Who Will Buy?
I enjoy the depiction of Oliver Twist from the 1968 musical motion picture Oliver! Based upon the orphaned character from the classic novel by Charles Dickens, and a cheerier story than the original, Oliver is truly a boy without guile, finding it easy to forgive and only seeking love and happiness in life. While he suffered a childhood rife with trial, being orphaned in a work house, and then being subjected to thieves and other seedy characters on the streets of London, his cheery and I suppose naive innocence sparks hope for those who would look beyond trespasses committed and extend mercy to the trespassers.
When I was a boy I was a happy child without cause to hate or feel anger. I certainly did not suffer the trials of Oliver Twist. My life was blessed and good. The sweet memories of my childhood bring me lasting joy in the innocence of a day long ago.
In my early adolescence that innocence and trust was disrupted by juvenile cruelty and unkind acts, and all at once that happy trust slipped away along with my comprehension of what it is to forgive. Although the desire to be good and kind never slipped from me, the ability to see beyond anger and to forgive those who trespass eluded me for many years. Through this time the demands for justice came to make more sense to me then the need for mercy. This journey from loving innocence, through wretched years demanding and exacting so-called justice, to the peace in Christ I have found in pleading divine mercy for all, has been long and winding, but it is a walk without regret.
Through those rigid days of anger I found it difficult to feel the sweet spirit of forgiveness either for myself or for others. When in a blessing I was told that I would find it easy to forgive others I held serious doubts in my mind of the inspiration, but held fast to my faith and hoped the Lord could bring this change to pass in me. True to the Lord’s word “out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33), and by measures small and large my heart was softened and I came to know better the goodness and mercy of our Savior. The Lord required of me my heart and a willing mind, and He provided the rest.
“Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
In His earthly ministry the Savior taught, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you… …Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” (Luke 6:27-28, 36-37). This was not easy by any measure, but the Lord provides a way to the willing heart and mind. Like anyone else I have had wounds that took long to heal, but healing they do if we turn them over to Jesus Christ.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood. Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be. Like the food in your refrigerator…, those old grievances have long since exceeded their expiration date. Please don’t give precious space in your soul to them any longer. As Prospero said to the regretful Alonso in The Tempest, ‘Let us not burden our remembrance with a heaviness that’s gone’” (General Conference, October 2018 – https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/the-ministry-of-reconciliation?lang=eng).
It has been truly said that mercy cannot rob justice, but who of us have been so just that we dare demand it? I believe that justice is best left to God, and it is mercy for which we should be pleading on behalf of ourselves and for our fellow man.
“There is no qualification here stating that we only have to forgive those who repent. The Lord commands us to forgive all men.”
It is important to remember that our forgiveness for those who we have perceived to have committed some wrong, does not automatically restore or require trust to the same. Elder Holland taught that forgiving someone does not require us to participate in a toxic or abusive relationship. He said, “But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, ‘Come, follow me.’” This is a restorative path to the forgiver, even if it does not lead to the restoration of an unhealthy relationship.
How do we follow Him? The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-10). There is no qualification here stating that we only have to forgive those who repent. The Lord commands us to forgive all men.
One may impudently ask, “How can the Lord require something of us that He is not required to do of Himself?” The answer is clear. He, the Redeemer of the World, has bought and paid for that right with the price of His blood innocently spilled. He did it for us, so that He could provide for the whole human family the mercy required for our salvation.
“Forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland went on to say, “forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid ‘with healing in His wings.’ We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.”
I was recently watching Oliver! with my family. The young lad’s innocent and cheerful plea set to song, to hold a beautiful day close and always, drew my heart and spirit to deep pondering. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJcH1bj53aE) I have felt the Spirit as I have listened to the same song many times before, “Who Will Buy?” performed by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. (https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/videos/january-03-2021-4764-music-and-the-spoken-word.html)
Who will buy
This wonderful morning?
Such a sky
You never did see!
Who will tie
It up with a ribbon
And put it in a box for me?
So I could see it at my leisure
Whenever things go wrong
And I would keep it as a treasure
To last my whole life long.
Who will buy
This wonderful feeling?
I’m so high
I swear I could fly.
Me, oh my!
I don’t want to lose it
So what am I to do
To keep the sky so blue?
There must be someone who will buy…
In answer to Oliver’s hopeful heart, it is the Savior Jesus Christ who will buy this beautiful morning, who will preserve it to be enjoyed for all days. He is the man who will wrap it up as a gift to all men, a singular all encompassing and infinite atonement, a sacrifice that justice may be satisfied and mercy may prevail, preserving that lovely morning and saving the day forever. We may all begin to enjoy this wonderful feeling as we let go of those things that hold our hearts captive to anger, regret and sorrow, and allow the warmth of forgiveness to overcome all. He simply requires our hearts and willing minds to stir that miracle of forgiveness. Jesus is the Christ and He is Who Will Buy. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.