Come Follow Me: 3 Nephi 8-11 “Arise and Come Forth unto Me”

Jesus Christ appears to the Nephites by Arnold Friburg

These Book of Mormon chapters describe the appearance of Jesus Christ in the Americas after his resurrection. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that this “constituted the focal point, the supreme moment, in the entire history of the Book of Mormon.” (Christ and the New Covenant, 1997)

  • Why is this moment so important?
  • How is it meaningful to you?

Communing with God: Signs and Silence

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah sought to commune with the Lord, and felt prompted to go alone to a mountain.

11 And [the word of the Lord]  said [to Elijah], Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

-1 Kings 19: 11-12

It was through the still small voice that Elijah at last found the Lord.

In 3 Nephi 8-11, entire nations of people experience similar patterns.

In 3 Nephi 8, the Nephites and Lamanites  experience a series of dramatic and frightening signs, including hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes.

In the next chapter, 3 Nephi 9, after most of these signs subside, and they hear the voice of the Lord.

In 3 Nephi 10, they became quiet, and hear the voice of the Lord again :

2 For so great was the astonishment of the people that they did cease lamenting and howling for the loss of their kindred which had been slain; therefore there was silence in all the land for the space of many hours.

3 And it came to pass that there came a voice again unto the people, and all the people did hear, and did witness of it…

-3 Nephi 10:2-3

In 3 Nephi 11, they gathered at the temple and heard the voice again. And like Elijah, they described the voice as a “small voice.” It was so small, in fact, that they struggled to hear it.

1 And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.

2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death.

3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.

4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:

7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

-3 Nephi 11:1-8

  • How can we channel frightening and even devastating events to prepare to commune with God?
  • How can we introduce quiet moments into our lives so that we can commune with God?
  • What did the people have to do to understand the voice?
  • How can we better understand the voice of the Lord?

How does Jesus Christ describe Himself?

Jesus Christ said that knowing Him is “life eternal” in His intercessory prayer.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:3

But knowing Christ is a challenge.  When Christ asked his disciples who the people of Jerusalem thought He was, it was apparent that there was a great deal of confusion.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

Matthew 16:13-14

When the Nephites and Lamanites hear the voice of the Jesus Christ, and again when they see Him in person, Jesus Christ introduces Himself to them, providing us with a unique opportunity to learn who Jesus is, according to Jesus Himself.

Invite the class to read these introductions and consider these questions.  After reading, list their answers on the board (or chatbox, in a virtual classroom).

  • How does Christ identify himself?
  • What are some of the words Christ uses to describe himself? What do these words mean?
  • What does Christ tell us about his premortal and mortal life?

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.

17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.

18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

-3 Nephi 9:15-18

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.

-3 Nephi 11:10-11

  • Why would these things be important to know about Christ?
  • How can we come to know Christ better?

Note: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Guide to the Scriptures states:

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last. They are also names given to Jesus Christ and are used as symbols to show that Christ is both the beginning and the end (Rev. 1:8; D&C 19:1).

-Alpha and Omega, Guide to the Scriptures

Coming to Christ Like Chicks to a Mother Hen

The voice of the Lord invited the Nephites and Lamanites to repent and come to Him:

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me…

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

21 Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.

22 Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

-3 Nephi 9:13-14, 19-22

  • What is a “sacrifice” of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”?
  • How could the penitent Lamanites have been baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost and “knew it not”?
  • What does it mean to come to Christ like “a little child”?

In Jerusalem, Jesus lamented the people who chose not to come to him using a metaphor. He described Himself as a mother hen and us as her baby chicks:

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

-Luke 13:34

  • How is our relationship to Christ like a mother hen and her chicks?
  • What might happen if a chick chose not to gather when called?
  • Have you had experiences when you have felt Him gather and nourish you?

When he spoke to the people of the Americas, he applied this metaphor to them also, and expanded it by repeating the metaphor three times, changing the verb tense each time.

4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.

6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

-3 Nephi 10:4-6

  • How does adding that Christ has gathered us in the past, and that he will gather us in the future, add to the meaning of this metaphor?

Brigham Young University professor Jane Allis-Pike discussed the feminine, motherly imagery in this metaphor Christ uses to describe Himself.

Christ has specific qualities normally existing only in the purview of women and mothers… Just as the mother hen literally uses her body to protect her chick’s life, Christ literally uses his body to protect his children from spiritual destruction.”

-Sister Jane Allis-Pike, Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University, 2008

This is one of many scriptures wherein Christ uses motherly imagery to refer to Himself. Here is another example:

For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

-Isaiah 66:12-13

Fourteenth Century theologian Julian of Norwich wrote:

The mother may give her child suck of her milk, but our precious Mother, Jesus, He may feed us with Himself, and doeth it, full courteously and full tenderly, with the Blessed Sacrament that is precious food of my life; and with all the sweet Sacraments He sustaineth us full mercifully and graciously. …The Mother may lay the child tenderly to her breast, but our tender Mother, Jesus, He may homely lead us into His blessed breast, by His sweet open side, and shew therein part of the Godhead and the joys of Heaven, with spiritual sureness of endless bliss.

-Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, 1373

  • How is Christ like a mother?
  • How can we emulate Christ’s motherly qualities?

Coming to Christ “One by One”

There were about 2,500 people gathered in Bountiful when Jesus Christ appeared (3 Nephi 17:25). Despite this large number, the Savior invited them each “one by one” to feel the nail prints in His hands and feet.

13 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:

14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.

16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him

-3 Nephi 11:13-17

  • In what ways does the Savior invite us to “arise and come forth unto” Him “one by one”?
  • How can we develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • How can we facilitate personal experiences with Christ for the people we serve in our families and church callings?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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3 Responses

  1. Em says:

    This was so lovely! Thank you! I had never noticed the tense differences with “how oft would I have gathered you” — the only one that stuck with me was the conditional, not the future or the past tense. I also was really struck by the part about the cacophony around the time of Christ, and the quietness of the voice. The world feels very, very, very loud right now. I have no idea how I would hear a tiny little voice, or slow down enough to even listen for it.

  2. spunky says:

    Thank you so much for this, April! I have been trying to develop a relationship with Christ outside of church, and am very grateful that you have offered direction and insight into this!

  3. EmilyCC says:

    Such thoughtful questions! Thank you for this resource!

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