A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 22:
“Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?” (Alma 5-7)
Alma 7 is one of Alma’s relatively shorter public sermons but is important for its clear testimony concerning the birth and mission of the Savior Jesus Christ. Verse 10 testifies particularly of his birth to Mary:
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
Mary’s role as the mother of the Son of God had been revealed previously in Mosiah 3:8, “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” This role had also been revealed to Nephi in vision. In 1 Nephi 11:13-20, he records:
13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
The eternal importance of the role that Mary played in bringing about salvation is highlighted by these several mentions, to which could be added the statement in the Garden of Eden, relative to the seed of the women that, ” 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Many other translations render it this verse as predicting that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. It is also worth noting that the verse describes Christ’s birth as being “at Jerusalem,” which is how they understood the relationship of Nazareth to Jerusalem. Similarly I live in Naperville, a suburb within the Chicagoland area, but not truly in Chicago. The actual city is about an hour away, and despite being here a while I have, unfortunately, hardly set foot in it, but we still live decidedly within its sphere of influence. Continuing with Alma 7:11 the subject turns to the sufferings and sacrifice of the Messiah,
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
One of the important concepts in this passage is the Lord’s bowels being filled with mercy. The idea appears to be that Christ by experiencing the fullness of human suffering in all of its variety can have compassion upon us and plead our case in a way that none other can. The concept of the bowels of mercy is also discussed in Mosiah 15:8-9:
8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—
9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
Continuing with Alma 7:13, we see that it is not just an understanding advocate that Christ’s intercession provides,
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
Thus Christ’s sacrifice allows him to take upon him the sins of his people for the purpose of blotting out—that is, erasing—their transgressions, and delivering them from the power of sin.