 16:1–3.) What can we tell Him about conscientiousness?
Indeed, we cannot teach Him anything! But we can listen to Him. We can love Him, we can honor Him, we can worship Him! We can keep His commandments, and we can feast upon His scriptures! Yes, we who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by Him! We are His “work” and His “glory,” and He is never distracted! (See Moses 1:39.)
Therefore, in addition to my boundless admiration of His achievements and my adoration of Jesus for what He is—knowing that my superlatives are too shallow to do more than echo his excellence—as one of His Special Witnesses in the fulness of times, I attest to the fulness of His ministry!
How dare some treat His ministry as if it were all beatitudes and no declaratives! How myopic it is to view His ministry as all crucifixion and no resurrection! How provincial to perceive it as all Calvary and no Palmyra! All rejection at a village called Capernaum and no acceptance in the City of Enoch! All relapse and regression in ancient Israel and no Bountiful with its ensuing decades of righteousness!
Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Red Sea and of Sinai, the Resurrected Lord, the Spokesman for the Father in the theophany at Palmyra—a Palmyra pageant with a precious audience of one!
He lives today, mercifully granting unto all nations as much light as they can bear and messengers of their own to teach them. (See Alma 29:8.) And who better than the Light of the World can decide the degree of divine disclosure—whether it is to be flashlights or floodlights?
Soon, however, all flesh shall see Him together. All knees shall bow in His presence, and all tongues confess His name. (See D&C 76:110–11; Philip. 2:10–11.) Knees which never before have assumed that posture for that purpose will do so then—and promptly. Tongues which have never before spoken His name except in gross profanity will do so then—and worshipfully.
Soon, He who was once mockingly dressed in purple will come again, attired in red apparel, reminding us whose blood redeemed us. (See D&C 133:48–49.)
All will then acknowledge the completeness of His justice and His mercy (see Alma 12:15) and will see how human indifference to God—not God’s indifference to humanity—accounts for so much suffering.
Then we will see the true story of mankind—and not through glass darkly. (See 1 Cor. 13:12.) The great military battles will appear as mere bonfires which blazed briefly, and the mortal accounts of the human experience will be but graffiti on the walls of time.
Before that reckoning moment, however, both your ministry and mine will unfold in the grim but also glorious circumstances of the last days.
Yes, there will be wrenching polarization on this planet, but also the remarkable reunion with our colleagues in Christ from the City of Enoch. Yes, nation after nation will become a house divided, but more and more unifying Houses of the Lord will grace this planet. Yes, Armageddon lies ahead. But so does Adam-ondi-Ahman!
Meanwhile, did not Jesus tell us what to expect by way of heat in the final summer? Did He not also say that He would prove our faith and patience by trial?
Did He not provide needed proportion when He spoke of the comparative few who will find the narrow way leading to the strait gate? (See Matt. 7:13–14.) Did He not also say that His Saints, scattered upon all the face of the earth, would, in the midst of wickedness, commotion, and persecution, be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God,” for He is determined to have “a pure people”? (1 Ne. 14:12–14; D&C 100:16.)
So as the shutters of human history begin to close as if before a gathering storm, and as events scurry across the human scene like so many leaves before a wild wind—those who stand before the warm glow of the gospel fire can be permitted a shiver of the soul. Yet in our circle of certitude, we know, even in the midst of all these things, that there will be no final frustration of God’s purposes. God has known “all things from the beginning; wherefore he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men.” (1 Ne. 9:6.)
Humbly, therefore, I promise to go whithersoever I am sent, striving to speak the words He would have me say and acknowledging in the tremblings of my soul that I cannot fully be His Special Witness unless my life is fully special. I close with pleadings from the hymn “O, Divine Redeemer!” which pleadings are my pleadings:
Ah! turn me not away,
Receive me, tho’ unworthy, …
Hear Thou my cry, …
Behold, Lord, my distress! …
Thy pity show in my deep anguish! …
Shield me in danger,
O regard me! …
O, divine Redeemer! …
Grant me pardon, and remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins! …
Help me, my Savior!
(Charles Gounod, New York: G. Schirmer.)
In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.