After the fall holy days and Christ’s testimony of Himself in Jerusalem, His miracles were more overt and more profound. Knowing He was drawing nigh to His great and final sacrifice, He endeavored to show who He really was. Amazingly, most people refused to see and refused to believe. No matter how many facts are before us, it’s the spirit that sees spiritual truth.
Jesus Organized His Church
In these final months, Jesus also organized more of the foundational aspects of His Church. In Luke 10:17 we read the following:
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
The “Quorum of the Seventy” is subject to the twelve apostles and meant to help them in their ministry to testify of Christ and spread the gospel. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is today the full restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. Under the direction of the risen Christ, a quorum of seventy was established in modern times. It has swelled to several quorums as the Church has grown.
“The order of the Seventy is a special calling of Elders for the preaching of the Gospel in all the world, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles. A quorum consists of seventy members, of which seven are chosen as presidents. The difference between the Seventies and the Elders is that the former are ‘traveling ministers’ and the latter are ‘standing ministers’ to the Church.” (Widtsoe, comp., Priesthood and Church Government, p. 115; see also D&C 107:25 .)
By this, we can see that Jesus Christ organized His primitive church while He was yet ministering in Israel. Many assume that no church was organized until after His death, and that it was done by the apostles.
Who is My Neighbor?
In Luke 10 is found the parable of the good Samaritan. Loving your neighbor was not a new law established by the Savior, but a very old one and part of the Law of Moses. In Leviticus 19:18 it says, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” The Jews at the time of Jesus were now accustomed to asking the rabbis about the points of the law. The rabbis spent endless hours engaged in “hairsplitting” — defining the points of the law in minute detail. The Jews were to leave the corners of their fields unharvested, so the poor could glean from them, but then they wanted an exact definition of “the corners.” Thus, Jesus was asked, “who is my neighbor.” The rabbis in their commentaries had made excuses not to love, pray for, or forgive or help one’s enemies.
“We are not to contrive the death of the Gentiles, but if they are in any danger of death we are not bound to deliver them, e.g. if any of them fall into the sea you need not take him out, for such a one is not thy neighbour.” (Dummelow, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, p. 751.)
Thus, when Jesus says, “It is written that you should love your neighbor and hate your enemies…,” He is not referring to the scriptures, nor to the Law of Moses, for both say to love your enemy and welcome the stranger, but to the writings of the scribes and rabbis. A good Jew at the time who fully understood the Law of Moses would never have had to ask, “Who is my neighbor.”
In Luke 10:38–42 we find Jesus in Bethany (southeast of Jerusalem) visiting the home of Mary and Martha, with whom He was very close. Martha is encumbered with the whole of the kitchen duties. Even today, Middle Eastern food takes all day to prepare, and there are usually many women’s hands needed in the kitchen. Mary, however, was not helping, but learning at the feet of the Savior. Martha petitions Him to have Mary help her, but Jesus knows His time is short in mortality, and such moments to drink of the spirit of Christ will be few. He rebukes Martha gently, and says that Mary has chosen the better part. Modern women can relate well to this story, as every woman is part Mary and part Martha. The Martha part of us feels guilty when we indulge the Mary part, and vice versa.
Teach Us to Pray
Later, the apostles begged Him, “Teach us to pray.” The following words are familiar to anyone who loves the scriptures.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil ( Luke 11:1–4 ).
Matthew 6:12 adds the following: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” “Scholars affirm the changes . . . stem from the pen of Marcion, the heretic of almost 1800 years ago. ( CR, Apr. 1954, p. 42.) The Bible is the word of God, but it is an imperfect book. When we read it, we should do so prayerfully. Through it we will feel God’s love and gain a testimony of the nature of Christ, the atonement of Christ, and God’s eternal plan for us.
The Key of Knowledge
In Luke 11:52 Christ says the Jewish leaders have taken the key of knowledge. The Joseph Smith translation helps us to understand what the Savior meant:
‘‘Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge, the fullness of the scriptures; ye enter not in yourselves into the kingdom; and those who were entering in, ye hindered.” ( Luke 11:53, Inspired Version . Italics added.)
In the Book of Mormon it says that when the scriptures were first written, they were pure, but that wicked men removed plain and precious truths. This has caused a great many to stumble.
And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God (1 Nephi 13:24).
The Two Great Commandments
The two great commandments are to love the Lord God with all our might, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. These, the Lord Jesus Christ reiterated throughout His earthly mission.
At two different points in the ministry of Jesus we read of the two great commandments. It is the first of these two occasions that you have studied in the reading block for this lesson. ( Luke 10:25–28 .) Here, a lawyer asked what he should do to gain eternal life, and Jesus had the man answer his own question by reciting from the ancient scriptures. (Compare Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 .) It was on the second occasion, however, that Jesus himself listed these two commands and gave them the place of preeminence among all the requirements of the gospel. See Matthew 22:35–39 .
*Parts of this article were adapted from The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, the LDS Institute New Testament Manual.