My Heart Must Be Prepared to Receive the Word of God

March: Matthew 13; Luke 8; 13

Do you have a family story that is significant to your family, but people outside your family would not understand it? The reason for this misunderstanding can be because those outside your family have not had the deep, emotional experiences your family had together and they don’t have the background knowledge or don’t care about your family.

The Savior’s parables can be viewed as family stories, fully understood by people who have become members of the Lord’s family. His brothers and sisters care about these stories and have their hearts softened and ready to hear and understand their meaning, while others who are not a part of His family, see them just as stories without any significance.

When reading the scriptures, we sometimes lose the continuity of the story because of the chapter breaks. A good example of this is between Matthew 12 and Matthew 13. At the end of Matthew 12, the Savior was in a home with his disciples and his mother and siblings came to speak to him. The Savior turned to his disciples and said, “For whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”1 In Matthew 13:1, Matthew related that the “same day went Jesus out of the house and sat at the seaside.” Then, the multitudes began to gather around Him and He taught them in parables. The Savior was preparing his listeners for family stories that would bring them understanding and closer to their spiritual family. In Luke, this story of the Savior telling his disciples that they were his brothers and sisters was told after He explained the Parable of the Sower, further illustrating the connection between these stories.

After telling the parables, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why speakest thou in parables?”2 The Savior explained that it is given to those who will listen the mysteries of God. In the JST version of Matthew 13:12, the Savior further expounded, “For whosoever receiveth to him shall be given, and shall have more abundance, but whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”3 Those who hear and harden not their hearts are the elect of God and are given the Lord’s abundance. Those who are unholy and hard hearted will have the spirit which they have taken away from them.4

There are two reasons for telling these eternal truths in parables. First, it obscures the teaching from those who are hard hearted and dims their understanding, so they are not held accountable (in hearing, they don’t hear). Second, for those who hearken and who have a softened heart, the parables help them understand spiritual things more clearly. The parables form a great divide and test separating those who are searching for truth versus those who do not want to know the truth and are not willing to listen.

We should ask ourselves: Do I hear the Lord’s stories as part of His family, and do I have a softened heart, so that I will hearken to His words? In Alma 5:26, Alma asked the question, “…[I]f ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” Elder Dale G. Renlund talked about how we can preserve our heart’s mighty change.5 In 1967, the first transplant occurred and over 75,000 transplants have happened since then. Some transplant recipients don’t take care of their new heart with sad results.

More miraculous than a heart transplant is a mighty change of heart. Elder Renlund pointed out: “Just as with heart transplant patients, however, this mighty change of our spiritual hearts is just the beginning…. Enduring to the end can be challenging because the tendency of the natural man is to reject the spiritually changed heart and allow it to harden…. We must identify temptations that easily beset us and put them out of reach—way out of reach. Finally, we need to frequently biopsy our mightily changed hearts and reverse any signs of early rejection.”6

The Savior, through His Atonement, will “loose” us from our infirmities so that we can continue with our changed, new heart. In Luke 13, we have examples of a woman who has a soft heart because of her trials and the Pharisees who are hard hearted and cannot see the miracle. On the Sabbath Day, the Savior was trying to preach to the people about what is truly important. He saw a woman bent with age. He heals her. Rather than rejoicing for this woman’s miracle, the Pharisees become mad with anger because they feel that the Savior has broken the Sabbath rules. Ironically, the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, not theirs and the Lord sets the standard of what should or should not be done on the Sabbath.7 The Pharisees became the ones carrying the heavy burden of negatively judging others and falsely accusing others.

Jesus Christ can lift us from our burdens of sin and also soften our hearts so that we can understand what we must do, through His help, to find bear our burdens with ease. Elder Bednar taught: “Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: ‘Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?’ Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.”8

May we seek for a soft heart so that we can hearken to the words of our Savior, as a part of His family and He will help us bear our burdens with ease.

1 Matthew 12:50

2 Matthew 13:10

3 Matthew 13:12 JST

4 See D&C 29:7 and Luke 8:18

5 Dale G. Renlund, “Preserving the heart’s mighty change,” GC Oct. 2009.

6 Dale G. Renlund, “Preserving the heart’s mighty change,” GC Oct. 2009.

7 Luke 13:11-17

8 David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” GC April 2014.

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