While the phoenix and grail can be viewed as symbolic or representative of the Savior’s power, we have His actual power here on earth – it’s not mythology. The Lord gave to his apostles power to act in His name and to do the works He would do. In the book of Acts we read stories of the apostles healing and otherwise continuing the miracles that the Savior did (e.g, Acts 3). This priesthood power was taken from the earth when the apostles were killed. Different branches of the church quickly apostatized. The priesthood was not found on the earth (other than the three Nephites and John the Beloved, all who remained to watch the earth and to prepare for the restoration of the Church) until May 15, 1829 when John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Shortly after this the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored. Once again, the Lord’s power and authority was upon the earth. Once again were men able to act in the name of the Lord and perform miracles in His name. The priesthood is far greater than the power of the phoenix or the Holy Grail (ignoring the fact that they are mythical). Those who have been given the priesthood hold real power and authority.
Those who have the priesthood have a portion of God’s power. They should strive to be like Him in faith, in righteousness, and in holiness. One of the most important and sacred names for our Father is Man of Holiness. When we are commanded to “arise from the dust and be men” we are commanded to be like the ultimate Man (not intending any disrespect) – our Heavenly Father. We should strive to live as our Heavenly Father wants us to live. As we shake ourselves free of the dust of mortality, as we strive to remain free from the dirt and the mud of sin, we can better prepare to live with our Father again. We can, like the phoenix, arise from the ashes and dust of our past to a new life of purity.
Being holy also requires us to be clean. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of the cleansing that comes in the temple and through temple service: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36: 25-27). The Lord promised a new heart, a heart softened by the Spirit, to those who receive saving ordinances and keep His statutes. This new heart allows us to be better people: better saints, better citizens, better mothers, fathers, and friends. It is a new heart that beats warmly within our chests, filling us with love and charity for our friends, neighbors, and the entire world. The temple is a place where we learn to live as better people in this world while striving to remain spotless from the sins of the world; Elder Maxwell stated, “Temple work is not an escape from the world but a reinforcing of our need to better the world while preparing ourselves for another and far better world. Thus, being in the Lord’s house can help us to be different from the world in order to make more difference in the world” (N.A.M. Quote Book, p. 339). Inner change is not enough, we need to take that change and seek to bless others.
The Savior likened the gospel and the kingdom of heaven unto a pearl of great price, which a man sold all that he had in order to purchase (see Matt. 13: 45-46). The kingdom of heaven is something for which we need to be willing to give up everything. Hopefully, none of us view the gospel as a pearl of great pride instead of a pearl of great price. A pearl of great pride is something we hide away and don’t share; we may have worked hard to obtain it and we want the world to know that. A pearl of great price is something that we give our all for and then share it with others so they too can experience the beauty and blessings of that pearl. That’s what Elder Maxwell said about the temple – it’s not a place that removes us from the world; it’s a place that moves us to improve the world. The temple is not an exclusive club that keeps out the rabble (it’s not a pearl of pride), it’s an education center that gives us the opportunity to, as the BYU motto states, “Enter to learn, [and] go forth to serve;” the temple is a pearl of great price – something we should be willing to give our all for; it’s not just a one-time purchase but something that requires our whole lives. The price – the responsibility – of the temple is a life of willing sacrifice and service and of obedience and repentance.
The prophet Isaiah saw in vision latter-day temples and the church members who attend them: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (2 Ne. 12: 2-3).
In the last days – in our day – comes the clarion call to the temple. It is a call to learn the ways of God and to walk in the paths the Lord has marked. It is a call to one and all to visit the house of God as individuals and as families in order to receive the blessings of time and eternity. Why is the temple so important? A temple is the House of the Lord. It is the place where ordinances necessary for exaltation are performed. Temple ordinances weld generation to generation; husband to wife, mother to daughter, and sister to brother. A temple is a place of covenant – it is a house of holiness.
To be holy means to be dedicated, set-apart, or consecrated. When we are holy we consecrate all our lives and everything we have to the work of the Lord. The prophet Zechariah spoke about consecration: “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD…Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 14: 20-21). Zechariah envisioned the day when even the horses and dishes would be consecrated for the work of the Lord. Many of us do this in our lives – we drive our children and the children of others to church activities or we drive to our visiting or home teaching appointments; we also use our dishes to take food to those who are ill or in need. Those may seem like small matters, but that is the essence of consecration – it is using our means to serve and support others and further the work of the Lord.