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Ancient Testaments: The significance of flint and bits of bread

There are countless thoughts to think as we take our small bit of bread in sacrament meeting. Just one of these is that Jesus used his body as an instrument of obedience. Day by day, decision by decision, the spirit self of the Master was master of his physical clay. With that clay, he did his Father's bidding.

Near the end of his mortal stay came the hardest part. The light by which the Father directed him now shined onto a steep and solemn path — the path of atonement.

He had accepted this wrenching part of his journey while in premortality. Perhaps he had previewed and re-accepted it again and again as it drew nearer. But now came the time to enter upon it and see it through.

One eyewitness account says that "when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." He turned his whole attention, he pointed himself in a single direction, he subordinated other tasks, he brought every nerve to bear. And, Luke is careful to add, Jesus did so steadfastly. His course would not change.

His companions could sense the change. Something huge had begun. The perfect Man was perfectly focused. He was presently donning the weight that for long ages had been still future.

This same Jesus, as premortal Lord, had once spoken through Isaiah about that coming laser-like moment:

"I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed."

What the disciple Luke saw, the Lord had already described, with a revealing addition: His poise would be like flint.

Flint was famous for its hardness. By chipping and heating, it could be formed into weapons and tools that would hold their edge no matter what other substance opposed. For example, steel and flint struck together throw off a spark that can ignite kindling. That spark is a particle of steel, shorn away by the unyielding and piercing flint.

Flint stays absolutely true.

There are times when we, too, need to set our faces. Or, to reset them, as when we partake of that bread. We hope to reset our attention, our focus, our course, our readiness, our willingness, as Jesus set his. From the time he addressed his final labor, through the haranguing, opposition and pain, he steadily cut through. He moved forward inexorably in his mission. He had appointments along the way — essential and stern ones for satisfying the demands of justice. He kept all of them. The flint stayed true.

Recently this column called attention to "the man Moses," who "was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." Here, too, was flint.

Flint and meekness have this in common. They keep appointments. They remain true. They cut through the temptations and distractions.

Beginning at age 40, Moses dwelt in Midian. Having been groomed for kingly duties, he now rejoiced in the gospel fullness made known to him by his new father-in-law. He provided for his little family and watched over his flocks upon local hills and deserts.

At age 80 — normally a time to wind down and look for rest — Moses accepted responsibility for the illiterate, impoverished, teeming population of Hebrew slaves called Israel. He was to take them on a wilderness campout that would last until he was 120 years old. That was meekness and flint.

In a sacred ceremony each week, we remember Christ, who set himself steadfastly for his final work. And we reset ourselves for whatever he would have us do.

(References: Luke 9:51; Isaiah 50:7)

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to Holy Land and Mormon history sites. His novel "Before His Manger: The Long Wait for Christ's First Coming" can be found in serialized segments on MormonTimes.com.