CLICK HERE to read Alma 21.
Since Ammon found out that his brother and their friends were falsely imprisoned while on their mission, he pleaded with the king to get them released. They were very happy to see each other again, though Ammon noticed all the injuries the men had. This chapter tells their story, as if we are eavesdropping while Ammon and his brother Aaron catch up while walking the road back home. Then the next chapter, through chapter 26 follows the adventures of Aaron as he continues his mission.
Back when all the men began their mission, they separated when arrive at the border of the Lamanite land (verse 1). Ammon went one way for his mission, and Ammon went another way, toward a city named Jerusalem – which was named after the original Jerusalem their ancestors had left back at the beginning of the Book of Mormon (verse 2).
The people there were the Lamanites, of course, but also the Amelekites and the Amulonites, and they were rougher and harder even than the Lamanites. So they negatively influenced the Lamanites “that they should harden their hearts, that they should wax strong in wickedness and their abominations” (verse 3).
The people there did have synagogues, but they were a false priesthood after the order of Nehor (verse 4), who was known for “evangelizing” in such a way that is confrontational instead of inviting, and leads to violence instead of peace. So even the “good” people in this society are aggressive and violent.
When Aaron begins to speak to the people, someone starts a fight (verse 5). There is no real purpose other than to stir up contention and drama. He says, “thou also sayest, except we repent we will perish… How knowest thou that we have cause to repent?” (verse 6). This guy is starting a fight just to start a fight, accusing Aaron of judging him – very similar to how our culture is today. However, rather than being justified, this reveals the depth of the man’s false pride, because Aaron was teaching that the Savior was for all people and that we all are in a humble state of needing God.
Aaron asks him, “Believest thou that the Son of God shall come to redeem mankind from their sins?” (verse 7).
“And the man said unto him: … We do not believe in these foolish traditions…” (verse 8).
So Aaron began to teach them, because it is one thing not to believe because you have never thought of it or discussed or been open to the idea, and another thing to choose against it. Aaron taught them the prophesies that Christ would be born, and the prophet teachings about the resurrection, and that we could not be resurrected (immortality) or have eternal life (the quality of that eternal life) without the atonement of Christ (verse 9).
But the people became angry, and mocked him, and would not listen (verse 10). So he left them, and rejoined other friends on their missions so that they could spend their time and energy teaching those who did want to listen (verse 11). But few would listen, and few would believe (verse 12).
This is when the men were arrested (verse 13), and “suffered many things” until being delivered by Lamoni and Ammon, who fed and clothed them (verse 14). Un-conquered, these guys jumped right back into their mission (verse 15), and went wherever the Spirit led them to go (verse 16).
“And it came to pass that the Lord began to bless them, insomuch that they brought many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, they did convince many of their sins, and of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct” (verse 17).
Knowing they were well, Ammon and Lamoni returned to Lamoni’s land (verse 18), but Lamoni would not let Ammon be his servant anymore (verse 19). Instead, he built synagogues (verse 20), and taught the people (verse 21). He also told the people they were free, and free from oppression from his father (verse 21). He told them “that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God” each in their own way, where they lived and as they wanted to worship (verse 22). Ammon preached to the people, and “he did teach them all things concerning things pertaining to righteousness. And he did exhort them daily, with all diligence; and they gave heed unto his word, and they were zealous for keeping the commandments of God” (verse 23).