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This episode of the Come Follow Me podcast relates many stories that you probably haven’t heard into the calling of an apostle and what today’s apostles say about their own special witness of Jesus Christ. You will also come to know, by tradition, how each of the Twelve that Christ called eventually died.  

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Approximate Transcript of Podcast

Maurine

Welcome to the Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and today’s lesson is on Matthew 10-12; Mark 2; Luke 7; 11. “These Twelve Jesus Sent Forth.”

Scot

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The Lord Jesus Christ builds His Church on the foundation of apostles and prophets who bear special witness of Him to all the world, and hold keys for the administration of His work here. Jesus, who is the living head of this Church, calls Twelve Apostles now, just as He did anciently. These are the Twelve Jesus called.

Maurine

They are:

Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Peter, James and John made up the First Presidency of the Church and they had special roles. They came with the Savior when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, they were on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Savior, and not far from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Scot

Philip, was a disciple of John the Baptist, and was also from the same fishing village as Peter and Andrew, which is called Bethsaida.

Bartholomew, who is also called Nathannael, was the man sitting under a fig tree whom the Savior saw and called a man without guile.

Maurine

Thomas, who we sometimes erroneously called the doubting Thomas.

Matthew, who was a publican, or tax collector. You remember publicans were often despised among the people because they were employed by the Romans.

James the son of Alphaeus, Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddeus

Simon the Cannanite,

Judas Iscariot—who was the only one not from Galilee and who carried the purse, or in other words was the treasurer for the group.

Scot

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “In order to establish a church that would continue under His direction even after He was taken from the earth, Jesus ‘went…into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

“And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples; and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles’ (Luke 6: 12-13)

Maurine

“Later on, Paul would teach that the Savior, knowing the inevitability of His death, had done this to give the Church a ‘foundation of…apostles and prophets’ [See Ephesians 2:19-20]. Today, we also have Twelve Apostles. These Brethren and the other officers of the Church would serve under the direction of the resurrected Christ.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Prophets, Seers and Revelators”, Oct. 2004 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/10/prophets-seers-and-revelators?lang=eng

Scot

They take their callings with the utmost solemnity and importance. President Spencer W. Kimball described the experience he had when he was called to be an apostle. He had been given his calling twelve weeks before he came to Salt Lake to begin in his office. He said, “I believe the brethren were very kind to me I announcing my appointment when they did so that I might make the necessary adjustments in my business affairs, but perhaps they were more inspired to give me the time that I needed for a long period of purification, for in those long days and weeks I did a great deal of thinking and praying, and fasting and praying.

Maurine

“There were conflicting thoughts that surged through my mind—seeming voices saying: ‘You can’t do the work. You are not worthy. You have not the ability,’—and always finally came the triumphant thought: “You must do the work assigned—you must make yourself able, worthy, and qualified.” And the battle raged on.

Scot

President Kimball continued, “I remember reading that Jacob wrestled all night, “until the breaking of the day,” for a blessing:  and I want to tell you that for eighty-five nights I have gone through that experience, wrestling for a blessing. Eighty-five times, the breaking of the day has found me on my knees praying to the Lord to help me and strengthen me and make me equal to this great responsibility that has come to me.” That’s a moving scene. President Spencer W. Kimball, “The Breaking of Day Has Found Me on My Knees” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2004/02/the-breaking-of-the-day-has-found-me-on-my-knees?lang=eng

Maurine

“Why do we need Twelve apostles? Elder Holland said, “Among other reasons, so ‘that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.’

“Thus the apostolic and prophetic foundation of the Church was to bless in all times, but especially in times of adversity or danger, times when we might feel like children, confused or disoriented, perhaps a little fearful, times in which the devious hand of men of the maliciousness of the devil would attempt to unsettle or mislead.” Jeffrey R. Holland, “Prophets, Seers and Revelators”, Oct. 2004 https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/10/prophets-seers-and-revelators?lang=eng

How does having the foundation of apostles and prophets help us in this day when there are so many confusing voices?

Scot

D&C 21:5,6

“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.”

Maurine

Heeding the voices of prophets and apostles, helps us to understand what is right and good in this time of confusion.

Duane Boyce, writing of the important of apostles and prophets today has said, “There is a vast difference that exists between our perspectives and those of God. (Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Corinthians 1:25-26). God perceives not only every thought and intent of every person’s heart but also foresees the eternal consequences of every person’s choices—and not only the consequences of such choices for themselves but also for all others who are affected by them (2 Nephi 9:20).

For Boyce quotes and stories see Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, 14 (2015): 7-32.  https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sustaining-the-brethren/

Scot

“He is also a being of perfect holiness (Moses 6:57; 7:35). He has no moral flaws, no selfish motivations (3 Nephi 12:48, 1 John 1:5). He wants only what is right and pure (Alma 7:20), and His love for us is perfect and unending (1 John 4:48). Not incidentally, His divine purpose is to help each of us become as He is (Moses 1:39).

Boyce continues, “It is hard to imagine how mortals could be less like God in these respects (Moses 1:10). Our natural condition limits our perspectives, subjects us to a constant battle with our selfish impulses, taints our love, and bends our purposes toward destructive ends (Mosiah 3:19). We are perfect at nothing (Matthew 19:17).

Maurine

What the Test of a Prophet is Not

All this helps us see why we cannot suppose that the test of authenticity for a prophetic teaching is whether or not it “makes sense” or whether or not it makes our lives easier. Since our ways are not the Lord’s ways, Boyce said, “We should expect to hear things from the prophets that are sometimes difficult.

When Moses approached Pharoah, the short-term result was a steep decline in the quality of life for the children of Israel.

Scot

A Yiddish proverb comments on the stubborn recalcitrance of humankind. “If God lived on earth people would break His windows.” Because it is our general tendency to reject God’s counsels and doings, our decision to accept or reject the ought not to be determined by a majority vote.”

 Maurine

Prophets and apostles are not called to be crowd pleasers or always to give you easy doctrine. But we are called to sustain them.

“President Henry B. Eyring taught the following:

“By our sustaining vote, we make solemn promises. We promise to pray for the Lord’s servants and that He will lead and strengthen them. (see D&C 93:51). We pledge that we will look for and expect to feel inspiration from God in their counsel and whenever they act in their calling (see D&C 1:38).” (See Boyce).

Scot

When Jesus called his Twelve apostles, He commissioned them to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

At the same time, He knew their message would not always be popular. Or that for many it would be difficult to hear, as they were invited to a life of higher discipline and submission.

The apostles are called to give this magnificent message of good news to the world, and at the same time, the Lord’s word makes some people angry.

Maurine

Matt. 10: 17-20

The Lord said to His apostles, “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

“And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”

Scot

“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

“For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of our Father which speaketh in you.”

Maurine

The things of God are known only through the Spirit of God.

Scot

President Harold B. Lee said it this way: “The measure of your true conversion…is whether or not you are so living that you see the power of God resting upon the leaders of this Church and that testimony goes down into your heart like fire.”

Harold B. Lee, “Be Loyal to the Royal Within You” https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/harold-b-lee_loyal-royal-within/

Maurine

Maurine’s own experience with a testimony of President Howard Hunter.

Scot

Duane Boyce collected some quotes illustrating that the Lord is the one who calls His leaders today, just as He did anciently.

President George Q. Cannon said this of Lorenzo Snow:

“As I have said, God has chosen him to stand where he does—not you or me; and He knows every secret thought of men’s hearts. His all-piercing eye has penetrated the innermost recesses of his heart, and He has seen all there is about him, inside and out. He knows him thoroughly, because He created him. He knew his past history…And knowing this He has chosen him.

Maurine

“President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the calling of then Elders Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks to the Twelve.

“Some will ask, why has the Church taken such competent men out of public service in their professions when they are doing so much good where they are now? I do not know. The Church has not done it. Rather, the Lord has made clear that these are they who should serve as His witnesses.”

Scot

“When Elder Robert D. Hales was named to the Twelve, President Hinckley said: “I give you my testimony, my brethren, that the impression to call Brother Hales to this high and sacred office came by the Holy Spirit, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Brother Hales did not suggest his own name. His name was suggested by the Spirit.”

Maurine

To be called as an apostle meant these were called to be special witness of the Savior. This was so important that later in Acts after Judas has lost his place among the Twelve, and a new Apostle needed to be chosen we see an important procedure which gives us a view into how the church was governed anciently.

The apostles were going to choose for the vacancy one of the men, “which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us.

“Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection” (Acts 1: 21, 22).

Scot

Clearly, the requirement was that they needed a special witness of Jesus Christ to fill that vacant position in the Twelve.  They appointed two as possible replacements.

“And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen.” Matthias was chosen. This was a vitally important, inspired choice, from one who was a witness of Jesus Christ and had been with them.

Maurine

Today, we also have special witnesses.

President Ezra Taft Benson once shared his testimony in these words: “And so on the third day following His burial, He came forth from the tomb alive and showed Himself to many. There were witnesses then who saw Him. There have been many in this dispensation who have seen Him. As one of those special witnesses…I testify to you that He lives. He lives with a resurrected body.

Scot

President Harold B. Lee maintained that in God’s relationship to the leaders of the Church, “He is closer to us than you have any idea.”

President Spencer W. Kimball remarked, regarding his own experience as the prophet:

“I say, in the deepest humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, and light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal…the Lord definitely calls prophets today and reveals His secrets unto them as He did yesterday, He does today, and will do tomorrow: that is the way it is.”

See Boyce https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sustaining-the-brethren/.

Maurine

Elder Marion G. Romney said: “I don’t know just how to answer people when they ask the question, ‘Have you seen the Lord?’ I think that the witness that I have and the witness that each [of the apostles] has, and the details of how it came, are too sacred to tell. I have never told anybody some of the experiences I have had, not even my wife. I know that God lives. I not only know that he lives, but I know Him.”

See Boyce. https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sustaining-the-brethren/

Scot

At Elder Scott’s funeral, a remark of his was remembered by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. “That word ‘know’ is a very important word for those 15 men who are apostles—the sacred experiences and the confirmation [of the] certainty that our Father in Heaven lives and that His Son, Jesus Christ is our Savior; is not a hope, not a belief, not a wish, but an absolute, confirmed certainty. Our Father in Heaven is real His Son, Jesus Christ, is real. I know the Savior.

Maurine

President Henry B. Eyring has said something similar, “I am a witness of the Resurrection of the Lord as surely as if I had been there in the evening with the two disciples in the house on Emmaus road. I know that He lives as surely as did Joseph Smith when he saw the Father and the Son in the light of a brilliant morning in a grove of trees in Palmyra.” https://ldsmag.com/4-things-to-understand-about-choosing-an-apostle/

Scot

Story of Boyd K. Packer about have you seen the Lord

Duane Boyce noted that, “Although Nephi tells us that Jacob saw the Lord (2 Nephi 11:3) when Jacob later listed his spiritual credentials in explaining why he could not be shaken by Sherem, he avoided explicit mention of his experience(Jacob 7:5).

Maurine

According to tradition, reports and legends most of them, gave their lives as martyrs

James was the first to die—stoned then clubbed to death.

Judas Thaddeus was sawn in half.

Peter was crucified upside down in Rome at his request. He did not consider himself worthy to die in the same way that the Lord did.

Andrew, his brother, was also crucified.

Thomas suffered a violent death as he was pierced through by the spears of four soldiers.

Scot

Philip was crucified.

Matthew was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

Bartholomew was skinned alive.

Simon the Canaanite was crucified.

Matthias suffered death like Abinadi by burning.

Paul was beheaded under the reign of Nero in Rome

Maurine

Our modern apostles have not been called upon to be martyrs (save Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt), but they give their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Gordon B. Hinckley went to the office until just the last few days before he died in striving to give his last measure of devotion. We asked his son Clark Hinckley, how he possibly did it and Clark said, “My father had extraordinary self-discipline.” The call to be an apostle is a call for life. No retirement. No easy way.

Scot

What is so interesting is that the Lord does His work through mortal beings. It is a participatory gospel that we are all involved in. He trains us to be devoted disciples. And, it is such a blessing for us that we are called in our own sphere, not to be special witnesses of Christ as the apostles do, but to bear our own witness of Jesus Christ in all times and in all places.

Maurine

We have the remarkable opportunity to have callings in the Church, and receive the guidance of the Spirit in our work. The ancient apostles were told, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour, what ye shall speak (Matthew 10:19). That is a gift also offered for us, that as we seek to serve with all of our heart, we are guided.

Scot

This is how it is said in Doctrine and Covenants 100: 5-8. “Lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment what ye shall say.

“But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.” This is a promise to all of us.

Maurine

And we work with priesthood power and under priesthood authority. Those who have been given the priesthood can trace their priesthood power directly back to Jesus Christ. I know you can do that Scot.

Scot

Scot gives his priesthood lineage.

Maurine

Lord of the Sabbath

Another deep message in these chapters is about the Sabbath. In Jesus’s time the Sabbath was on the 7th day of the week, what we call Saturday. It was to celebrate the seventh period of creation, the day God rested from His labors, calling his work good.

Truman Madsen once explored the Jewish understanding of the Sabbath to better see our own understanding. He noted that the Jews believe that all the Creation wasn’t finished in six days. “God himself did some creating even on the seventh day. Namely He created Monohah, which is approximately “tranquility.’ Then, they say, so must we.  The Sabbath was moved to the first day of the week, Sunday, to celebrate the resurrection and is in that way a symbol of the new life for us.

Scot

Yet in Christ’s time, the understanding that the Sabbath made meant for tranquility, was by many reduced to a set of do’s and don’ts.

For instance, Jesus and his disciples went on the Sabbath day through a field of corn and began to pluck the ears to eat. The Pharisees who were always quick to find fault with Jesus, complained that He was breaking the Sabbath as it is unlawful to harvest on the Sabbath. In fact, it was unlawful to do anything that could be considered field work including walking through a field where your feet may accidentally be threshing wheat. Even climbing a tree was forbidden because it could lead to breaking twigs or tearing leaves, which could be construed as reaping.

Maurine

So the Pharisees often accused Jesus of doing things on the Sabbath that were proscribed in their rules.

When on the Sabbath, the Savior healed a man with a withered hand, the Pharisees said, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” Their purpose? “That they might accuse him.” (Matthew 12:10)

Scot

His answer gives us a better understanding of the Sabbath. “And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

“How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 12:11,12)

Maurine

Truman Madsen noted that “far from the Sabbath being a day of strict injunctions, which are joyless duties imposed on duties of the prior day; the Sabbath is the reward for, the outcome of, indeed the climax of all other preparatory creations. It is not an imposed stoppage. It is what all the preparation was designed for, and there it has great value.

Scot

He notes that “the Sabbath laws all point to exhilaration, being still and “knowing that I am God.” Other days we are distracted, wearied to death, caught up in the thick of thin things, slung about by trivialities, but the Sabbath was meant to delight us and turn us again to the ground of our being in the Lord. It is not as H.L. Mencken describes Puritanical, living in fear that somewhere, sometime somebody is enjoying himself.

The greatest Sabbath joys lie in service, connecting with family, studying the scriptures, putting your whole heart in seeking the Lord.

Maurine

Yoke is Easy—Matthew 11:27-30

The Lord gives us a sweet promise at the end of Matthew 11. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

How is that done? He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Imagine this image. A yoke is a wooden beam between two animals, usually oxen, that allows them to pull together. Because they are working side by side together it is possible to achieve their heavy task and pull a heavy and difficult load. 

Scot

What the Lord is suggesting here is about the heavy loads that we carry. These loads include responsibilities, demands, opportunities, grief, disappointment, difficulties, challenges.  How can I avoid getting stuck because I find my strength just isn’t sufficient for the task?

Maurine

The Lord says in this scripture that He is pulling with me. We pull my load together. I don’t have to rely only on my own strength, which is not always sufficient. Because of the atonement, I get to rely on His strength. Happiness is not the absence of a load. Happiness comes from gratitude when you know your partner in pulling the load is the Lord Himself.

Scot

You are strengthened for whatever you must bear in this partnership. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” He says.

Maurine

Luke 7: 36-50—The Woman who was a Sinner

Jesus was invited to Simon, the Pharisee’s home for a meal. That would have been a meal where they were laying on the floor, as they ate, in the ancient Middle Eastern fashion. A woman in the city, who is only identified as a sinner, came in with an alabaster box and stood at his feet weeping. And “began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe the with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:38).

Scot

The Pharisee was disdainful and thought, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

Christ, comprehending Simon’s thoughts told him a story about a certain creditor which had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, the creditor forgave the both.

Maurine

Jesus asks:

42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly aforgave them both. bTell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

Luke 7

44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. [Oh, this scene.]

Scot

46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are aforgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. [the way it was said in a film depiction we once saw.]

What do you get from this story?

Maurine

I see that even though her sins are many, which the Savior acknowledges, they are not too many for the Lord to love her and forgive her. Sometimes we think we, or our loved ones, are too stained, too soiled, too corrupted for the Savior’s forgiveness, but this point is made so clearly.

48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are aforgiven.

50 And he said to the woman, Thy afaith hath saved thee; go in bpeace.

Scot

You also see a picture of what true repentance looks like. She is weeping, humbled, eager in every way to obtain forgiveness.  And she does. The Lord does grant us forgiveness.

When we come to Him, and have felt the relief and opportunity to be new and have a renewed outlook, seeing life with new eyes, we come to appreciate Him as never before.

Maurine

We get to the place that we know Him because we have needed Him in an hour when no one else could lift us. He alone is standing there. We don’t have to be vile sinners to learn that He is the only way. All of us can learn that gratitude that come from the realization that He lifts us from what hurts us most—which is our own weaknesses.

Scot

Thank you for being with us. And thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that introduces this podcast. Find all the podcasts on Meridian Magazine at ldsmag.com/podcasts. Meridian is updated every day with all the news of the Church, perspectives on the world and articles to make life easier. That’s at ldsmag.com

Maurine

This podcast is also available on many podcast platforms.

Next week is “Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear” which is chapters Matthew 13; Luke 8:13.