As we study the suggested scriptures in March’s fourth Sunday lesson, “Jesus Christ is our Example of Honoring the Sabbath,” we find the common theme of healing. In each of these scriptures, we learn that Jesus healed people of their various infirmities on the Sabbath day. One of the ways we can honor the Sabbath is by worthily partaking of the sacrament. And as we do, how tenderly symbolic it should be to us personally that each Sabbath day the Savior can heal us too!
Let’s consider for a moment what happened at the pool of Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda was believed to have special healing powers for the first one who entered the water as the mineral spring began to bubble up. Many would gather, with their various afflictions, anxiously awaiting their chance to be healed. Carl Bloch’s painting gives us an insightful look into what was happening here. Some were near the water’s edge. Others were conversing. All but one had their eyes fixed on something other than the Savior. To this one man, the Savior asked, “Wilt thou be made whole?” The man explained that he had no one to help him into the water and, try as he might, someone would invariably get in the water before he had a chance. Then Jesus said to him, “Rise, take thy bed, and walk.” The scriptures teach us that “immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.”1 Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently reaffirmed, “The healing power of Jesus Christ is not absent in our day. The Savior’s healing touch can transform lives in our day just as it did in His.”2 How often are we, like those at the pool of Bethesda, waiting to be healed without looking to the Master Healer?
Of course the Savior’s healing is not only available to us on the Sabbath day. Nor is His healing only for sin. Russell M. Nelson reminds us that during Jesus’ earthly ministry He “went about preaching the gospel and healing all types of sickness. When the risen Redeemer appeared to the people of ancient America, He mercifully invited those ‘afflicted in any manner’ to come unto Him and be healed.”3
David A. Bednar teaches, “The Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us. There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power.”4
Especially at this time of year when we celebrate Easter, these words of President Nelson remind us not only of the Savior’s healing but also of His grace and the hope and peace we can have because of Him. “The gift of resurrection is the Lord’s consummate act of healing. Thanks to Him, each body will be restored to its proper and perfect frame. Thanks to Him, no condition is hopeless. Thanks to Him, brighter days are ahead, both here and hereafter. Real joy awaits each of us—on the other side of sorrow.”3
Whatever our affliction, the Master Healer desires to make us whole. But we must come to Him. There must be some action on our part. The scriptures repeatedly teach us to “come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel,”5 so that we can “partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption,”5 “lay hold upon every good gift,”6 “partake of the goodness of God”7 and, ultimately, “be perfected in him.”8 Think of how that applies to the Sabbath, especially during the sacrament. It is then that we can truly “partake of the power of his redemption and “be perfected in him.” We can more fully honor the Sabbath when we come to church ready to “partake of the goodness of God” and “lay hold on every good gift” that is offered there.
As a young surgeon, President Nelson found the Sabbath to be a day quite literally for personal healing. He said, “By the end of each week, my hands were sore from repeatedly scrubbing them with soap, water, and a bristle brush. I also needed a breather from the burden of a demanding profession. Sunday provided much-needed relief. … The Sabbath [is the Savior’s] gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.”9
We have been commanded to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”10 “The Savior identified Himself as Lord of the Sabbath,” said President Nelson. “It is His day! Repeatedly, He has asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day. We are under covenant to do so. How do we hallow the Sabbath day? In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.”9
The question President Nelson asked himself, “What sign do I want to give to God?” is particularly instructive. Honoring the Sabbath is a very personal thing! It is between us and God. As you will recall in the scriptures we studied for this month’s lesson, each time the Savior healed someone on the Sabbath, there were those who were waiting to find fault with Him and what He was doing on the Sabbath day. Oh how we ought to be careful not to be as those finding fault with the Savior and judge how others keep the Sabbath day!
Quentin L. Cook said, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath can help separate us from that which is frivolous, inappropriate, or immoral. It allows us to be in the world but not of the world. … Truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life. It is also a sign of devotion to our Father in Heaven.”11
Recently there has been a renewed emphasis on Sabbath day worship. Neil L. Andersen gave this explanation, “As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight. … The First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual thirst, and relieving our parched souls. … Can you see the Lord’s purposes in helping us to more fully honor the Sabbath day? … This added spiritual power does not just fall upon us. It comes as we act.”12
Great are the promised blessings for honoring the Sabbath day. May we more fully honor the Sabbath day by following the example of our Savior. As we do, we will find healing for our souls and spiritual power to bless our lives.
1. John 5:6-9
2. Bearers of Heavenly Light – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
3. Jesus Christ—the Master Healer – Russell M. Nelson
4. Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease – David A. Bednar
5. Omni 1:26
6. Moroni 10:30
7. Jacob 1:7
8. Moroni 10:32
9. The Sabbath is a Delight – Russell M. Nelson
10. Exodus 20:8
11. Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times – Quentin L. Cook
12. A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen