STERLING PARK WARD
ASHBURN, VA STAKE
I. 1 NEPHI CHAPTER 11
9 And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all.
10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou?
11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof-for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.
12 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence.
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.
Have you ever wondered--as I have wondered--why, when Nephi asks for an explanation of the tree, the Spirit shows him the virgin Mary? Let's continue reading. . .
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.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
The Spirit acts as if showing the Baby Jesus in the arms of His mother is the obvious explanation of the meaning of the tree. Just to be sure, the Spirit asks Nephi to repeat back the answer to the question.
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.
24 And after he had said these words, he said unto me: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him.
25 And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.
So the tree of life is a "representation of the love of God." And, just what exactly is the Love of God? In John 3:16 we read . . .
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
So when the Spirit answers Nephi's question about the meaning of the tree, the Spirit shows Nephi the mortal life of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Love of God. Thus, the "tree of life" is a representation of Jesus Christ. Similarly, we call Christ the "bread of life." (John 6:35) In John 14:6 we read,
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We must reach the Tree of Life to come into the Celestial Kingdom. This is the message of Christmas.
Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
II. THE END
In the blessed name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.