The Savior made an incredible set of promises to the three disciples who wanted to remain on earth until His Second Coming. He told them that they would never taste of death. He promised that they would not feel pain. He even told them that they would not feel sorrow “save it be for the sins of the world.” Finally, He promised, “Ye shall have fulness of joy” (3 Nephi 28:7-10).
This week, a friend of mine pointed out to me the significance of that qualifying phrase: “save it be for the sins of the world.” They would no longer feel physical pain, nor emotional pain, but as disciples of Jesus Christ, they would continue to feel spiritual pain as they witnessed the tragic effects of other people’s choices. That pain He could not remove as long as they were His disciples.
Nearly two hundred years earlier, the prophet Alma had explained to a group of believers the obligations of discipleship. When you are baptized, you make a commitment to “bear one another’s burdens,” to “mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-9).
And how could it be any other way, since the Savior Himself, whom we seek to emulate, feels sorrow on our behalf:
- During His visit to the American continent, “Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel” (3 Nephi 17:14).
- During His earthly ministry, He lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34). He repeated a similar lamentation following the destruction which preceded His visit to the American continent. (See 3 Nephi 10:4-7.)
- The ancient prophet Enoch saw the God of heaven weep. When Enoch asked how this was possible, the Lord said, “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of my hands…and among all the workmanship of my hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren…. Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” As Enoch’s perspective widened, and as he better understood the pain caused by the sins of his brothers and sisters, he also wept “and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook” (Moses 7:32, 36-37, 41).
Today, I will remember that sorrow for the sins of the world is an essential part of a Christlike life. I will strive to feel the compassion that the Savior feels for those who have made wrong choices and for those who have been affected by those choices.