Sunday, May 28, 2023

Parables of Preparation (Matthew 22, 25) QUESTIONS

Christ continues to discourse to His apostles; these three parables are told right after His discussion of the signs of the times.  Christ is teaching us how to prepare for the tribulations to come, but really how to prepare to enter into His presence now, so that we can be ready to greet Him when He comes again in glory.


Parable of the Ten Virgins

In marriages in ancient Israel, the bridegroom would lead his wedding party at night through the streets of the city, picking up guests as they went, until they arrived at the house where the wedding feast would be provided.  Each of the guests were expected to hold a small oil lamp, so that the party looked like a stream of light following the bridegroom. 


READ Matthew 25:1

What is the “kingdom of heaven”?

Why is the kingdom of heaven likened unto virgins?

What does the fact that they were part of the wedding party imply about the virgins?


READ Matthew 25:2-4

Is there a difference between being invited to be in the wedding party and being wise?

What did all ten virgins do?

What did the five wise virgins do that the others did not?

What does the oil represent?

If your lamp is filled with oil, what does the extra oil represent?


READ D&C 45:56-57, 59

What distinguishes “wise” from “foolish” covenant makers?

How does one avoid being deceived?


READ Matthew 25:5-6

Why did the Bridegroom tarry?

Why did both the Wise and Foolish sleep when the bridegroom tarried?


READ Matthew 25:7-9

Why didn’t the Wise share their oil with the Unwise?

What does the oil in the lamps of the Unwise “going out” mean?


READ Matthew 25:10-13

Why is the door shut?

If the Unwise were invited to the wedding, why did the bridegroom tell them, “I know you not”?

Going back to the Parable of the Net (Matthew 13:47-50), how is the same two-step process represented in this parable?

Parable of the Wedding Feast

READ Matthew 22:1-14

What is implied by the fact that some are “bidden” to the wedding feast?

What is the significance of the “marriage of His son” to the “kingdom of heaven”?

What does it mean that the invited guests “made light of” the wedding?

Why did the invited guests treat the servants so badly; why did they not just politely decline or use an excuse?

What will happen to those invited guests who reject the invitation?

Who are those in the “highways”?

What did the servants do with those they found on the highways?

Why do the servants invite both “bad and good” to the wedding feast of the king’s own son?

What is the king’s main concern with regards to the wedding?

How did the “friend” from the highway come to the wedding without an appropriate wedding garment to wear?

What is the “wedding garment” and what does it symbolize?

How does the king define “bad”?

What does it mean to be called and chosen?



Parable of the Talents

READ Matthew 25:14-18

Why did the man give his money to his servants?

What do the talents represent?

How did the two servants gain the additional money?

Did the servants incur risk by trading with their master’s money?


READ Matthew 25:19-23

Why was the man away for so long?

Why did the man really give his money to his servants?

What is a sovereign?

What is the result of good stewardship over a few things?

Why did the master feel he could now trust the two servants with “many” things?


READ Matthew 25:24-30

Why did the last servant hide the money?

What did the last servant misunderstand about the Lord’s expectations?

What does it mean that “to those that hath, shall be given” while those that have not will be taken all that they have, and how is this fair?

Whose money is the principle that is invested?

Whose money is the interest that was made through the hard work and investment of the servant?

What is this parable really about?



Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

READ Matthew 25:31-34

What is the difference between a sheep and a goat?



Ye Have Done It Unto Me

READ Matthew 25:35-46

How does the Lord prove the desires of our hearts – that we are a sheep not a goat?

Why is serving the hungry, poor, homeless and prisoners really serving Christ?

How were these righteous people “exercising” faith?

How are types of people that will inherit the various kingdoms of glory illustrated in this parable?

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Signs of the Times (JST Matthew 24)

READ JST Matthew 24:4-6

What two events are the Apostles asking Christ about?

The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.

The Second Coming of Christ.

While it’s possible that the Apostles expected the Second Coming and the destruction of the Temple to happen simultaneously, or at least both in their lifetime, Christ knew it wouldn’t.


This prophesy seems to be split into two parts: Jerusalem during the lives of the Apostles (v5-20) and the Second Coming (v21-55)

What does it mean when “many” shall come in MY name saying “I am Christ”?

“Christ” meaning “the anointed one” or the one who will save you – the Messiah.

They come as the Messiah saying “I am He” and Jesus of Nazareth was false because he died.

OR they come in the name of Jesus Christ but saying that THEY will save you, in His name, of course.

OR they are any other person or “system” (political, economic, social, religious, or spiritual) that claims to be able to save you, either physically and/or spiritually.

They save you by following them instead of, or as a proxy for, following Christ.


READ JST Matthew 24:7-10

What will happen to the Church or the followers of Christ?

All will be persecuted because the world hates the Lord (darkness can’t abide light).

The true followers and witnesses will be killed.

Many in the Church will then become offended at the persecution – there will be contentions, disputations and fights among them; they will want to adopt doctrine and practices that are popular with the world to stop the persecution (i.e. the Greek Hellenistic philosophy).

They will turn on each other to save themselves or because they have come to hate each other.

False prophets will arise within the Church and deceive many because the members do not have their own direct relationships with God and are taken in by the wolves in sheep’s clothing who are attempting to lead.

The Church members will follow these false prophets or leaders and fall into iniquity and hatred.


READ JST Matthew 24:11-20

What might they be overcome by?

Fear and doubt.

What is an abomination of desolation?

An abomination is a loathsome, detestable religious taboo – a rite or holy place that has been corrupted or desecrated; many times it denotes idolatry, illicit sex, or murder/human sacrifice.

Desolation implies something has no life – a state of complete emptiness or wasteland or destruction.

Romans entered the Holy of Holies (63 BC) and the Roman standards were worshipped on the Temple Mount under Titus in 70 AD and the temple was destroyed – completely razed to the ground.

When were the followers of Christ to drop everything and immediately flee?

When they see the abomination of desolation.

Where are they supposed to stand when they see this abomination of desolation?

In the Holy Place.

How can they stand in the Holy Place when it is the Temple that is being desecrated and destroyed?

The Holy Place in the Temple was desecrated – they needed to flee to the Mountains (which can act as substitutes for Temples under some circumstances) and create a new “Holy Place”.

A place is “holy” where those that are holy (hold the High Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God) stand.

How did the death and destruction of Jerusalem compare to the Holocaust?

Similar in death count as a percentage (1.1 million out of 3 million Jews at the time of Christ vs. 6 million out of 15 million during WW2).

Brutality at the time of Christ was even worse than the concentration camps, mass firing squads and gas chambers – the Nazi’s were more systematic and efficient while the Romans were torturous and absolutely savage; although the Nazi’s were attempting to exterminate an entire race while the Romans were “just” making an example out of a “wayward” province to anyone else who might have similar ideas.   


READ JST Matthew 24:21-22 and 24-25

What is a false Christ?

A mortal person, spiritual personage, earthly organization or system of beliefs that claims to be able to save you if you follow it but cannot (because Christ, directly, is the only one who can save us).

What is a false prophet?

A person who claims or insinuates to have received the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophesy (Christ’s testimony to the Father that the prophet/ess is exalted, see D&C 88:74-75) but has not.

A person who claims or insinuates to have received the Second Comforter and has not.

A person who claims or insinuates to have received a message directly from God or Christ and has not.

All with the purpose of appearing to be something they are not (i.e. God’s messenger) so as to deceive people into following the will of the false prophet.

Who are the “very elect” according to the covenant who will be deceived by false Christs and false prophets in the last days?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Members of the Church of the Firstborn (see D&C 76:50-70).

All of us, regardless of any premortal glory or mortal foreordination, are in jeopardy every hour we are here on earth (see 1 Cor 15:30).

Why is Christ telling the Apostles these things?

For OUR sakes today (the “elect according to the covenant” at the time He comes in His glory) see v23.


READ JST Matthew 24:26 and D&C 101:22-25

What is the revelation which is to come that we are to prepare for, by standing in holy places?

The Second Coming of Christ.

Which all will see together.

It is the removal of the “veil” which separates the telestial earth from the realms of heaven and Christ himself.

How do you prepare to receive THAT revelation?

Call on Christ’s name and worship Him according to the truths revealed in the everlasting gospel (the fullness of the gospel, which includes entering into His presence and being sealed up to Eternal Life by the Father – gaining firsthand knowledge of God).

That you might not be a “corruptible thing” and be consumed, but are able to abide the presence of God and the fervent heat which is the nature of His presence because you have also received of that glory and have been quickened yourself.

So, should we disbelieve any account of a visit of Christ to the earth to visit an individual or smaller group because it is not this coming in great glory?

No, as that would mean we must disbelieve Joseph Smith.

But there is a difference between Christ’s coming to minister to the individual (see again D&C 88:74-75) which we must receive in the flesh (see D&C 76:51 and 74), and His coming in glory to destroy the wicked, judge the earth and personally reign as King of Kings upon the earth.


READ JST Matthew 24:27

What does a carcass cause to happen in nature?

Animals smell it from far off, are attracted to it, and gather to it for food.

What is the context within which Christ tells this short parable?

He is teaching about conditions shortly before His second coming in glory.

As a way to know that it is at the very doors – it is about to happen.

What might the “body” that is the focal point of the gathering be?

It could be the restoration of the fullness of the gospel of Christ.

It is the body or group of true believers (a Zion) who have lived that gospel and know God personally, as a result.

What might the “eagles” represent?

If the “body” is the gospel, then the eagles are those seekers that are attracted to it from the four corners of the earth.

If the “body” is a “body of true believers” then the eagles are the angels that are attracted to the light demonstrated within this Zion group.

Many groups may claim to be the Lord’s prior to the Second Coming, but the true body (Zion) will attract the ministration of angels.  This is one of the great evidences that you have found God’s people (see also TPJS 101:1).


READ JST Matthew 24:23, 28-32

Why must these wars, famines and pestilences occur?

Because the love of men shall wax cold – we bring this upon ourselves through our sins.

The wicked are punished by the wicked (see Mormon 4:5); they destroy each other.

War starts it and results in famine, while pestilence is waiting to spread in the poor, unclean conditions and among malnourished survivors.

Why is the gospel preached unto all nations?

As a witness that they had been taught the truth – but then they reject it and qualify themselves for destruction.

Not because there is much hope of repentance and accepting the gospel.

Will an abomination of desolation occur again in the last days in the Church?

Yes (see D&C 112:23-26).

Just prior to the end – it is a sign that the end is in that generation.


READ JST Matthew 24:33; D&C 29:14 and Genesis 1:14

What does the Lord use the sun, moon and stars for and why?

For signs.

They are unalterable (unlike the scriptures) in the case of apostasy, but they can be ignored or their meanings forgotten.

They are His “witnesses” - that He prophesied and taught what was required, for those with eyes to see.

Why does God use signs?

To warn us that time is short.

To teach us eternal principles.

What does it mean that the sun is darkened, the moon turned to blood and the stars fall from heaven?

Sun darkened = solar eclipse.

Moon turned to blood = lunar eclipse or “blood moon”.

Stars fall = comets, satellites, and asteroids (“shooting stars”).


READ JST Matthew 24:34-37

Why do the tribes of the earth mourn when they see the Son of Man coming in glory?

They cannot abide His glory.

They are terrified.

They are about to be incinerated.

Why should the elect not fear?

They will be gathered by angels (not a “call-out” from a man) before Christ comes in glory – gathered together to Zion.

The Lord will protect them and fight their battles for them if they have the faith to gather to Zion.

Who are these elect who are gathered by angels?

Those who treasured up Christ’s word.

And as a result, were not deceived.

It is the treasuring of the word that enables them not to be deceived by the false Christs and false prophets.


READ JST Matthew 24:38-48

What does the Parable of the Fig Tree mean?

When the leaves came out on the fig tree, it meant the figs were also there and ripe.

When these signs are seen, Christ is telling us that the Second Coming is “near, even at the doors”.

Why does Christ compare the times of the Second Coming with the time of the Flood?

With the exception of Noah’s immediate descendants’ families who had created another Zion, see Moses 8:13 & 19 (the people of Enoch’s Zion had “fled” to heaven ~675 years before) the rest of the people “knew not until the flood came and took them all away”.

Almost everyone, except those in Zion, will be clueless of what is to happen, despite the preaching of the “Noah” figures of the day.

But they had built a Zion; this suggests that in the last days, a group or “Remnant” of Israel will separate themselves from the world, as Enoch and his people did, and will build Zion preparatory to the Second Coming of the Lord.

What are the implications of the “two in the field” and one is taken and the other left?

More than likely the two know each other – maybe are related – maybe even discuss spiritual things as they work, but as with the Parable of the 10 Virgins, the “oil” cannot be passed from one mortal to another despite the moment of great alarm coming upon both of them.

The one taken may not be taken up in the “rapture” but could be “taken” to their eternal reward (incinerated) because they could not abide the day, while the other is “left” to greet his/her Savior.

So, what can we say about when the Lord will come?

We will not be able to predict it, even from the signs.

The only thing we can say is that it will come when we aren’t expecting it.

Why do we have the signs then?

To give us a general idea of when to prepare.

And then we must stay prepared and “ready”.


READ JST Matthew 24:49-55

What should you not do if you find yourself in a position to prepare a people for the Second Coming of Christ?

Take the opportunity given by a seemingly missing, absentee, or tardy Lord to exercise control, dominion or compulsion in any degree of unrighteousness, or to set yourself up as a light to the world to get gain and grind the faces of the poor.

What should you do?

First walk the Way yourself and find the Lord.

Then “come back” to minister to all others who will listen – telling them about the reality of Christ’s existence and how to find Him themselves – you are a witness and a guide more than a leader.

Keep “doing” – be found “fighting the good fight” even against all odds; A great example of this is found in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: King Théoden at Helm’s Deep (from the book and film: The Two Towers).  King Théoden and his warriors have been overcome, their fortress jeopardized and their families are awaiting a brutal death at the hands of savage orcs.  Rather than die one by one in the tunnels of the castle, Théoden decides to ride out for one final attack – to “ride out and meet them in the light of dawn”.  As they ride out, hopelessly outnumbered, the sun comes over the mountain pass to their east and at the top appears a cavalry of fresh warriors to save them. 

Is the timing of the Second Coming determined by our righteousness?

All things are before God’s face (see D&C 38:2, D&C 88:41, 2 Nephi 9:20), so He knows when He will send the Son and what the conditions will be.

Given that, He’s warned us – given us “signs” to tell if Christ’s coming is near and has instructed us in what we need to do to stand in His presence when He comes in glory so that we might be able to survive the day – He wants a people able to stand in His presence – He does not want to come down to an empty earth with no “fruit” worth saving; but He will not violate our agency and “make” us be righteous.

If it is, what are the implications?

Then God will wait until we are ready and have established Zion – one PERSON or FAMILY at a time.

We have so much to do – as we seem to be no closer to being a Zion people than we were in 1833 – and we must start by getting out from under the condemnation we’ve been under since 1832, and as reiterated as recently as President Benson (see D&C 84:54-58).

If it is not, what are the implications?

We will follow the Book of Mormon model which required massive destruction to wake up the few that would survive to build Zion AFTER the coming of the Lord to them.

This model still requires people who can abide the presence of the Son when He comes in His glory but suggests that there will be very few ready to receive Him and abide the day.


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Signs of the Times (JST Matthew 24) QUESTIONS

READ JST Matthew 24:4-6

What two events are the Apostles asking Christ about?


This prophesy seems to be split into two parts: Jerusalem during the lives of the Apostles (v5-20) and the Second Coming (v21-55)

What does it mean when “many” shall come in MY name saying “I am Christ”?


READ JST Matthew 24:7-10

What will happen to the Church or the followers of Christ?


READ JST Matthew 24:11-20

What might they be overcome by?

What is an abomination of desolation?

When were the followers of Christ to drop everything and immediately flee?

Where are they supposed to stand when they see this abomination of desolation?

How can they stand in the Holy Place when it is the Temple that is being desecrated and destroyed?

How did the death and destruction of Jerusalem compare to the Holocaust?


READ JST Matthew 24:21-22 and 24-25

What is a false Christ?

What is a false prophet?

Who are the “very elect” according to the covenant who will be deceived by false Christs and false prophets in the last days?

Why is Christ telling the Apostles these things?


READ JST Matthew 24:26 and D&C 101:22-25

What is the revelation which is to come that we are to prepare for, by standing in holy places?

How do you prepare to receive THAT revelation?

So, should we disbelieve any account of a visit of Christ to the earth to visit an individual or smaller group because it is not this coming in great glory?


READ JST Matthew 24:27

What does a carcass cause to happen in nature?

What is the context within which Christ tells this short parable?

What might the “body” that is the focal point of the gathering be?

What might the “eagles” represent?


READ JST Matthew 24:23, 28-32

Why must these wars, famines and pestilences occur?

Why is the gospel preached unto all nations?

Will an abomination of desolation occur again in the last days in the Church?


READ JST Matthew 24:33; D&C 29:14 and Genesis 1:14

What does the Lord use the sun, moon and stars for and why?

Why does God use signs?

What does it mean that the sun is darkened, the moon turned to blood and the stars fall from heaven?


READ JST Matthew 24:34-37

Why do the tribes of the earth mourn when they see the Son of Man coming in glory?

Why should the elect not fear?

Who are these elect who are gathered by angels?


READ JST Matthew 24:38-48

What does the Parable of the Fig Tree mean?

Why does Christ compare the times of the Second Coming with the time of the Flood?

What are the implications of the “two in the field” and one is taken and the other left?

So, what can we say about when the Lord will come?

Why do we have the signs then?


READ JST Matthew 24:49-55

What should you not do if you find yourself in a position to prepare a people for the Second Coming of Christ?

What should you do?

Is the timing of the Second Coming determined by our righteousness?

If it is, what are the implications?

If it is not, what are the implications?

Thursday, May 18, 2023

From Triumphal Entry to Temple Mount (Matthew 21-23; Luke 19; John 12)

Mary Anoints Jesus for His Burial

READ John 12:1-8 and Matthew 26:6-13

Why is Mary anointing Christ with spikenard?

“Against the day of His burial”.

It is an anointing, so she is performing an ordinance.

There seems to be significance in the fact that a woman is performing an ordinance upon a man…


In a new translation of the Testimony of St John (TSJ), the interchange is slightly different.

READ TSJ 12: “Six days before the Passover, Jesus returned to Bethany where he had raised Lazarus from the dead. They made supper for him and Martha served. Lazarus was among those who sat at the table with him. Many came to be there to see the man who was raised from the dead and to hear Jesus who had raised him. And among those who were present were his mother, and Mary, the Elect Lady who was companion with Jesus. She cut off the seven locks of his hair that had not been cut before because of the vow, which fell at her feet. This troubled his disciples who feared his strength would depart from him but said nothing because Jesus permitted it to be done. Jesus, seeing their concern, asked, is not a lamb shorn before it is sacrificed? But they did not understand his meaning. And she took royal oil used to coronate a king, containing spikenard, frankincense and myrrh, and applied it to the head, arms and hands, legs and feet of Jesus. And the house was filled with the smell of the royal anointing oil… My mother has safeguarded this gift from my birth until now to be used for this moment. This anointing is required to be done to establish me before I lay down my life. The poor are always in need in this world, but I reign among you for only a short while and then am offered up as a sacrifice on your behalf.”

Why might Mary be called “the Elect Lady”?

In this translation, Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ companion – meaning wife.

She was “elect” of God or chosen and filled with light and glory in her own right.

She had a part to play in Christ’s atonement and resurrection – without this anointing, He could not have accomplished His mission.

What does it mean that Mary cut off the seven locks of His hair?

This implies that Christ had taken a Nazarite vow.

The purpose for taking a Nazarite vow was to separate oneself from the world so that the person could become “holy unto the Lord”.

What additional insight does this translation give us regarding the anointing?

The anointing was required to “establish” Him before His sacrificial death.

The oils used were “royal” oils used to coronate a king.

So, “establishing” Him means to establish Him or coronate Him as a King.

When Pilate says “are you a king then” and Christ tells him that His kingdom is “not of this world”, we can know that this “coronation” was not as an earthly king but as a heavenly king of kings who was about to lay down His life for His people in a similar way to the “Corn King” of ancient myth (see Death of the Corn King by Barbara Talcroft for a discussion of the topic and its use by Rosemary Sutcliffe in her historical fiction books about the ancient Celts and King Arthur).

Spikenard, frankincense and myrrh were used to create the royal anointing oil; this expensive oil had been given to Jesus’ mother by the Magi for this express purpose – which explains where Christ might have obtained such an expensive item and what the Magi were really doing in giving their gifts to the infant “King”.



The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

READ Luke 19:28-38 and Matthew 21:8-9

Why did Christ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey?

The donkey is a symbol of peace where the horse is a symbol of a conqueror (see 1 Kings 1:32-40).

It is a Messianic sign – from a prophesy (see Zechariah 9:9).

Why did the people put their coats in his path and wave palm fronds and greenery branches?

Signify their acceptance of Jehovah as their King (see Feast of Tabernacles).

Signify that Jesus is the King of the Israel – and that He is Jehovah – He gets the “red carpet” treatment.

Why did they cry “Hosanna to the Son of David” and what did this signify?

“Save us now” – it means that they are proclaiming Him as Jehovah – the God who will come to save them.

Was this an orchestrated ceremony or did it happen spontaneously as a celebration?

Spontaneously as the people were moved upon by the Spirit.

If they had not reacted to the strong promptings they were all receiving from the Holy Spirit, the stones of Jerusalem would have immediately cried out in their place (see Moses 7:48).

What is the outcome of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem?

Christ is recognized and welcomed by many of the people of Jerusalem, and all of Israel who is there for the Passover, as the King of Israel and the Messiah.

The leaders are threatened by this new turn of events.  After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He goes to the Temple and throws out the moneychangers for a second time, calling it “His” house. 



Christ Prophesies of His Atoning Sacrifice

READ John 12:20-41

How did Christ react to the fact that the time of His sacrifice had arrived?

He met what He was sent to do with grit and determination; He says incredulously: “Now I confront the final trial on my path, and what should I say? Father, save me from the difficulties I now face? When this is the reason I have come into the world. Father, let all honor be given to you.”  There is an implied “NO!” or “Are you kidding me?” after His second question; He faces what He was sent here to do and does not back down or give quarter – He sets his face like flint.

The Jews did not understand that the Messiah had to die – they thought that He would live forever; how did Christ explain His death to them?

He explained the natural wisdom in the Father’s plan: “The time has arrived when the Son of Man will complete his journey. In the name of Father Ahman I tell you, except a kernel of wheat is buried in the ground, it remains but a seed, but if it is buried, it can spring to life and bear fruit.”

He explained that this was part of the plan all along: “The time has come for me to complete the work required of me, to intercede for the world. And the accuser will lose all his power.”

He explained how His sacrifice and death would save them – that ALL might be able to live forever: “Because of the sacrifice of his life that the Son of Man is to make, he will rise up and rescue all mankind.”

What does it mean to be willing to sacrifice one’s life in this world to obtain endless lives, worlds without end?

It means to sacrifice and submit your will completely to God.

It means to seek to bless all those around you and find joy in the sacrifice.

It means to love others more than you love yourself, so that you lose control of your life (and wishes) in service to them.

It means to intercede on behalf of others, including performing acts of sacrifice to petition the Lord to save them.

Ultimately, in a far distant eternity, it means to work out an atoning sacrifice with fear and trembling before the Lord, that you might attain to the resurrection yourself and enable those who are dependent upon you to receive eternal life and be saved (see TJPS 390-393).

When God speaks from heaven, what do people hear?

Some are in tune with heaven – they resonate to God’s frequency, so they hear and see what is said and done there: “Everything you have done has honored me, and everything you will yet do will also honor me”.

Others, who are somewhat in tune, hear a voice and understand the words but do not realize it is the Father speaking – they think it is an angel with a message (see 3 Nephi 11:3-8).

Still others hear a noise but cannot discern that it is communicating light and knowledge – they think it Is thunder.

And likely there were many who did not hear anything at all.

But regardless of the level of spiritual preparation of the individual hearers, God spoke to all and He did it for their benefit, not for Christ’s, who already knew of the Father’s pleasure with His performance.

What is Christ’s advice to the Jews?

Only a little time remains for you to share with the Light who is now here, so learn how to live while the light remains.

Otherwise darkness will overcome you and without the light you will fall into error.

While you are near the light, believe in the light, so that you can become the children of light (i.e connect with the light so that you have it with you – it has changed you – you are animated by it).

Why did the Jews not take His advice?

They have the choice to believe – which would mean laying aside all they think they know.

But they refuse to do it – they refuse to believe the truth.

Despite all of the miracles and proof.

Isaiah’s prophesy was correct: “They will refuse to believe, because Isaiah wrote, Make the heart of these people grow fat, dull their ears and shut their eyes, so they will not see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and repent, and be healed.”  Except the truth of the way it works, with agency, is that we dull our own ears and shut our own eyes – it is not done to us.



The Parable of the Two Sons

Christ returns to Bethany for the night and returns again the next day.

READ Matthew 21:23

Why are the Chief Priests so concerned with authority?

Because lacking revelation and a direct connection with heaven, that’s all they have to hang on to and give them legitimacy with the people.

If Christ has authority (and He is in opposition to them), then they’ve lost their authority.  If they still have authority, then they will discredit Him, cast Him out (excommunicate) and eventually have Him killed – to show their power and authority over Him.

This is a principle that you will see played out throughout history – when the direct connection with heaven is lost, the Priests will amp up the rhetoric of “authority” to drown out their lack of revelation.  It is a scare tactic to stop people realizing the truth (they’ve lapsed into apostasy and have lost the priesthood); they use the argument: “trust us” because “authority=righteousness=revelation” and then they imply revelation but don’t have it.

Anytime men try to control others, invariably the endeavor for control involves stifling dissent and criticism.  Those who claim the right to rule over others try to reduce all disputes to a question of authority.  The debate over who has “the” authority makes the question of whether the idea is right or wrong inconsequential. 


READ Matthew 21:24-27

Jesus has proclaimed who His father is before now, why does He decline to answer the Priests at this time?

Because He has told them already. 

And He’s done the works prophesied of the Messiah.

Those with ears to hear already know who He is – and the others just need to pray about it.

At this point they are only trying to trap Him to take Him before the Romans for sedition/treason (proclaiming that He is a political Messiah).

His witness to them is complete – and they have rejected Him.

Why is asking Him about His authority or Messiah-ship the wrong way to get to the truth?

If He is not the Messiah, He could still lie about it and say that He is.

The Messiah will do the works of the Messiah – they will know, regardless of His testimony to them, at the end of His life.

The best way to find out is not to ask Him but to listen to His words (forget about His authority or credentials) and pray about them – to gain a witness from the Spirit – and then to follow His words and see how they change you (i.e. fill you with light) and help you to commune with heaven yourself, so that you obtain your own promise of salvation from God (calling and election made sure by God).


READ Matthew 21:28-32

Although the first son did the work of his father, was there an issue?

Yes – he said “no” at first – he was belligerent and disobedient.

Why did the first son then go and work?

He “came unto himself” – he was born again to see the truth – he experienced godly sorrow for his sins – he repented and changed.

Why might the second son commit to work and then not do it?

Either he was a liar from the beginning – he wanted to appear obedient and righteous but wasn’t really that way and had no intention of living the life he appeared to lead.

Or he fell into sin soon after committing to work.

Or he lost his faith and/or desire when he observed the difficulty of the work.

But regardless, he never came to himself and repented.



The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen

READ Matthew 21:33-46 (also 47-56 in JST)

What is the husbandmen’s plan?

Wrest control of the vineyard from the householder through violence.

Who is the householder?

God the Father.

What is the fruit of the vineyard?

The souls that when ripe will either be good or bad.

What is the vineyard?

The Church or Kingdom of God on earth.

Remember that the kingdom of God is within each of us – so the vineyard is actually each of us regardless of which Church we belong to.

Who are the husbandmen?

The authorized (i.e. contracted with) priests/leaders of the Church.

Those that are tasked with nurturing the vineyard and enabling good fruit.

What mindset must the husbandmen have to think they can get away with this crime?

They don’t think the householder will actually come to destroy them and take back his vineyard.

They think he is a distant, weak, absentee owner – or in this case, God. 

They may not even believe that the householder is even still alive; especially if these husbandmen were hired by other husbandmen and never met the householder themselves.

They have adopted the assumption that God has given His power to men (see 2 Nephi 28:4-6).

How does the “stone which the builders rejected” hinder those who rejected it?

They break themselves upon it – Christ cannot be overcome by them or controlled by them – He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, meaning that He is a hindrance to them - He stops them in their plans for religious power. 

And at the last day, it will fall upon them and grind them to powder – meaning that they will be destroyed root and branch, not merely “broken” but utterly wasted and have no eternal posterity.

Who is Christ referring to in this parable?

He is referring to the Jews during His lifetime.

He is also referring to the gentile Church leaders at His second coming (see v56 in JST).



Caesar’s Tribute

READ Matthew 22:15-22

What if “Caesar’s Tribute” conflicts with God’s law?

We owe complete fidelity to God and His law (see Acts 5:29).

We are not to fear man or put our trust in his arm but have faith in God and keep His commandments.

What is it of Caesar’s that we must render to him?

Every law, to be enforceable, carries with it a punishment or consequence enforced by the government.

Since we live under a government we pledge to uphold, what we must render to Caesar is a willingness to submit to that government’s punishment; in this case it is the jail time for not paying taxes or the fine.

We must submit to “Caesar” if we break his law, but if his law opposes the commandments of God, we must break man’s law and willingly suffer the consequences (see Acts 5:27-32, 40-42; Daniel 3; Daniel 6).



Resurrection and the “God of the Living”

READ Matthew 22:23-33

What does it mean that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as the angels of God in heaven”?

If they have not been married on earth in the New and Everlasting covenant and then KEPT that covenant so that it was sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, they have no marriage in the worlds to come (see D&C 132:15-17).

And if they are not married in the worlds to come, they are not Gods but angels or servants to the Gods (see D&C 131:1-4).

Christ is implying that this is the situation the Sadducees are describing here – no covenant means no marriage and their question is moot.

What does it mean that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living”?

To be God’s (i.e. part of His family and an heir), you must have received and kept the covenant He offers which enables adoption.

This covenant redeems you from the fall and grants you a resurrection, so that you be freed from both spiritual and physical death.

A body and spirit (a “soul”) together can receive a fullness of joy but a spirit without a body cannot (see D&C 138:17-18; D&C 93:33-35).

If not for the atonement and resurrection of Christ, we would have remained subject to the devil as disembodied spirits (see 2 Nephi 9:7-13) – subject to the devil but not to God because God is a “God of the living and not the dead” and you must have a body to be subject to God – even if it is a telestial body because of your wickedness.

Christ’s “free gift” of the resurrection was given to us to ensure that despite our poor performance in this probation, that we would still be subject to a God who loved us and enables our progression.



The Great Commandment

READ Matthew 22:34-40

Christ seems to hedge a bit in His answer to the question, so what is the great commandment (singular) in the Law?

Love God with all thy heart, soul and mind which is demonstrated by loving your neighbor as yourself.

What is the great sign of a true follower of Christ?

Love, also referred to as charity, the pure love of Christ (see Moroni 7:48).

That it is demonstrated but the true sign is if it is within you and animates you – which is not always completely obvious to the observer, particularly because it is being manifested through an imperfect “avatar” or mortal being. 

Why do all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments?

If you love Christ, you will keep His commandments (see John 14:15).

If you love Christ, you will love others (see Matthew 25:37-40; John 21:15-17).

If you love Christ, you will sacrifice all earthly things (see John 15:13).

If you keep His commandments and offer all in sacrifice because you love Christ, He will manifest Himself unto you that you might know Him, and be sealed up to eternal life (see John 14:21-23; LoF 6:4-7; 3 Nephi 11:14-17; D&C 93:1; John 17:3).



What Think Ye of Christ

READ Matthew 22:41-42

What must you know to answer this question?

You must KNOW Christ.

You must not merely know about Him - that is just the first step.

Why is the answer to this question so important?

It will determine the course of eternity for you.

It is eternal life to KNOW Christ.



Scribes & Pharisees, Hypocrites

When did the Jewish leaders begin to plot Christ’s death in earnest and why?

6 months before His final Passover.

After Lazarus was raised from the dead.

The raising of Lazarus was the last straw – it was such a momentous and publicly witnessed miracle – and performed so close to Jerusalem – that the Jewish religious leaders felt that if they did not get Jesus out of the way, that He would be proclaimed the Messiah by the people and the leaders and either a) He would incite a war with Rome which would destroy Israel and/or b) they would lose their political control, social positions, and wealthy lifestyles.

It was only a matter of time, from that point.

At the Temple, on the day after He was proclaimed the Messiah and welcomed as a King into Jerusalem, Jesus knowingly and willfully determined the timing of His death by initiating the following scathing confrontation...


READ Matthew 23:1-6

Did Christ question their right to preside?


In fact, He recognized them as legitimate priesthood office holders with the right to preside – in affect He “sustained” them in their offices in the Church.

What did He call into question?

While they had the right to give instructions on standards, policy and procedure, He questioned their ability to receive revelation (see Isaiah 53:2) and utterly rejected their right to teach and interpret scripture.

He called into question their inherent spirituality and Celestial righteousness (not to be confused with adherence to the outward performances of the Law – a law which they and their predecessors had changed, but was only Terrestrial anyway).

They talked the talk but did not walk the walk.  They kept religious standards but they did it to be seen of men and have power; they had no love or mercy in them – they had not been born of God and had never stood in His presence.

Why would they impose burdens on others that they were not willing to take on themselves?

They were the elite and the leaders – their role was to command while it was the role of others to do.

When they’ve spoken, the thinking has been done – when they spoke it was scripture (the Talmud or commentaries on the Torah was regarded as scripture just like the Torah was).

They were out of touch with the common man – they had no idea and didn’t care anyway, what the effect of their commands were on regular people who were working to live or seeking for God themselves.


READ Matthew 23:7-12

Why did they want to be called “Rabbi”?

Rabbi was the title of the master or teacher.

They did not want to be taught by anyone but to teach all others (see John 9:34).

They did not want to accept correction on anything.

What did they teach – what was their doctrine?

The performances of the Law.

The scriptures – Torah; and the Mishnah – Oral Tradition (the performances they had changed and expanded on).

They did not know God – they’d never had any experiences directly with Him.

What does the true teacher do?

Point to Christ – that He is the Master or Rabbi.

Teach the doctrine as delivered to him or her from God, bare testimony of the reality of the existence and attributes of God as they have learned of Him through firsthand experience, and commend the same path to any who will hear.

What is the danger in aspiring to the title of Rabbi (i.e. Master)?

It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion (see D&C 121:39), control and compulsion.

How is true greatness achieved in this life?

Through service – He also lived a life of service to the poor, the sick and the sinful.

Through humility – so make that service anonymous, whenever possible.

Through sacrifice - Christ was the greatest because He offered Himself as an infinite and eternal sacrifice; we can mirror His sacrifice in lesser ways but with the same intercessory spirit.


READ Matthew 23:13-14, 23-28

How do they shut up Heaven against men?

They teach false doctrine that cannot save – and when people believe it, they will not do what it takes to be saved, i.e. to come unto Christ themselves.

And obviously, they do not want to do what it takes (sacrifice all earthly things and their whole souls) to enter into heaven themselves.

They have created a culture of spiritual elitism and control – in Moses’ day, the children of Israel damned themselves by asking Moses to stand between them and God, but the Chief Priests and Pharisees in Christ’s day had set themselves up as a light and actively campaigned against people coming unto Christ, instead saying “come to us and our Laws and standards, and we will save you”.

What is Christ doing by pronouncing these “woes” upon the scribes and Pharisees?

He is cursing them.

He has been warning them since the beginning of His ministry but they have continued in their behavior as well as aggressively opposed Him – now is the time of reckoning.

What does it mean that they devour widow’s houses but make long prayers for a pretense?

The widow’s mite is the example – they get the poor to donate as much as they can, saying to them that they (the poor) will be blessed for sacrificing but they use the funds to pay for their own luxurious lifestyles.

Then they appear righteous and godly in the eyes of those they are duping through their outwardly staged shows of goodness and piety, to continue to perpetrate the scam.

Why do they pay so much tithing but have omitted the weightier matters?

It is easier to measure tithing than an inward relationship with God – making it easier to judge relative righteousness between people.

Tithing and outward performances can be seen by others while the weightier matters are hard to see (especially if they are extended quietly or anonymously).

It is easier to pay money or do outward performances than to submit one’s whole soul to God and love/extend mercy to those who do not deserve it.

They have not experienced the birth of the Spirit – they are blind – they don’t even know what they are missing.

What does it mean to strain at a gnat but swallow a camel?

They cannot judge effectively – they think that unimportant things are critical while spiritually vital things are unvalued.

They are blind to the truth and the Spirit – they are very concerned about issues that are not a big deal in the eternal scheme of things, while they commit massive sins that will damn them.

Why do they keep the outside of the platter clean while the inside is filthy?

When reaching for a platter from the shelf, all you can see at first is the outside.

People will make the assumption that if the outside is clean the inside will be, too.

It would be a shock if the inside was found to be filthy – it is an obvious deception – a violation of expectations - a wolf in sheep’s clothing moment.

Why is calling the Pharisees “whited sepulchers” such an insult?

Coming into contact with the dead would make a Jew ceremonially unclean – this included touching a sepulcher.

A sepulcher was whited to warn Jews to stay away from it – to prevent accidental contact.

Calling them a whited sepulcher was a direct insult – it was calling them out as spiritually dead and corrupt; it was a warning to everyone else who saw them – “stay away from them, they are dead and will make you unclean”.


READ Matthew 23:29-30, 34-35

What does it mean that the scribes build the tombs of the prophets?

They spend a great deal of energy honoring, almost to the point of worship, the prophets of the past – i.e. Abraham, Israel, Moses, Isaiah.

Why do they “garnish” the graves of the righteous?

Because the words of a dead prophet can be “interpreted” or twisted to mean what they want it to mean in the present.

The dead prophets are not there to defend themselves or clarify their meaning.

But the name brand or credential of the dead prophet can then be used to validate or authorize the false interpretation that the living religious leaders want to bend it to be.

Those who are too careless to study it out for themselves or who take the leaders’ words as “gospel truth” and feel no need to inquire of the Lord will be easily deceived.

But what happens when the same God who sent the dead prophets sends living prophets to the religious leaders?

They reject them out of hand and will even kill them to be rid of them.

Why do they reject living prophets?

They necessarily come from outside the recognized hierarchy so they are rejected for not having the required bonafides or credentials.

They are threatened by the message which will be contrary to their own which is either “follow us because we are better than you” or “all is well in Zion – you are awesome – continue to support me because I will flatter you”; while the true prophet’s message to both leaders and the people will be to humble themselves to the dust and repent of their wickedness.

Their claim to a direct conduit to heaven is threatened by the fact that the prophets claim the same connection but have a different message, or that the priests don’t seem to have any revelations from God or demonstrate any fruits of the Spirit but rely on scholarship or emotional manipulation masquerading as the Spirit.


READ Matthew 23:37-38

Why does the hen gather her chickens under her wings?

To protect them (see also Psalms 61:4).

To comfort them.

To show them love.

Because they belong to her, they are her children.

To a baby chick, the one place that nature has appointed a place of safety and peace is under the wing of its loving hen – otherwise they are exposed and in constant danger. 

Their lives are prolonged only in immediate nearness to the hen – they prosper to the degree they heed the invitation to stay close (see Psalms 91:1-12).

Why did the Chief Priests have to act immediately to have Christ killed?

He had come into “their House” (the temple) and in public before a Jubilee Year Passover crowd and had absolutely torn them apart – He had called them out as the wicked husbandmen who would damn all those who followed them.

Either they did nothing and admitted to His accusations or they killed Him to shut His mouth and show that He was not the Messiah because He had died (as they could not refute His accusations).


Christ’s address on this day, which was His last public address, serves as a warning to all those who believe themselves to be God’s chosen ministers.  They had set up a system to measure spiritual status and worthiness that emphasized external religious practices, thus neglecting the inner path of spiritual rebirth, which is “the key of knowledge.”  They were hypocrites who had set themselves up as a light in order to get gain.  They stood at the Gate, refusing to enter themselves, and dissuading all those who would watch or listen to them from entering either.



Due to some recent work and life changes, I'm taking a hiatus from the weekly blog.  I will leave the blog up for anyone who would like ...