Lesson 44: Luke 2

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Shepherds obeyed an angel’s instruction to seek out the newborn Jesus, and then they proclaimed Jesus’s birth to others. Simeon blessed Jesus at the temple, and Anna shared her witness that the Redeemer had been born. Jesus grew “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Suggestions for Teaching

Luke 2:1–20

Jesus is born in Bethlehem

Consider having the class sing “Joy to the World” (Hymns, no. 201) or another Christmas hymn as part of the devotional.

Joseph and Mary Travel to Bethlehem

Display the picture Joseph and Mary Travel to Bethlehem (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 29; see also LDS.org). Ask students to consider how much they know about the events surrounding the Savior’s birth.

handout iconTo prepare students to study Luke 2:1–20, invite them to take the following true-or-false quiz. (Before class, prepare a copy of the quiz for each student.)

True–False Quiz (Luke 2:1–20)

  • ____ 1. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to pay taxes.

  • ____ 2. Mary and Joseph had to travel 27 miles (44 kilometers) from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

  • ____ 3. Mary laid the infant Jesus in a manger because the inn was full.

  • ____ 4. The shepherds followed the star to the manger where Jesus lay.

  • ____ 5. Besides Mary and Joseph, the first people on record to have seen Jesus were the shepherds.

  • ____ 6. The angel told the shepherds not to tell anyone what they had seen.

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Invite students to look for the answers to the quiz as they study Luke 2.

Invite a student to read Luke 2:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem.

  • Why did Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem? (Point out that Luke 2:1, footnote b clarifies that Caesar wanted to register, or count, the people. This was done for taxation purposes.)

Invite students to turn to Bible Maps, no. 11, “The Holy Land in New Testament Times,” located in the Bible appendix. Ask students to find Nazareth and Bethlehem on the map and, using the key, calculate approximately how far Joseph and Mary traveled. After students respond, explain that the distance of 85–90 miles (137–145 kilometers) between Nazareth and Bethlehem would have taken at least four to five days to walk, and perhaps longer for Joseph and Mary given Mary’s condition.

Ask students to ponder what they think would be the appropriate circumstances for the birth of the Creator and Savior of the world.

Invite a student to read Luke 2:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the circumstances of Jesus’s birth.

  • Despite Jesus’s uniquely important status as the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, what were the circumstances of His birth?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Luke 2:8–14. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior’s birth was announced. Invite students to report what they find. Display the picture The Angel Appears to the Shepherds (Gospel Art Book, no. 31; see also LDS.org).

The Angel Appears to Shepherds
  • According to verse 10, what can we experience because the Savior was born? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Because the Savior was born on the earth, we can experience great joy.)

As students continue to study Luke 2, invite them to look for examples of how knowledge of the Savior’s birth brought joy to others.

Invite a student to read Luke 2:15–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the shepherds responded to the angel’s message.

  • What phrases indicate how the shepherds responded to the angel’s message? (You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases “let us now go” in verse 15 and “they came with haste” in verse 16.)

  • What did the shepherds receive a witness, or testimony, of because they heeded this message?

  • What did the shepherds do after they received their witness of Jesus Christ?

  • Why do you think the shepherds shared with others what they had experienced?

  • What principle can we learn from this account about what happens when we receive our own testimony of Jesus Christ? (Using their own words, students should identify a principle similar to the following: When we receive our own testimony of Jesus Christ, we desire to share our testimony with others.)

Invite students to think about a time when they felt a desire to share their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His gospel with others. Encourage them to ponder what motivated that desire. Invite a few students to share with the class their experiences.

Luke 2:21–39

Simeon and Anna declare Jesus to be the Savior of the world

Summarize Luke 2:21–24 by explaining that after Jesus’s birth, Mary and Joseph presented Him at the temple in accordance with Jewish law (see Exodus 13:2). Two individuals at the temple that day recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah. Invite the young men in the class to silently read the account of Simeon in Luke 2:25–32. (You may need to explain that the phrase “waiting for the consolation of Israel” in verse 25 refers to waiting for the Messiah to come.) Invite the young women to silently read the account of Anna in Luke 2:36–38 (and if necessary, explain that “fourscore” in verse 37 means 80). As students read their assigned verses, invite them to look for answers to the following questions:

  • How did knowledge of the Savior’s birth bring joy to this person?

  • In what way did he or she testify of Jesus Christ?

Simeon Reverencing the Christ Child

After sufficient time, invite a young man to stand, summarize the account he read, and report his answers to the preceding questions. Display the picture Simeon Reverencing the Christ Child (Gospel Art Book, no. 32; see also LDS.org).

Summarize Luke 2:33–35 by explaining that Simeon also blessed Mary and Joseph.

Invite a young woman to stand, summarize the account she read, and report her answers to the preceding questions.

Invite students to explain how knowing that the Savior was born can bring us joy. Invite those who feel comfortable doing so to share their testimonies of Jesus Christ with the class.

Summarize Luke 2:39 by explaining that following these events, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus returned to Nazareth.

Luke 2:40–52

Young Jesus teaches in the temple

Invite students to write down in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one area they would like to improve in. Invite a few students who feel comfortable doing so to share with the class what they wrote. (Remind students not to share anything too personal or private.)

  • How could knowing what Jesus was like when He was young help you as a youth?

Explain that we have few details about Jesus’s youth, but those that are recorded can be a great blessing and guide to us as we seek to improve ourselves. As students study the remainder of Luke 2, invite them to look for truths that can help us know what areas we should focus on as we to try to improve ourselves.

Jesus Praying with His Mother

Display the picture Jesus Praying with His Mother (Gospel Art Book, no. 33; see also LDS.org). Invite a student to read Luke 2:40 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Luke described Jesus’s childhood. Explain that waxed means grew or increased. Invite students to report what they find.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Luke 2:41–47. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus did when He was 12 years old.

  • Why had Jesus stayed behind at the temple? (Invite students to read the excerpt of Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46 that is found in Luke 2:46, footnote c, looking for how the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies what Jesus was doing at the temple and how this clarification better fits the description of the event in Luke 2:47.)

Invite a student to read Luke 2:48–50 aloud. Ask students to follow along and look for what Jesus said to Mary and Joseph when they found Him.

video iconInstead of asking a student to read Luke 2:48–50, you may want to show “Young Jesus Teaches in the Temple” (2:30) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, which is available on LDS.org.

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  • What did Jesus say to Mary and Joseph when they found Him?

  • What does this account reveal about Jesus’s knowledge of His true identity and about His character in His youth?

Invite a student to read Luke 2:51–52 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for ways in which Jesus grew.

  • What does it mean to “[increase] in wisdom”? (Develop wisdom.) To increase in “stature”? (Develop physically.) To increase in “favour with God”? (Develop spiritually.) To increase in “favour with … man”? (Develop socially.)

  • Based on verse 52, how would you state a principle that can guide us in following Jesus’s example? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: We can follow Jesus’s example by gaining wisdom and by growing physically, spiritually, and socially.)

  • Why is it important for us to develop in each of these four areas? (So that we become well-balanced people.)

  • How have you been blessed as you have tried to follow Jesus’s example by developing yourself in these areas?

Write the following headings on the board and invite students to copy them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals: Intellectually, Physically, Spiritually, and Socially. Ask students to write under each of these categories a goal for their personal development. Encourage students to act on these goals. Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles identified in today’s lesson.

(The answers to the quiz are as follows: 1. True; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True; 6. False.)

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

Repetition helps students remember the location of scripture mastery passages. Use the scripture mastery cards, or have students create their own cards by writing key words or meanings on one side of blank notecards or pieces of paper and the references on the other side. Divide students into pairs. Ask them to quiz each other using the cards. Invite students to use these cards often to quiz themselves and each other. You might use the clues on the cards to do the scripture chase activity with the class (see “scripture chase” in the appendix of this manual).

Commentary and Background Information

Luke 2:7. “She brought forth her firstborn son”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the circumstances of the Savior’s birth:

“We find it remarkable that the very Son of God, the great Jehovah of old, should be born into this mortal world in the humblest of circumstances. An inn would have been lowly enough, but it was not even an inn. Rather it was a stable, and the babe was laid on the hay of a manger where common animals fed. Even so, the greater condescension is that Jesus should have submitted to mortality at all, even if He were to be born in the best and most elegant of circumstances. With Paul, we marvel at ‘God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh’ [Romans 8:3]—that He should have become a baby; that He should have been a child and then a man, suffering ‘temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue’ [Mosiah 3:7] and even death.

“How is it that He who ruled on high in the heavens, the very Creator of the earth, should consent to be born ‘after the manner of the flesh’ (1 Nephi 11:18) and walk upon His footstool (see 1 Nephi 17:39) in poverty, despised and abused and, in the end, be crucified?” (“The Condescension of God and of Man” [First Presidency’s Christmas devotional, Dec. 7, 2014], lds.org/broadcasts).

Luke 2:19. “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart”

While it is vital that we share our testimonies with others, President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that we should share our sacred experiences only when we are prompted to do so:

“It is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others. …

“I heard President Marion G. Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives … , ‘I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me.’

“We are, I believe, to keep these things and ponder them in our hearts, as Luke said Mary did of the supernal events that surrounded the birth of Jesus” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Luke 2:47. “All that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers”

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following about Jesus Christ’s youth:

“When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death” (History of the Church, 6:608).