Trees in field

How Jacob 5 Helped Me Cope with Sickness and Grief

Jacob 5 isn’t just a story about some olive trees and a few blue-collar workers; it’s a testament that Christ loves each one of us and that he, the Lord of all, rejoices and weeps with us through our mortal experience.

In October 2018, I was diagnosed with a lifelong autoimmune disease that could be only treated, never cured. For the next year, I went through treatments to suppress my immune system and had to deal with the consequences of having no natural defenses. I was sickly, exhausted, self-conscious, and grief-stricken. And on top of it all, I felt guilty for feeling incapable of being happy. After all, weren’t we created to “have joy”?

"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept."-Jacob 5:41

Photo by Liv Bruce

One day during this time, I opened my Book of Mormon to find my bookmark in Jacob 5, and I started reading. The chapter contains the allegory of the olive trees in which some trees of a vineyard began to die. The first forty verses detail how the master of the vineyard becomes determined to prune, dig about, and nourish the sick trees. I felt the master’s compassion, as well as his desperation. 

By verse 41, the entire vineyard is dying, and the verse reads, “And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept.” Upon reading those words, I, too, was in tears because I realized the master isn’t weeping simply over trees.

Lesson 46 in the 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual helps us understand the rich symbolism in Jacob 5. The manual explains that the master of the vineyard is Jesus Christ, the servant is his prophet, the vineyard is the world, and the trees represent all of us.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is weeping over us, his olive trees. He grieves with us. The only perfect person to walk this earth—the literal Son of God—cries too.

These realizations did not instantly fix me, but as I came to see my God as a loving, deeply invested being, my perspective was transformed, giving me reassurance and courage when people stared at my skin or when I was in pain. The tender image of my Savior with tears running down his cheeks replaced and soothed my guilt over my prolonged sadness.

By better understanding the allegory of Jacob 5, we can come to see the vast extent of God’s love, to feel that we are not alone in our grief and sickness, and to realize all that Jesus Christ does for us each dayhe’s fervently pruning, digging about, and nourishing his trees.

Discover the clear explanations, study tips, and insightful questions that “Lesson 46: Jacob 5:1-51” in the 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual contains.

Source:  2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual

—Abby Forrest, Latter-day Saint Insights

FEATURE IMAGE BY VINCENT EISFELD

Find more insights

Check out this quick reference guide to the symbols in Jacob 5.

Learn better through videos? Watch Jacob 5 here:

  • Part 1/5: “Old Testament Olive Vineyard”
  • Part 2/5: “Vineyard at the Time of Christ”
  • Part 3/5: “Nethermost Parts of the Vineyard”
  • Part 4/5: “All Fruit of the Vineyard is Corrupt”
  • Part 5/5: “The Olive Tree”
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