Notes On The Ministry And Character Of Jesus Christ

This morning I finished a project I’ve been working on for a long time; in fact, it’s the product of the bulk of my personal scripture study in 2008.  Last year, my stake president advised all Latter-day Saints in our areas to read the New Testament so we could renew our devotion to the Savior. 

Inspired by that, I started taking notes on everything I could recognize that Jesus said or did, in the spirit of “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21) and “the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do” (3 Nephi 27:21).  My goal now is to practice imitating the items on this list, integrating them into my own character.

As I’ve worked on this, I realize there are two serious limitations.  The first is my own spiritual imperfection, which hinders the degree of light I can discern in the scriptures and obscures my perception of what I do understand.  The second is my intellectual immaturity, which leaves much truth in the text uncovered.  (I suppose factors such as being tired or in a hurry at times also contribute to failings in the notes.)  A better person surely would have made a much longer list, and worded them in a far more profound manner.

For my study of the gospels this year, I used Bruce R. McConkie’s Doctrinal New Testament Commentary Volume I: The Gospels, a harmonized text that I’ve studied before and with which I am very comfortable.  Because I used a gospel harmony, references in the notes to items that occur in one or more of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), are usually represented only with a citation in Matthew, hence that book’s disproportionate standing in the notes. 

I also elected to include a “gospel” from the Book of Mormon in my notes, 3 Nephi.  The personal ministry of Jesus Christ to the ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere shortly after his ascension is a true record, and invaluable for its additional insights.  In the notes, I’ve italicized items that include Book of Mormon references, putting those that are exclusive to the 3 Nephi text at the end. 

This exercise provided its own lessons: the nature of the Savior’s work in the West was much more simple and positive than the dramatic epic of the Holy Land, but adds only a little major doctrine to that main ministry: truly, the Book of Mormon’s primary purpose is to testify of truths in the Bible.  3 Nephi strikes me now as a surprisingly prophetic and didactic document, in the best possible way. 

I consider this a first draft, to be revised over a lifetime:

 

Notes on the ministry and character of Jesus Christ

 

  1. Be in the temple often. Luke 2:46, John 7:14, 8:2, 10:23, Mark 12:35, Luke 21:37-38

  2. Both hear, and ask, “the doctors” questions. Luke 2:46

  3. Achieve understanding. Luke 2:46 (2:40, 52)

  4. “Wax strong in spirit” Luke 2:40

  5. Be subject unto your parents. Luke 2:51

  6. Be baptized. Matt. 3:13

  7. Do everything that fulfills all righteousness. Matt. 3:15, Matt. 26:51-56, John 19:28

  8. Be with God, alone, in wilderness and mountains. Matt. 4:1, Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Matt. 14:13, Matt. 14:23, John 8:1, Luke 22:39, Matt. 26:36, John 18:1-2, Matt. 28:16, 3 Nephi 19:19, 27, 31

  9. Fast. Matt. 4:2

  10. Respond to temptations and objections with scripture (study scripture to be ready). Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10; Matt. 12:1-6, Matt. 15:7-9, John 7:22-23, 38, Luke 10:25-28, John 10:31-36, Matt. 19:1-8, Matt. 21:15-16, Matt. 21:42, Matt. 22:34-40, 41-46

  11. Ask people what they seek. John 1:38, Matt. 20:20-21, 32-34, 3 Nephi 28:1, 4

  12. Invite people to “come and see.” John 1:39, 3 Nephi 18:25

  13. Those who wish to know God may stay with you. John 1:39

  14. Compliment others, accurately, when opportunities arise. John 1:47, Matt. 8:10; and testify of their ministry: Matt. 11:9-15

  15. Do what your mother asks you to do, even if it’s inconvenient. John 2:3-7

  16. Keep the Lord’s houses clean from worldliness. John 2:15-16, Matt. 21:12-13

  17. Those without honest intent may be answered in riddles. John 2:19, Matt. 16:1-4, Luke 17:20-21, Luke 22:67-70, Matt. 27:11, John 18:34

  18. Teach doctrine. John 3:5, Matt. 4:17, Matt. 17:19-21, John 8:31-36, Matt. 19:1-12, 28, 22:23-33, Mark 16:16, 3 Nephi 9:17-22, 3 Nephi 11:31-41, 3 Nephi 27:16-22, 33

  19. Teach by analogy. John 3:8; Matt. 5:13-16, 29-30; Luke 7:37-48, Matt. 12:43-45, Matt. 18:1-5, John 10:1-14, Matt. 18:11-14, Luke 15:8-10, Matt. 21:28-32

  20. Teach by rhetorical questioning. John 3:10,12; John 5:44, 47; Matt. 12:10-12, Luke 17:7-10, Luke 24:26

  21. Teach by testifying from the Spirit. John 3:11, John 7:28-29, John 8:14, 18, 25-26, 42, Matt. 26:63-64, Luke 22:70, John 18:36-37, John 19:11, 3 Nephi 9:15-16, 3 Nephi 11:10-11

  22. Offer the “living water” to everyone. John 4:7-14, 3 Nephi 18:25

  23. Don’t be afraid to teach powerful, or even offensive, truths. John 4:16-26, Luke 4:21-27, Matt. 8:11-12, Matt. 11:16-19, Matt. 12:30-37, 46-50, Matt. 8:21-22, John 6:60-66, Matt. 16:1-4, Matt. 16:24-26, Matt. 18:6-10, John 8:24, 40, 58, Luke 14:25-33, Matt. 19:23-24, 23:1-39, John 12:24-26

  24. Focus on obediently doing God’s will. John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, John 18:11, 3 Nephi 15:13-19, 3 Nephi 16:3, 10, 16, 3 Nephi 20:10, 3 Nephi 27:13-14

  25. Stay with people who want you to do so. John 4:40, Luke 10:38, Luke 19:5-6, Luke 24:29

  26. Teach wherever people will hear you. Luke 4:15, Mark 2:2,13, John 7:14, 8:2

  27. Participate in worship services on the sabbath. Luke 4:16

  28. Teach on the sabbath. Luke 4:31, Mark 1:21, Luke 13:10

  29. Travel and preach wherever you go. Mark 1:38-39, Luke 8:1, Matt. 13:54, Matt. 9:35, Matt. 11:1, John 10:16, Luke 13:22

  30. Some experiences should stay private. Matt. 8:4, Matt. 12:16, Mark 3:12, Matt. 9:30, Mark 7:36, Mark 8:26, Matt. 16:20, Matt. 17:9

  31. Challenge critics and doubters with questions and evidence. Matt. 9:2-7, Matt. 11:4-5, Matt. 12:25-30, John 10:31-38, Luke 13:14-17, Matt. 22:41-46, Matt. 26:55, John 18:21-23, Luke 24:38-44, John 20:27

  32. Reward people for their faithful acts. Luke 5:20, Luke 17:15-19, 3 Nephi 28:6-12

  33. Sit to eat with publicans and sinners, that you might help them come to repentance. Matt 9:10-13, Luke 7:36, Luke 14:1

  34. Practice mercy. Matt. 9:13

  35. Ask people for opportunities to serve and bless them. John 5:6, 3 Nephi 27:2

  36. Do not seek credit for service. John 5:13

  37. Follow the great role model of God the Father. John 5:19-20, John 7:16, John 8:26-29, 38, 49-50, 54-55, Matt. 11:26, John 9:4, John 10:18, John 12:49-50

  38. Appeal to witnesses. John 5:31-38

  39. Say things with the intent of saving others. John 5:34, John 8:14-15, 3 Nephi 18:35, 3 Nephi 27:14-15

  40. When persecution arises, remove yourself from the situation. Matt. 12:14-15, John 10:39-40, John 11:53-54

  41. Find time to serve all those who come to you. Matt. 12:15, Matt. 21:14 (but be practical about it—Mark 3:9, Matt. 13:2, Matt. 8:18) 3 Nephi 11:14-15, 3 Nephi 17:9

  42. Teach and say positive things that will bring comfort and peace. Matt. 5:3-12, Matt. 9:22, Matt. 14:27, John 8:12, Matt. 11:28-30, Luke 17:5-6, John 8:20-23, Matt. 19:25-26, Mark 10:28-31, John 12:35-36, John 12:46, Matt. 24:13, Luke 21:27-28, John 14:1-6, 16-28, John 15:9-17, Luke 24:36, John 20:26, Matt. 28:20

  43. Correct misunderstandings. Matt. 5:17

  44. Have high standards and expectations. Matt. 5:21-48

  45. Teach people how to live as disciples. Matt. 6:1-7:29, Luke 14:7-11, 25-33, Matt. 19:16-21, Matt. 20:20-28, Matt. 22:34-40, 23:1-28, John 12:25-26, Luke 21:19, John 13:1-20

  46. Have compassion on those who mourn and suffer. Luke 7:13, Matt. 9:36, Matt. 14:14, Matt. 15:32, John 8:32-36, Matt. 20:29-34, 3 Nephi 17:6-8

  47. Use your gifts to serve those who need it. Matt. 8:6-7, 3 Nephi 26:15

  48. Show loyalty to those in your community. Matt. 10:32-33, Matt. 12:46-50

  49. Don’t be afraid to describe things as they really are. Matt. 12:39, John 18:19-20

  50. Teach in parables so the honestly spiritual may learn. Matt 13:10-17, 36-43, Luke 10:29-37, Luke 12:13-21, Luke 13:6-9, Luke 14:16-24, Luke 15:11-32, Luke 16:1-13, 19-31, 18:1-8, Matt. 20:1-16, Luke 19:11-28 (and the dishonest and wicked: Matt. 21:33-45, 22:1-14), Luke 12:41-48

  51. When you teach, check for understanding. Matt. 13:51, John 10:6-7

  52. Do the right thing even if those around you aren’t supportive. Matt. 8:26

  53. Respond to gratitude by directing it to God; lead people to God. Mark 5:19, Matt. 19:16-17, John 13:20, John 13:31, John 14:7-11

  54. Accept requests for help. Matt. 9:18-19

  55. Train those who may continue your work. Mark 5:37, Matt. 10:6-42, Matt. 17:1-2, Luke 10:3-16, Matt. 26:26-29, John 15:1-16:33, John 20:23, Luke 24:49, Matt. 28:18-20, 3 Nephi 11:21-27, 3 Nephi 15:11-24, 3 Nephi 18:1-16

  56. Test people for faithfulness before blessing them. Matt. 9:28, John 6:5-6, Matt. 15:22-28, Matt. 16:13-19, John 8:25-27

  57. Alleviate suffering wherever you go. Matt. 9:35, John 9:6-7, Luke 13:11-13, Luke 17:11-14, Luke 22:50-51

  58. Delegate authority so more good work may be done. Matt. 10:1,5; Luke 10:1-2, 19

  59. Help provide for the temporal needs of those you teach. Matt. 14:16, Mark 6:30-32, Matt. 15:32, John 21:5-13

  60. Let compassion move you to teach the gospel. Mark 6:34

  61. Encourage people to grow on their own, but help them back up if they fall. Matt. 14:30-31

  62. Take advantage of “teachable moments.” John 6:26-27, Matt. 16:5-12, Luke 14:1-6, 7-11, Matt. 21:18-22, Mark 12:41-44

  63. When your teaching meets with honest criticism or confusion, counsel against “murmuring” and explain further. John 6:41-59, 3 Nephi 15:2-8

  64. When challenged by disingenuous critics, use their strategy against them. Matt. 15:1-6, John 8:3-9, Matt. 21:23-27

  65. Reprove students for poor priorities, even when well intentioned. Mark 8:33, John 8:39, Luke 10:20, Luke 12:13-15, Luke 18:9-14, Matt. 20:20-23, Matt. 26:6-13, Luke 22:61

  66. Help prepare people for the future. Matt. 17:22-23

  67. Comply with rules so as not to give offense. Matt. 17:24-27, Matt. 22:15-22, 23:2-3

  68. Welcome any who would serve your cause. Mark 9:38-40

  69. Encourage people to be unified and peaceful. Matt. 18:15-35, 3 Nephi 11:28-30

  70. Openly (and sincerely) lament the fate of those who reject God. Matt. 11:20-24, Luke 19:41-42, Matt. 23:13-39, Luke 11:52, Matt. 26:21-25, 3 Nephi 9:1-12, 3 Nephi 10:4-7, 3 Nephi 27:32

  71. Exercise self-control, and do the right things at the right times, in the right way. John 7:8-10

  72. Focus on saving those who reject you, not condemning them. Luke 9:51-56, John 12:47

  73. Teach people where to go for salvation. John 14:6, 3 Nephi 15:9

  74. Teach people to keep commandments. John 8:10-11, Matt. 19:16-21, John 14:15 (and to teach others that) Matt. 28:20, 3 Nephi 15:1, 3 Nephi 15:10, 3 Nephi 18:13-14

  75. Adapt your teaching to your audience. John 8:31

  76. Teach people to have compassion on others, and to withhold judgment. Luke 13:1-5, John 9:1-3, Luke 14:12-15

  77. Teach people to focus on their own spiritual needs, rather than criticizing others. Luke 13:1-5, Matt 7:1-5, John 21:20-23

  78. Seek out those who have suffered, who would accept your teaching, and comfort them with it. John 9:35-39, Luke 19:2-10, John 20:14-17, Matt. 28:9-10

  79. Confirm that those who reject light and knowledge have condemned themselves. John 9:39-41

  80. Use people’s simple questions as opportunities to teach in detail. Luke 13:22-30

  81. Don’t let your enemies intimidate you into abandoning the part your mission plays in the plan. Luke 13:31-33, John 11:7-10, Matt. 26:45-46

  82. Expose the failings of your critics, and correct them. Luke 16:14-18,

  83. Pray in gratitude. John 8:41-42, 3 Nephi 19:19-20, 27-28

  84. Teach people to pray. Matt. 6:5-15, Luke 18:1-8, John 12:27-28, Luke 21:36, Matt. 26:41, 3 Nephi 17:3, 3 Nephi 18:15-23, 3 Nephi 19:16-17, 26, 3 Nephi 27:28-29

  85. Be with little children and bless them. Matt. 19:13-15, 3 Nephi 17:11-25, 3 Nephi 26:14

  86. Teach people to make sacrifices. Matt. 19:21, Mark 10:28-30, Mark 12:41-44

  87. Teach people what to expect in the future. Matt. 20:17-19, Luke 19:43-44, John 12:31-36, Matt. 24:1-51, Luke 21:24-28, Matt. 25:31-46, Matt. 26:1-2, Luke 22:28-30, John 14:2-3, 29-31, Matt. 26:31-34, Luke 23:27-31, John 21:18-24, Mark 16:17-18, 3 Nephi 16:1-20, 3 Nephi 20:11-21:29, 3 Nephi 26:3-5

  88. Use object lessons in your teaching. Matt. 21:18-22

  89. Testify that God does things to bless people. John 12:30

  90. Teach people to have faith in God. John 12:44-45, John 14:12-14, John 20:27-29, Mark 16:16

  91. Teach people to think critically. Matt. 24:4-5

  92. Teach people to rely on God. Mark 13:11

  93. Teach people to prepare spiritually. Matt. 24:42-51, Luke 21:34, Matt. 25:1-13

  94. Teach people to serve God with all that they have. Matt. 25:14-30

  95. Teach people to serve one another. Matt. 25:31-46, Luke 22:24-27, John 13:1-20, Luke 22:32, John 21:15-17

  96. Bless people with ordinances. Matt. 26:26-29, John 20:22, 3 Nephi 18:1-12, 36-37, 3 Nephi 20:3-8, 3 Nephi 26:13

  97. Sing hymns. Matt. 26:30

  98. Pray for others. John 17:1-26, Luke 22:31-32, 3 Nephi 17:15, 21, 3 Nephi 19:21-23, 29

  99. Pray to be strong and obedient. Matt. 26:39, 42

  100. Protect those over whom you have authority. John 18:8-9

  101. Spiteful enemies may be ignored. Matt. 26:62-63, Matt. 27:12-14, Luke 23:9, John 19:9

  102. Forgive those who hurt you. Luke 23:34

  103. Serve and comfort others even as you suffer. Luke 23:39-43, John 19:25-27

  104. Make sure your mother is cared for. John 19:25-27

  105. Call out to God when you need strength. Matt. 27:46

  106. When your work is done, you may rest. John 19:30 (Luke 23:46)

  107. Begin work with people anonymously as needed. Luke 24:15-17, John 21:4-6

  108. Teach from the scriptures. Luke 24:27, 45-46, 3 Nephi 16:17-20, 3 Nephi 22:1-17, 3 Nephi 23:14-26:3

  109. Bless meals. Luke 24:30

  110. Teach people to believe the witness of others. Mark 16:14

  111. Teach people to be witnesses and share the message. Luke 24:46-48, Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, 3 Nephi 18:24

     

  112. Invite people to be converted and healed. 3 Nephi 9:13-14, 21-22, 3 Nephi 10:6, 3 Nephi 20:26

  113. Teach people to study the scriptures. 3 Nephi 10:14, 3 Nephi 20:11, 3 Nephi 23:1-5

  114. Teach people to avoid contention. 3 Nephi 11:28-30, 3 Nephi 18:34

  115. Share the same fundamental teachings about salvation wherever you go. 3 Nephi 12-14 (Matt. 5-7)

  116. Teach people who they are. 3 Nephi 15:12-24

  117. Teach people to keep spiritual records. 3 Nephi 16:4, 3 Nephi 23:6-13, 3 Nephi 27:23-26

  118. Praise people for faithfulness. 3 Nephi 16:6, 3 Nephi 19:25, 35-36, 3 Nephi 27:30-31, 3 Nephi 28:3

  119. Teach people to ponder, pray, and prepare their minds. 3 Nephi 17:3

  120. Teach people to pray as families. 3 Nephi 18:21

  121. Teach believers to meet together frequently. 3 Nephi 18:22-23

  122. Teach people to keep the Church spiritually clean, but to always welcome everybody. 3 Nephi 18:27-32

  123. Be with people often. 3 Nephi 26:13

  124. Teach people to do things in the name of Christ. 3 Nephi 17:3-12

  125. Teach people to follow righteous role models. 3 Nephi 27:22, 27

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