The Right Key
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“The Right Key,” Friend, Mar. 2000, 2


The Right Key

Then cometh Jesus … unto John, to be baptized of him (Matt. 3:13).

Jennifer stared at the door. Soon it would open and her baptismal interview would start. She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. How could she tell Bishop Anderson that she didn’t want to get baptized? She’d tried to tell Mom, but Mom got that disappointed look on her face.

The lump in Jennifer’s throat grew larger. Bishop Anderson was going to be disappointed in her. She looked away from the door and stared at her dress. The material faded before her eyes. If only this interview was over!

“Jennifer, are you ready?” Bishop Anderson asked, smiling at her.

She darted a quick glance at him, then looked down. Staring at the carpet, she followed him into his office and slid onto the chair next to his desk. Under the desk was a little dust ball. Her eyes focused on it. Normally she loved talking to Bishop Anderson; he was always kind and smiled at her. But today the lump in her throat was too big.

“What’s wrong, Jennifer?”

Bishop Anderson’s loving face gave Jennifer courage. She lifted her head. The warmth in his face brought sudden tears to her eyes. “Everyone else in my Primary class is being baptized by their father, but Dad can’t baptize me because he isn’t a member. It isn’t fair!” Her voice trembled, and she stared down at the dust ball.

“It doesn’t seem fair, Jennifer,” Bishop Anderson said in a kind voice. “But let’s look at the reasons for this special ordinance. Do you know why we get baptized?”

“Because it’s a commandment?”

“That’s right. In 2 Nephi 9:23, Jacob tells us that we are all commanded to be baptized. Baptism is the ‘door’ that lets us into the kingdom of God. Now, what happens if you try to unlock a door with the wrong key?”

Her finger’s crumpled the edge of her dress. “The door won’t open?”

“Exactly. But the right key opens the door. Baptism is the door, but the priesthood is the key. Only one who holds the priesthood worthily holds the right key. Someone who baptizes without the priesthood doesn’t have the authority to perform this sacred ordinance. It is like trying to use the wrong key to unlock the door. It doesn’t work, and the door stays shut.”

The lump in Jennifer’s throat grew bigger. “But my dad is a good person,” she whispered.

Bishop Anderson nodded his head. “I know he is, and I feel that someday he will accept the gospel and receive the priesthood. In the meantime, he deserves your love and respect and obedience.”

Jennifer tried to smile, but a tear ran down her cheek.

Bishop Anderson reached for his scriptures. He opened the black leather cover and carefully turned the pages. “You see, even Jesus had to be baptized by someone holding the right key. Here, Jennifer, read verses thirteen to fifteen in Matthew, chapter three.”

Jennifer took the heavy book from the bishop. “‘Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

“‘But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

“‘And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.’”

Jennifer looked at the bishop, who asked her, “Why did Jesus go to John the Baptist?”

Jennifer smoothed her dress across her knees. “Because John had the authority.”

“Exactly. Now I want you to think of something else. Was Jesus baptized by Joseph, His father while He was on the earth?”

Jennifer caught her breath. The lump in her throat started to dissolve. “No, He wasn’t.”

“He wasn’t,” agreed Bishop Anderson. “But His baptism was still special. It isn’t important who baptizes you as long as that person has the right key to do so. If he does, Heavenly Father will accept your baptism and He will be as pleased with you as He was with Jesus.”

For the first time in days, the big lump in Jennifer’s throat was gone. A smile broke through. She still wished her dad could baptize her, but it was going to be OK. “Bishop Anderson, would you baptize me?”

The bishop gave Jennifer a big smile. “I’d love to, Jennifer.”

Jennifer’s smile grew. She was eager now to get baptized. She would show Heavenly Father that she wanted to go through the door the right way, just like Jesus did, by being baptized by someone holding the right key.

John Baptizing Jesus by Harry Anderson

Illustrated by Mark Robison