John the Baptist, an Example to Young Men

This section is a great discourse on the importance and use of the Aaronic Priesthood.  John the Baptist was the greatest example of an Aaronic Priesthood bearer.  Thus, perhaps, he was chosen to restore the Aaronic Priesthood in this dispensation.

John the Baptist. Son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, being of priestly descent through both parents.  This lineage was essential, since John was the embodiment of the law of Moses, designed to prepare the way for the Messiah and make ready a people to receive him.  He was the outstanding bearer of the Aaronic Priesthood in all history, and was entrusted with its most noble mission.  BD John the Baptist

Contents include:

This entry mainly covers:

    • Matthew chapter 3
    • Mark chapter 1
    • Luke chapter 3
    • John chapter 1.

Birth of John the Baptist

Location:  Judaea: near Bethlehem

57 Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. (Luke 1:57 – 58)

Surely those who knew Elisabeth, the kind of woman she was, would rejoice at her finally receiving the desires of her heart.

And what kind of impact did Elisabeth have upon John?  I am reminded of the impact of other mothers upon some young men:

And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56:48)

Who can doubt but what John knew that his mother knew it.

This is even more clear when we realize Elisabeth was a single mother for most of John’s life.  Joseph Smith taught:

When Herod’s edict went forth to destroy the young children, John was about six months older than Jesus, and came under this hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey. When his father refused to disclose his hiding place, and being the officiating high priest at the Temple that year, was slain by Herod’s order, between the porch and the altar, as Jesus said (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842–43, p.261)

What a powerful influence she must have been upon him!

Naming of John, and Zacharias’s prophetic psalm

Location: Judaea: near Bethlehem

This day of the naming of John was certainly and eventful day.  It was the eighth day after his birth.  During this day the following things happened.

  1. John was given a name
  2. John was given a blessing from his father
  3. John was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of an angel

Importance of Names

How did Elisabeth know that her son’s name should be John?  Did Zacharias tell her?

Sometimes it isn’t easy to select the right name for a child.  Sometimes the name isn’t what would be considered “popular” by those outside the family.  But the Lord cares very much for names and titles.  Our name is one of the only “possessions” we have in life that is truly ours.  The Lord very much cared about the names of these two children, John, and Jesus.  And he made it known to their parents what their names should be.

The parents were obedient in naming the children those names.  I am certain they communicated to them where their names had come from, and what they meant.

Father’s Blessing

As Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, his tongue was loosed.  The words uttered during the “prayer” were heartfelt, and inspired.  What a wonderful blessing he bestowed up his son.

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,

79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:67 – 79)

Aaronic Priesthood

Isn’t interesting that John the Baptist was ordained to the priesthood prior to being baptized.

27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.

28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power.(D&C 84:27 – 28)

Even at the age of 8 days old, the Lord, was in a way showing what John would do for others at a much later date.

68 We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates.  While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:

69 Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.

70 He said this Aaronic Priesthood had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards he should baptize me.

71 Accordingly we went and were baptized.  I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me—after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood—for so we were commanded. (JS-H 1:68 – 71)

Purpose of the Aaronic Priesthood

John grew up as any fine Aaronic Priesthood bearer should grow up.

80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (Luke 1:80)

He was strong in spirit, he grew taller in body, and he kept himself clean from the sins of the world (“in the desert”) until it was time for his mission.

John’s prophetic ministry and Isaiah’s prophecy of John

Location:           Near the Jordan

John the Baptist described himself as fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.

23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. (John 1:23)

Comparative Analysis

All four writers quote Isaiah.  Luke quotes the scripture the most extensively, and the JST even adds to the length.

Isaiah Luke JST Luke
3 ¶ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Isa. 40:3 – 5

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3:4 – 6

4. As it is written in the book of the prophet Esaias; and these are the words, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.

5. For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations, to gather together those who are lost, who are of the sheepfold of Israel;

6. Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles;

7. And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness, unto the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high, to dwell on the right hand of the Father,

8. Until the fulness of time, and the law and the testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom shall be delivered up again unto the Father;

9. To administer justice unto all; to come down in judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and all this in the day that he shall come;

10. For it is a day of power; yea, every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;

11. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

JST Luke 3:4 – 11

A Sense of Mission

It seems probable that John the Baptist saw fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy in himself.  He had a sense of mission.  And why not?  With such a miraculous birth, was he not foreordained to have such a tremendous sense of mission?  In fact, the angel said what the mission would be.

17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

John knew his mission.  He was taught it by his father and mother.  He had searched the scriptures for understanding about it.  And, when the time came, he carried out his mission with full purpose of heart.

Aaronic Priesthood Bearer Application

But I think perhaps it is interesting that Isaiah’s prophecy has elements that point more toward the Second Coming rather than the first coming.  “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low.”

And listen to this description of what John was ordained to do:

27 Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.

28 For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power. (D&C 84:27 – 28)

What is the mission of each bearer of the Aaronic Priesthood?  Is it not to prepare the way before the coming of the Savior?  Is it not the “make ready a people prepared for the Lord?”  Are not Aaronic Priesthood bearers most often baptized in their childhood?  Most Deacons have been baptized when they were 8 years old.  And many of them receive priesthood blessings soon after birth, when given a name and a blessing?

Every Aaronic Priesthood bearer has the right, no perhaps even the obligation, to have a sense of mission as strong as John the Baptist had.

The beginning of John’s ministry

Location:          Wilderness of Judaea

Where did John spend his time?  John grew up as any fine Aaronic Priesthood bearer should grow up.

80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (Luke 1:80)

He was strong in spirit, he grew taller in body, and he kept himself clean from the sins of the world (“in the desert”) until it was time for his mission.

I think this verse connotes that someone called John to his mission.

29 ¶ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (John 1:29 – 34)

And when he was doing his work as an Aaronic Priesthood bearer, where did he do it?  Was he at the parties where beer was being served?  Was he at the parties where inappropriate videos were being shown?

IN those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa, (Matt. 3:1)

John was in the wilderness, he was in the desert, and he denied himself the ungodly things.  He was someplace that caused perhaps harder work, more service than others his age.  He didn’t have the most popular clothes.

Matthew Mark Luke John
1 IN those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judæa,

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

Matt. 3:1, 5, 6

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Mark 1:4

1 NOW in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judæa, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituræa and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

Luke 3:1 – 3

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:6 – 14

Warning to Pharisees and Sadducees and Call To Repentance

Location:           Bethabara

Was he mingling with the popular, “in” crowd?  He wasn’t shy about telling people what they should do, all sorts of people: Publicans, solders, and others when they asked him what they should do.  He told them the truth.

Matthew Mark Luke John
7 ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matt. 3:7 – 12

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Mark 1:4 – 8

7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?  And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

Luke 3:7 – 18

19 ¶ And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then?  Art thou Elias?  And he saith, I am not.  Art thou that prophet?  And he answered, No.

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou?  that we may give an answer to them that sent us.  What sayest thou of thyself?

23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John 1:19 – 2

Baptism of Jesus

Location:           Bethabara

Comparative Analysis

Matthew’s account is the fullest account.

Responsibility to Bear Testimony

It is the right and privilege of every priest in the Aaronic Priesthood to baptize, and to bear testimony.  As a priesthood holder, you should seek opportunities to bear testimony, and to invite your friends and others to learn more about the church, and to partake of the blessings of the gospel by being baptized.  In the book of John, we learn that John the Baptist bore a powerful testimony of the Savior.  Our testimony should be of the Savior.

Matthew Mark Luke John
13 ¶ Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.  Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:13 – 17

9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:9 – 11

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased

Luke 3:21 – 22

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John 1:32 – 34

Advisors and Teachers

How did John know he was authorized to baptize?  Did he just decide this himself?  Certainly he wouldn’t remember his ordination at eight days old?

John 1:33 is interesting.  “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me…”  Someone sent John to baptize with water, and spoke of Jesus, but not by name.  Was it an angel?  Was it the voice of the spirit?  It could not have been his father, even though he was an authorized priest, as he was killed when John was nearly 2 years old (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842–43, p.261).

As Aaronic priesthood holders, you will have others point you towards the Savior; they will teach you of your duty; they will authorize your performance of the duties of the priesthood, and teach you how to do them.

New World Prophesies of These Events

Lehi prophesied of these events, 600 years before their occurrence:

7  And he [Lehi] spake also concerning a prophet who should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord—

8  Yea, even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. And much spake my father concerning this thing.

9  And my father said he should baptize in Bethabara, beyond Jordan; and he also said he should baptize with water; even that he should baptize the Messiah with water.

10  And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world. (1 Ne. 10:7 – 10)

Nephi also saw this same vision:

26  And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God!

27  And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him.  And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove. (1 Ne. 11:26 – 27)

Nephi went back to this doctrine much later in his life, and in his writing in the Book of Mormon.

4  Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world. (2 Ne. 31:4)

Nephi then goes on to explain the importance of the Savior’s baptism.

Again, John’s mission was understood hundreds of years before his birth.  His role as an Aaronic Priesthood bearer was pivotal in the life of the Savior.  If John had not performed his mission, the Savior could not have performed his.

5  And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! (2 Ne. 31:5)

The Lamb of God has “need” of being baptized by water.  This wasn’t just a nice to have, Nephi explains.  It wasn’t something he did just as an example, but he could have chosen another example to have given; no, this was required of him to be able to re-enter heaven, and join his Father again.  If he had not been baptized, the Savior would have been damned.

John was critical in this process.

You may be just as critical; and your time as a young man may have very long lasting implications.

Wilford Woodruff’s Aaronic Priesthood Experiences

Listen to what Elder Woodruff’s experiences were as an Aaronic Priesthood bearer:

Learning Your Mission

THE CALL AND DESIRE TO PREACH THE GOSPEL

As I have said, while holding the office of teacher, I went to Missouri in Zion’s Camp. After arriving in Missouri, having gone through many trials and tribulations, and suffering from cholera, which caused us to lay in the grave fifteen of our brethren, we stayed at Brother Lyman Wight’s. While at Lyman Wight’s, I attended council meetings with the Prophet, with David Whitmer, with Oliver Cowdery, and other leading brethren of the Church. David Whitmer was the president of the stake of Zion. Brother Joseph reproved him very sharply, as well as some of the other brethren, because of their lack in fulfilling the commandments of God and doing their duty.

He was a teacher while he went on Zion’s Camp, and learned from the prophet and other future prophets.  I think you can have experiences in your life, on campouts, and service projects, where you learn from men of similar caliber, Bishops and Quorum Advisors, men who are Elders and High Priests, offices in the priesthood that had just been revealed; men who have been endowed in the temple, something which hadn’t yet happened to any of those men.  You can have very significant experiences as a teacher.

Prayer for Opportunities to Serve

While at that place I had a great desire in my heart to go and preach the gospel. I went off one Sunday night by myself into a hickory grove, several hundred yards from the settlement, and I asked the Lord to open the door for me that I might go and preach the gospel. I did not want to preach the gospel for any honor I might get on this earth; for I thoroughly understood, as far as a man could in my condition, what a preacher would have to pass through. It was not honor, nor wealth, nor gold, nor silver, that I desired: but I knew this was the gospel of Christ, revealed to me by the power of God; I knew this was the church of Christ; I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; and I had a desire that I might preach that gospel to the nations of the earth. I asked the Lord to give me that privilege. The Lord answered that prayer, and said I should have my desire granted. I got up rejoicing. I walked about two hundred yards out in the open road; and when I got into the road there stood Judge Higbee. Said he, “Brother Woodruff, the Lord has revealed to me that it is your duty to be ordained to go and preach the gospel.”

Said I, “Has he?”

“Yes.”

“Well,” said I, “if the Lord wants me to preach the gospel, I am perfectly willing to go and do that.” I did not tell him I had been praying for this.

Do you have a desire to teach and to preach?  Have you asked to Lord for the opportunity to do so?  He will open the way before you if you ask him in prayer, sometimes with amazing suddenness, immediately after you have finished praying.

Exercising Faith in Your Calling

The consequence was I attended a council at Lyman Wight’s, and was called and ordained to the office of a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, while other brethren were ordained elders. I was called by Bishop Partridge to go to the southern country on a mission. Bishop Partridge asked me a great many questions, and I asked him questions. It was then dangerous for any of our brethren to go through Jackson County. He wanted me to go to Arkansas, and the road led square through Jackson County. I asked him if we should go through there (I had a companion with me—an elder).

Said he, “If you have got faith to do it, you may; I haven’t.”

I thought that was a curious remark from a bishop.

“Well,” said I, “the Lord says we must travel without purse or scrip; shall we do it?”

Said he, “That is the law of God; if you have faith to do it, you can do it.”

He said he had hardly got faith to go into Jackson County. However, we started and went through Jackson County. We came near losing our lives, and were saved almost by a miracle. We traveled through Arkansas and other parts.

You may be asked to do things that you don’t see how you can do; you may be asked to do things that much more experienced men don’t think they can do.  But if you exercise faith, you can have tremendous blessings.

Results

Listen to the results of all of this in the life of President Woodruff.

But I do not want to dwell on these things. I merely wish to say that I went out as a priest, and my companion as an elder, and we traveled thousands of miles, and had many things manifested to us. I desire to impress upon you the fact that it does not make any difference whether a man is a priest or an apostle, if he magnifies his calling. A priest holds the key of the ministering of angels. Never in my life, as an apostle, as a seventy, or as an elder, have I ever had more of the protection of the Lord than while holding the office as a priest. The Lord revealed to me by visions, by revelations, and by the Holy Spirit, many things that lay before me.(MS 53:628-629 (1891); Found in “Discourses of Wilfrord Woodruff” pp. 299 – 300.  Emphasis added.

John the Baptist’s Testimony

Location:  Bethabara

This entry examines what we know of the events surrounding the Savior’s baptism.  But first let’s conclude our study of model Aaronic Priesthood Holder, John the Baptist.

Application to Young Men

Testimony of What

So what should you bear testimony of?  John provides a great example.  You should bear testimony of the Savior, Jesus Christ, that he is the Savior of the world.  You should also bear testimony of the need for faith on him, repentance, and baptism.  You could also testify in the same way, that the gift of the Holy Ghost is very important, but it must be given by someone with greater authority than you.

You hold a priesthood which holds the keys of ministering of angels, and the gospel of repentance.  You should preach as if you were an angel all the principles of that gospel of repentance.

John Was Called

Who sent John the Baptist to baptize?  Who called John on his mission?

33  And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. (John 1:33)

John did not take the honor unto himself.  He was called and sent by someone.  I don’t know who it was.  But young men also must be called to assignments.  Although we have talked of having a sense of mission, and that mission includes the obligation to be an example, to teach others about the gospel, to serve, etc., it does not authorize performing priesthood functions that are not the responsibility of someone holding the Aaronic priesthood.  For example, I don’t think any of you would assume you can lay hands upon someone’s head and give them a blessing; that isn’t a right of the Aaronic priesthood.  Did you also know, even though you might be a Priest, you are not authorized to bless the sacrament outside of Sacrament meeting, say for example at a scout camp or while traveling with your family?  A Bishop can authorize blessing the sacrament at a family reunion, for example.  But only a Bishop can authorize it.

You must follow the direction of those who are called in authority over you.

Not Set Yourself Up for a Light

Later, in this study, we will discuss the final aspects of John the Baptist’s example of an Aaronic Priesthood holder, including being willing to “decrease” in importance, as others find the iron rod and begin to press forward; overcoming trials when cast into prison; and finally receiving the Savior’s approbation and recommendation for your faithful service.

John’s disciples follow Jesus

Location:  Bethabara

The Savior invited John’s disciples to “come and see.”  I wonder what was said that night as Jesus ate and talked with John the Beloved and Andrew, Peter’s brother.  Did the Savior have a smile on his face when he responded to the question “Where dwellest thou?” with “Come and see”?  The Savior obviously did not tell them all that he knew, for the Spirit bore witness to Peter of who the Savior was much later.

Notwithstanding this, the Savior did reveal things to them which surprised these new disciples when the following day they found Philip:

48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou?  thou shalt see greater things than these. (John 1:48 – 50)

Although our record of the next acts of the Savior comes from John the Beloved, Talmage notes that it is unlikely that he followed the Savior from that time forth without returning to his normal labors periodically.

It is improbable that the disciples who followed Jesus in the early months of His ministry had remained with Him continuously down to the time [of his calling them as fishers of men]…. We find that some of those who were later called to the apostleship were following their vocation as fishermen even while Jesus was actively engaged as a Teacher in their own neighborhood.  (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Ch.14, p.197

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