Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book of Mormon painting six.

If there was a list of the most significant events in the history of mankind, this would be up there in the top five.  Surely.

Signs were given to God’s children to mark the birth of the Saviour.

In the East, wise men knew a new star would appear to mark the coming birth.  They travelled towards it and found the Messiah, born in lowly circumstances, and offered Him gifts.

In the ancient Americas, they too knew a new star would appear, just as the prophets had said.  They could see the new star, and knew that their Messiah had been born into the world.

Signs were also given to God’s children to mark the death of the Saviour.

In Jerusalem, immediately after Jesus had ‘given up the ghost’ as He hung on the cross, the sky went dark and the earth shook.  In fact, the veil inside the temple suddenly tore from top to bottom.  Graves opened, the earth quaked, and many were afraid of what they had done.  (Matthew 27)

In the ancient Americas, they too experienced the same period of darkness and disaster.  The people had the Old Testament prophesies of the Saviour too, as well as the word of contemporary propheets, and the people began to look with great eartnestness for the sign which had been given.  And it came.  A great and terrible tempest lasted for three hours, with unusually sharp lightnings, damaging the majority of the cities.  The damages was so extensive, as is the record in 3 Nephi 8 (unlike the New Testament accounts).  Then three days of darkness - thick darkness that was so intense that there could not be any light at all.  Clearly this was the same darkness and disaster experienced in Jerusalem.

The people then knew their Messiah, the light and the life of the world had been killed, as the prophets had told.  (3 Nephi 11:11)  They cried out:  O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned our propehts, and cast them out ... the howlings of the people [were so] great and terrible.

During this time of darkness, the body of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, lay in the tomb.  On the day of His Resurrection, after Christ had overcome death, light came again to the people in America, signifying Christ’s victory.

Then, as if piercing the darkness, these people heard a voice coming from the heavens.

Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. (3 Nephi 11:7)

Jesus Christ Appears unto the Nephite People
Arnold Friberg

And … they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them. …

He stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. (3 Ne. 11:8–10)

How would you have responded if you had been there?

Consider the impact on the lives of those who received a spiritual and physical witness of the reality of Jesus Christ.

“The reason I made [the Savior] that small and so high up was so that no one could nail me—‘How do you know how he looked?’ So I put this little figure up in the sky and made it so small that no one could quibble over details like facial features.” – Arnold Friberg [1]

What an amazing event - this is the crowning event of the Book of Mormon.

After the scene depicted in the above painting, the resurrected Lord invited the Nephites to feel the wounds in His hands and feet (3 Nephi 11:14).  This was so they could all witness His Resurrection, and testify of what they saw and felt.

Jesus Christ teaching in the Western Hemisphere
John Scott

The wounds of the Saviour are tokens of His sacrifice:

“However dim our days may seem, they have been a lot darker for the Savior of the world. As a reminder of those days, Jesus has chosen, even in a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, to retain for the benefit of His disciples the wounds in His hands and in His feet and in His side—signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and the perfect; signs, if you will, that pain in this world is not evidence that God doesn’t love you; signs, if you will, that problems pass and happiness can be ours. Remind others that it is the wounded Christ who is the Captain of our souls, He who yet bears the scars of our forgiveness, the lesions of His love and humility, the torn flesh of obedience and sacrifice.” [2]
Also note:  these wounds are the main way we will one day recognise our Saviour, when He comes again.  I’m certain He will invite us, as He did before, to come forward and feel those wounds …

Jesus Christ promised: “Blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:14).  This invitation is for all of us! It applies to our daily living – wherever we are going, first come and see what He is doing; listen to His words and how He prays and spends His time. [3]

Come, follow Him.

The Book of Mormon Forum

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[1] as quoted in :Vern Swanson, ‘The Book of Mormon Art of Arnold Friberg, “Painter of Scripture”, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Vol 10, 1, 26-35, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2011
[2] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan 2003, 42
[3] Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Nov. 1997, 65

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