To the well-known incident of the woman taken in “the very act” of adultery, whose accusers were dismissed by the Savior’s invitation for the one without sin to cast the first stone, the Joseph Smith translation adds “And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on His name” (John 8:3-11). Knowing Him and feeling His love for her changed her life. We too can be taught, comforted, and transformed as we feel Christ’s love as this repentant woman did.
With His Love Christ Teaches
Dallin H. Oaks spoke of the Savior calling the apostle Matthew, from the very act of collecting taxes, and conversing at the well with the Samaritan woman, living with acts of adultery. Christ knew their weaknesses and their faults; so did they. “He treated them with love while He taught them truth.”
In his book Daily Joy, Russell M. Nelson shared, “Our living God is a loving God,” writing lovingly of “God’s gentle commandments.”
As one who can be stressed about just about anything that can be stressed about, I often need the scripture “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:1,10). If I can just be still, I can make it from stress to stress. The psalm even includes acts of war.
At one teaching moment, the act of war was my daughter as a teenager being a teenager. Sure that the problem was my terrible parenting, I went into my bedroom, locked the door, and dissolved in tears. I felt a presence beside me, assuring me that I was loved, and I wouldn’t lose that love. Mentally I’ve returned many times to this moment of love.
With His Love Christ Comforts
Joshua certainly needed comfort and assurance with the daunting roles of succeeding Moses and conquering in combat. The Lord promised that He would be with Joshua wherever he was called to go (Joshua 1:9).
Most of God’s children do not have to lead armies or renounce a career in tax collection. So we struggle figuring out our tax returns and try not to listen too personally to family members’ veteran stories. Christ blesses us with His love in challenges large and small.
As Russel M. Nelson explained, our deeds and thoughts have more purpose in the context of God’s loving plan. In his book Whole in Christ, gospel scholar Robert Millet advised, “Seek the Lord’s comfort and strength always in good times and in bad.” We need not follow the “covenant path” alone.
This promise comforted a bishop in Brazil who lost both his parents to complications of COVID (four days apart). He wrote,
I felt an inexplicable peace that penetrated the depths of my heart, giving me hope and confidence in the love of the Savior . . . . I learned that on the very most grief-filled days the loving arms of the Savior are always extended when we seek Him with all our heart, power, mind, and strength. (See Ulisses Soares, 2021)
With His Love Christ Transforms
Robert Millet went beyond comfort: “The pure love of Christ . . . sanctifies the human heart.”
Works of ancient and modern prophets are filled with examples of individuals, groups, and nations sanctified and transformed by Christ’s love. One of the most detailed accounts in scripture is the conversion of thousands of Lamanites—all those in seven lands and seven cities—by the sons of Mosiah (Alma 17-24).
The phrase “many murders” is used frequently by the kings, the converts, and the missionaries—these people’s sins were frequent and serious. But once the miraculous conversions began with King Lamoni and his people, these large groups were blessed with testimonies so strong that none of them ever fell away. One of their kings wrote of their conversion and their new lives, “because [God] loveth our souls (Alma 24:14). Alma’s account refers to them as “the people of God.”
These people buried their weapons, kneeling in front of invading warriors and dying without resistance. Formerly a culture known for its murders, they had no inclination to hurt any person or engage in any wickedness. Religion professors Ogden and Skinner explained that Christ can remove thoughts and desires from people’s hearts and minds if they ask Him. With His love Christ gave these saints this blessing.
Jesus Christ’s perfect love is extended to all His people. He asks that like the woman who repented from adultery, Matthew who left tax collecting, Joshua who faced overwhelming spiritual and military odds, the bishop who was at peace with his parents’ COVID passing, and thousands of former Lamanites turned miraculous saints, we believe in Him, love Him, and accept the blessings He wants to give us—more than we can ever understand.