When Jesus appeared to the Nephites after His resurrection, He chose twelve men from among them and said, “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph.” And then He made this significant statement, “And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you” (3 Nephi 16:12,13).
This was the beginning of a profound discourse that Jesus gave the Nephites explaining the difference in the power and authority between Him and the Father.
When Jesus lived in mortality in Jerusalem He repeatedly taught that the Father had sent Him (John 6:39; 5.36,37; 8.18; 20.21), that the things He taught and did were only those things the Father had commanded Him to speak and do (John 5:17,36; 6:39; 8:28,29; 12:49,50; 18:11 Gal. 1:4) and that it was the Father who had given Him all the power and knowledge He had (Luke 10.22; John 3.35; 5:26; Col. 1:19). Rather than seeking to glorify Himself, He taught that we are to pray to the Father, not to the Son (Luke 11:12; John 4:23; Col. 1:2; Eph. 3:14), that we should do the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21; Matt. 12:50; Luke 11:12; 2 John 1:4) and that it is the Father whom we should emulate (Matt. 5:48; 6:18). He taught that all things come from the Father (Matt. 6:4,14; John 6:44; 16:23) and He spoke of heaven as being the Father’s kingdom (matt 26.29; 13.43; 1 Cor. 15:24) and the Father’s house (John 14:2) rather than speaking of it being His kingdom and house. In all that Jesus said and did, He never praised Himself but instead made a distinct point of giving all praise to His Father and instructed His followers to do the same.
Although the scriptures are filled with this message, we tend to overlook the role of the Father in the plan of salvation. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we talk about how the Father presented the plan of salvation to us before the world was made and how He chose Jehovah to be our Savior, but beyond that we have a tendency to ignore our Father in heaven as though He sort of sits back and watches from afar while Jesus takes charge of carrying out the Father’s plan. However, that is not the message Jesus taught.
As we read the fifteenth chapter of 3 Nephi we see Jesus talking about “the Father” in terms of Him being in charge and in total control of everything. Jesus told the Nephites that it was “the Father,” not the Son, who gave them the land they were living on. What is so interesting about this statement is that Jesus had just gotten through explaining to the Nephites that He was the one who had given the law to Moses (3 Nephi 15:5). Since the Nephites were a remnant of the house of Israel, it was Jehovah they worshipped. But Jesus told them that it was not Jehovah who gave this land to the Nephites but His Father.
Jesus then went on to further explain “And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem.”
When Jesus was alive in the flesh and living in Jerusalem the Father had made His Son aware of the existence of the Nephites and that He would someday be sent to preach to them. However, He never told Jesus that He should make the people in Jerusalem aware of the existence of the Nephites who were their “brethren.”
As we read in the Book of Mormon we learn that the reason Jesus appeared to the Nephites was because the Father had specifically commanded Him to do so and that the Father gave Jesus explicit instructions of what to say to them. Yet while He lived in the flesh, the Father never authorized Jesus to make this knowledge known to the Jews in Jerusalem. Instead, only “this much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them: That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
It is clear that Jesus knew about the Nephite people while He lived in Jerusalem and that He was to someday preach the gospel to them. Although the Father did allow Jesus to say that He was going to visit these “other sheep… which are not of this fold” yet He was not given permission to talk about who these other “sheep” were to the Jews. What is interesting about this comment is that it shows how the Father was instructing Jesus on everything He should or shouldn’t do and say while He lived in mortality.
Jesus then went on to explain to the Nephites, “And now, because of the siffneckedness and unbelief of them [who live in Jerusalem] they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded [by the Father] to say no more concerning this thing unto them (the Jews in Jerusalem).”
More than that, Jesus revealed, “Neither at any time did the Father give unto me a commandment that I should tell unto them [who lived in Jerusalem] concerning the other tribes of the house of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land.” Jesus knew He would someday be visiting the other lost tribes as well as the Nephites, yet the Father specifically forbid Him from talking about them to the Jews.
And what little Jesus was allowed to reveal about the Nephites and the other lost tribes, the Jews misunderstood His words. But rather than clarifying his remarks, the Father specifically commanded Jesus “to say no more concerning this unto them.”
Jesus went on to explain, “But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.”
The reason why the Father separated Lehi and his family from the people of Jerusalem was because of the iniquity of the Jews. This much they already knew from what their prophets had told them, but Jesus now told the Nephites that it was because of the iniquity of the Jews at the time He was living in Jerusalem that the Father commanded His Son not to tell them about the Nephites. It seems that the Jews could have been told about their lost brethren had they been a righteous people but because of their wickedness the Father deliberately withheld that information from them. Therefore, the Jews knew nothing concerning the Nephites.
And the same was true for the other lost tribes. Jesus explained, “And [of a truth] I say unto you again that the Father has separated the other tribes from them [who live in Jerusalem]; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them.”
Notice again, that it was the Father who “separated the other tribes,” not Jesus or Jehovah. What makes this statement so significant is that is was Jehovah who was the God of the Israelites. It was Jehovah who gave the law to the Israelites. It was Jehovah who warned the Israelites what would happen to them if they didn’t repent of their wickedness. It was Jehovah who brought other nations in to take the children of Israel captive and scatter them.
We know that when Jesus came to earth in the flesh He said no other thing than that which the Father had commanded Him, but what Jesus explained to the Nephites was that before then, while He governed the earth as the Great Jehovah, He was still saying and doing only those things that the Father had commanded Him to say and do. In other words, in whatever capacity Jesus served, He always followed the directions of the Father. The message Jesus delivered to the Nephites was that it is the Father, not the Son, who is in charge of overseeing and directing all that happens.
When Jesus said to the Jews in Jerusalem, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” the Jews thought He was referring to the Gentiles. But Jesus explained to the Nephites that the Jews “understood me not [when] I said they (i.e., the other Lost tribes) shall hear my voice.” As a result of this misunderstanding, the Jews “understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them [except] it were by the Holy Ghost.”
But why did Jesus preach only to the house of Israel and not to the Gentiles? The answer is that He was only doing that which His Father had commanded Him to do. .
Then Jesus told the Nephites, “But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me,” thereby explaining that since they had both seen and heard Him therefore they were not Gentiles but were of the house of Israel. That’s why He next said, “[So therefore] ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.” (vs 24)
Again, notice that it is the Father who has given these people to Jesus, not that Jesus has claimed them for Himself on His own, once more showing that it is the Father who is the one making all of the decisions and giving all the commands.
Beginning in chapter 16 of third Nephi Jesus tells the Nephites that they are not the only people who belong to the “other sheep” of which He spoke. He told them, “I have other sheep, which are not of this land, [and they belong] neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have [so far] been to minister. For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.”
From this statement it is evident that the Nephites were the first group of “other sheep” that Jesus visited after His resurrection and He did so because that’s what the Father had commanded. Then Jesus said, “But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, (the other lost sheep) and that they [too] shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.”
Over and over again what Jesus tells us is that He is doing only that which the Father is directing Him to do, clearly showing that it is the Father who is in charge of deciding what is to be done.
Jesus went on to say, “And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.”
Notice that Jesus states that it was not Jehovah who made a covenant with the house of Israel. Instead, that covenant was made by the Father through Jehovah. Jesus goes on to affirm this when He said, “And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fullness of these things shall be made known unto them. But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;
“And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them— And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fullness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fullness of my gospel [out] from among them. And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fullness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.”
These words which Jesus spoke were not His own. Instead, He was repeating to the Nephites the words His Father spoke to Him and commanded that He should relay to the Nephites. Therefore, when we read “I will bring the fullness of My gospel… I will remember My covenant which I have made unto my people” this is the Father speaking, not the Son. It was the Father who said that because of the unbelief of the house of Israel that in the latter day the truth will be given to the Gentiles. It was the Father who said that a curse would be upon the unbelieving Gentiles who have been given this land and who have scattered the house of Israel and cast them out and trodden them under foot. It is because of the mercies of the Father toward the Gentiles that they were given the gospel. It was because of the judgments of the Father upon the house of Israel that He caused that they should be smitten, afflicted, slain, cast out, and become hated. It was the decision of the Father that if the time ever came that the Gentiles rejected the fullness of the gospel after the Father has given it to them that the Father will bring the fullness of the His gospel out from among them.
Jesus repeatedly stressed that all of these things are a result of the decisions the Father has made. He even states that the covenants Jehovah made with Israel and the gospel Jesus preached to the Jews were not His covenants nor His gospel but those of the Father. The message Jesus gives us is that it is the Father who is directing, overseeing, guiding, controlling, and insuring the success of all aspects pertaining to the salvation of the Father’s children and He is in complete charge of it. Even Jesus is doing nothing else but that which His Father commands Him to do.
Our Father in heaven didn’t just present a plan to us in our pre-mortal life and then turn that plan over to His Son to carry out. Our Father in heaven is personally, actively and intimately involved in making sure that all of His children have every opportunity for immortality and eternal life. That is His work and this is what brings Him glory. As such, He will never delegate His responsibility for His children to anyone because we are too important to Him.
However, our Father does share His power with His children. A little earlier we saw that Jesus had told the Nephites “ye are My sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.” Although the house of Israel belongs to the Father, He has also given them to His Son. That means the people of Israel belong as much to the Son as they do to the Father. Therefore, Jesus is as much their shepherd as is the Father and is their God as much as is the Father.
Earlier we had read that it was the Father who gave this land as an inheritance to the Nephites. That was a promise or a covenant the Father had made to them. Yet Jesus later told them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me —that I [Jesus] should give unto this people this land for their inheritance.” (3 Nephi 16:16). Was Jesus contradicting Himself when He said this? Not at all because even though it was the Father who made these promises and covenants with the house of Israel, those covenants and promises were also made by Jesus as commanded by the Father. Thus, they are the covenants of the Son as well as those of the Father. In the same way, even though the gospel message is that of the Father, it is just as much that of the Son. Therefore, what we say about the Father is just as pertinent and applicable to the Son.
But, if the Father is the one making all the decisions and to whom all glory should be given, then why do we worship Jesus and why is the Church named after Him rather than after the Father?
Because it was Jesus, not the Father, who literally took our sins upon Him and offered Himself as a sacrifice. And because of that sacrifice, the scriptures tell us that Jesus literally “bought” us. (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1) with His blood. And in “buying” us we belong to Him in much the same way a Master owns his servants whom he has purchased. Jesus is our head and we are to be obedient and in subjection to Him just as a wife is to be obedient and in subjection to her husband (Eph. 5:23,24). Therefore, if we want to return to our Father in heaven, there is no other way than through Jesus. We have no other advocate with the Father except Jesus. As such, He truly is the only way to salvation because without doing what He did on the cross there could be no immortality and eternal life for any of us. Although the plan of salvation is that of the Father, it was the Son who actually made it effective in our life. And because of that, we owe Him our unending gratitude and devotion.
But in honoring and worshipping Jesus we should always remember that there is one who is greater than Him (John 14:28). Even in offering Himself as a sacrifice, Jesus did so because that’s what His Father commanded Him to do. In the garden of Gethsemane when the pain of His suffering was so exquisite that even the Son of God could hardly endure it, Jesus pleaded with His Father to repeal that command if there was any other way possible to save mankind. Yet, when that request wasn’t answered, Jesus was obedient to the Father because the wishes of the Father are always greater than the desires of the Son. And although the Son bought us with His blood, His ultimate goal is to return us to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24).
In all that He said and did, Jesus taught that the most important Person to whom we should ultimately give our honor, love, and worship is not the Son, as great as He may be, but to the Father.
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