I Am the Light and the Life of the World

Bryan Richards

Henry B. Eyring

"He speaks: 'I am the light and the life of the world; . . . 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; . . . I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.' That is it. Eight lines. Fifty-two words. 'And . . . when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth.'
"I have thought often about this moment in Nephite history, and I cannot think it either accident or mere whimsy that the Good Shepherd in his newly exalted state, appearing to a most significant segment of his flock, chooses to speak first of his obedience, his deference, his loyalty, and loving submission to his Father. In an initial and profound moment of spellbinding wonder, when surely he has the attention of every man, woman, and child as far as the eye can see, his submission to his Father is the first and most important thing he wishes us to know about himself.
"Frankly, I am a bit haunted by the thought that this is the first and most important thing he may want to know about us when we meet him one day in similar fashion. Did we obey, even if it was painful? Did we submit, even if the cup was bitter indeed? Did we yield to a vision higher and holier than our own, even when we may have seen no vision in it at all?
"One by one he invites us to feel the wounds in his hands and his feet and his side. And as we pass and touch and wonder, perhaps he whispers, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.' (Matthew 16:24.)
"If such cross-bearing self-denial was, by definition, the most difficult thing Christ or any man has ever had to do, an act of submission that would by the Savior's own account cause him, 'God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit'—if yielding and obeying and bowing to divine will holds only that ahead, then no wonder that even the Only Begotten Son of the true and living God 'would that [he] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink'! (D&C 19:18.)
"Even as we rehearse this greatest of all personal sacrifices, you can be certain that with some in this world it is not fashionable or flattering to speak of submitting to anybody or anything. At the threshold of the twenty-first century it sounds wrong on the face of it. It sounds feeble and wimpish. It just isn't the American way."
"As Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote recently, 'In today's society, at the mere mention of the words obedience and submissiveness, hackles rise and people are put on nervous alert…People promptly furnish examples from secular history to illustrate how obedience to unwise authority and servility to bad leaders have caused much human misery and suffering. It is difficult, therefore, to get a hearing for what the words obedience and submissiveness really mean—even when the clarifying phrase, 'to God', is attached." (Not My Will, But Thine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 1.)
"After all, we come to earth, at least in part, to cultivate self-reliance, to cultivate independence, to learn to think and act for ourselves. Didn't Christ himself say, 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'? (John 8:32.) So how does heaven speak of such spiritual freedom and intellectual independence in one breath, only to plead with us to be submissive and very dependent in the next?
"It does so because no amount of education, or any other kind of desirable and civilizing experience in this world, will help us at the moment of our confrontation with Christ if we have not been able—and are not then able—to yield all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever hope to have to the Father and the Son." (On Earth As It Is In Heaven, p. 126-7)