Chapter 9: “Whosoever Shall Do the Will of the Father”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 64–69


Map Chp. 9

The Galilean Ministry

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Capernaum, Galilee

Centurion’s Servant Healed

8:5–13

 

7:1–10

 

Nain, Galilee

Son of Widow Raised

  

7:11–17

 

Galilee

John Sends Investigators

11:2–24, 28–30

 

7:18–35

 

Woman Anoints Jesus in Simon’s House

  

7:36–50

 

Another Tour Through Galilee

  

8:1–3

 

Capernaum, Galilee

Statement on Beelzebub

12:22–37

3:22–30

  

Discourse on Signs and Testimony

12:38–45

   

His Mother and Brethren Seek Him

12:46–50

3:31–35

8:19–21

 

Interpretive Commentary

(9-1) Matthew 11:2, 3. Did John Doubt That Jesus Was the Messiah?

“The question often arises why John would send his disciples to ask such a question of Jesus. Many have wondered if it was possible that John himself was not sure of Christ’s identity and divine calling. However, we must remember that John’s last recorded testimony was to his disciples when they were concerned about the growing popularity of Jesus. John reminded them that he himself was not the Messiah, and that they should leave him and follow Jesus. That was several months prior to the present event under discussion. It appears that one of the difficulties experienced by John was successfully persuading his disciples to forsake him and become the disciples of Jesus Christ, of whom he had borne witness. Now, months after the baptism of Jesus and after John’s repeated efforts to persuade them, John found some of his disciples still reluctant to detach themselves from him and to follow their true Master. It seems most consistent to identify John’s motive in sending the two disciples to Jesus as one of persuasion for them, rather than of reassurance for himself. The question they were to put to Jesus was for their edification, not for his own. John knew, as no one else knew, who Jesus was, and he had known it for a long time. He had had revelation from heaven to this effect: he had seen with his eyes, he had heard with his ears, and he had the testimony of the Holy Ghost. He even had received the ministry of angels while in the prison. The most satisfactory answer seems to be that John sent his disciples to question Jesus about his identity so that they themselves would at long last realize the truth of what John had been testifying for these many months. This approach seems consistent with John’s sure knowledge of the Redeemer, his known testimony to his disciples, and the natural reluctance of his disciples to leave him.

“Perhaps a point should be made here that there was not an antagonism between Jesus and John. A man did not have to utterly forsake and reject John in order to accept Jesus. But Jesus was the Son of God, and John was his prophet. There is no equal comparison between the two, and John did not want any mistaken notions among his own associates about the relative stations of himself and his Master.” (Matthews, A Burning Light: The Life and Ministry of John the Baptist, p. 92.)

(9-2) Matthew 11:11. No Greater Prophet than John the Baptist

“How is it that John was considered one of the greatest prophets? His miracles could not have constituted his greatness.

“First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.

“Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great a privilege and glory?

“Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it. The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman.” (Smith, Teachings, pp. 275–76.)

(9-3) Matthew 11:11. Who Was Considered to Be “Least in the Kingdom”?

“Whom did Jesus have reference to as being the least? Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God’s kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity as a prophet; as though He had said—‘He that is considered the least among you is greater than John—that is I myself.’” (Smith, Teachings, p. 276.)

(9-4) Matthew 11:20–24. Is There Such a Place as Hell?

“The Church does teach that there is a place called hell. Of course we do not believe that all those who do not receive the gospel will eventually be cast into hell. We do not believe that hell is a place where the wicked are being burned forever. The Lord has prepared a place, however, for all those who are to be eternally punished for the violation of his laws. …

“A place where those who cannot be redeemed and who are called sons of Perdition will go into outer darkness. This is the real hell where those who once knew the truth and had the testimony of it and then turned away and blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ, will go. These are they who have sinned against the Holy Ghost. For them there is no forgiveness, and the Lord said he had prepared a place for them. (D&C 76:31–37; 88:32–33.)

“All those who enter the telestial kingdom, which will be a place, as each of these kingdoms will be, will be punished for their sins. Satan for a time will have dominion over them until they have paid the price of their sinning, before they can enter into that telestial kingdom.

“This earth will become a celestial kingdom when it is sanctified. Those who enter the terrestrial kingdom will have to go to some other sphere which will be prepared for them. Those who enter the telestial kingdom, likewise will have to go to some earth which is prepared for them, and there will be another place which is hell where the devil and those who are punished to go with him will dwell. Of course, those who enter the telestial kingdom, and those who enter the terrestrial kingdom will have the eternal punishment which will come to them in knowing that they might, if they had kept the commandments of the Lord, have returned to his presence as his sons and his daughters. This will be a torment to them, and in that sense it will be hell.” (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:208–10.)

(9-5) Matthew 12:30. “He That Is Not with Me Is against Me”

“As he went about in his ministry, Jesus was met with varied reactions. There were some who gladly accepted him, followed him wherever he went and tried to live his teachings. There were some who were indifferent, and then there were others who openly opposed him. So the people of that day had before them a clear working example of the law of opposition in all things. On the one hand was Jesus preaching the way of life; on the other were the Scribes and the Pharisees who fought him at every step. Then there were the indifferent ones. Can we say that they were for the Lord or against him, or were they merely, as we say, indifferent? I call to your mind that the indifferent ones did not keep the commandments, and by their indifference they encouraged others to be indifferent, and as the others became indifferent, they also refused to obey the commandments of the Lord their God.

“These indifferent ones built up a barrier against the Christ, and as they spread the example of disobedience they became a hindrance to him in his work, and for that reason the Lord said:

“He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. (Matt. 12:30.)” (Mark E. Petersen in CR, Apr. 1945, pp. 41–42.)

(9-6) Matthew 12:31. What Is the Condition for Forgiveness?

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men who receive me and repent; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven unto men.” (Matthew 12:26, Inspired Version.)

(9-7) Matthew 12:31. What Is the Sin against the Holy Ghost?

To sin against the Holy Ghost, a person must reject knowledge that he has received from the Holy Ghost. As the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: “He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it. …” (Teachings, p. 358.) Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote the following statement about the certainty of knowledge revealed by the Spirit and the seriousness of denying it:

“The testimony of the Spirit is so great, and the impressions and revelations of divine truth so forcefully revealed that there comes to the recipient a conviction of the truth that he cannot forget. Therefore, when a person once enlightened by the Spirit so that he receives knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, then turns away and fights the Lord and his work, he does so against the light and testimony he has received by the power of God. Therefore, he has resigned himself to evil knowingly. Therefore Jesus said there is no forgiveness for such a person.

“The testimony of the Holy Ghost is the strongest testimony that a man can receive.” (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:92.)

(9-8) Matthew 12:32. What Is the Difference between Rejecting Jesus and Denying the Holy Ghost?

“A man who has not received the gift of the Holy Ghost and therefore who has never ‘tasted of the heavenly gift,’ may be guilty of blasphemy against Jesus Christ and be forgiven on his repentance, but so great is the testimony through the gift of the Holy Ghost, should he turn against the Lord and fight his work, there is no forgiveness. The shedding of innocent blood is not confined to taking lives of the innocent, but is also included in seeking to destroy the word of God, and putting Christ to open shame. Those who have known the truth and then fight against the authorized servants of Jesus Christ also fight against him, for they who fight against his servants also do it unto him, and thus are guilty of his blood.” (Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:63–64.)

Points to Ponder

Satan Becomes the Father of Those Who Reject Jesus Christ

You have now read the account of the Pharisees’ blasphemous charge that Jesus cast out evil spirits by the power of Satan. (See Matthew 12:24.) Jesus used this occasion to bear witness that he was indeed the Son of God and to further indicate that the Pharisees were blind to his mission because they chose to serve Satan. In his denunciation of their blasphemous charge, Jesus used three arguments to testify of his messiahship.

First: Review Matthew 12:25, 26. What is his first argument?

Second: Review Matthew 12:27–29. To whom was Jesus referring when he asked, “By whom do your children cast them out”? Compare this with his answer as given in the Inspired Version. (Note that verse 27 in the King James Version is verse 23 in the Inspired Version.)

“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. For they also cast out devils by the Spirit of God, for unto them is given power over devils, that they may cast them out.”

Commenting on this, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has said:

“Sectarian commentators, almost universally, have assumed that by exorcism, magic, or incantation of some sort the false religionists of Christ’s day were able to cast out devils. With nothing but the King James Version before them it should be evident that this conclusion is absurd and illogical, for the whole tenor of this passage is that Satan cannot cast out Satan. But from the Inspired Version we learn that those others of the Jews who were casting out devils were persons who had gained the Spirit of God, that is they had been baptized, were members of the Church, held the priesthood, and were walking uprightly and faithfully before the Father. False ministers have not, do not, will not, and cannot cast out devils.” (DNTC, 1:269.)

Third: Review Matthew 12:33–35. What is he asking of the Pharisees?

“‘Be consistent, you Pharisees; make the tree good or bad, if it is good to cast out devils, and I cast them out, then my work is good, for a tree is known by its fruits; but if I am evil, as you say, then it must be a wicked thing to heal those possessed of evil spirits, for a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.’” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:275.)

As Jesus instructed the Pharisees as to his divinity, he was leveling an indictment at them. Later he told them that by rejecting him as the true Messiah, they had actually accomplished what they had accused him of doing: Choosing the devil as their father. (See John 8:44.)

Through Obedience to the Commandments, We Choose Christ as Our Father

Read again Matthew 12:49, 50 and then read the following, including the scriptures cited:

In the gospel sense, men have many fathers. Some of these father-son relationships are listed here.

The father of the spirit body

Romans 8:16

The father of the physical body

Hebrews 12:9

Fathers in the priesthood

“Faithful holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, no matter what their natural lineage, become by adoption the sons of Moses and Aaron. (D. & C. 84:6, 31–34.)” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 745–46.)

The Father who saves us

James 1:17, 18; Mosiah 5:7

All of these father-son relationships are vital, for if any one of them were omitted, progress toward perfection would be halted.

Each of these life relationships requires basic conditions. For example, physical life requires oxygen; and if oxygen is lacking, there will be no physical life.

In the same way, becoming a member of the family of Christ (which is the ultimate and most glorious of all life relationships) involves certain conditions. And if these conditions are not met, then the candidate cannot be a member of the family of Jesus.

What did Mary and her other sons have to do, and what must you do, to become a member of the family of Jesus? (See Matthew 12:49, 50.)

(9-9) We Can Become Members of the Family of Jesus Christ

“This [the idea that we may become members of the family of Christ] is a special family relationship reserved for the faithful. It is over, above, and in addition to the fact that all men are the spirit children of the Eternal Father. … This is a glorious and wondrous doctrine. We are the sons and daughters of the living God, the children of the great Jehovah, the adopted offspring of the Lord Jesus Christ. We bear the name of Christ. We are members of his family. He is our father.” (McConkie, “The Ten Commandments of a Peculiar People,” Speeches of the Year, 1975, p. 30.)