1. Jesus commands the Nephites to ponder and pray about what He has taught. He heals the sick, blesses the children, and prays for the people.
3 Nephi 17:1-3 Prepare your minds
‘We read in the “Book of Mormon” that Jesus told the Nephites to return home, for they were not prepared to receive his words. They went home and they did prepare their hearts for the reception of the truth. Why do we not receive more truth than we do? We hear a great many teachings and counsels from the servants of God. And why do we not receive more? Peradventure we are not prepared to receive it. Why does not the Almighty bestow on us more light, truth, intelligence and other blessings he is able to bestow? It is because we are not prepared to receive them. We have more offered now than a great many can receive because their hearts are unprepared, they are filled with the spirit of the world, they have lost sight of the principles of salvation, and do not comprehend them. You may have heard these things preached many times before, but if you have not received them and made them your rule of action, it would have been better for you if you had never heard them.’ (Charles C Rich, Journal of Discourses)
3 Nephi 17:5-7, 9-10 Have ye any that are sick?
“Calling for the sick and the blind, the halt and the maimed, the leprous and the withered, those that were ‘afflicted in any manner,’ Christ asked that they be brought forward that he might heal them. … Sensing with divine insight that these people desired to behold the miracles he had performed for their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, and recognizing instantly that their faith was sufficient for them to be healed, Christ responded to each need within the multitude, ‘and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.’ In response to such an outpouring of compassion and mercy, all of the congregation, the healed as well as the whole, did ‘bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come … did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.’ [3 Nephi 17:5–7, 9–10.]” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, 268–69).
3 Nephi 17:21 He wept
“He wept-he who had descended below all things, the Man of Sorrows, he who bore all our griefs. The height of his infinite capacity for joy is the inverse, mirror image of the depth of his capacity to bear our burdens. So it is with the enlarged caverns of feeling within our own hearts: as the sorrows of our lives carve and stretch those caverns, they expand our soul’s capacity for joy. Then, when the Man of Sorrows turns our bitter tastes to sweet, our joy-and his-will fill the widened chambers of our hearts with what the scriptures call ‘fulness.’ That is when we have accepted his Atonement and love with such completeness that his purpose for us is fully satisfied. Then will we know that we were made for this. Then will we know where, and why, and to whom, we belong. ‘For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.’ (Psalm 107:9.)” (Bruce C Hafen, The Belonging Heart, p. 315)
2. Jesus institutes the sacrament among the Nephites.
3 Nephi 18:1-4 The sacrament
…every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called ‘the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation,2:340).
3 Nephi 18:11 To those who repent and are baptised in my name
“The sacrament is for the Saints, for those who have actually made covenants at the waters of baptism primarily, but there is no evidence that I find where the Lord would ever exclude the children who were rapidly moving toward baptism and who were learning and being taught to worship the Lord and be ready for the covenants as their age and development would permit….
“If a person, not a member of the Church, is in the congregation, we do not forbid him partaking of it, but would properly advise that the sacrament is for the renewing of covenants. And, since he has not made the true covenant of baptism or temple covenant, he is exempt. However, his partaking of the sacrament if he is clean and worthy and devout would not bring upon him any condemnation as it would for those who have made solemn covenants and then have ignored or defied them.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 226)
3 Nephi 18:25 Feel and see
‘We must feel and see for ourselves and then help all of Heavenly Father’s children to feel and see and know that our Savior has taken upon Himself not only all our sins but also our pains and our suffering and afflictions so that He can know what we feel and how to comfort us.’ (Linda S Reeves, General Conference, Oct 2012)
3 Nephi 18:28 Partake of my flesh and blood unworthily
“The divine instructions concerning the sacredness of this ordinance are explicit; and the consequent need of scrupulous care being exercised lest it be engaged in unworthily is apparent. In addressing the Corinthian saints Paul gave solemn warnings against hasty or unworthy action in partaking of the sacrament, and declares that the penalties of sickness and even death are visited upon those who violate the sacred requirements: ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.’ (1 Cor 11:26–30)
“When instructing the Nephites, Jesus laid great stress upon the fitness of those who partook of the sacrament; and moreover He placed responsibility upon the officers of the Church whose duty it was to administer it, that they should permit none whom they knew to be unworthy to participate in the ordinance.” (James E Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 173)
3 Nephi 18:32 Continue to minister
“The principles to activate souls do not change. The lost or less-active must be found and contacted. Loving concern must be demonstrated. They must feel of our love. They must be taught the gospel. They must feel the power of the Holy Ghost through the teachers. They must be included in our fellowship. They must have meaningful Church responsibilities. In the words of the Book of Mormon, we are to ‘continue to minister’ (3 Nephi 18:32). We are particularly concerned that new converts be integrated into full fellowship in the Church. They must be welcomed with open arms.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 234)
3. The disciples teach and minister to the people. The Savior returns to teach the people and pray for them.
3 Nephi 19:4-8 They knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus
‘Notice that the twelve disciples were able to repeat the words of the Savior with perfect exactness. This can only be done when the Spirit conveys the words to the mind of each disciple. This same thing occurred when the Apostles in Jerusalem wanted to quote sermons or statements Jesus had made. The Spirit dictated to them the words which had been spoken. This is what Jesus promised to his Apostles when he said: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things , and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.”1
By this time the word had spread among the people that the twelve disciples had been given the authority to confer the Holy Ghost. But of course they could only do this with the consent and approbation of the Savior. Furthermore Nephi knew this would not happen until the disciples had been baptized. It is interesting that the disciples prayed for the Holy Ghost as a prelude to their baptism.
We should mention that all of these disciples as well as the multitude had been baptized by Nephi long before, but that was just for the remission of sins. Apparently Nephi knew that all of them needed to be baptized to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ, which the Savior was now establishing among them.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
3 Nephi 19:9 The disciples prayed for the Holy Ghost
“There is … a difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the enjoyment of the gift. All saints after baptism receive the gift or right to the sanctifying power of the Spirit; only those who are worthy and who keep the commandments actually enjoy the promised reward. In practice, members of the Church enjoy the companionship of the Spirit from time to time as they manage, by obedience, to get in tune with the Infinite.
“The actual enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost is a supernal gift that a man can receive in mortality. The fact of its receipt is a witness that the saints so blessed are reconciled to God and are doing the things that will assure them of eternal life in the realms ahead” (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 257).
3 Nephi 19:10-13 Baptism
‘When Christ appeared to the Nephites on this continent, he commanded them to be baptized, although they had been baptized previously for the remission of their sins… . The Savior commanded Nephi and the people to be baptized again, because he had organized anew the Church under the gospel. [ 3 Nephi 19:7–15.] Before that it had been organized under the law. [ 3 Nephi 9:15–22, 11:10–40, 12:18–19, 15:4–10.]
For the same reason Joseph Smith and those who had been baptized prior to April 6, 1830, were again baptized on the day of the organization of the Church.’
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:336)
3 Nephi 19:19-20, 27-28 I thank thee
“Prayer is an essential part of conveying appreciation to our Heavenly Father. He awaits our expressions of gratefulness each morning and night in sincere, simple prayer from our hearts for our many blessings, gifts, and talents.
“Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (Robert D Hales, in Conference Report, Apr. 1992).
3 Nephi 19:23 That we may be one
“That is, of course, a variation on the great intercessory prayer Christ offered for his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in the Old World, praying that his followers might be unified with the Father and the Son, as well as with each other, and be taken from the adverse temptations and evil influences of the world. (Jn 17)
“From the Savior’s language, we see clearly it is the Holy Ghost that provides such unity, a doctrinal point not so clearly communicated in the New Testament account.” (Jeffrey R Holland, Christ And The New Covenant, p. 280)
3 Nephi 19:24 They did not multiply many words
‘The most meaningful and spiritual prayers I have experienced contained many expressions of thanks and few, if any, requests. As I am blessed now to pray with apostles and prophets, I find among these modern-day leaders of the Savior’s Church the same characteristic that describes Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: these are men whose hearts swell with thanksgiving to God for the many privileges and blessings which He bestows upon His people (see Alma 48:12 Also, they do not multiply many words, for it is given unto them what they should pray, and they are filled with desire (see 3 Nephi 19:24 The prayers of prophets are childlike in their simplicity and powerful because of their sincerity.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, October 2008)
3 Nephi 19:33 Hearts
‘When we understand more than we know with our minds, when we understand with our hearts, then we know that the Spirit of the Lord is working upon us’ (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], p. 92)