John 7:6-17 — Jesus knew him-Self—who he was, what he would do, and when he would do it — LeGrand Baker

It is apparent to me, that from the time he was very young, Jesus not only understood his mission, but he also knew the sequence of events that would lead him to the fulfillment of that mission. You and I forget our premortal past, but Jesus knew his Father, and his Father still lived in that eternal past/present/future world. I believe that Jesus’s relationship with his loving Father was similar to my relationship with my dad. If that is true, then there never was a time when Jesus’s Father did not talk with him and care for him just as any loving father would do.{1} I admit that it is difficult to understand what a little boy’s relationship might be with the Eternal Father (actually the implications of that are way beyond the reach of my understanding), yet I am convinced that it is true. The story of the twelve year old boy in the temple is evidence of that. Some of its details are especially interesting in that regard.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they [his parents] found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2:40-52).

Jesus was “hearing them [the doctors], and asking them questions.” Asking intelligent questions often reveals more about a person’s comprehension than giving good answers. Answers often stifle a discussion, but a series of well considered questions can send a conversation into wonderful depths. Jesus was asking questions.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding [the depth of his questions, as well as his] and answers.

Then, in response to his parents’ chiding, he explained,

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Jesus’s mother understood.

51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

That last phrase, “Jesus increased … in favour with God and man,” can mean he was a smart, nice boy, or it can be taken literally. If literally, it describes a relationship between Jesus and his Father that is beautiful to contemplate. Therefore, he was able say with the simplicity of a child, “wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

After several years had passed there is even more evidence that Jesus understood both the timing and the purpose of his mission. While he and his disciples were discussing their going to Jerusalem for the feast of tabernacles, he said he would not go with them, then explained:

6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
….
14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:6-17).

When he spoke to the crowd, some believed in him, others did not.

43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him (John 7:43-44).

It happened again then next day with the same results.

20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world (John 8:20-23).

It happened other times as well. For example, when he spoke in the synagogue at Nazareth,

28 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way (Luke 4:28-30).

Eventually, Jesus taught his disciples who he was and what his mission was.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (Matthew 16:18-21).

However, what he told them was beyond anything they had experienced, so they did not understand.

In Jerusalem, the last time, it had been almost a week since Jesus had publically announced himself as King and Priest by riding into the city upon a colt in his “triumphal entry.” The people recognized it for what it was. Perhaps because it was the way the ancient kings had entered Jerusalem for their re-coronation at the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, but certainly because it was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy.

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9).

Jesus knew his time had now come, and he instructed his disciples accordingly:

17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples (Matthew 26:18).

The message here is that during his mortal life, Jesus was—and knew he was—absolutely in control of his own life and was invincible. No power on earth or in hell could interfere with his mission, change its timing, or prevent his accomplishing the Atonement. He was God, the Son of his Eternal Father. He was also the son of his mortal mother. He looked, acted, loved, and felt pain like other men, and thereby is able to understand our emotions and our hurts. But unlike other men, he was in absolute control of the events of his own life and his own destiny—even to his own death and resurrection. That makes him very different from us.

Nevertheless, there is an echo of his power in our own destiny—a covenant, explicit in some scriptures, but implicit throughout the subtext of the whole. In Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, we call it “the covenant of invulnerability.” When God gives us an assignment which we accept, there is an understanding that just as it is our part to fulfill our assigned responsibilities, so it is God’s part to remove whatever obstacle (whether human or circumstantial) that may be designed to prevent us from keeping our covenants. For that reason, Nephi could say with absolute certainty, “I will go and do, because….”

There is a great deal of difference between the Savior’s invincibility that guaranteed his absolute success, and our invulnerability which is a product of the covenant between ourselves and God. Our invulnerability is dependent upon our keeping our part of the covenants. Jesus’s invincibility was not conditional: it presupposed that he would keep all of the covenants he had made with his Father. That is a truth born in the very essence of who the Savior is.

All creation hangs upon that reality. Our very existence as free agents is, and always has been, a consequence of the constancy of his truth, light, and love. That will never change.

Moroni’s last words are our testimony that that is truth.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:32-33).

As he explains, the covenant is between ourselves, and the Father (v. 33). The Savior’s Atonement is the promise, substance, evidence, assurance, and fulfillment of the Father’s covenant.

Our promise of invulnerability is a subset of the Savior’s invincibility: if we do our part, we are guaranteed that God will move aside every obstruction that would prevent us from keeping the covenants we made with him before the world was.

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FOOTNOTE

{1} On the cross, Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. The psalm is a vivid description of the Savior’s suffering on the cross, then concludes with his mission in the spirit world among the dead. It begins,

1 MY God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Then after describing his agony it says,

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard (Psalm 22:1, 22-24).

For a discussion of Psalm 22 see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition, 425-37; second (paperback) edition, 308-18.

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