After hearing his father Lehi’s account of his vision, Nephi desired to see, hear, and know for himself the things Lehi had seen and heard (see 1 Nephi 10:17). While he was pondering his father’s teachings, Nephi was “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 11:1) and received his own vision. This vision is recounted in 1 Nephi 11–14. In 1 Nephi 11 we read of the tree of life, the rod of iron, and the great and spacious building, as well as the Savior’s birth, baptism, ministry, and crucifixion.
Ask students to consider the following situation: Three young men attend the same Church meeting. After returning home, one young man feels that the meeting was boring and a waste of his time. Another thinks the meeting was nice but is unaffected by it. The third returns home uplifted by the Holy Ghost and receives inspiration and direction for his life, even beyond what was taught in the meeting.
How is it possible that the three young men could attend the same meeting but have such different experiences?
Explain that this situation is similar to the experience of Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi when they heard their father’s prophecies and the account of his vision. Laman and Lemuel did not understand their father’s words and disputed about what they heard (see 1 Nephi 15:2). Nephi, on the other hand, turned to the Lord for understanding. He provided an excellent example of how to seek and receive revelation.
Invite students to look for a principle as they study Nephi’s experience recorded in 1 Nephi 10–11 that will help them seek and receive revelation for themselves.
Briefly summarize 1 Nephi 10:1–16 by telling students that after relating his vision of the tree of life, Lehi also gave a series of prophecies. These included details of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 10:4), His baptism by John the Baptist (see 1 Nephi 10:7–10), His Crucifixion and Resurrection (see 1 Nephi 10:11), and the impending scattering and gathering of Israel (see 1 Nephi 10:12–14).
Divide students into pairs. Invite them to read 1 Nephi 10:17–19 aloud together and look for what Nephi desired to see, hear, and know.
What did Nephi desire to see, hear, and know? (The things that his father had seen by the power of the Holy Ghost.)
What principle can we learn from verse 19 about how we can learn truth by the power of the Holy Ghost? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a principle similar to the following: If we diligently seek truth, then God will reveal it to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. Write this principle on the board, and invite students to consider marking phrases in verse 19 that teach this principle.)
To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read 1 Nephi 11:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi did to diligently seek truth.
What did Nephi do to diligently seek truth? (You might want to invite students to consider marking the words desired, believing, and pondering.)
How do our desires affect our ability to receive revelation?
How might believing that God can reveal truth to us influence our ability to receive revelation?
How can pondering help us receive revelation?
Invite students to think of a time when diligently seeking truth has led them to receive revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. (It might be helpful to mention that revelation can include receiving guidance when making a decision, gaining increased understanding, receiving comfort, or receiving an assurance that something is true.) Invite a few students to share their experiences with the rest of the class. You may also want to share an experience about a time when you were blessed to receive revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost as you diligently sought truth.
Invite students to consider what they will do to diligently seek truth so they can receive revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Invite students to read 1 Nephi 11:2–6 aloud with their partner from earlier in the lesson and look for questions the Spirit asked Nephi while the Spirit and Nephi were on the mountain.
What questions did the Spirit ask Nephi?
What did the Spirit promise Nephi? (See verse 6.)
Summarize 1 Nephi 11:7–15 by explaining that Nephi was shown the tree of life. He described it as “the tree which is precious above all” (verse 9) and asked to know what it meant. Nephi was then shown a vision of an “exceedingly fair” virgin in the city of Nazareth (verse 13), after which an angel appeared to him.
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 11:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the angel asked Nephi and how Nephi responded.
What did the angel ask? (Write the word condescension on the board.)
What did Nephi know?
What didn’t he know?
Explain that the word condescension means the voluntary descent from a position of rank or dignity. (You may want to invite students to consider writing this explanation in their scriptures next to 1 Nephi 11:16.) The angel showed Nephi several examples of the condescension of God.
Write the following scripture references on the board. Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group to study one of the scripture references and to prepare to report what Nephi saw.
After sufficient time, invite a student who studied 1 Nephi 11:18–23 to report what Nephi saw. Show the picture The Birth of Jesus (Gospel Art Book , no. 30; see also lds.org/media-library). Explain to students that the condescension of God refers to both God the Father and Jesus Christ.
To help students understand how these verses teach about the condescension of God the Father, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The condescension of God lies in the fact that he, an exalted Being, steps down from his eternal throne to become the Father of a mortal Son” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah , 1:314).
Invite students to consider marking phrases in verses 18–23 that indicate that God is the Father of Jesus Christ.
Remind students that the phrase “the condescension of God” (verse 16) also refers to the condescension of Jesus Christ. To help students understand the condescension of Jesus Christ, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Gerald N. Lund, who served as a member of the Seventy:
“Here was Jesus—a member of the Godhead, the Firstborn of the Father, the Creator, Jehovah of the Old Testament—now leaving His divine and holy station; divesting Himself of all that glory and majesty and entering the body of a tiny infant; helpless, completely dependent on His mother and earthly father. That He should not come to the finest of earthly palaces and be … showered with jewels but should come to a lowly stable is astonishing. Little wonder that the angel should say to Nephi, ‘Behold the condescension of God!’ (1 Ne. 11:26.)” (Gerald N. Lund, Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation , 16).
Explain that in addition to His lowly birth, the Savior demonstrated His condescension during His mortal ministry. Invite the students who studied the two remaining scripture passages on the board to report what Nephi saw. After students report, consider asking the following questions:
What did Nephi learn about how the Savior would spend His time in mortality?
How do the Savior’s actions show His condescension?
Invite students to read 1 Nephi 11:32–33 silently, looking for what these verses teach about the condescension of Jesus Christ.
What do verses 32–33 teach about the condescension of Jesus Christ?
Show the picture The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Book, no. 57; see also lds.org/media-library).
In what ways might the Savior’s suffering and Crucifixion provide the ultimate example of His condescension?
What does the Savior’s willingness to condescend to suffer and die for us demonstrate about His feelings for us? (Help students identify the following truth: The condescension of Jesus Christ demonstrates His love for us. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)
Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to answer them in their class notebooks or study journals:
After sufficient time, invite students to consider sharing with the class what they wrote.
Summarize 1 Nephi 11:34–36 by explaining that Nephi was shown the destruction of those who fight against the Apostles of the Lord.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths discussed in this lesson.