After the resurrection of Jesus, powerful and poignant encounters took place between the Savior and His disciples. The discovery of the empty tomb; the walk on the road to Emmaus; the sharing of bread; the feeling of nail prints in His resurrected body; the training to Peter to “feed my sheep”. Each of these moments brought insight, new resolve, deeper commitment to the Gospel of the Lord. One thought from the Savior in the last verse of the book of Matthew stands as His parting message, a message that undoubtedly left a powerful final impression of His unyielding support and commitment to them in the road that lay ahead.
In Matthew it reads:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 ¶Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 28)
These disciples had been through a refining process. They had now been singled out as disciples of a crucified Christ, He who the leading Jews had considered a threat and an enemy. Judas had left them, they were the committed ones remaining and would go through much more for Christ. These individuals had bone deep resolve to prosecute the cause of Christ’s kingdom on earth. They were prepared to sacrifice for Him, not just willingly, but with cheer and joy at the thought of being considered worthy to suffer for His name. They were prepared to give their lives for Him. Pondering the state of their commitment brings a peaceful spirit of sacred reverence and respect.
So what was the meaning of Christ’s reciprocating expression of commitment to them that He would be with them, “even unto the end of the world”?
Clearly at face value, this is the Savior’s promise of His presence to individuals who were committed to Him. But what’s the specific significance of His promise “unto the end of the world”?
As much signifying Christ’s commitment to them for the duration of their life, this was perhaps too signifying the depth of His commitment to them through the difficulties they would face.
Through ridicule, mocking, beatings and even death the Savior was there for them. He would be there for them more than any other source of support. More than acquaintances, more then governments or institutions, more then the hope of assistance from material wealth. More than even trusted friends and close family members. To a true disciple, which these men were to whom He spoke, the Savior’s commitment of support was powerful. What greater sense of support can one experience in this earth life than the feeling of the Savior’s presence and assurance?
Fast forward to our day. The Savior’s commitment to each of us is no less strong. Some may say, yes, but realistically it’s not the same. And admittedly, we haven’t experienced the refiner’s fire that the apostles did in that day. After all, wouldn’t it truly be glorious to feel the power of conversion and love that those disciples felt? What would it take to achieve that burning dedication, that passion for the Gospel cause? What would it take to obtain certain knowledge that the Savior was there for you “to the end of the world”? Can such a certain knowledge be obtained in a different time, setting and world circumstance? The answer is unequivocally yes!
The answer to this question can be considered in three aspects:
1. We may not be able to witness the miracles of Jesus or see him sacrifice for the sins of mankind on the cross. To witness those events undoubtedly left impressions never to be forgotten in the hearts of those that followed Him.
For us to approach a similar understanding and conversion we must go through a similar education process. To do so, rather than reliving those experiences we must demonstrate a consistent pattern of Gospel living. The Savior taught that those that believe after witnessing His resurrection were blessed. But more so were those blessed that believed without seeing. In this sense our faith has the advantage over the original disciples if we are true and faithful.
2. Spend time deeply pondering the eternal truths of the Gospel. Power and depth will only come with greater insight into the glorious truths of Christ’s Gospel.
3. Courageously defend what’s good, worthy and right, as did the disciples of old. Perhaps there was a greater risk in that day that preaching the Gospel would leave you at risk of persecution and death. But defenders of truth will always face resistance of some kind, albeit in our day perhaps it’s resistance of a social nature.
Are you on the team of disciples that were still around after the refiner’s fire was poured out? If so, the Savior is there for you:
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 3)
There is a children’s Primary song, “If the savior stood beside me”. It helps us ponder what choices we’d make if the Savior were close by. By doing so we invite His presence.
The Savior knows each of us in a personal way. He has assured us of His personal acquaintance, His awareness of our needs, and His presence in our times of need. He counseled, “I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me” (D&C 38:7). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “The Savior is in our midst, sometimes personally, frequently through his servants, and always by his Spirit”