By Eric Johnson
Word of Jesus’s healing miracles was spreading quickly. Multitudes followed Him, hoping for relief from their sicknesses. But when the Savior looked upon the multitudes, He saw more than their physical ailments. Filled with compassion, He saw “sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). “The harvest truly is plenteous,” He observed, “but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So He called twelve Apostles, “gave them power,” and sent them to teach and minister “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:1, 6). Today the need for more laborers to serve Heavenly Father’s children is just as great. There are still twelve Apostles, but there are more disciples of Jesus Christ than ever before—people who can declare to all the world, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7).
The response I have is that, no, there are no longer just 12 apostles today, as Bible-believing Christians do not recognize the “Quorum of the Twelve” as legitimate apostles. But think about this number. The two members of the First Presidency are considered “apostles.” According to the church’s website,
“Jesus Christ leads His Church through a prophet, who acts as the President of the Church, and two Apostles who are called to be the prophet’s counselors. This group is known as the First Presidency, and it is the highest governing body of the Church. Members of the First Presidency are Apostles of Jesus Christ.”https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/first-presidency?lang=eng
Add these two men to the “Twelve” and you have 14. When did Jesus ever have a “First Presidency” or 14 apostles? How could this be a “restoration” of the former day church?
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Matthew 9:18–26; Mark 5:22–43
“Be not afraid, only believe.”
When Jairus first asked Jesus to heal his daughter, who was “at the point of death,” Jairus spoke urgently but hopefully: “Come and lay thy hands on her, … and she shall live” (Mark 5:23). But as they went, a messenger told Jairus that it was too late: “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (verse 35). Likewise, it might have seemed too late for the woman described in Mark 5:25–34, who had suffered with an ailment for 12 years.
As you read these accounts, you might think of things that need healing in your life or your family—including things that might seem “at the point of death” or too late for healing. What impresses you about the expressions of faith in these accounts? Note also what Jesus says to the woman and to Jairus. What do you feel He is saying to you?
“Only believe,” is what Jesus said. “Only believe” what? Isn’t He referring to believing in the ability for Jesus to heal? I think that is very clear. The importance of believing in Jesus as the Person He claimed to be is vital. There are important differences between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Jesus of Christianity. For more information, see CrashCourseMormonism.com Jesus
Matthew 10; Luke 9:1–6
The Lord gives His servants power to do His work.
The instructions Jesus gave in Matthew 10 to His Apostles can apply to us as well, because we all have a part in the Lord’s work. What power did Christ give His Apostles to help them fulfill their mission? How can you access His power in the work you have been called to do? (see 2 Corinthians 6:1–10; Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46).
The writers of this series want us to hone in on how Jesus “gave them authority.” That authority is given to those who have the Holy Spirit within them. As 1 Corinthians 6:1-10 cited above says, these are God’s “co-workers.” Who are those people? True believers in Jesus. You do not have to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have God’s authority to be called His “co-worker.”
When I am in the Lord’s service, He will inspire me with what to say.
The Lord foresaw that His disciples would be persecuted and questioned about their faith—something similar to what disciples today may experience. But He promised the disciples that they would know by the Spirit what to say. Have you had experiences when this divine promise was fulfilled in your life, perhaps when you bore your testimony, gave a blessing, or had a conversation with someone? Consider sharing your experiences with a loved one or recording them in a journal. What do you feel inspired to do so that you can have such experiences more often?
From the sounds of the last sentence, it almost seems as if this power is something that the writers believe can be somehow conjured up. But I too have had experiences where I didn’t feel I was talking but words came out of mouth that certainly felt supernatural. (Is it possible that I, someone who has not been baptized in the LDS Church or have the same “authority,” could have the same feeling as what these writers describe?)
I think the way to have the Holy Spirit fill my life is living for Him each and every day with everything we have. We are both baptized by the Holy Spirit and produce fruit of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit lives in us.
What did Jesus mean by “I came not to send peace, but a sword”?
Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught: “I’m confident that a number of you have been rejected and ostracized by father and mother, brothers and sisters as you accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and entered into His covenant. In one way or another, your superior love of Christ has required the sacrifice of relationships that were dear to you, and you have shed many tears. Yet with your own love undiminished, you hold steady under this cross, showing yourself unashamed of the Son of God” (“Finding Your Life,” Ensign, Mar. 2016, 28).
This willingness to lose cherished relationships in order to follow the Savior comes with a promise that “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).
It goes both ways. I know friends who have been ostracized from their families for leaving the “one true church.” One friend I am thinking about right now was told that his parents and brothers wanted nothing to do with him after he became a Christian because they believed he had broken the “family chain.” Seriously, this change in his family’s behavior has devastated my friend and has caused so many hard feelings. Listen, I’m sure it happens vice versa where Christian families cut off ties with children who they feel go wayward. But I’m only pointing out that I do know a number of people who have lost their family relationships on earth because they “accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Honestly, I think it’s wrong in either case.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
As your family reads this story together, you might pause to ask family members how they might feel if they were Jairus, the woman, or other people in the story. You could also show pictures of the story, such as those in this outline. How do these pictures depict the faith of the people in the stories? (See also the videos “Jesus Raises the Daughter of Jairus” and “Jesus Heals a Woman of Faith” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.) You might also consider some challenges your family faces. How can we apply His words, “Be not afraid, only believe”? (Mark 5:36).
The Bible teaches that we should not live in a spirit of fear. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” First John 4:17-18 says, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Matthew 10:39; Luke 9:23-26
What might it mean to “lose” our life and to “find” it? (Matthew 10:39). Perhaps family members could share experiences that illustrate Jesus’s teachings in these verses.
R.T. France writes in his commentary,
“True life, real fulfillment, is found neither by the line of least resistance nor by aggressive self-assertion. But this is not a general philosophical maxim; it is the loss of life (not necessarily literally, thought it may be) for my sake which achieves the goal. The disciple put Jesus before his own natural inclinations and interests as well as before those of his family.”Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Matthew, 189-190.
I think about my friend that I had mentioned above. In effect, coming to Christ after years of faithful service has been very costly to him. He has lost his immediate family. His wife left Mormonism soon after he did and has nothing to do with his faith. I have to say, my friend has great strength provided to him by the Holy Spirit to endure such loss and still remain faithful to his Lord and Savior.
How are you and your family doing at receiving and following the counsel of modern-day Apostles? How is our obedience to their counsel bringing us closer to Jesus Christ?
If these “modern-day Apostles” are teaching wrong doctrine, then obedience to their council will only distant a person from getting closer to Jesus Christ. I’m not trying to be mean or flippant, but that’s the bottom line.
What does it mean to look back after putting our hand to the plow? Why would this attitude make us not fit for the kingdom of God?
The passage in Luke is a difficult one, but Jesus says unless you are willing to follow Him above and beyond the things of this world, then discipleship is not for you. But what a tough saying, “no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” It makes me reflect and ask myself honestly, Is Jesus more important to me than anything else in my life–even my wife and family, job, home, and luxuries? Following Jesus requires everything we have.
Following Jesus is the most important job I have as a Christian as I am commanded to follow Him unconditionally. The passages for this week are a reminder. The last thing I could recommend, however, is following the apostles of the LDS Church. That would be the worst thing a person could do because these mem teach false doctrine. Instead, it’s important to follow Jesus as He is revealed in the pages of the New Testament.