Binoculars help us see things at a distance where our natural eyes cannot make out details. I have used them to see deer in the woods or dolphins in the ocean. Reading glasses help us to see things, especially words, that are up close to our bodies. They allow us to enjoy what we read and to better understand what an author is portraying. Both tools seek out something we can’t see with our natural eyes. In like manner, the scriptures, especially the gospels in the New Testament and Third Nephi in the Book of Mormon, can help us see Christ and seek Him.
To Know and To Know
In Spanish, there are two verbs “Saber” and “Conocer” that translates into English as “To Know”. The first, “Saber”, relates to knowing things. For example, I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s Church would translate to “Yo se que La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias es la iglesia de Dios”.
The second, “Conocer”, is about knowing someone. When I say that I know my wife, it means that I have a relationship with her, I know who she is. In Spanish, “Yo conozco a mi esposa”.
This distinction in knowing is very useful when one is seeking after Christ. We can know about His life, His miracles, and His teachings, but do we really know (Conocer) Him? Can I say that I know Jesus in the same way that I can say that I know my wife?
Elder James W. McConkie III discusses coming to know (Conocer) Jesus in “And They Sought to See Jesus Who He Was“. He gives us ways in which we can seek Jesus in the scriptures to better know Him.
Do I Love the Lord?
In an address given at the October 2007 General Conference titled “The Great Commandment“, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin asked, “Do you love the Lord?”. When Elder McConkie quoted this I asked myself the question. I then thought about loving the Lord and what it meant. If I love the Lord, am I doing the things He has asked me to do? Am I seeking to know Jesus? If not, what changes do I need to make in order to start?
Elder Wirthlin states that to answer yes to the question, one needs to “spend time with Him. Meditate on His words. Take His yoke upon you. Seek to understand and obey.” Elder Wirthlin then discusses “transformative blessings” that will come to us if we follow that counsel. Among those blessings are an increased capacity to love, a willingness to be obedient and responsive to God’s commandments, a desire to serve others, and a disposition to do good continually.”
The blessings listed above may not be all that we individually receive. I have found that when I have been more immersed in Jesus that I also have a greater capacity to forgive others. I have more empathy toward myself, my family, my friends, and others. Loving the Lord brings each of us the blessings we need when we need them.
Who Is Jesus?
Who is Jesus? Because of His central role in the plan of happiness, this is the most important question to which we can seek an answer. There is the story in Luke (19:1-10) about Zacchaeus who “sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature”. This man wanted to see Jesus but had to find a way to seek Him out. Not being able to see Jesus with the crowds around him, Zacchaeus climbed a tree. He was rewarded with a visit from the Savior to his home.
It is important to note that when we seek Jesus, we must not fall into the trap of seeking Him as we want or wish Him to be. We should seek him “as He really was and is.”
Elder McConkie also relates the story of Jesus being in Capernaum and a group of people bringing a friend with palsy to Him for healing (Mark 2:1-12). Due to the friend’s condition, the group had to carry him. However, seeing the crowd of people listening to Jesus, who was in a house, they knew they could not get to Him directly. They had to bring their friend to Jesus in an alternate way.
In those times, homes had stairways that led to the roof. The man’s friends used one of these stairways to get to the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching. They then proceeded to make a hole in the roof and let their friend down into the midst of the people in the house with Jesus. This had to have interrupted the teachings Jesus was delivering. Interruptions are something that most of us dislike and I can imagine if it were me that I would have been annoyed at this intrusion.
Jesus, however, is not like us and we get to know Him better through His reaction to the situation. He did not chastise the man nor his friends for interrupting His teaching. He did not point out the damage caused to the roof of the house where He was a guest. He did not ignore the interruption and continue with His delivery. No, the Savior of the world recognized that these people had sought Him out as the one person who could help their friend. Jesus forgives the man’s sins and then heals the man’s physical ailments. We come to know Him better as we read the words about Christ’s feelings and what he says to the sick man, “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (verse 5).
Do I seek to see Jesus as He is? Do I see Jesus as the loving Savior when I read and study His words in the scriptures? I have been impressed to do more to immerse myself in the life of Jesus. I am drawn to study more than I have ever done before so that I can come to know Jesus. I want to know Him better.
Seeking Jesus is not a one-time event. We must continually seek Him because our lives are not static. We do not find Him and come to know Him once and that is it. As the situations in our lives change, we must seek Him and His help, guidance, and love so that we may be more like Him in this and every moment.
The story in Mark brings up another aspect of seeking Jesus that we must keep in mind. The sick man’s friends had to overcome at least three obstacles in order to bring him to Jesus. The first was the size of the crowd listening to Jesus. This they could overcome by taking the man to the rooftop of the building.
The second was the stairway leading to the rooftop. They were carrying the man on a litter and had to navigate the stairs. This probably was not easy as each person was carrying a corner of the litter and had to ensure that the man did not tip over.
The third obstacle was the roof itself. They had to make a hole large enough to let the man down into Jesus’ midst. I also believe that after the events of the healing, they patched the roof as well.
When we seek Jesus, are we willing to break down the barriers that stand in our way? Are we willing to do what it takes so that we can come to know Him? One barrier that I have to overcome is the use of my time. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done and still enjoy my passions. I have learned how to take the time to study and recognize when those optimal times are.
For instance, in the mornings I help my children get ready for school. We have one daughter who gets picked up by the bus at 6:45AM and another who I drive to school at 7:45AM. This gives me at least a half-hour of free time to myself. I have chosen to make this my Come Follow Me scripture reading time. I divide the set of scriptures being studied that week into five and then Monday through Friday between 6:45 and 7:45 AM I take time to read and ponder on that day’s portion. I have found great joy in taking this time to study and feel the Spirit.
Learning About Jesus as the Christ
What do we learn in the scriptures about Jesus as The Christ? Elder McConkie states that we learn the following from the story in Mark 2. “First, when we try to help someone we love come unto Christ, we can do so with confidence that He has the capacity to lift the burden of sin and to forgive. Second, when we bring physical, emotional, or other illnesses to Christ, we can do so knowing He has the power to heal and comfort. Third, when we make effort like the four to bring others to Christ, we can do so with certainty that He sees our true intentions and will appropriately honor them.”
What did I learn about Jesus as The Christ in this story? I learned that the Savior has compassion on all. He does not get upset when people are truly seeking Him. He realizes that we, as God’s children, need Him and when we earnestly seek Him out, He will be there to help us in whatever manner is appropriate.
I also learned that Jesus will explain to us in ways we can understand what He is doing and who He is. Look at the words He spoke when some in the crowd grumbled about Him forgiving the man’s sins. “And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?” (Verses 6-11). The men who were “reasoning in their hearts” were scribes, those who were “educated” in the law and gospel. The very people who should have understood the signs and wonders they were seeing were the manifestations of the Messiah and had been proclaiming Him to the people. Jesus used their own way of speaking and teaching to help them understand Him.
Qualities/Attributes that Aid Us
What qualities and attributes can aid us in seeking Jesus? For me, the answer is found in Moroni and James. Moroni states (Moroni 10:4) that if we have a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ, then we can receive answers when we ask. This also applies as we seek to know Jesus as He is. We must be sincere, work for it and have faith that we can come to know Him.
James puts it this way “let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). We must be persistent and not waver in our seeking. Even if it seems we are getting no closer to knowing Jesus, we must press on. God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
One more attribute that I believe we need as we seek Jesus is an open mind. So many times we get sidetracked by the world’s thinking that our minds are not open to receiving what we read and learn in the scriptures. We think, “that was for them and great, but it doesn’t really apply today”. We have to be able to put those thoughts aside when we seek Jesus and try to know Him.
We Don’t Have to Seek Him Alone
Finally, we don’t have to seek Jesus alone. We can receive help from others who are also seeking Jesus. We discuss the things we have learned and gain insight and knowledge from what others have discovered. My wife and I have recently set a goal to study Come Follow Me together daily. Her insights help me to think and look at the scriptures in a different way. We are able to help each other seek Jesus by working together and learning together. Our organizational classes can also help us to seek Jesus. As we discuss various topics we hear what others have found in their study and how they apply their learnings. These discussions can then help us evaluate what we are doing and how we can be better and draw nearer to Christ.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7-8). This is the promise Jesus made to His disciples while on the earth. Seeking Jesus to know Him as He is should be a goal each of us has. He admonished us to do so when He left the Nephites “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3rd Nephi 12:48). How can we be perfect even as He is? By seeking to know (Conocer) Him as He is.
If you are teaching from this talk, consider the following:
- Discuss the difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone
- Bring a set of binoculars and discuss how they are used to seek things that are not easily seen by our eyes alone. Discuss how the scriptures are like binoculars as we seek Jesus.
- Ask the class what obstacles could be in their way of seeking Jesus. How can they overcome those obstacles and seek and know Jesus?