Jesus Christ testified that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way before Him, and He promised rest to all who come unto Him. Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ allegations that His power came from the devil. He warned them against making false accusations and seeking signs, and He taught the parable of the empty house.
Show students a picture of a police officer, a doctor, and Jesus Christ.
Why is it important to know that these people truly are who they appear to be? How can you know that they are who they appear to be?
Explain that during Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, many were seeking to know if He was who He appeared to be. Ask students to look for truths as they study Matthew 11 that can help them develop their own testimony of who Jesus Christ is.
Explain that King Herod had arrested and imprisoned John the Baptist. Invite a student to read Matthew 11:2–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the question John sent his disciples to ask Jesus.
What did John send his disciples to ask Jesus?
Point out that with this question in verse 3, John’s disciples were asking Jesus if He was the Messiah. Remind students that John the Baptist already knew that Jesus was the Messiah (see Matthew 3:11, 13–14; John 1:29–34).
Why do you think John the Baptist sent his disciples to find out if Jesus was the Messiah when John already knew who Jesus was? (He wanted his disciples to receive their own witness of Jesus Christ.)
Invite a student to read Matthew 11:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus answered their question.
Rather than simply confirming that He was the Messiah, what did Jesus invite John the Baptist’s disciples to do?
You may want to explain that Jesus could have easily told John’s disciples that He was the Messiah. Instead, He invited them to “hear and see” (verse 4), or consider, His works and then return to John the Baptist and testify of the things they had heard and seen Jesus do.
How might Jesus’s answer have helped John’s disciples receive a more powerful witness of the Savior than if He had just told them who He was?
What principle can we learn from this account about how we can strengthen our witness of the Savior? (Although they may use other words, students should identify the following truth: As we seek to learn of Jesus Christ and as we testify of Him, our own testimony of Him can be strengthened.)
Invite students to write down how they have come to know for themselves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You may wish to invite a few students to share with the class what they have written.
Summarize Matthew 11:7–27 by explaining that after the two disciples left, Jesus told the multitude that John the Baptist was the prophet chosen to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus condemned those who rejected John the Baptist as well as those who had witnessed clear evidence of the Lord’s divinity yet rejected Him. (Note: Jesus’s teachings about John the Baptist in these verses will be discussed in greater detail in the lesson on Luke 7:18–35).
Jesus then offered a promise to all those who accept Him as the Messiah. To help students review Matthew 11:28–30, which you introduced in lesson 1, invite a student to read these verses aloud and ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord invites us to do.
What does the Lord invite us to do? What does He promise us in return? (After students have shared their responses, write the following truth on the board: If we come unto Jesus Christ, He will ease our burdens and give us rest.)
How can understanding the truths in this scripture mastery passage help you this year?
Summarize Matthew 12:1–30 by explaining that after Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day, some of the Pharisees began seeking to destroy Him. When He healed someone possessed of a devil, they attempted to discredit Him in front of the people by accusing Him of performing those works by the power of the devil. Jesus knew their thoughts and asserted that, on the contrary, by casting out devils He was demonstrating that He was the Messiah and was establishing God’s kingdom. Ask students to read Matthew 12:30 silently, looking for what Jesus taught about those who don’t join with Him. Ask students to report what they found.
According to verse 30, if we desire to be part of God’s kingdom, what must we do? (As students share their responses, be sure to emphasize this truth: If we desire to be part of God’s kingdom, we must be fully committed to Jesus Christ.)
What are some ways that we can demonstrate our full commitment to Jesus Christ?
Summarize Matthew 12:31–42 by explaining that Jesus affirmed again that His good works were evidence that He was of God and not the devil. He also warned the Pharisees that God would hold them accountable for their accusing words. Some of the scribes and Pharisees then asked for a sign, and Jesus rebuked them for sign seeking and failing to see that He was greater than any former prophet or king in Israel.
Ask students to imagine that one of their friends has asked for advice on how to avoid returning to a sin he or she is trying to forsake.
What counsel would you give your friend to help him or her resist temptation?
Explain that Matthew 12:43–45 contains a parable about an unclean spirit that is cast out of a man. Invite students to look for a principle in this parable that could help their friend overcome temptation. Invite a student to read Matthew 12:43–44 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the unclean spirit did after being cast out of the man.
What did the unclean spirit do after finding no rest anywhere?
What words describe the state of the “house,” or the man, when the unclean spirit returns?
Invite another student to read Matthew 12:45 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the unclean spirit did after finding the “house,” or the man, empty. Ask students to report what they found.
After he had removed the devil, what did the man in the parable fail to do that allowed the evil spirit to return? (He did not replace the evil with righteous thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.)
How could the experience of the man in this parable represent someone who is repenting of sin and trying to resist temptation?
After students respond, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. He must make them. …
“… The things which engaged him and caught his fancy and occupied his thoughts are gone, and better substitutions have not yet filled the void. This is Satan’s opportunity” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 171–72; emphasis added).
What principle can we learn from this parable that can help us know how to continue to repel evil influences after we have removed them from our lives? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: We can repel evil influences after removing them from our lives by replacing them with righteousness.)
To help students to understand this truth, ask a student to read the following statement aloud. Ask the class to listen for why it is not enough to simply rid our lives of sin.
“It is not enough to simply try to resist evil or empty your life of sin. You must fill your life with righteousness and engage in activities that bring spiritual power. …
“Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses. This obedience includes actions you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 135).
As we repent, what are some things we can do to fill our lives with righteousness so that we don’t return to sin? (You might invite a student to write responses on the board.)
How can doing these things bring greater spiritual power into our lives and enable us to overcome evil influences?
Testify that filling our lives with righteousness will give us greater power to repel evil. Encourage students to ponder how they can fill their lives with more righteousness and to follow the inspiration they receive as they ponder.
Summarize the rest of Matthew 12 by explaining that while Jesus was teaching, someone told Him that some members of His family wanted to speak to Him. The Lord then taught that all who do the will of the Father are numbered among His family.
To help students memorize Matthew 11:28–30, invite the class to create actions that could represent words or phrases in each verse and then recite the passage while performing the actions. Have students practice reciting it at the beginning of class for several days until they can recite it from memory.