As the Savior taught the people of Nephi, He identified Himself as “the law, and the light” (3 Nephi 15:9) and as the “shepherd” of His people (see 3 Nephi 15:17, 21; 16:3). These titles can enhance our understanding of the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites. He had always been “the law” and “the light,” but the Israelites had been unwilling to abide by the fulness of His law and were therefore required to live by a lower law until they were ready to come unto “the true light that lighteth every man” (D&C 93:2). In the Americas, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, taught some of His “other sheep” (3 Nephi 15:17) and encouraged them to follow Him, the source of true light.
This scripture block ends with a moving spiritual experience shared by the Nephites at Bountiful. This is a wonderful place to bear testimony of Jesus Christ’s love for us. You can encourage students to ponder and pray, just as the Savior commanded the Nephites to do so, to help them prepare for greater understanding of the Savior and His teachings. To reinforce the teaching suggestions for 3 Nephi 17, consider using “My Joy Is Full,” a four-minute video presentation on Book of Mormon DVD Presentations (item number 54011).
Some Doctrines and Principles
Pondering and praying help us understand Jesus Christ’s words (see 3 Nephi 17:1–4).
The Savior has compassion and mercy for His people (see 3 Nephi 17:5–25).
Suggestions for Teaching
3 Nephi 15:1–10. Jesus Christ Gave and Fulfilled the Law of Moses
Present the following situation to the students: Imagine that you live in a society where the laws are very particular about how people should act. The day arrives when the people are asked to live by a new law that focuses less on the specific things people do and more on the intent of people’s actions and personal accountability.
How might this law influence the way people act?
What would determine your success or failure in living the new law?
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:24–25.
What law did the people know would be fulfilled someday?
Ask a student to read 3 Nephi 15:1–10.
As you read these verses, what did you see about the Savior’s authority over the law of Moses? (List students’ answers on the board.)
What do you think Jesus Christ meant when He said He was “the law” and “the light”?
The Savior said, “Look unto me” (3 Nephi 15:9). What does this mean to you? In what ways does our love for the Lord influence how we look unto Him and follow Him?
3 Nephi 15:11–24; 16:1–6. The Savior Said That “Other Sheep” Would Hear His Voice
Display a globe or a map of the world. (If students have new printings of the triple combination, they may have a map of the world toward the end of the book in the portion titled Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs.) Have students identify where the Lord’s sheep of the New Testament were located. (The Holy Land, located in the Middle East.) Invite a student to read John 10:11–16. Then have students cross-reference those verses with 3 Nephi 15:16–20. Ask them to identify the general location of the “other sheep” whom Jesus Christ spoke of in John 10. (Be careful to avoid any speculation about a specific area.)
How much did the Jews know about the Lord’s “other sheep”?
Why didn’t Jesus give the Jews information about His “other sheep”? (See 3 Nephi 15:18–20.)
Who are the Gentiles the Savior refers to in 3 Nephi 15:22–23?
“As used in the scriptures, Gentiles has several meanings. Sometimes it designates people of non-Israelite lineage, sometimes people of non-Jewish lineage, and sometimes nations that are without the gospel, even though there may be some Israelite blood among the people. This latter usage is especially characteristic of the word as used in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Gentiles,” scriptures.lds.org).
Read 3 Nephi 16:1–3 with students. Ask them if they have any ideas of who those “other sheep” were.
“Did not Jesus visit them [other tribes of Israel] after he ministered among the Nephites? Answer: Of course he did, in one or many places as suited his purposes. He assembled them together then in exactly the same way he gathered the Nephites in the land Bountiful so that they too could hear his voice and feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet. Of this there can be no question” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man , 216; italics in original).
3 Nephi 16:8–20. The Savior Gave a Warning to People in the Latter Days
Write the following questions on the board:
What would lead both the Gentiles and the children of Israel to affliction?
What will happen to the unrepentant in the last days?
What blessings come to those who are repentant?
Divide the class into groups of two. Have each person review 3 Nephi 16:8–20, with one person looking for warnings and promises to the Gentiles and the other person looking for warnings and promises to the children of Israel. Also ask them to work together to answer the questions on the board. After sufficient time, have students share with the class what they have discovered.
3 Nephi 17:1–4. Pondering and Praying Help Us Understand Jesus Christ’s Words
Invite students to examine 3 Nephi 17:1–3. Suggest that they mark words that describe how we can gain an understanding of the Lord’s words. Ask them to share their answers.
In what ways might these verses apply to someone attending an institute class? a sacrament meeting? the temple? In what ways might it apply to personal scripture study?
Why is pondering needed for deeper understanding of the gospel?
3 Nephi 17:5–25. The Savior Has Compassion and Mercy for His People
Have a student read 3 Nephi 17:5–15. Ask students to identify characteristics demonstrated by the Lord in His interactions with the people. List their answers on the board. Answers may include the following:
“That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ” (
Invite a student to read verses 16–25 as the other students quietly contemplate the sacred events described therein. Have the students imagine what it would have been like to be present during the Savior’s visit. Then consider using some or all of the following questions to guide a discussion:
How do you think you would have felt as a witness of these events?
What influence would this likely have had on you?
What part of the experience would have been the most impressive to you? Why?
To emphasize the Savior’s love for little children, ask students to read Matthew 19:13–14.
What can we learn from the Savior’s actions toward little children?
Invite students to share their thoughts or feelings about this account.
“One of the greatest expressions of love for children that I have seen occurred when I was serving as a stake president in Chile. President Spencer W. Kimball visited Chile for an area conference. Members of the Church from four countries met together in a stadium that held about fifteen thousand people. We asked President Kimball what he would like to do after the conference. His eyes full of tears, he said, ‘I would like to see the children.’ One of the priesthood leaders announced over the microphone that President Kimball would like to shake the hands or bless each of the children in the stadium. The people were astounded—there was a great silence. President Kimball greeted about two thousand children one by one, crying as he shook their hands or kissed them or put his hands on their heads and blessed them. The children were very reverent and looked at him and cried too. He said he’d never felt this kind of spirit in his life. It was a tremendous moment in the lives of all the Church members there” (in Janet Peterson and Eduardo Ayala, “Friend to Friend,” Friend, Mar. 1996, 6–7).