CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 17.
When Jesus had finished speaking to the people (verse 1), He could tell the people were overwhelmed. His words were powerful, and the people were weak (verse 2). He instructed them to return to their homes to “ponder upon the things which I have said” and to “ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand” (verse 3). He promised He would return again to visit and teach the people, but that they would be better prepared if they would do these things (go home and ponder and ask for understanding).
In the meantime, He had more work to do. He had to visit other lost tribes, for none are lost to our Father (verse 4). When he said this, He saw them become tearful and wanting Him to stay with them longer (verse 5). These are a hungry people, wanting to receive what He can teach them, and having risked their lives believing in Him and waiting on Him. The visit is too short, and He has compassion on them (verse 6).
His compassion does not just buy them time, but it stirs Him to action. He does something about it! He calls for their sick and afflicted (verse 7) because He sees their faith is sufficient for healing (verse 8). He wants to show them what He did for the people of Jerusalem (verse 8), and so all the sick are brought to Him (verse 9). All the people, those who had been well and those who had been healed, bowed to worship Him and they cried in gratitude (verse 10).
Then the Savior also asked for the children to be brought to Him (verse 11). The people brought the children forward, to sit around Him (verse 12), and all the adults kneeled down on the ground (verse 13). Then He kneeled down to pray for them (verse 15), groaning because of the wickedness of the people (verse 14). He prayed for the people, and
the things which he prayed cannot be written… the eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father… neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things… and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.” (verses 15-17).
When Jesus was finished praying, he stood, but the people were so overcome that they could not stand (verse 18). He told them to arise (verse 19), and blessed them for their faith (verse 20). He said His joy was now full (verse 20), because He had now ministered to and interceded for these “lost sheep” as He had promised to do. When he said this, he wept, and gave each individual child a blessing (verse 21). He cried again (verse 22), telling the people to see their children and the blessings they held (verse 23).
Then the people saw the heavens open, with angels descending out of heaven and “encircling those little ones about… and the angels did minister unto them” (verse 24), and all the people witnessed it (verse 25).
This is a powerful experience for the people, but they will experience something greater. The ministering of angels is a physical ministry, a lesser ministry (D&C 107:14), even since the time of Aaron and the Levites or physically moved the tabernacle. It is the Aaronic Priesthood who holds the keys of this ministering of angels (see JSH 1:69-73). What a thought, that our own Aaronic Priesthood has this same power since it has been restored to us! Angels only physically minister in these ways when it is physically required (cannot be spiritually delivered) and no Aaronic Priesthood is available. This is the law.
Greater than this external ministry to physical needs and physical restoration is the internal ministry to spiritual needs and spiritual restoration. The Melchizedek Priesthood holds these keys since it has been restored to us. This power is far greater than angels visiting or the physical ministry of the Aaronic Priesthood (see Hebrews 5).
The Savior has now ministered to them physically, and taught them to do the same.
Now He asks the people to go home, and ponder, and prepare to receive a greater ministry that is spiritual, so that they may also learn to spiritually minister to each other.