14 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them.
(3 Nephi 23:14)
When Jesus visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He quoted many passages of scripture. He urged His listeners to search the scriptures diligently. And, as Mormon tells us in the passage above, He “expounded all the scriptures in one.”
What does that mean? One of the Savior’s major messages during this visit was the unity of the teachings of the prophets. He introduced Himself as “Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10). He affirmed that “all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me” (3 Nephi 20:24). And He invited His listeners to “search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (3 Nephi 23:5). Clearly, one of the things we should be searching for as we study the scriptures is common messages which are communicated in different ways by different prophets. As we identify those messages, we can have confidence that they come from God.
Elder David A. Bednar described this process as finding connections, patterns, and themes in our study of the scriptures:
In my judgment, diligently searching to discover connections, patterns, and themes is in part what it means to “feast” upon the words of Christ. This approach can open the floodgates of the spiritual reservoir, enlighten our understanding through His Spirit, and produce a depth of gratitude for the holy scriptures and a degree of spiritual commitment that can be received in no other way. Such searching enables us to build upon the rock of our Redeemer and to withstand the winds of wickedness in these latter days. (“A Reservoir of Living Water” CES fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007).
Today, I will seek to hear the voice of God as I study the scriptures. I will remember that the words of the prophets contain a unified set of messages and that finding connections, patterns, and themes across the words of multiple prophets can help me to better understand the messages God intends for me to receive through my scripture study.