As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Display a branch from a tree. Point out that it is no longer receiving the nourishment it needs to stay alive.
Share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“[The Atonement of Jesus Christ] is the very root of
Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 80; or Ensign, May 1977, 56).
Contrast the dead branch with a strong, healthy tree. Emphasize that the Atonement of Jesus Christ brings us life and gives meaning to all other gospel doctrines. We should remember the Atonement as we study other principles throughout the rest of this course.
Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs.
1. The Doctrine and Covenants testifies of Jesus Christ.
Emphasize that one purpose of all scripture is to testify of Jesus Christ and to persuade people to come to Him and partake of salvation. The
Bible, the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, and the Book of Mormon are ancient testaments, or witnesses, of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine and Covenants is a testament of Jesus Christ given in this dispensation. This book of scripture bears witness that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, and that He continues to speak to prophets and guide His people today.
Ask class members to turn to the Explanatory Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants. Have them read the last sentence in the eighth paragraph (this sentence begins with the phrase “Finally, the testimony that is given”).
Point out that the Doctrine and Covenants contains powerful testimonies of the Savior and His work. Most of these are from the Savior Himself. Have class members read the following passages as examples:
D&C 50:41–44 and D&C 76:22–24.
Explain that this lesson discusses teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants about the Savior.
2. Jesus Christ “suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”
Display the pictures of Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross. Explain that the Doctrine and Covenants contains many revelations that can increase our understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. These revelations give us a sense of the depth of the Savior’s suffering and the magnitude of the love that He and Heavenly Father have for us.
The Savior describes His atoning sacrifice
D&C 19:16–19 with class members. Explain that this is the only scripture passage in which the Savior describes His own suffering during His atoning sacrifice. What does this passage teach about the Savior’s suffering for us? Why was Jesus willing to experience such great suffering for us? (See D&C 18:10–11; 19:19, 24; 34:3.)
Through the Atonement, we will all be resurrected
Through the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins and inherit celestial glory
Through the Atonement, the Savior gained perfect empathy for us in all our sorrows, pains, and afflictions
Explain that during His life and culminating in the Atonement, the Savior suffered in a way that gave Him a perfect understanding of all our pains and afflictions.
Have class members turn to
D&C 122. This section is a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith while he was a prisoner in the jail at Liberty, Missouri. Point out that in the first seven verses the Lord speaks of the Prophet Joseph’s trials. Then in verse 8 the Lord speaks of Himself.
D&C 122:8 with class members. In what way has the Savior “descended below” all things? (See Alma 7:11–12; D&C 62:1; 133:53. Note that the word succor means to help. Because the Savior has experienced all our sorrows, pains, and afflictions, He understands how we feel. He knows how to help us.) How can this knowledge help us when we experience trials?
Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “When … difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11–12)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).
When have you felt the power of the Atonement in your life? What can we do to feel this power more completely?
How can we show the Savior our
gratitude for His Atonement? How should our understanding of the Atonement affect us in our daily lives?
3. The Doctrine and Covenants helps us understand the Savior’s roles and attributes.
Explain that to be able to exercise faith in God, we must have “a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes” (in Joseph Smith, comp.,
Lectures on Faith , 38). The Doctrine and Covenants helps us gain this understanding.
What attributes of the Savior do you see in the passages we have read today? (Write class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Answers could include charity, obedience, humility, and submissiveness.)
Select some of the following scripture passages to read with class members. Discuss what each passage teaches about the Savior’s roles and attributes. Summarize the information on the chalkboard.
D&C 6:20–21. (If we are faithful and diligent, the Savior will encircle us in the arms of His love. He is the light that shines in darkness.)
D&C 6:32–37. (He offers us protection and comfort and is ready to bless us when we remember Him and obey His commandments.)
D&C 19:1–3. (Having done the will of the Father, He has subdued all things and retained all power. He will destroy Satan and his works. He will judge all people according to their deeds.)
D&C 29:1–2. (His arm of mercy has atoned for our sins. If we hearken to His voice and humble ourselves, He will gather us as a hen gathers her chickens.)
D&C 38:1–3. (He is the Creator of the world, and He knows all things.)
D&C 43:34. (He is the Savior of the world.)
D&C 45:3–5. (He is our Advocate with the Father.)
D&C 50:44. (He is the Good Shepherd and the Stone of Israel, a sure foundation upon which we can build.)
D&C 76:5. (He is merciful and gracious to those who fear Him, and He delights to honor those who serve Him in righteousness and truth to the end.)
D&C 93:5–19. (He is the Only Begotten of the Father. He “continued from grace to grace” until He received a fulness of the glory and power of the Father.)
D&C 133:42–52. (When He comes in power at the time of His Second Coming, those whom He has redeemed will mention His loving-kindness and goodness.)
D&C 136:22. (His arm is stretched out to save His people.)
As prompted by the Spirit, testify of Jesus Christ. Emphasize that because of His Atonement, we all will be resurrected. Through His Atonement, He extends to us the invitation to repent and come unto Him, receiving “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (
D&C 59:23). Encourage class members to partake of all the blessings of the Atonement by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, obeying the commandments, and enduring to the end.
Suggest that as class members study the Doctrine and Covenants this year, they continue to look for what it teaches about Jesus Christ. He is the central figure in the book. The powerful witnesses and truths that are given in these revelations can enrich each person’s testimony of Him.