2 Nephi 9
A hero sees the bigger picture. He sees what is going on around him but he also sees the long-term implications of current events, even the eternal results. A hero knows he has a mission to accomplish to help others find “that happiness which is prepared for the saints,” so he doesn’t “[waste] the days of his probation” but “hearken[s] unto the counsels of God.”
The Jews were looking for a hero, even the Messiah, who would deliver them from temporal bondage. When Jesus Christ was born, Herod the Great ruled Jerusalem as a “client-king of the Romans.” After Herod’s death, Jerusalem came under direct Roman rule. Even though Jesus could have saved the Jews from temporal bondage, he remained true to his mission of deliverance–to free our spirits and our bodies from the effects of the fall which resulted in death and being “cut off from the presence of the Lord.”
Jacob explained that when we die our bodies are laid in the earth and our spirits return to the spirit world. He said that without Christ’s “infinite atonement” and “power of resurrection” our body and our spirit would remain separated forever, our flesh would “rot and…crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” and because “our flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell…the devil.” If we remained as spirits our eternal progression would be stopped. We would “be shut out from the presence of God…to remain with the father of lies, in misery.”
I love the way Jacob explains the bigger picture here. If our bodies remained forever in their graves and our spirits remained forever as spirits, we would be separated from God forever. Our whole existence here on earth would be meaningless. Without a resurrection, our souls would remain forever divided, body in the grave and spirit in the spirit world. Our progression would be stopped. The knowledge and experiences we gained living in a combined body and spirit on earth as well as the relationships we formed with other souls would be hollow. Gratefully, Heavenly Father began with a glorious end in mind for each of us and so His plan included “a way of deliverance” that through the power of the resurrection our bodies and our spirits will be reunited again and through the mercy of the Atonement we will be brought back into His presence again “that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.”
“O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
“And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
“And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.
“O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal…” (2 Nephi 9:10-13).
Jesus Christ didn’t just come into the world to save the Jews from Roman rule. He came “into the world to save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day” (2 Nephi 9:21-22).
We can “prepare [our] souls for that glorious day…of judgment” and “come unto that God who is the rock of [our] salvation” by being spiritually minded and hearkening unto Him. Here are some of my favorite reminders from Jacob on how to be spiritually minded.
“Love the truth.”
“To be learned is good if [you] hearken unto the counsels of God.”
Be rich as to the things of eternity. (see 2 Nephi 9:30 and Matthew 6:20.)
Love and lift the poor and the meek. (see 2 Nephi 9:30 and Luke 18:18-25.)
Hear. See. Be circumcised of heart. (see 2 Nephi 9:31-33 and Deuteronomy 30:6.)
“Come down in the depths of humility.”
“Turn away from your sins.”
“Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.”
“Feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.”
“Remember the words of your God.”
“Pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night.”
“Let your hearts rejoice.”
“Behold how great the covenants of the Lord.”
“[Behold] how great his condescensions…and his grace and mercy.”
When I take time to contemplate Jesus Christ’s great condescension to come down from heaven and rescue me from physical and spiritual separation through the power of His Atonement and Resurrection, I am filled with gratitude for His willingness to be my Savior, to be my hero. I am filled with love and respect because of what He did and why He did it. He did it because He loves me and He loves you. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). There is no greater friend or hero we have than Jesus Christ. May we always remember His counsel: “to be spiritually minded is life eternal,” life with Him in the kingdom of God where our “joy shall be full forever.”
*How can we be more spiritually minded?
Click here for additional Book of Mormon posts.