The mortal life and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ was coming to a close. Soon He would be betrayed by one of His own and sold to the Romans like a lamb to the slaughter – the ultimate beginning of an inevitable end. Surrounded by His closest associates, He gives one of His final sermons. Jesus knew what was to come, and He knew what His disciples were feeling. He knew what they needed to hear. He washes their feet and He teaches them. Soothing their anxiety, we read of the Savior saying, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life…I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:1,6,18,27)
This last weekend I paid a visit to the newly renovated Church History Museum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. On the main floor of the museum, there is a small theater featuring a new presentation of the First Vision of the prophet Joseph Smith. Unlike the DVD previously distributed by the Church focussed principally on the account found in Joseph Smith – History, this video takes into consideration parts of all of the major accounts of the event as told by Joseph. To say the least, the 180-degree high definition portrayal of that remarkable event really has an impact.
The commentary explains more in more detail the intense torment the boy was experiencing at the time. Young Joseph didn’t just want to find out which church to join. He was an afflicted sinner, having given way to foolish errors. He was concerned for his family. I imagine he was uncertain of the future, maybe even unsure of himself as so many fourteen-year-old boys are. He was fearful for the welfare of his soul. Having been compelled to the utmost of humility before God nearly being drowned in the fiery depths of an earthly hell, there appeared before him two glorified beings whose brightness and glory defied description. He was then instructed by Jesus Christ in the presence of God the Father. I know that to be true.
The part that stood out to me most from the presentation, however, was not necessarily the portrayal of the heavenly visit (though that is important, for sure). After the persons had departed, Joseph laid there without strength for a time. Upon gaining composure and beginning his walk home, the commentary, not included in the common history, mentions the peace that had overcome him. The torment was over. His sins were forgiven. His doubts were no more. He was calmed and restored. I believe it was that insatiable peace that laid the foundation of comfort and hope that would succor him in the pits of despair and tragedy he would later experience. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
We may not be the receptors of open heavenly messages or visions in our times of profound need. We may not be given high callings or carry the ushering of a dispensation on our shoulders. All I know is that we sin. We have doubts, we have afflictions and heartbreak and worry and weakened souls and bodies tormented with indecision and consequence. I often experience this absence of peace so well known to us all. But be it known that Jesus is the only true source of lasting peace. It is in Christ that we are made whole, it is His mercy and grace that pick us up off the floor better prepared to combat the next trial. I testify that He gives us His peace. Let us not be troubled. Let us not be afraid.