This past week I went to see the Light of the World Garden at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. It’s a series of 15 sculptures that depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.
As I went through the garden, I couldn’t help feeling like I was stepping into the scriptures and joining the crowds who witnessed Christ and His miracles. It was a sweet experience, especially seeing moments like Christ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, carrying the cross, and appearing to Joseph Smith.
I’ve been thinking about Christ’s disciples as well. Imagining them in those moments. Wondering what went through their minds when they realized that the Man they followed truly was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Redeemer.
Those disciples were the ones who walked with Christ, almost every step from the time He began His ministry to the time He returned to our Father in Heaven.
They saw Him heal lepers and walk on water. They helped Him feed over 5,000 people at a time. They witnessed Him, alive, after death had taken Him.
And those disciples continued to walk with Christ through questions, attacks, and hatred, even after Christ returned to heaven.
As wonderful as those experiences must have been, these disciples also have me asking, what does it really take to walk with Christ? Is it simple? Or does every step seem to get harder?
Walking Through Christ’s Ministry
It’s easy to think that following Jesus while He was alive would have been impressive and simple. After all, He performed miracles all the time. Seeing those things must have made it easy to follow Him, right?
Witnessing Christ’s miracles would have been a privilege; there’s no doubt of that. But those who witnessed them and recognized them as a sign of Jesus’s divinity would have found themselves with the responsibility of sharing that witness with others.
But testifying of Jesus was the tip of the iceberg. The Jewish leadership disliked Jesus, and that dislike quickly grew to hatred throughout Christ’s ministry.
Walking with Christ meant facing the fear of retaliation, excommunication, or even death as the Jewish leadership became more and more uneasy with Jesus and His teachings.
It also meant worrying about Jesus and His safety. We know, from the scriptures, that the longer the disciples were with Christ, the more they loved Him and feared for His life. Later, this fear was faced head-on when Jesus was crucified and His disciples lost their leader.
He wasn’t gone long, of course. But they didn’t fully understand that until He was resurrected and showed Himself to them.
But maybe the most difficult part of walking with Christ during His ministry was hearing His teachings. Though His teachings are well-known now, when Jesus first began teaching, many of His teachings were startling.
Aside from the controversy of Christ’s teachings, His disciples also found that when He taught them, they had to face themselves honestly to see if they needed to change. Some of Christ’s teaching moments came as a direct response to His disciples.
For example, when some of the disciples were at odds with each other over rank, Christ stepped in.
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.
26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.Luke 22:25-26, King James Version
Recognizing that Christ’s teaching is directed right at you wouldn’t be easy. These disciples must have developed, or already had, great humility so they could walk with Christ and accept His gentle reprimands with faith.
Finally, continuing to walk with Christ when He was no longer with them proved a great struggle as well. The disciples were directed to spread the gospel, and they did.
Many of them gave their lives to do so. Like Peter, dying in Rome. Or Stephen, who was stoned to death.
Whatever challenge walking with Christ presented, His disciples continued to walk with Him and faced those difficulties. They were blessed with testimonies that sustained them through the trials lining the path of Christ.
They knew Christ was the Messiah and that what He taught was true. And that was enough for them.
Walking With Christ Now
The disciples were great people. But they weren’t perfect.
And neither are we.
But as people who seek Christ, we find ourselves in a similar position to His disciples two thousand years ago.
We don’t see Christ physically, but we know He is real. We haven’t watched Him walk on water, but we have seen His hand in our lives. We’ve felt the Holy Spirit witness to us that Jesus is the divine Son of God and our Redeemer.
We hold the same responsibility to testify and share our witness of Christ with the people around us.
Walking with Christ now still has its beauty and miracles, and it also still comes with trials.
There are still people who don’t like Jesus Christ and His followers. But Jesus still teaches,
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;Matthew 5:43-44, King James Version
Jesus teaches other things as well, things that can be difficult to accept. And we may find ourselves facing a teaching that hurts to accept because it applies directly to us.
We can be just like Christ’s early disciples by devoting our lives to Him. We have the same witness and testimony as those disciples did.
We know who Christ is and all that He has done for us. So in the face of trials, we can rely on what we know. It will be enough to carry us through.