By KRIS BOYLE
Latter-day Saints stand in a unique position among Christians when it comes to Christ’s sermon on the Mount of Olives, Professor S. Kent Brown said in Tuesday’s devotional address.
Brown, a professor of ancient scripture, focused on Matthew 24, which is Christ’s sermon on the fate of Jerusalem and the events of the last days. He said there are seven accounts of the sermon. Along with the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke, there are revised versions in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, Brown said. Part of the sermon can also be found in Doctrine and Covenants 45.
Brown said the added versions available through the Joseph Smith translations and Doctrine and Covenants 45 underline the sermon’s importance.
“The fact that the Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph to provide additional records to us in our day underlines it’s importance as the Savior’s statement to us in our circumstance,” Brown said.
Jesus’s prophecy fits into a type of discourse known as apocalyptic, which is derived from a Greek verb that means “to take off a covering” or “to reveal,” Brown said.
“One of the chief features of this type of prophecy of the future is the very strong reassurance that God is in charge of events and that he will bring them to proper conclusion,” Brown said.
Brown said there is an interesting pattern in the discourse. In the parts where Christ discusses the future of Jerusalem and his followers, he is specific. But when Christ addresses the situation in the last days, he is less precise.
Brown said in Christ’s day the falsehood that “All is Well” was connected to the last days. He suggested four hints the Lord gave in his sermon to avoid this pitfall. To illustrate this, he cross-referenced the different versions of the sermon. The four qualities are endurance, standing in holy places, treasuring up God’s word and using the Holy Spirit as our guide.
Brown then focused on Christ’s prophecy of the last days, particularly on our role in his prophecy. Brown said our part in the “painting” comes as missionaries, spreading the gospel in all the world.
Brown said the topic of the last days invites much speculation, but he appealed to Christ’s sermon because it will be fulfilled. Brown said we know this because of the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the fall of the temple in Jerusalem.
“If that part came to pass as Jesus had prophesied, there can be little doubt — at least in my mind — that the other parts having to do with our day will also come to pass,” Brown said.
In conclusion, Brown said the picture that Christ painted for our day can seem troubling. But he said there are threads of hope if we are faithful. That hope is particularly illuminated in parts of the discourse revealed through Joseph Smith.
“We live with the ringing assurance from the Savior both in this sermon and elsewhere that he is in charge,” Brown said.