Editor’s note: Two weeks ago, I wrote about my son’s LDS Young Men / Boy Scout leaders, and the impact they are having on my son. At their week-long campout, daily devotionals focused on how men can and should be a combination of “velvet and steel.” It was the first thing my son mentioned when he was debriefing me on his campout…obviously something that stuck with him and had an impact on him. It’s also something that showed in his demeanor and behavior. I’m so grateful for good men who are willing to give of their time and talents and testimonies to have an influence on my son. One of his leaders kindly consented to share the “Velvet and Steel” devotionals. My son was asked to share some of these thoughts on how the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was the perfect example of the perfect balance of “velvet and steel.” More posts will be shared this week.
Today, the focus is on Jesus Christ and some of His characteristics and behavior that reflect the “velvet” side of priesthood service and what it means to be a man of God.
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Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is Jehovah of the Old Testament, the pre-mortal Creator of the world and the first fruits of the resurrection. Between his essential roles in the pre-mortal world and after his resurrection, he grew from grace to grace to fully recognize his most essential role in atoning for us all. His brief time in mortality, only 33 years (with his ministry being only three years) provides the very best example of righteous manhood, the most appropriate model of Velvet and Steel.
• As a boy, the grace of God was with Jesus. “His advancement was from one grace to another, not from gracelessness to grace; from good to greater good, not from evil to good; from favor with God to greater favor, not from estrangement because of sin to reconciliation through repentance and propitiation.”
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
• As a boy, Jesus lived a simple, peaceful life. “He lived the simple life, at peace with his fellows, in communion with his Father.”
• As a boy, Jesus was a close observer or nature and men. “He considered the lilies of the field, and the grass in meadow and upland, the birds which sowed not nor gathered into barns, the foxes in their holes…” He recognized various occupations, “the ways of the lawyer and the physician, the manners of the scribe, the Pharisee and the rabbi…, the life of the shepherd, the farmer, the vinedresser, and the fisherman.”
• As a boy, Jesus was well taught in the law and the scriptures. “He garnered knowledge by study, and gained wisdom by prayer, thought, and effort. At the age of twelve, he was appointed to higher studies in school and home. ”
• As a boy, Jesus loved the truth—and that made him free. “Jesus was all that a boy should be, for his development was unretarded by the dragging weight of sin; he loved and obeyed the truth and therefore was free.” Later, he counseled his disciples that by following his word, they would “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
• As a boy, Jesus recognized his divine sonship to God. At age twelve, he attended the feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. “When, following the conclusion of the Passover, the Galilean company had gone a day’s journey toward home, Joseph and Mary discovered (that Jesus was missing). They turned back to Jerusalem, seeking to find him. After three days, they found Jesus, “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions.” When his mother found him, she gently chided him, “’Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.’ Jesus’s reply astonished them. Said he, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business.” Jesus, in that moment, he made clear that he knew that Joseph was not his not his father; that his father was indeed his Father in Heaven.
• To fulfill all righteousness, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. When Jesus approached John for the ordinance of baptism, John forbad him, saying “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”
• Jesus continuously turned to his Father in prayer. He often sought solitary places to pray, “thus demonstrating the fact that, Messiah though he was, he was profoundly conscious of his dependence upon his Father in Heaven in order to fulfill his mission.”
In his Sermon on the Mount, he taught how to pray, saying, “After this manner therefore pray ye: ‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’”
He counseled that men should ask and they would receive; they were to knock and the door would be opened.
In the final year of his ministry, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain to pray for strength and courage to face the challenges that lay before him. At that time, he was transfigured. “The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening.” This occurrence was witnessed by Peter, James, and John. Peter then suggested that they might make three tabernacles there. As he spoke, a voice emerged from a bright cloud which overshadowed them, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.” Unto Christ the manifestation was both strengthening and encouraging. His Father was fully aware of his efforts and concerns; he loved his Son and his disciples. Clearly, the Savior had asked for sustenance from On High and had received.
• Jesus gently, but persuasively, invited others to follow him [and to seek His Father!]. His prospective disciples, Andrew and John, having heard John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus was the Lamb of God asked Jesus, “Rabbi, where dwellest thou?” In answering, he invited them into discipleship, saying “Come and see.” They did and soon reported, “We have found the Messiah.” To Philip, he simply suggested, “Follow me.” With Nathanael, Jesus simply looked deep into his heart, saying “Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile.” And to fishermen Peter and Andrew, he petitioned, “Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
To the masses, he invited, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
• Jesus enjoyed the society of other people—and counseled that all should love one another. As James E. Talmage said, “He moved among men, eating and drinking, as a natural, normal being.” Although he resisted Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread, for the sake of hospitality at a wedding, he turned water into wine. He said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”
After the last supper, he counseled his eleven apostles (Judas Iscariot had left to fulfill his plan to betray the Savior): “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
• Jesus had a testimony of marriage. He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man asunder.”
• Jesus loved his mother. As he hung on the cross, he looked down upon his weeping mother with tender compassion for her, in her hour of deep agony on his behalf. She stood with the apostle John, to whom he commended the care of his mother. Said he, referring to John, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to John, “Behold thy mother.” Thus he gave charge of his sweet grieving mother to his beloved apostle.
• Jesus loved little children. Mothers brought their little children to Jesus. The disciples, zealous that their Master be not troubled unnecessarily, rebuked those who—in their opinion— infringed on his time. Jesus was displeased with this misdirected zeal on his behalf saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
He recognized the submissive nature of children. He said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
• Jesus had the gift of discernment. To the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, he clearly discerned her past and her heart. Recognizing his deep understanding, she bore witness to others, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that I ever did: is this not the Christ?”
• Jesus bore witness of the reality of revelation. On one occasion, Jesus asked, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” After some discussion of what others thought, he then asked his apostles, “But whom say ye that I am?” Answering for all, but testifying as to his own conviction, Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus then responded to Peter specifically, saying “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church…” Through direct revelation from God Peter had a sure witness that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah, and the Son of God—and upon revelation, the Church of Christ was to be built.
• Jesus was a man of faith. He taught “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
• Jesus was gentle. Often, when he felt the need to give correction, he did so in a tender way. When Martha was offended that her sister Mary left her to serve alone, while she sat at the feet of Jesus, he replied to her complaining words, with a gentle reproof: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
He often wept with compassion. As he witnessed the grief of Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, he wept, even as he knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead. His heart was truly touched by the display of love he witnessed; he mourned with those that mourned.
He noted with compassionate joy the gift of the widow’s mite, recognizing that “she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
• Jesus was the great teacher. Perhaps the greatest message ever taught was delivered by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. At that time, he delivered the Beatitudes. “The poor in spirit are to be made rich as rightful heirs to the kingdom of heaven; the mourner shall be comforted…, the meek shall inherit the earth; those that hunger and thirst for the truth shall be fed in rich abundance; they that show mercy shall be judged mercifully, the pure in heart shall be admitted to the very presence of God; the peacemakers shall be numbered among the children of God; they that suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness shall inherit the riches of the eternal kingdom.” JET
He often taught in parables, simple stories to illustrate his doctrines. These were often parables, metaphors, similes, and analogies. They included the Parable of the Sower, the Wheat and the Tares, the Seed Growing Secretly, the Mustard Seed, the Leaven, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, the Gospel Net, the Lost Sheep, the Unmerciful Servant, the Shepherd and the Sheep-Herder, the Good Samaritan, the Friend at Midnight, the Foolish Rich Man, the Barren Fig Tree, the Great Supper, the Lost Coin, the Prodigal Son, the Unrighteous Steward, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Unprofitable Servants, the Pharisee and the Publican, the Parable of the Laborers, the Parable of the Pounds, the Two Sons, the Wicked Husbandman, the Royal Marriage Feast, the Ten Virgins, and the Entrusted Talents.
He always acknowledged his Father. He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.”
• Jesus was merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners. As the Son of God, on occasions as led by the Spirit, he forgave sins, counseling the sinner “to go thy way and sin no more.” He forgave the man with palsy in Capernaum; he forgave the woman who anointed his head and feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee.
When the woman taken in adultery was brought before him, he responded, “He that is without sin among you, first cast a stone at her.” All of her accusers cowered and then slipped away, after which Jesus said, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” She responded, “No man, Lord,” to which he said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he offered himself as the atoning sacrifice for all who would repent of their sins and come unto him. As he bled at every pore, he performed the greatest act of mercy ever wrought. He did it unselfishly and at the greatest possible personal cost in terms of mental and physical suffering. Even more significantly, he bore the sins of all mankind by himself. His Father allowed it to be so—as the ultimate act of love for his children.
On the cross of his crucifixion, he prayed for those who drove nails through his hands and feet, saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
To the thief who hung beside him, who pleaded, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” responded: “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”