In “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Church leaders declared: “We offer our testimony of the reality of [the Savior’s] matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth” (Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). This lesson will show that the Savior is matchless because, among other reasons, He is sinless and perfectly submissive to Heavenly Father. By studying His interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, students will also see the profound influence He can have on any who open their hearts to Him.
Begin class by writing on the board my will and God’s will. Invite a student to read John 6:38 aloud, and ask students to follow along, looking for how many “my will” decisions Jesus made. Invite students to silently consider how many decisions they have made recently that could be categorized as “my will” and how many could be categorized as “God’s will.”
Tell students that following His baptism, Jesus was tempted by Satan to do things that could be categorized as “my will.” Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 4:1–11. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus Christ overcame temptation. (Consider pointing out to students that the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 4:1–11 clarifies that it was the Spirit, not Satan, who took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple [see verse 5] and then to a high mountain [see verse 8]. After the Spirit took Jesus to these places, the devil came to tempt Him.)
What did you notice about how the Savior responded to Satan’s temptations?
What do you learn from the Savior’s example in these verses?
How are temptations the Savior faced similar to ones we face in our lives?
Display and read the following statement by President David O. McKay (1873–1970), who commented on the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness:
“Nearly every temptation that comes to you and me comes in one of those forms. Classify them, and you will find that under one of those three nearly every given temptation that makes you and me spotted, ever so little may be, comes to us as (1) a temptation of the appetite; (2) a yielding to the pride and fashion and vanity of those alienated from the things of God; or (3) a gratifying of the passion, or a desire for the riches of the world, or power among men” (“Unspotted from the World,” Ensign, Aug. 2009, 27).
Invite a student to read Hebrews 2:17–18; 4:15–16 aloud. Ask another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and note any similarities between the two passages. Then ask the following questions:
Why was it necessary for Jesus to experience temptations?
Why is it important for us to understand that Jesus Christ experienced the same kind of temptations we face today?
Tell students that one of the objectives of today’s lesson is to illustrate the Savior’s matchless life. Ask the class how the scripture passages studied so far in the lesson illustrate one aspect of the Savior’s matchless life. (Students should identify the following principle: Jesus Christ lived a matchless life because He never gave in to temptation and sinned.)
Display the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95), and ask a student to read it aloud:
“It is important to remember that Jesus was capable of sinning, that he could have succumbed, that the plan of life and salvation could have been foiled, but that he remained true. Had there been no possibility of his yielding to the enticement of Satan, there would have been no real test, no genuine victory in the result. … He was perfect and sinless, not because he had to be, but rather because he clearly and determinedly wanted to be” (“The Temptations of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 19).
Invite students to read Luke 22:42, 44 and 3 Nephi 11:11 silently, looking for an attribute of Jesus Christ that is another example of His matchless life. (Students should identify the Savior’s submissiveness to the will of the Father.)
Display the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), and invite a student to read it aloud:
“He suffered the pains of all men in Gethsemane so they would not have to suffer if they would repent.
“He submitted Himself to humiliation and insults from His enemies without complaint or retaliation.
“And, finally, He endured the flogging and brutal shame of the cross. Only then did He voluntarily submit to death. …
“He was perfectly obedient to our Heavenly Father” (“Jesus Christ: Our Savior and Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 7, 8).
Follow up by asking the following questions:
In Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, why was it necessary for Jesus to be perfectly sinless and perfectly submissive to Heavenly Father’s will? (Students may give a variety of answers, but they should identify the following truth: The plan of salvation required Jesus to be perfectly obedient in order to perform the Atonement.)
How does it influence your faith in Jesus Christ to know He was perfectly sinless and obedient to Heavenly Father’s will? (As students respond, emphasize that we can gain strength to overcome temptation and to be obedient as we follow Jesus Christ’s example of seeking to do the Father’s will instead of our own.)
Write on the board or display the following sentence from “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2):
Invite students to ponder this statement by asking the following question:
Which of Jesus Christ’s characteristics enabled Him to have such an influence on all who have lived and will yet live?
Tell students that one of the individuals Jesus profoundly influenced during His mortal ministry was a Samaritan woman. Help students use the study aids in their scriptures to find information about Samaritans (see Bible Dictionary, “Samaritans”; Guide to the Scriptures, “Samaritans”; scriptures.lds.org). Summarize John 4:1–8, and then ask a student to read John 4:9 aloud. Point out how the woman’s response to Jesus reveals some of the animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans at that time. Then ask students to read John 4:10–15 silently. After sufficient time, ask the following questions:
How would you characterize the interaction between Jesus and the woman?
What was Jesus offering her?
Ask a student to read John 4:16–19 aloud while the class follows along and visualizes what it might have been like to be the woman in this conversation. (Note: Visualizing can help make a scripture account more vivid and real.) Then ask the following questions:
What thoughts might you have had if you were the Samaritan woman? Why?
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 4:20–29. Ask the class to identify the titles for the Savior in verse 25 and verse 29. Then ask students to ponder briefly before answering the following question:
What did the Savior do over this short period of time to change the woman’s perception of Him from being “a Jew” (verse 9) to being “the Christ” (verse 29)? (Invite students to share what they observed in these passages. Answers may include the following: He showed her respect, He taught her doctrine, He taught her in such a way that the Holy Ghost would bear witness to her, He revealed private things about her, and He focused His attention on her.)
What does the account of the Savior and the Samaritan woman teach about how the Savior feels about you and the influence He can have on you?
How have you seen the Savior influence your life or the life of someone you know? What effect did the Savior’s influence have?
What will you commit to do to better recognize the Savior’s influence in your life and allow His influence to change you?
Testify that as we turn our lives over to the Savior, He will have a profound influence on us. The greatest influence of the Savior occurs as we invite the power of His atoning sacrifice to cleanse us, lift us, and transform us. Encourage students to ponder what they can do to show gratitude to the Savior for His influence in their lives. Invite them to act upon what they feel.