Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Parable of the Pickle

Elder David A. Bednar in April 2007 gave a talk in general conference where he talked about the importance of following the Lord’s admonition in John that we all must be born again:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-5)

The birth that Jesus spoke of was to be baptized by immersion. Christ set the example by going to his cousin John and was baptized by him showing us the way. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi explained why the Savior, even though he was sinless, needed to be baptized:

Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would beobedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.

And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them. (2 Nephi 31:7-9)

In Elder Bednar’s talk he spoke of the process of changing cucumbers into pickles and compared it to the process we must go through to be born again. He called it the parable of the pickle. He said:

A pickle is a cucumber that has been transformed according to a specific recipe and series of steps. The first steps in the process of changing a cucumber into a pickle are preparing and cleaning. I remember many hours spent on the back porch of my home removing stems from and scrubbing dirt off of the cucumbers we had picked. My mom was very particular about the preparing and cleaning of the cucumbers. She had high standards of cleanliness and always inspected my work to make sure this important task was properly completed.

The next steps in this process of change are immersing and saturating the cucumbers in salt brine for an extended period of time. To prepare the brine, my mom always used a recipe she learned from her mother—a recipe with special ingredients and precise procedures. Cucumbers can only become pickles if they are totally and completely immersed in the brine for the prescribed time period. The curing process gradually alters the composition of the cucumber and produces the transparent appearance and distinctive taste of a pickle. An occasional sprinkle of or dip in the brine cannot produce the necessary transformation. Rather, steady, sustained, and complete immersion is required for the desired change to occur.

The final step in the process requires the sealing of the cured pickles in jars that have been sterilized and purified. The pickles are packed in canning jars, covered with boiling hot brine, and processed in a boiling-water-bath canner. All impurities must be removed from both the pickles and the bottles so the finished product can be protected and preserved. As this procedure is properly followed, the pickles can be stored and enjoyed for a long period of time. (“Ye Must be Born Again”, Elder David A. Bednar, General Conference, April 2007)

Elder Bednar said that in a similar manner each of us must have a mighty change of heart through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He described faith and repentance as the process of preparing and cleansing us. He then said that our baptism is like the cucumbers being immersed in the brine and the purifying and sealing process is how we are born again by being washed in the blood of the Lamb and live our lives committed to keeping God’s commandments and receiving the Holy Ghost. Again he said:

A cucumber only becomes a pickle through steady, sustained, and complete immersion in salt brine. Significantly, salt is the key ingredient in the recipe. Salt frequently is used in the scriptures as a symbol both of a covenant and of a covenant people. And just as salt is essential in transforming a cucumber into a pickle, so covenants are central to our spiritual rebirth.

We begin the process of being born again through exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, and being baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one having priesthood authority.

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). (“Ye Must be Born Again”, Elder David A. Bednar, General Conference, April 2007)

The scriptures teach that “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19) and that we always will be unless we go through this process of change of heart. The change is to be born again by having faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, to be baptized by immersion for the remission of our sins and to receive the Holy Ghost. This is not a process that happens in one moment, but it takes a lifetime of faith and obedience, enduring to the end and relying on the atonement of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from our sins.

What a great blessing it is to know that our loving Heavenly Father has provided a plan for us to come to earth to live and prove ourselves worthy of life with him and our Savior Jesus Christ. Just as a cucumber goes through the cleansing and purification process to become a pickle so to we must be born again through Jesus Christ and be purified through his atonement. As we do this, one-day we will have the privilege of kneeling at his feet and acknowledging that God is just and merciful and that Jesus Christ is our Lord and redeemer.

Your questions and comments are welcome.

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