This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, (Luke, and John coming soon).
The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ–Assignment for Matthew 4
- What does Christ overcoming Satan while in the wilderness have to do with the Atonement?
- How does it make you feel to know that Christ has been tempted? How does it make you feel to know that He also overcame? How does understanding Christ’s experiences with Satan help you to know that Jesus truly can relate to you as you endure the temptations you face?
- When Christ begins His ministry, does He do it alone? Why did He call Peter, Andrew, James and John (and eventually others) to help Him? Though the disciples of Christ do not atone for our sins, what is their role in Christ’s Atonement? How can listening to the prophets help us to access the power of the Atonement? How can accepting callings help us to access the power of the Atonement?
There are two parts to this assignment. I will spend time only focusing on the second part of this assignment (question 3)–mainly because it’s less than a week away from my favorite Sunday (and Saturday) of the year… 🙂
As I’ve been studying the New Testament, I’ve been trying to apply as much as possible to the Atonement. I feel like everything in the scriptures can teach us something, and in this chapter, Christ calls Peter, James, and John. We read the account as follows:
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” – Matthew 4:18-22
Upon reading this, I wonder why would Jesus need to call Prophets, Apostles, and other Servants in order to perform His work. I mean, think about it. Christ is all powerful. He is all knowing. Goodness knows that He doesn’t need our help. So, why, then does He call Prophets and Apostles, and how do they help Him fulfill His Mission: the Atonement?
Why Christ calls Prophets, Apostles, and Other Servants
This question is a good one to ask because it is obvious that God doesn’t need “helpers.” We learn:
From the Old Testament: “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” – Genesis 18:14
From the New Testament: “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27
From the Book of Mormon: “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.” – Mosiah 4:9
From the Doctrine and Covenants: “And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.” – Doctrine and Covenants 93:17
The Lord doesn’t need our help. Yet He calls men and women to serve in His church. Just as we know that Christ is all-powerful, we also know He is wise, and that everything He does has a wise purpose, even if we don’t always understand it. (See Isaiah 55:8-9.)
So, it is with this understanding that I still ask myself why does the Lord call apostles, prophets, and other leaders.
One – In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established, (Doctrine and Covenants 128:3). When it comes to the Atonement and our Savior, and knowing if He truly atoned for our Sins, we have received many witnesses. Of course, Heavenly Father has witnessed of His son–he did so when Christ was baptized, when the Lord appeared to the Nephites, and also when both the Father and Son appeared to Joseph Smith.
We have the witness of the Savior himself. The New Testament records His life. Throughout this time He did works that manifest His divinity. He also bore record of whom he was–and this was the reason He was put to death. Christ testified of Himself to his other sheep including those who lived in the Americas. Christ has also been a witness of Himself in these latter-days.
So, we have two witnesses, but I think that Heavenly Father knows what kind of people we are. We need more than that. We are skeptical and doubting. So, he has sent us prophets, apostles and other servants. They act as additional witnesses. He sends us servants that speak to us during our lifetimes, in our languages–people we can relate to. We also have the words of ancient prophets, and we can see that the message all of these prophets and apostles give are timeless: That Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, that He has atoned for our sins.
Two – And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17).
This might seem strange, but follow me for a second. When we serve others, we serve God. When we serve others, not only are those whom we serve edified, but we are also blessed and strengthened in the process. Heavenly Father knows that the best way for us to gain testimonies is through obedience to the law. He knows that the best way for us to strengthen our testimonies in His Atonement and Love for us is by helping others.
Think of the young missionaries. They are only 18 and 19 years old. They have testimonies, but not necessarily a ton of experience. Yet the Lord has them doing the work of salvation. Not only do we feel the spirit strongly through such humble servants, but the missionary who serves changes through this work.
What I’m saying is: I think that a big part of callings and service is because Heavenly Father is such an efficient being. He knows that when we serve others both parties are edified both parties get stronger testimonies. Both parties are blessed.
How does the calling of the apostles relate to the Atonement?
Now, I know that none of Christ’s prophets or apostles atone for our sins. No matter how amazing the prophet or servant of God is (or was) they cannot save us. They are in the same predicament as we are: lost and fallen without Christ.
Yet, I really think that the calling of the Apostles had to do with the Atonement, and I think that it is because they help us to come unto Christ. They guide us to Him. They testify of Him. They speak in His name. Prophets are special witnesses of Christ. They have a role in Christ’s Atonement by bringing us to the Savior.
I have experienced this for myself. I’m so grateful to live in a time when we are led by living Prophets and Apostles. I have been inspired by their words. I know that they speak for the Lord. I know that the Savior is directing them, personally, and that if I listen and do what they teach, I will be able to find Christ more in my life.
Last Saturday I was able to watch the Relief Society Broadcast where we hear messages from the women who lead the Women’s Organization called the Relief Society. We were also blessed to hear from the Prophet: Thomas S. Monson.
As I sat, listening to the Prophet’s message, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of peace and love. His message was a reminder that Heavenly Father loves me. There are times when I struggle, and recently I have been going through one of those times. I have a difficulty remembering my worth. I also struggle feeling as close to the Lord as I’d like to. I often feel very lonely. I know that there are many women who go through the same kinds of trials. When I went to the Relief Society broadcast, I was looking forward to a message of hope and guidance. My prayers were answered–better than I could even expect.
Thomas S. Monson, gave a talk titled, We Never Walk Alone and during the broadcast, he stated:
“As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you.” – Thomas S. Monson
I felt overwhelmed with the Love that the Savior has for me. I felt hopeful: I know that if I want to feel more companionship with the Lord, if I want to feel a stronger sense of the Atonement and His love in my life, then I can seek Him through fervent, sincere prayer. I was reminded and felt assured that through prayer, I would find the peace that I seek. Through prayer, my trust in God will increase, and I will be able to become the woman that I desire to be. President Monson’s words and stories touched my heart in a way that I left feeling inspired and hopeful.
I especially loved what he said near the closing of His talk–that we would one day look at our difficult times and know He was always there with us. My soul was warmed, and I realized that although I don’t feel as close to the Savior as I’d like to, the Savior knows this, and He hasn’t left me alone. He is teaching me something, He is there, and He wants to help me through my difficult times.
The point of sharing this experience is not to talk about my difficult times, but to testify that our prophets and apostles are truly called of God, and that if we heed their counsel and testimonies, then we will be brought to the Savior, where we can partake of His Atonement, His happiness, His liberty, and His life–if we will.
What does the calling of the apostles as taught in Matthew 4 relate to the Atonement? What do you learn about the Savior through this scripture? How does this understanding help to strengthen your relationship with the Savior?
By the way…we live in a time when we are led by living Prophets and Apostles. Like Peter, James, and John, they have been called by the Savior to be “fishers of men.” You can hear them speak this weekend! Check it out: