Return to flip book view
Page405JOSEPH SMITH—MATTHEW;MATTHEW 24–25; MARK 12–13; LUKE 21LAST DAY OF JESUS’ PUBLIC MINISTRYe last day of Jesus’ public ministry begins with teaching at the temple and ends with a discussion about the destruction of the temple and His Second Coming. At that time, Jesus Himself did not know when these events would occur, so His prophesies may seem overlapping. e Book or Mormon explains us that Jesus’ First and Second Coming are typied and represented throughout covenant history in both the Old and New Testaments.1 Aer His last public event, Jesus leaves the temple and retires to a secluded setting on the Mount of Olives to answer His disciples’ questions. ey ask Him about the timing of His Kingdom. Aer His explanation, He illu-minates His message with four parables.
Page406The Widow’s Mite Mark 12:41–44; Luke 21:1–4Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1 “Jesus sat over against the treasury” As Jesus teaches in the Court of the Women, He can see the “treasury” under a colonnade along the north and south walls of the courtyard. (e Court of the Women was actually for all Israelites, but it was the last courtyard where women and children were allowed to join in temple worship—if they remained in one corner—hence the name.) e temple treasury included thir-teen donation boxes placed along the north and south walls, and the two large storage rooms behind them. e collection containers each had a wooden box base, and a brass funnel opening. e bass portion was in the shape of a trumpet, so they were called trumpets. e brass also amplied the sound of the coins as they were dropped in. Each of the thirteen were labeled for dierent oerings (e.g. “New Shekel dues,” “Gold for the mercy-seat,” “freewill-oerings,” or “sin-oerings,” etc.). One of the chief priests set the prices for each of the various oerings and the prices changed dramatically at times (suggesting they were not always honest or fair).Mark 12:42; Luke 21:2 “a certain poor widow” We do not know the widow’s age—she may have been 18 or 80, walking alone, or with young children clinging to her knees. A mite or copper was the smallest monetary denomination. e contrast between the widow’s donation and the “the rich men casting their gis” was signi-cant nancially and emotionally.e Widow’s Mite by James Tissot, 1899.
Page407Mark 12:43–44; Luke 21:3–4 “. . . cast in all the living that she had” No one seems to notice the widow—except Jesus, and He seems to see everything. He points her out to His disciples. e amount of money is not the issue, but her sacrice and faith in God. e same principle extends to realizing that the Lord does not need our tithes and oerings—the amount doesn’t matter. Yet we need to learn how to selessly give our all to God.Jesus Prophecies of the Temple’s Fall Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1-3; Matthew 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6; D&C 45Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2–3; Matthew 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6 “Master, show us concerning the buildings of the Temple” (JST). Matthew, Mark, and John record that Jesus and His followers leave the temple courtyards and walk eastward to the Mount of Olives. Looking backwards across the Kidron Valley at the temple and courtyards from that vantage point was spectacular. Even though the outbuildings were still under construc-tion, the temple continued functioning every day for the entire expansion project (between 19 BC and AD 63). As to not dele the sacred space, Herod trained thousands of priests as stone masons to work on the Sanctuary. Moses revealed that each furnishing and ritual of the temple typied the Messiah or the Anointed One (2 Nephi 11:4; Mosiah 3:15; Alma 13:16; Exodus 29:36–37; 40:10; etc.). But Herod designed the temple’s expansion to be the most beautiful building in the Roman world. 2Josephus served in this temple as a priest and described it. Herod’s construction teams attened the mountain to make a 33-acre platform for the Sanctuary. e outmost courtyard walls were 16 feet thick. e Sanctuary stood 150 feet, or nine stories high. (As a modern perspective, it stood one-and-a-half times higher than the current Dome on the Rock.) It was covered in gold leaf that glistened in the sunlight. Josephus claims that the doors to enter the Sanctuary were 49 feet high and 24.5 feet wide.3e outer courtyard allowed all to gather, which gave it the name, “Court of the Gentiles.” is courtyard took up most of the acreage. e space became more holy as one approached the central area. To separate the gentiles, a large surrounding wall framed the Court of the Women and Court of the Priests. On the wall, a warning was written in three languages: No stranger is to enter within the balustrade round the temple and enclosure. Whoever is caught will be himself responsible for his ensuing death.4 Passing through the Court of the Women and of Israel, only priests and Levites entered the exclusive inner courtyard where the temple workers washed daily in the Brazen Sea and served at the enormous brass altar. Just a few chosen priests entered the Sanctuary to the Holy Place to light the incense twice a day, and to restock the twelve loaves of bread and wine once a week. Finally, the most sacred space, the Holy of Holies, was entered only by the one reigning high priest, one day a year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
Page408e architecture and engineering involved in its construction is mind boggling. e crasmen maneuvered thousands of 5 to 90-ton blocks into place without needing any mortar between the stones. e enormous stones were meticulously carved with borders around each on the outer facade. e average size was the size of a modern dishwasher, but some were as large and heavy as two loaded airplanes. ose who saw it reported it absolutely breath taking. As the common phrase reported: “He who has not seen Herod’s temple has not seen beauty in all his life.”5Yet, Jesus repeatedly prophesied that it would be destroyed. At that time, it was unfathom-able; yet from AD 70 it stood as rubble for nearly 600 years and witnessed of Jesus’ words.MARK 13:1–2 JST MARK 13:1–2And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? ere shall not be le one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown downAnd as Jesus went out of the temple, his disciples came to him saying, Master show us concerning the buildings of the Temple. And he said unto him, Behold ye these stones of the temple, and all this great work, and buildings of the temple? Verily I say unto you, they shall be thrown down and le unto the Jews desolate. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things, and do ye not understand them? Verily I say unto you, there shall be one le there upon this temple, one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And Jesus le them and went upon the mount of Olives.In Matthew and Mark’s Gospels, the JST changes the disciples’ message from telling Jesus about the temple to asking Him about the future of the temple. (e JST Mark 13, also parallels much of the JST Matthew 24.)Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3; Luke 21:7–11 “. . . privately, saying, Tell us, when . . .?” e account in Mark 13:3 has only Peter, Andrew, James and John (two groups of two brothers) asking Jesus about the timing of the future destruction, but the JST removes that sentence and replaces it with “the disciples came.” In either case, Jesus’ audience of believers—either some of the Twelve, or a combination of disciples—gather on the Mt. of Olives, overlooking the temple on Mount Moriah and continue to discuss Jesus’ prophecies.
Page409MOUNT OF OLIVES DISCOURSEJudgment and Delayed Second Coming Joseph Smith—Matthew; Matthew 24:4–32; Mark 13:5–33; Luke 21:7–36Jesus’ disciples want to learn more about the temple’s destruction, so they follow Him up the Mount of Olives and continue to ask more questions: “When shall these things be?” (Matthew 24:4; Luke 21:7). Jesus’ response has become known as His “Olivet Discourse.” Jesus’ revelation must have been a total shock to His apostles who felt that the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and its King were already there. It was also shocking because Jesus prophesies of three periods of destruction without separating them by time. He included the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by the Romans (AD 68–70), the destruction preceding His Second Coming, and the destruction at the end of the world. All three horric events are discussed together. is was confusing to them, not knowing that the Roman War against Judea would be a type of the destruction before Jesus’ Second Coming. Similar to Jesus’ disciples’ interest in the subject, the saints in Joseph Smith’s day (and the nation at large) were also fascinated by information on the Savior’s Second Coming and millennialism. When Joseph Smith translated Matthew 24, he felt inspired to re-arrange the Olivet Discourse in order to separate past and future events. e JST is 50% larger than Matthew 24, with every verse being changed/corrected, except one verse, Matthew 24:33.As Joseph Smith and the early saints sought more information, the Lord reveled more answers. In addition to the JST of Matthew 24, the Prophet also received other revelations on Jesus’ Second Coming (e.g. D&C 1; 29; 38; 43; 45; 101; 116; 133, etc.).6 In D&C 45:16–45, the Lord repeated approximately 13 verses from the Mount of Olives Discourse.Here is an outline of the Olivet Discourse as recorded in each of the Synoptic Gospels for your own study. is Come Follow Me guide follows the order and additions from Joseph Smith-Mat-thew (which is the JST of Matthew 24), now pub-lished in e Pearl of Great Price. View of the present-day Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Photograph by Nemo via Wikimedia Commons.
Page410OUTLINE OF JESUS’ MOUNT OF OLIVES DISCOURSESigns of thy Coming and End Matthew 24:3–8; Mark 13:3–8; Luke 21:7–11Persecution Foretold Matthew 24:9–14; Mark 13:9–13; Luke 21:12–19Abomination of Desolation Matthew 24:15–22; Mark 14–20; Luke 21:20–24False Christs and Prophets Matthew 24:23–28; Mark 13:21–23; Luke 21:25–38Joseph Smith—MatthewIn 1851, the British mission president, Apostle Franklin D. Richards, wanted to share key passages from the JST and the D&C with the European saints. He complied some of his favorites into a pamphlet and published it as, “e Pearl of Great Price.” One portion of the JST that he included was Matthew 24. Over time, parts of that collection were canonized. Just as the JST of Genesis 1–7 received a new name, “e Book of Moses,” so too the JST of Matthew 24 became known as, Joseph Smith—Matthew.e re-arranged order in the Joseph Smith—Matthew is organized below to separate the past and future events: PAST FUTUREJST OR JS—M KJV MATT 24 JST OR JS—M KJV MATT 2424:1 24:39 21b–22 24:23–2424:2–6 24:1–5 23, 28 24:624:7–11 24:9–13 24–27 24:25–2824:12–18 24:15–21 29 24:724:19 24:8 30 24:1224:20–21a 24:22 33 24:2934–35 24:34–3536–39 24:30–3340–54 24:36–5155Signs of Jerusalem’s Impending Destruction Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4–20Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4 “What is the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world . . .?” e disciples did not understand what lay ahead in two days, but at this point, they were more interested in the distant future. ey asked two questions: rst, about the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and second,
Page411about the signs of the Second Coming. e end of the world is dened here, almost as if in a parenthetical, as “the destruction of the wicked.” It is repeated again in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31. e earth itself will not be destroyed though. We learn elsewhere that the earth will “receive its paradisiacal glory” and become the Celestial Kingdom. e destruction described can be dened as the end of worldliness and a purication (Article of Faith 10; D&C 88:10).Josepb Smith—Matthew 1:5–10 “Many shall deceive . . . then shall they . . . kill you” Jesus warned His dis-ciples that deception and iniquity will abound. Because of the circulating falsehoods, they will all be persecuted, and many disciples will even suer martyrdom. We usually honor Stephen as the rst Christian martyr, although John the Baptist and Jesus were already martyred. James the son of Zebedee followed Stephen, and each of the other ten apostles also died as a martyr.7Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11 “he that remaineth steadfast . . . shall be saved” Although the desolation to come will be heinous, those who listen to the Lord’s anointed and His Spirit will escape. Just as the destroying angel passed over the homes of those who obeyed the prophet and covered their doorways with the blood of a lamb, so too will the “steadfast” receive eternal protection from the worst destructions of the Last Days. e same was true at the rst destruction of Jerusalem because, as prophesied, all Christians who followed the apostolic leadership had le Jerusalem before the worst destruction. Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12 “. . . see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel” In Daniel 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11 we can read of the tragic destruction of Jerusalem (other prophets also discussed this, such as Hosea 3:4 and Jeramiah 19:4). Even though very few villages had a copy of the book of Daniel, it appears that these prophecies were known.8 To avoid this desolating scourge, Jesus tells the disciples to “stand in the holy place.” is is the name of the rst room in the Temple Sanctuary reserved for just a handful of priests to light the incense and to clean. But the Lord used similar language to mean more general holy places in D&C 101:22, “it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, shouldgather together, andstandin holy places.” (is counsel was given at a time of great persecution and destruction in Missouri.) Joseph Smith—Mathew 1:13–19 “in those days shall be great tribulations on the Jews . . . as was not before . . . nor ever shall be” Jesus prophecies of the extreme danger and speed of the upcoming destruction. e horric massacre resulted due to the Jewish revolt in AD 66 (just thirty-three years aer Jesus’ prophesy and death). e Roman Emperor, Nero, sent an army under Vespasian to eradicate the Jews from their land. In the middle of his destruction, Vespasian was called back to Rome to become the next Emperor. His son, Titus entered Jerusalem and desolated everything in his path, including the stone temple.
Page412Signs of Second Coming Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–37Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:20 “. . . those days should be shortened . . . for the elect’s sake” Jesus prophesies that His covenants will protect the world from utter destruction. He will not allow his elect to fall. Joseph Smith dened God’s elect as they who choose to be chosen, or those who live their covenants.9 ose good people who prayerfully testify of Jesus have blessed many generations of the world—just as a sprinkling of salt and a ray of light. Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–22 “there shall also arise false Christs and false prophets . . . they shall deceive the very elect” Jesus repeats His warning about false prophets (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:9). Paul also taught of the false prophets deceiving the elect when he spoke of the apostasy in 2 essalo-nians 2:1–3; Hebrews 9:26–28; Acts 20:29; as did Peter in 2 Peter 3:3–9. John describes anti-Christs in 1 John 2:18. True prophets can identify false proph-ets and their falsehoods. One who has the spirit of prophecy is identied by John the Revelator as one who has a testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10). In a Springeld, IL court of law, Joseph Smith used this New Testament teaching as his denition and evidence that he was a prophet.10 In addition to all those who testify of Jesus, true prophets expose false prophets by exposing their misunderstood philosophies, or cunning counterfeits. e early Christians expected the end of the world very soon aer Jesus’ resurrection.11 Yet, it was not the Second Coming that was imminent, but the apostasy. False teachings were already under way by the time of Paul’s min-istry. It was neither passive nor gradual. Jesus foretold of this in Matthew 24:24. Jesus explains that He allows it: “Christ suereth him to work, until the time is fullled that he shall be taken out of the way” (2 essalonians 2:7, JST). Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23—37 “I speak these things . . . for the elect’s sake . . . for the coming of the Son of Man” e Lord outlines twenty signs of the times that will precede and accompany His Second Coming. He does this so that His covenant people will be prepared. e Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70. Painting by David Roberts, 1850. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page4131. Wars and rumors of wars—repeated twice each (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23; 28)2. All will see Jesus’ Second Coming, as the sunrise covers the earth (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26)3. e elect will gather together (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27)4. Nation will rise against nation (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29—in opposition to the Millennium described in Isaiah 2:4)5. Famine (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)6. Pestilence (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)7. Earthquakes in divers places (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)8. Iniquity will abound (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)9. People’s love will “wax cold” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)10. ose who are not overcome will be saved (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)11. e gospel will be preached in all the world (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31)12. e wicked will be destroyed (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31)13. Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation will be fullled (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:32)14. e sun and moon will be darkened (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:33)15. Stars will fall (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:33)16. In the generation that these are fullled, Jesus’ will come again (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:34–36)17. e tribes of the earth will mourn (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:36)18. Jesus will come in the clouds “with power and great glory” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:36)19. ose who treasure God’s word will not be deceived (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37)20. Angels come before Jesus, like a trumpet, to gather the elect in heaven (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37) God’s promise to the generation who has to endure his tragic list of destruction, is lled with hope and encour-agement if they “treasureth up my word.” FOUR PARABLES Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–54Still on the Mount of Olives, Jesus then illustrates His teachings with four stories or parables. (Parabole means type, gure, and illustration.) e rst two are about knowing when these signs will happen, and the next two describe what disciples need to do. (I will continue with the Joseph Smith —Matthew text as it is much richer)1. The Parable of the Fig TreeMatthew 24:32–42; Mark 13:28–37; Luke 21:29–36Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–39 “you know that summer is nigh . . . but of that day . . . no one knoweth . .
Page414. but my Father only” By studying the law of the harvest, one can estimate when fruit is ripe. Jesus encourages us to watch in the same way that as we prepare for His coming. His nal restraint is a surprising revelation that even He did not know when He would return. Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:41–43 “as it was in the days of Noah, so . . . at the coming of the Son of Man” With God directing mortality, the world’s history (especially divinely-directed history) repeats itself. In spite of all the destruction and calamities that will precede Jesus’ Sec-ond Coming, people will continue to go about their lives as they did before the great ood in Noah’s day.12 I’m sure those people initially saw the extra heavy rain as only an annoyance, and not as something life-threatening. In 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley equated our times with the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.13 We also have received an apostolic warning as recently as April 2019 General Conference, “Let us be about building up Zion to hasten that day.”14Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:46–48 “What I say unto one, I say unto all . . . watch . . . in such an hour, ye think not” Jesus repeatedly instructs His disciples to watch until the end (Matthew 28:19–20; Luke 21:32; Acts 2:16). Many met their end at the end of their lives, not the nal destruction of the wicked. In that case, they will be those angels who join the Lord at His glorious coming (Revelation 6:12, 18). Whenever we meet the Lord, the counsel “to watch” calls for active engagement. Rather than passively wait for His timing, the Lord asks disciples to actively wait by becoming spiritually stronger. Our preparation is aecting God’s timing. e righteous saints can help shorten the destruction (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:20–21).2. The Parable of the ServantsMatthew 24:43–51; Mark 13:34Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–50 “a faithful and wise servant . . . shall nd so doing” To be ready for the Lord, we must be serving God. e “wise” in the scripture are those men who traveled far and sacriced much to worship the toddler Jesus. e wise are also described as those who build their foundation on the rock of our Redeemer (Helaman 5:12). Now the wise servants are those who are faithful and who are doing the Lord’s work.Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:51–54 “that evil servant shall say . . . My lord delayeth his coming . . . appoint him his portion with the hypocrites . . .” is group are still “servants” or disciples of God. People who have Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni via Pixabay
Page415feigned allegiance to serve God, but have not maintained His image in their countenance, mind, and heart. If we lose faith in God’s plan, do not see His hand in the unfolding of the world, or become self-centered—eating and drinking without attention to God’s plan—then we may fall into this category. e Lord warns that frivolity and pleasure now will be met with weeping at the Judgement.Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:55 “thus cometh the end of the wicked . . . not yet, but by and by” Although Jesus just admitted that He did not know the exact timing of His return, He did know, like the ripening g, that it was not time for the harvest yet. However, we live in a day when our prophet has warned us that the time is short. “As President of His Church, I plead with you . . . [to] do the spiritual work to nd out for yourselves, and please do it now. Time is running out.”153. Parable of the Ten VirginsMatthew 25:1–13; also referenced in D&C 33; 45; 63; 88; 132:62–63; 133Jesus wants to emphasize that His disciples will need to prepare as they wait for His Second Coming, so He illus-trates it with two powerful parables: e Ten Virgins and e Talents. In the Doctrine and Covenants, there are two revelations that reference the parable of e Talents (D&C 60:2, 13; 80:18), and six revelations that cite the Ten Virgins (D&C 33:16–17; 45:56–57; 63:54). is is more than any other parable. It conrms the modern need to understand the parable of the Ten Virgins as we prepare for Jesus’ great Second Coming.Matthew 25:1 “the kingdom of heaven” In the NT, this three-word phrase is exclusive to Matthew, who uses it 32 times. e phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is found in the Book of Mormon and the D&C, but no other author uses it in the Bible. e other Gospels all use the phrase, “Kingdom of God,” when introducing other parables or teachings. It appears that Matthew does not want to not overuse the name “God.” “. . . likened unto ten virgins . . . to meet the bridegroom”16 e main character of this parable is the bride-groom; symbolically, He is the Son of God. When we look at the parable symbolically, the ten virgins and bride represent the church or God’s chosen, covenant people. In the Old Testament, Zion and Jerusalem represented the bride of Jehovah. is symbolism stemmed from Isaiah 62:5, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” is image of marriage was carried further, so that whenever the Israelites broke their covenant with God for idolatry or sins, the Old Testament referred to it as “adultery.” (See also Isaiah 50:1; 62:5; Jeremiah 3:8; Hosea 2:2–5.) A “bill of divorcement” was spoken of when God’s people broke their covenant (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8).Jesus’ parable incorporates part of the wedding festivities that occurred at that time. Aer the wedding was arranged, the families held a betrothal ceremony. en about a year later, family and friends gathered the nal wedding ceremony. A week of feasting usually took place at the home of the groom. Aer everything was pre-
Page416pared, his family and friends formed a processional to escort the bride from her home to his. e procession of townspeople sang, danced, and carried torches, as they paraded to and from the bride’s home. In the meantime, the young bride’s closest companions (usually between 12 and 15 years of age) prepared her by helping her bathe, dress, put on perfume, and prepare her hair. is was the only public exposure of her hair for the rest of her life. Aer her wedding, she must always wear a veil over her head and face in public.17 Both the bride and groom wore a wreath or gold headdress. Once the processional returned to the groom’s home, the nal ceremony began. e groom gave his bride a ring and completed their wedding vows: “You will be my wife according to the law of Moses.”18 Aer the ceremony, the bride moved into the groom’s family home for a few years until they were old enough to nancially live on their own.19Matthew 25:2 “ve . . . wise, and ve . . . foolish” Jesus’ story-telling grabs attention immediately. His simple well-known images have an unusual or new twist that draws in the reader to listen more closely. His labels e Parable of Wise and Foolish Virgins (unnished) by Peter von Cornelius, 1813. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page417immediately engage the listeners to wonder what makes one wise and anther foolish. Elder Dallin Oaks used this parable in General Conference to encourage us to prepare for the Second Coming.20Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught, ‘“ey were not pagans, heathens, or gentiles, nor were they known as corrupt or lost, but rather they were informed people who had the saving exalting gospel in their possession but had not made it the center of their lives. ey knew the way, but they were foolishly unprepared for the coming of the bridegroom . . . ey have been warned their entire lives.’ . . . ese are cautionary tales to all disciples: look to your own life and behaviors.”21Matthew 25:3–4 “foolish took their lamps and took no oil . . . the wise took oil” When going out at night, the cultural practice of the day required one to bring a small, clay lamp full of oil, and prudent people kept another small ask or vessel of extra oil. “vessels” e KJV uses a vessel of oil, others translate it as ask, jar, or container (ESV, NIV, GNT). John W. Welch points out that the Greek word, aggeiois, is also used for blood vessels.22 Taking this image a step further, like the blood vessels, the vessels of oil can represent our need to internalize the oil of the Spirit, so that it can run through our whole being to give us light and direction. “oil” e oil is identied as the Holy Ghost in D&C 45:56–57; “ey are wise and have received of the truth and have taken the Holy Spirit as their guide and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the re, but shall abide the day” (also see 1 Samuel 16:13, the anointing of David). Olive oil was a basic staple of life in Israel at the time of Jesus. e rst pressings of oil were used in temple sacrices and ritual purication. Moses and his predecessors made consecrated or “Holy oil” for anointing the Tabernacle, priests, kings, prophets, alters, and in preparing the Passover lambs. As mentioned previously, Jesus’ title, “Christ” is translated into English as the “Anointed One,” or as “Messiah” in Hebrew. Jesus is the agent of the at-one-ment, but the Holy Ghost is the medium of the atonement. In early Christianity, olive oil symbolized the Spirit (Acts 10:38; 1 John 2:20).Matthew 25:5–6 “the bridegroom tarried, they . . . slept. And at midnight . . .” e bridegroom is so much later than expected that everyone falls asleep. Allegorically, the Savior’s Second Coming has been expected by diverse groups of Christians for nearly two thousand years. Even though Jesus did not know when His Second Coming would happen (Mark 13:32), the parable teaches that it would be later than expected. Each generation, though, will go to see their maker, so Jesus warned that all need to “take ye heed,watchandpray: for yeknownot when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
Page418Matthew 25:7 “. . . arose, and trimmed their lamps” is verse is referenced and elaborated in D&C 33:16–17; “e power of my Spirit quickeneth all things wherefore be faithful, praying always having your lamps trimmed and burning and oil with you that you may be ready at the coming of the bridegroom.” Living the Gospel of Jesus is more than not doing wrong, it is actively doing those things that ll us with the Spirit of God. It is the anointing of the Spirit which brings us to Christ through the power of the at-one-ment.Matthew 25:8 “Give us your oil” is verse can be confusing. As a people who try to share our goods and give to those in need, this may sound selsh or startling. I have asked myself, “Why not share a little oil, even if you only have an ounce or two? at is what the widow of Nain did for Elijah, right?” But Jesus’ oil is not the same. What the Lord is talking about cannot be shared. President Spencer Kimball explained: e kind of oil which is needed to illuminate the way, light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share a tithing receipt; a peace of mind from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge? How can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or a mission? How can one share temple privileges and security? Each one must obtain that kind of oil for himself.23is oil or spirituality must be experienced and developed individually (D&C 122:7). We must cultivate our e Parable of e Talents by Willem de Poorter. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Page419own level of faith and testimony. In this sense, to carry an empty vessel is to have church membership without covenants, obedience, or the Spirit. We deceive ourselves if we think we are complete when our spiritual vessels are empty. Matthew 25:9 “buy for yourselves” Olive oil was readily available as a basic staple—it was used in the temples, as food, for light, and as body oils. e problem with availability is the hour of the night. Matthew 25:10 “while they went to buy, the bridegroom came” e lamps (symbolic of one’s covenants, or the testimony of church members) may at one time have been able to give light, but without the oil or Spirit, they could not be rekindled. e Greek word used for “shut/kleio” is the same word Josephus used to describe the state of mind of the Jews who came to Jerusalem for the Passover and for refuge two years before the city was destroyed. ereby showing that…Matthew 25:12 “Ye know me not” (JST) e JST makes a substantial change in the message. e dierence is understanding the character of the God we worship. Our God always knows us: it is we who do not know Him (also see D&C 6:14, 20–22; D&C 121–122:7; Romans 5:4; 8:37–39; etc.).4. Parable of the TalentsMatthew 25:14–30Matthew 25:14 “. . . called his own servants and delivered unto them . . .” is parable continues with the same theme phrase as many past parables that refer to the Judgment and Second Coming of the Lord. However, it is italicized which means it is not in the Greek text, but rather is assumed to follow the earlier well-established pattern. Jesus begins with a man traveling to a far country referring to the second estate (i.e. mortal life) of God’s plan of salvation for His children. Jesus will no longer live among His people but will delegate to others. He asks His servants to do as he did and minister to others. Matthew 25:15 “ve talents, to another two, and to another one” A talent was the most expensive quantity of money, a monetary weight or coin (the modern word denition did not gain its meaning of “abilities” until the Middle Ages—perhaps from this parable). Historians surmise dierent values for the monies. One estimate is that one talent was worth een years of labor for a servant/slave. Another suggests that one talent was worth 6,000 denarii, with one denari worth a day’s wages. Also, two denarii provided a man and his family one day’s living. us, 1 talent provided 3,000 days of living for an entire family, or nearly a decade. Remember in the Greco-Roman world, household slaves were oen given money at the end of their service to start up on their own. ese dierent amounts may have represented the dierent amount of years each slave worked.
Page420Matthew 25:16 “traded . . . and gained other ve” (JST) ose who are able to use these blessings are able to double their worth for the kingdom. In D&C 82:18–21 the Lord declared that improving our talents is directly related to how we conduct ourselves in our stewardship responsibilities.Matthew 25:21, 23, “well done good and faithful servant” God’s love will bless the Judgement with mercy, but His judgments will reect how well we have carried out our stewardships. It is dicult in the modern western culture to really understand the master-servant relationship. By using some creative thinking though, we should be able to realize that it means to be a steward and servant. We have the Lord’s example as He took on the role of a slave to wash other’s feet, heal, feed, clothe, and comfort everyone who asked for help; we should do likewise. Matthew 25:26, 30 “slothful servant . . . outer darkness ... weeping and gnashing of teeth” represents a place for the un-repentant. (See D&C 76:44, 103,109; 85:9, 101:81–91.) e story begs an application of stewardship responsibilities. It also speaks of repentance.Jesus will Judge the World Matthew 25:31–46Matthew 25:31–33 “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” Jesus associates His judgement with a pastoral scene of a shepherd in the eld separating his animals, not a cold, foreign room where an austere gure demands respect and silence. He will also have His closest friends helping with the task of making sure everyone goes where they desire. Matthew 25:34–40 “as ye have done it unto one of the last of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” e blessing of serving those around us is doubly magnied on God’s judgement day. In addition to helping the stranger, naked, hungry, and prisoners, we have also helped our God. His work is to redeem, feed and clothe, so even without realizing it, those who oer loving service on any level, are serving God. His work and glory become ours.Header Image: e Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple by James Tissot, 1899.
Page421ENDNOTES1. 2 Nephi 11:4; 25:20; Mosiah 3:15; 13:30-33; 16:13; Alma 25:15; 33:19-21; 34:14; 37:38-40; Ether 13:6; etc.2. Cyrus Adler, ed., Jewish Encyclopedia (NYC, NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906), George A. Barton, “Temple of Herod.” “e Jews were loath to have their Temple pulled down, fearing lest it might not be rebuilt. To demonstrate his good faith, Herod accumulated the materials for the new building before the old one was taken down. e new Temple was rebuilt as rapidly as possible, being nished in a year and a half, although work was in progress on the out-buildings and courts for eighty years.”3. Josephus, Jewish War, V.5.1; VI.1.3; VI.2.6; and Antiquities of the Jews, XV.11.3, 5; and Bellum Judaicum, v. 5, 5; etc.4. Adler, ed., Jewish Encyclopedia, “Temple of Herod.” It is known as the Soreg inscription. A portion of it is found in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.5. Talmud—Bava Basra 4.6. Several verses address the Lord’s Second Coming, including: D&C 19:11; 29:14-21; 45; 49:7, 22; 76:63; 88:87-91; 88:95, 99,104; 128:24; 130:1; 14; 133:2, 20, 46, 125; Isaiah 13:9-11; 40:3-5; 45:23; 49:11; 52:10; 60:2; 63:1; Daniel 7:13; Joel 3:16; Micah 1:3; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6; 13:6; 14:4; Malachi 3:2; Matthew 24; Jude 1:14; Revelation 1:7; 3:11; 6:12, 17-18; 8:1; and LDS scriptures’ Topical Guide.7. Peter: Crucied upside-down in Rome, ca. AD 64; James son of Zebedee: beheaded ca. AD 44; Andrew: crucied; Philip: crucied ca. AD 54; Bartholomew: crucied; Matthew: halberd ca. AD 60; omas: spear; James son of Alphaeus: beaten by club, aer crucied and stoned; Jude: crucied; Simon the Zealot: crucied ca. AD 7.8. Large cities had synagogues with multiple scrolls, but smaller towns could only aord the rst ve books of Moses and the Psalms. Aer those six the next most common biblical scroll available at the time of Jesus was Isaiah.9. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, Reprint 1844, 1980), 4.266. e Prophet Joseph Smith endorsed and published the following address by Brigham Yong on the subject: “is is the election that we believe in . . . in the words of the beloved Peter and Paul, we would exhort you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13); ‘Giving all diligence to make your calling and election sure’ (2 Peter 1:10); for this is that sealing power spoken of in Ephesians (1:13, 14)—“in whom ye also trusted, aer that ye heard the word of truth; the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, aer that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, until the praise of His glory” (2 Peter 1:11); “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Also see another sermon by Joseph on the subject in: Andrew Ehat and Lindon Cook, Words of Joseph Smith: e Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Smith (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1990), 33410. Smith, History, 5.215–216. “If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore if I profess to be a witness
Page422or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet”11. Early American Christians from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also expected an eminent Second Coming (especially the 20,000 Millerites who gathered for the event in 1844, only to be very disappointed).12. President omas S. Monson, General Conference, October 2011, quoted Pres. Benson as saying, “While this genera-tion will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by ood, there is a major dierence this time: [it is that] God has saved for the nal inning some of His strongest … children, who will help bear o the kingdom triumphantly.” Two and a half decades ago, at April 1993 General Conference, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Just as foretold, our days actually are fast resembling the days of Noah, especially notable for their pattern of corruption and violence.”13. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 20. “I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. … We see similar conditions today. ey prevail all across the world. I think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters.”14. D. Todd Christoerson, General Conference, April 2019. “e Spirit made clear to me that e Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lord’s Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose. Can you nd anywhere else a people who embrace the pres-ent era as the prophesied ‘dispensation of the fulness of times,’ in which God has purposed to ‘gather together in one all things in Christ’? . . . is great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return. e Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to prepare—and is prepar-ing—the world for that day.”15. Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, April 2019. 16. In the Aramaic manuscript of this chapter it ends with “went to meet the groom and the bride” (ABPE), but most only include meeting the groom17. Mishnah, Ketuboth 2.1; “She went forth [to the marriage] in a litter and with hair unbound . . .” (brackets in Danby’s translation). Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 13.565; “Until the destruction of the temple both the bride and groom wore distinctive headdresses, sometimes of gold.”18. Ken Campbell, ed., Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003),190, 206. A typical marriage contract or ketubah read as follows: “This ketubah before God and man that on this . . . day . . . the holy covenant of marriage was entered between bride-groom and his bride, at . . . Duly conscious of the solemn obligation of marriage the bridegroom consecrated to me as my wife according to the laws and traditions of Moses and Israel. I will love, honor, and cherish you; I will protect and support you; and I will faithfully care for your needs, as prescribed by Jewish law and tradition.” The bride made the following declaration to the groom: “In accepting the wed-ding ring I pledge you all my love and devotion and I take upon myself the fulllment of all the duties incumbent upon a Jewish wife.” Neusner, ed, Judaism in the Biblical Period, 411. Wednesdays were chosen as the day for a virgin’s wedding. “This is explained in the Babylonian Talmud by the fact that the court sat on Thursdays and thus if the groom claimed that the bride had not been a virgin he could immediately complain to the court.” Thursday was the wedding
Page423day for a widow so that her husband could devote three days to her before he returned to work. Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 13.566. 19. For more see, Lynne Hilton Wilson, Christ’s Emancipation of New Testament Women (Palo Alto, CA: GP, 2015), chap-ter 4.20. Dallin Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” General Conference, April 2004.21. John W. and Jeannie Welch, The Parables of Jesus: Revealing the Plan of Salvation (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 2019), 143.22. Welch, The Parables of Jesus, 142. “From it we get the English word angiogram, an X-ray procedure for the detection of blockages in blood vessels.”23. Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle(SLC, UT: Deseret Book, 1972), 253–256.