My name is Brother Cooprider, I am visiting from the Billerica ward on behalf of the Stake Presidency. I live in Bedford with my wife, three girls, and a baby boy. I went to high school in the Littleton 1st, 2nd, plain, and now I guess it’s the Acton ward.
One of my favorite classes at BYU was RelA 211: The New Testament covering the Gospels. I took it from Sister Fronk, although she is now Sister Olson.
I hope that we all take advantage of this Easter season to reflect on what Jesus Christ has done for us. This week we commemorate the final week of his life and the atonement. We will remember during the next week His suffering in Gethsemane, His illegal trial, His horrible crucifixion,and His glorious resurrection. I want to spend some time today reflecting on the rest of His life and what He gave us in addition to the atonement. That is still a lot of material. Even in the relatively small amount of documentation we have of His life, we have libraries worth of lessons. We can condense it all to a simple primary answer: He provided a perfect example. Although He did this in almost infinite ways, I will focus on three. We can look to Him for the perfect way to serve, teach, and forgive.
The perfect way to serve
Examples of service fill the life and ministry of Jesus. Of course, the pinnacle of His service consisted of his atonement, where He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Other examples include the many recorded incidents of him healing those that came to Him, but He did not limit his service to that.
We can see an early an example of service in the family during one of the first recorded events of His adult life. Soon after His baptism, Christ and his early disciples attended a wedding at Cana. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had some sort of stewardship at this celebration. When the wine ran out, she noted it to her son. Since His hour had not yet come, He rectified the situation with a miracle:
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Not only did He take the opportunity to serve his mother and those at the wedding, but did it so well that it impressed the governor of the feast.
Allow me to mention another example of service, also involving the miraculous production of food. Early in Christ’s ministry, His novelty attracted thousands. After a long day on the eve of the passover, He noticed a problem that needed solving:
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
Again, Christ not only served when not required, but did so much that those present had ample leftovers.
Perhaps His most profound example of service, other than the atonement, came during the last supper when He washed His apostles feet. He got up and prepared for the task. As He started with Peter, the apostle protested and did not understand. This provided an additional teaching moment. A lot can be said about the symbolism of this entire event, but even at face value it provides a clear example of service.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
We know we need to serve those around us, but do we realize it brings happiness? I always like more happiness. Christ showed us through his example the perfect way to serve.
The perfect way to teach
Jesus Christ was the master teacher. For an empirical measure, His teachings spawned the world’s largest religion. He taught with power and authority, and He taught in a variety of ways.
Jesus taught by example. Nephi describes this when teaching about why Christ was baptized:
2 Nephi 31
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
Even though Christ was already “holy,” He chose to teach obedience through His example.
Jesus also taught through ministering to the individual. A clear example of this came early in His ministry with how he taught Nicodemus about the necessity of baptism. Nicodemus was a Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, who visited Jesus at night to learn more about Him. He had the embers of a testimony, and Christ taught him what he needed to do:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
The actual conversation goes on for another sixteen verses. Consider that for a moment. We have relatively few records of what Jesus did, but we have twenty-one verses of scripture about him ministering to this one man. He taught many important things during this conversation, one of which was the importance of ministering to the individual.
Jesus often taught in parables, both to individuals and to multitudes. Why? He provides at least a partial answer in Matthew.
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Parables used to teach clearly
Conceal, identify, visual learners, easier to understand, layers
Speaking in parables allowed some degree of variable accountability to His students. We also have examples of Christ teaching in parables not to hide mysteries, but to make them so clear as to avoid misunderstanding. Parables provide an excellent vehicle for effective teaching, and you can look to Christ for a perfect example of how to use them.
The perfect way to forgive
I do not think there has ever been a man more unjustly wronged than Jesus Christ. I do not think there has ever been a man who forgave more during his life than Jesus Christ. From ignorant mistakes to near blasphemy, the Lord constantly forgave those around him. Said differently, He did not hold grudges, and always gave those around Him the opportunity to change. He also preached what he practiced.
Christ taught Peter about forgiveness:
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
He then further illustrated his point with a powerful parable:
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
We all owe a great debt to our Father in Heaven, and should forgive those around us of their relatively small tresspasses. Christ performed the atonement to balance our ledger. Let’s not mock that by trying to deny the same courtesy to our neighbors.
Please make an extra effort this Easter season to rededicate yourself to following Christ’s example. He shows us the way to serve, teach, and forgive. His sacrifice a charity enables us to return to our Heavenly Father. Please look to Him. Doing so leads to happiness in this life as well as the next. That’s the reason He submitted to the atonement 2000 years ago. That’s what we celebrate this week: His sacrifice to bring us happiness.
I leave you these words and my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen