To help class members understand that as we take the Savior’s yoke upon us and do his will, we will find the peace and joy that he has promised.
Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:
Matthew 11:28–30. Jesus invites all who labor and are heavy laden to come unto him, take his yoke upon them, and learn of him.
Luke 7:36–50. A woman seeking forgiveness washes the Lord’s feet with her tears; Simon the Pharisee criticizes Jesus for letting the sinful woman touch Him. Jesus teaches Simon the parable of the two debtors and forgives the woman.
If the following materials are available, use them during the lesson:
“Come unto Me,” a seven-minute segment from New Testament Video Presentations (53914).
The picture Mary Fielding and Joseph F. Smith Crossing the Plains (62608; Gospel Art Picture Kit 412), which shows a pair of yoked oxen.
Suggestion for teaching: As you prepare each lesson, prayerfully consider how to encourage each class member to participate. Demonstrations, small group discussions, role playing, and other appropriate activities can help class members be more actively involved. (See Teaching, No Greater Call , pages 61–72, 159–184.)
Suggested Lesson Development
As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Ask a class member to come to the front of the class and hold out his or her hands. Place some books or other heavy items in this person’s hands. Continue loading the member’s hands with objects until he or she becomes somewhat burdened. Then ask:
How far could you carry this burden before stopping to rest? What arrangements would you have to make to carry the burden a great distance?
Explain that there are many kinds of loads, or burdens. Some are physical, while others are spiritual or emotional and not as easy to see. Many unseen burdens can exceed our strength to bear them alone, and we become weary. This lesson discusses how the Lord can lighten our burdens and bring us rest.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us and learn of him.
Read and discuss Matthew 11:28–30.
What does it mean to “labour and [be] heavy laden”? (Matthew 11:28). What are some examples of burdens we bear in this life? How can the Lord “give [us] rest” from these burdens?
What is a yoke? (Display the picture of Mary Fielding and Joseph F. Smith and point out the yoked oxen in the picture. Explain that a yoke is a frame or bar that can be placed on one or two people or animals pulling or carrying a heavy load. The yoke balances the burden and makes it easier to manage. In addition to its literal meaning, the concept of a yoke also appears in many scriptures as a metaphor for bondage or servitude; see Jeremiah 28:2; Alma 44:2.) What does it mean to take Christ’s yoke upon us? (To humbly do his will and allow him to guide and direct our lives.)
If you are using the video presentation “Come unto Me,” show the first part of it now. Stop the video when President Howard W. Hunter has finished speaking.
The Lord states, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). In what sense is the Savior’s yoke easy? Why do some people think that the Lord’s teachings are too restrictive? How does obeying and serving the Lord make our burdens light?
2. Jesus declares that he is Lord of the Sabbath.
What did the Pharisees do when they saw Jesus’ disciples pick corn on the Sabbath? (See Matthew 12:1–2. Explain that the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Mosaic law ignored the true spirit and purpose of the Sabbath and instead focused on traditions that greatly restricted Sabbath activities.) What did the Lord teach as he responded to their accusation? (See Matthew 12:3–8.)
What did Jesus mean when he said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice”? (Matthew 12:7. He wanted the people to focus on loving others, not merely on performing public religious ceremonies.) How can we use this principle to guide our Sabbath activities?
What did Jesus teach about the purpose of the Sabbath when he healed the man with the withered hand and the woman bound by an infirmity? (See Matthew 12:10–13; Luke 13:10–17.) What did he teach about the Sabbath in Mark 2:27–28? (Point out that the Joseph Smith Translation of Mark 2:26 explains that the Sabbath was given as a “day of rest” and a day to “glorify God.”) What can we do on the Sabbath day to glorify God? How can keeping the Sabbath day holy make our burdens light and bring us rest?
3. Jesus forgives a woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee.
If you are using the video presentation “Come unto Me,“ show the remainder of it now. Then read and discuss selected verses from Luke 7:36–50.
The woman who entered the house of Simon the Pharisee carried the burden of sin (Luke 7:37). What did the woman do that allowed Jesus to take away her burden? (See Luke 7:38, 44–50.) What can we do so the Savior will remove the burden of sin from our lives?
How did the sinful woman and Simon the Pharisee differ in their attitudes toward Jesus? (Contrast the woman’s repentance, respect, humility, and love with Simon’s pride, lack of courtesy, and judgmental attitude. See also the quotation below.) Why are the qualities that the woman possessed important as we repent and seek forgiveness? How do the qualities that Simon possessed keep us from repenting?
Elder James E. Talmage taught: “It was a custom of the times to treat a distinguished guest with marked attention; to receive him with a kiss of welcome, to provide water for washing the dust from his feet, and oil for anointing the hair of the head and the beard. All these courteous attentions were omitted by Simon” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 261).
How would Simon’s attitude toward the woman have made her burden seem heavier? How might we sometimes make another person’s burden of sin seem heavier? What can we learn from the Savior’s response to the woman?
Even though she had not been invited and would risk being treated unkindly by Simon and his household, the woman came directly to Christ as soon as she knew where to find him (Luke 7:37). What can we learn from her example? What obstacles might keep us from repenting and coming unto Christ? How can we overcome these obstacles?
Testify that we can choose to take upon ourselves the burdens of the world or the yoke of Jesus. Testify that Christ’s teachings are true and that we will find rest when we follow him. Encourage class members to learn of Christ and obey his teachings so they can find rest and peace.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. The importance of unity
Read and discuss Matthew 12:22–30.
How are we sometimes divided against ourselves in our families, homes, or wards? What can we do to become more united?
Jesus told the Pharisees, “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Why is this so?
2. “Every idle word” (Matthew 12:36)
Read and discuss Matthew 12:33–37.
What do the words we speak reveal about us? Why did Jesus place such importance on the words we speak? What are some examples of “idle words”? (Answers may include sarcasm, gossip, lies, profanity, rudeness.) How can we strengthen our commitment to speak only in good ways?
3. Youth activity
Prepare for each class member a piece of paper with the following puzzle on it. After you have read and discussed the assigned reading, distribute copies of the puzzle. Ask class members to look for words related to the lesson that are hidden in the puzzle. Words may appear vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. If class members need help after a few minutes, have them reread the verses that contain the hidden words (Matthew 11:28–30: burden, heavy laden, yoke; Matthew 12:1–13: Sabbath, heal; Luke 7:36–50: parable, debtor, forgiven).