I’ve been reading the New Testament over the past month and have been pleasantly thrilled by one thing that I’d never before noticed or fully understood.
Jesus was famous. If you don’t believe me, read the gospels again.
When you read the book of Mark, especially, it is very clear that this was no ordinary man and people knew it. Crowds gathered around houses to hear him speak, the sick and lame were lined up in the streets to be healed by him, and people gathered by the thousands to hear him speak. It’s incredible to see how many times Mark described in one fashion or another how Jesus was being thronged by the multitudes.
Often we speak of Jesus as an outcast who was “despised and rejected of men”, and while that was the case in some locations like his hometown and Jerusalem, in most places he went, Jesus was the star of the show.
However, Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time in Jerusalem, and that is where he was ultimately sentenced to death and accused of men. In Luke 23 we read the following account:
Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.
And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.
And they were instant [urging] with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.
I was thinking about “loud voices” again recently as I was blown away by some of the responses to Elder Holland’s talk at Brigham Young University. There were SO many loud voices, and they were sharing SO MANY things that Elder Holland did not say. He flat out did not say them.
Take this one for example. This is a screenshot from an Instagram story. A popular ex-Mormon Instagram account stated that Elder Holland said that “over his dead body would he let the church change to accept queer people”. Really? The thing I get a kick out of is the rhetorical question “Over YOUR dead body?” with the emphasis on “YOUR”, as if Elder Holland had actually said any of this.
Another lie the “loud voices” on social media have been spreading is that Elder Holland called for musket fire towards LGBTQ individuals. If you read his speech, he never said anything remotely close to that. The crowds have been massacring that metaphor and applying it to something Elder Holland never intended.
Was it the best metaphor? I don’t know. Then again, I’ve never liked violent metaphors like “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea…” but that came from Jesus himself, so who am I to correct Jesus or Elder Holland? The fact that these forceful metaphors were used speaks to the seriousness of the issues being discussed.
Fighting Against the Apostles
It dawned on me after reading many of these social media posts from the very loud crowd that so much of the noise was from people who had not actually watched or read Elder Holland’s speech at all. They heard reactions from others, perhaps saw small clips, but surely they didn’t watch the entire forty minute speech he gave, found here.
If they had watched the tears flow from Elder Holland’s eyes, they certainly wouldn’t have cast stones at that man as many have. I can’t tell you how many comments I read from people asking, “What did he say?”, then reacting emotionally after they were given an explanation from someone that was 280 characters or less. Basing your reactions on other people’s reactions without having full information is a dangerous course to take.
As I thought about this, the thought came to my mind that this was probably a very similar scenario to Christ’s presentation before Pilate.
I would bet that the majority of the people chanting “Crucify him, crucify him” to Pilate’s question, “What evil hath he done?” had never actually taken the time to honestly listen to Jesus’ full message. Their reactions and calls for death were solely because of the noise of the crowd, and this alone made them more than eager to cast stones at Jesus.
A brother online posted a screenshot of the following scripture found in 1 Nephi 11, explaining that his wife was praying to know what to think about the Elder Holland speech and reaction and this was the scripture she opened up to:
And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.
And after he was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord.
And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
We are now seeing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints openly fight against an apostle of the Lamb. These are members in your neighborhoods, members in your ward, members who sit next to you in sacrament meeting. It’s incredibly sad to see.
Just as a small group of Pharisees and corrupt rulers stirred up a crowd to call for the crucifixion of Jesus, similar antics are at play with the venomous reaction to Elder Holland’s words spoken on BYU campus.
Where Do You Stand and Who Do You Sustain
There appears to be an ever increasing divide in the church over many issues. Please ask yourself this question as you consider where you stand: If your stance is in opposition to the living prophets and apostles, can you really be on solid ground? The first section of the Doctrine and Covenants declares:
Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;
And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.
And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth fold and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
I would invite you to follow the counsel of and sustain our living prophets and apostles. They are seers and can see what we cannot. They are witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are here to speak truth, and not pleasing words.
Please listen to the words of the prophets with a humble heart before you listen to the noise of the social media crowds – even the noise from so-called “temple-going, Relief Society President, Instagram Influencers.” Please listen to the prophets words and ask, “Lord, is it I?” Please listen to their words without expecting to have your belly rubbed and to have everything be pleasing. The truth isn’t always comfortable.
If the crowd in Jerusalem would have received the words of Christ with a humble heart, blood wouldn’t be on their hands.