Jesus Christ declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). “[Jesus’s] way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 3). This lesson emphasizes Jesus Christ’s invitation to all to follow Him and to be His disciples. This lesson also examines what it means to walk the path of discipleship.
Invite a student to briefly share about a time when he or she was traveling to a destination and mistakenly made a wrong turn or went the wrong way. Then invite students to read John 14:6 and state in their own words the doctrine Jesus taught in this verse. (Students may use different words, but they should understand that the only way we can return to live with Heavenly Father is by following Jesus Christ.)
Tell students that after Jesus Christ was baptized and then tempted in the wilderness, He invited others to follow Him. Those who followed the Savior then and now are called disciples. Invite students to identify in John 1:35–47 the names of some of the Savior’s earliest disciples and what prompted them to follow Him.
Display the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“The word for disciple and the word for discipline both come from the same Latin root—discipulus, which means pupil. It emphasizes practice or exercise. Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Jesus. …
“What is discipleship? It is primarily obedience to the Savior” (“Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 20).
What does this definition of discipleship imply about what the lives of the early disciples of Jesus Christ may have been like?
What do these passages teach about the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Jesus Christ invites all people to come unto Him and to be His disciples.)
According to Alma, what did the Savior promise those who accept the invitation to come unto Him?
What do these promises mean to you?
Divide students into pairs. Invite them to study Matthew 4:18–22 and Luke 5:11 and identify the sacrifices some of Jesus Christ’s earliest disciples made in order to accept the call to follow Him. Discuss the following questions:
How would you describe the response of these early disciples to the Savior’s command to follow Him? (Discuss the meaning of words and phrases such as “straightway left their nets,” “immediately,” and “forsook.”)
What important truths do these passages add to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires obedience and sacrifice.)
Provide students with a copy of the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:
“Nets are generally defined as devices for capturing something. In a … more important sense, we might define a net as anything that entices or prevents us from following the call of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
“Nets in this context can be our work, our hobbies, our pleasures, and, above all else, our temptations and sins. In short, a net can be anything that pulls us away from our relationship with our Heavenly Father or from His restored Church. …
“It is impossible to list the many nets that can ensnare us and keep us from following the Savior. But if we are sincere in our desire to follow Him, we must straightway leave the world’s entangling nets and follow Him.
“… Our lives are so easily filled with appointments, meetings, and tasks. It is so easy to get caught in a multitude of nets that sometimes even a suggestion of breaking free of them can be threatening and even frightening to us.
“Sometimes we feel that the busier we are, the more important we are—as though our busyness defines our worth. Brothers and sisters, we can spend a lifetime whirling about at a feverish pace, checking off list after list of things that in the end really don’t matter.
“That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance—that is essential” (“Follow Me,” Ensign, May 2002, 15–16).
If the fish, nets, and boats the fishermen left behind represent their temporal concerns, what things might the Savior require you to set aside in order to follow Him?
Why are temporal concerns sometimes hard to leave behind?
How can an individual recognize if he or she is caught up in the type of entangling nets Elder Wirthlin spoke of?
Invite students to share about a time in their lives when they responded to the Savior’s call to follow Him (perhaps by leaving old ways behind or by accepting a calling in the Church). Then ask:
How did responding to this call bless your life?
Display the following scripture references and questions, or write them on the board:
Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group to study one of the passages and the corresponding question. After sufficient time, invite students to share how the passage they read answers their question. After all three passages have been discussed, ask:
What requirement of discipleship is illustrated by the Savior’s analogies? (As students discuss this question, help them understand the following truth: Discipleship requires our sustained willingness to forsake all and follow Jesus Christ.)
Explain that while discipleship implies that we steadily deepen our devotion to and commitment to follow the Savior, He does not demand that we run faster than we have strength (see Mosiah 4:27).
Give each student a copy of the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“The first step on the path of discipleship begins, luckily enough, in the exact place where we stand! We do not have to prequalify to take that first step. It doesn’t matter if we are rich or poor. There is no requirement to be educated, eloquent, or intellectual. We do not have to be perfect or well-spoken or even well-mannered.
“You and I can walk in the path of discipleship today. Let us be humble; let us pray to our Father in Heaven with all our heart and express our desire to draw close to Him and learn of Him.
“Have faith. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened [see Matthew 7:7]. Serve the Lord by serving others. Become an active participant in your ward or branch. Strengthen your family by committing to live the principles of the gospel. Be of one heart and of one mind in your marriage and in your family.
“Now is the time to adjust your lives to be able to have a temple recommend and use it. Now is the time to have meaningful family home evenings, to read the word of God, and to speak to our Heavenly Father in earnest prayer. Now is the time to fill our hearts with gratitude for the Restoration of His Church, for living prophets, the Book of Mormon, and the priesthood power that blesses our lives. Now is the time to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, become His disciples, and walk in His way” (“The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 77).
Where did President Uchtdorf say the path of discipleship begins?
According to President Uchtdorf, when is the time to begin walking the path of discipleship?
Write the following on the board:
Invite students to ponder how they might complete this sentence with one way they will act on being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Encourage them to act immediately on whatever came to mind, because that thought was likely a prompting from the Holy Ghost. Testify that as they take this first step, the Lord will help them be His disciples.