This lesson can help students understand that seeking to please others instead of doing what we know is right can lead to wrong choices, sorrow, and regret.
Begin class by inviting students to think about the last time they felt pressure to do something that they knew was not right.
Write the following statement on the board (this statement is found in “Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 37):
What are some examples of how others may try to pressure you to do something that you know is wrong?
Invite students to look for a truth as they study Mark 6 that can help them avoid giving in to negative peer pressure.
Invite a student to read Mark 6:17–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Herod had done to John the Baptist. Have students report what they find.
What had Herod done to John and why?
Herod had divorced his wife and married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. This act was a blatant violation of Jewish law (see Leviticus 18:16), and John the Baptist had vocally condemned it. John’s opposition to this marriage angered Herodias, so Herod imprisoned John to appease her.
Invite a student to read Mark 6:19–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Herodias wanted to do with John the Baptist.
What did Herodias want to do with John the Baptist?
Why couldn’t she have him killed? (Because Herod feared John and knew him to be a man of God.)
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Mark 6:21–29. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Herod did to John the Baptist.
According to verse 26, how did Herod feel about killing John the Baptist?
Why did Herod have John beheaded if he knew it was wrong and did not want to do it? (Herod was concerned about the opinion of those who sat with him.)
What principle can we learn from Herod’s choices about what happens when we try to please others instead of doing what is right? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: Seeking to please others instead of doing what we know is right can lead to wrong choices, sorrow, and regret.)
To help students further understand this truth, put them in groups of two to four and ask them to come up with several examples of situations in which youth must choose between seeking to please others and doing what they know is right. After sufficient time, invite each group to report. As they do, write some of their examples on the board.
In what ways have you seen that giving in to pressures like these examples brings sorrow and regret?
When have you seen someone choose to do what was right instead of seeking to please others?
What can help us choose to do what we know is right instead of seeking to please others?
Read aloud the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball about making right decisions:
“Right decisions are easiest to make when we make them well in advance … ; this saves a lot of anguish at the fork [at the point of decision], when we’re tired and sorely tempted” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 108).
Invite students to ponder their upcoming week and identify possible situations in which they may need to choose between pleasing others and doing what is right. Encourage them to plan how they will respond to this pressure should they experience it.
Explain that when Herod heard about the many miracles that Jesus performed in Galilee, he feared that John the Baptist had risen from the dead and was performing these miracles (see Mark 6:14–16).
Explain that Mark 7–8 contains two accounts of the Savior healing someone. Divide the students into pairs. Assign one student in each pair to read Mark 7:31–35 and the other student to read Mark 8:22–25. Then invite the students to describe to their partner the healing miracle in the verses they read.
After sufficient time, invite students to explain how the Savior went about healing these two people.
What lessons can we learn from the fact that the blind man was not completely healed at first?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to listen for reasons why Jesus may have healed the man gradually, or in stages.
“This miracle is unique; it is the only recorded instance in which Jesus healed a person by stages. It may be that our Lord followed this course to strengthen the weak but growing faith of the blind man. It would appear that the successive instances of physical contact with Jesus had the effect of adding hope, assurance, and faith to the sightless one. Jesus personally (1) led the blind man by the hand out of the town, (2) applied his own saliva to the eyes of the sightless one, (3) performed the ordinance of laying on of hands, and (4) put his hands a second time upon the man’s eyes.
“Certainly the manner in which this healing took place teaches that men should seek the Lord’s healing grace with all their strength and faith, though such is sufficient for a partial cure only, following the receipt of which, however, they may then gain the added assurance and faith to be made whole and well every whit. Men also are often healed of their spiritual maladies by degrees, step by step as they get their lives in harmony with the plans and purposes of Deity” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:379–80).
How might being healed gradually increase someone’s faith in Jesus Christ?
Why is it important to understand that some blessings, such as gaining a testimony of the gospel or receiving physical or spiritual healing, often come gradually or in stages, rather than immediately or all at once?
Summarize Mark 8:27–28 by explaining that Jesus asked His disciples whom others said He was. They responded by saying that some said He was John the Baptist or another prophet.
Invite a student to read Mark 8:29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Peter declared about Jesus.
Whom did Peter say Jesus was? (The word Christ is the Greek equivalent of Messiah.)
Summarize Mark 8:30–31 by explaining that Jesus taught the disciples that He would be rejected by the Jews and killed. Invite a student to read Mark 8:32–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Peter reacted to this news.
Explain that because of the popular Jewish expectations of a conquering Messiah, it was difficult for Peter, as well as for many Jews of that time, to understand and accept the idea of a Messiah who would suffer and die.
How was Peter like the blind man described in Mark 8:22–25? (Peter came to “see” the truth gradually. He had faith in the Savior, but his understanding of the Savior’s mission developed step by step.)
How has the Lord helped you or someone you know to gradually see truth more clearly?
Conclude today’s lesson by inviting students to silently read Mark 8:34–38, pondering how today’s lesson can help them put the Lord first in their lives.
Explain that students will conclude their study of the Gospel of Mark and begin studying the writings of Luke. Invite them to look for new details as they read again about the final events of Jesus Christ’s life and His Atonement and to notice the taunting remarks made to Jesus while He was on the cross. In the Gospel of Luke they will read one of the most famous chapters in the Bible—Luke 2—and accounts of the downtrodden, outcasts, and sinners.