Lesson 16: Matthew 13:24–58

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

The Savior gave parables to teach about the kingdom of heaven, the Restoration and growth of His Church in the latter days, the gathering of the righteous, and the destruction of the wicked at His Second Coming.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

The Savior teaches and explains the parable of the wheat and the tares

Before class, write the following questions on the board:

Have you ever been frustrated or upset because there is so much evil in the world?

Why doesn’t the Lord just remove the evil that surrounds us?

Why should I choose to be righteous when some people around me don’t seem to experience negative consequences of their unrighteous choices?

At the beginning of the lesson, ask students to ponder the questions on the board and then invite them to share their thoughts with the class. As students study Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43, invite them to look for a truth that will help them find comfort while striving to live righteously in a wicked world.

wheat, tares

Display the accompanying picture of wheat and tares, or draw it on the board. Explain that tares are a type of poisonous weed. Wheat and tares are almost identical when they sprout, but they can be distinguished once they mature.

Explain that the Savior taught a parable about wheat and tares. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 13:24–30 and from the portion of Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:29, found in Matthew 13:30, footnote b. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to the wheat and the tares.

  • What happened to the wheat and the tares? (They were sowed [planted] and allowed to grow together. Then the wheat was gathered to the barn and the tares were bundled and burned.)

  • Why do you think the sower of good seed told his servants to allow the wheat and tares to “grow together until the harvest”? (If reapers tried to pull out the tares before the wheat and tares matured, they would likely destroy much of the wheat as well.)

  • According to Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:29, which was gathered first—the wheat or the tares?

Explain that after the Savior gave the parable of the wheat and the tares, His disciples asked Him to explain its meaning. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 13:36–43. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s explanation of the parable.

  • Who sowed, or planted, the good seed? (The Savior.)

  • Who sowed, or planted, the tares? (The devil.)

  • What did the wheat and tares represent? (The righteous and the wicked. Explain that the wicked are those who choose not to repent [see Doctrine and Covenants 29:17].)

Explain that the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that “the harvest” or “the end of the world” mentioned in verse 39 refers to the destruction of the wicked at the Savior’s Second Coming. The Joseph Smith Translation also helps us understand that in the last days the Lord will send forth angels and messengers to help separate the righteous from the wicked (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 13:39–44 [in the Bible appendix]).

  • According to this parable, what will happen to the righteous and the wicked in the last days? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: The Lord will gather the righteous during the last days and then destroy the wicked at His coming. Using students’ words, write this truth on the board.)

  • How might this truth bring us comfort while we live in an evil world? (The Lord will eventually remove wickedness from the earth and reward the faithful.)

Explain to students that because of our agency, we determine by our choices whether we will be gathered with the righteous or suffer with the wicked.

  • What must we do to be gathered by the Lord?

To help students understand what we must do to be gathered by the Lord, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“The Lord gathers His people when they accept Him and keep His commandments. …

“… The Lord gathers His people to worship, to build up the Church, for a defense, and to receive counsel and instruction. …

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that in all ages the divine purpose of gathering is to build temples so that the Lord’s children can receive the highest ordinances and thereby gain eternal life [see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 416–17]” (“The Spirit and Purposes of Gathering” [Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional, Oct. 31, 2006], byui.edu).

  • According to Elder Bednar, what do we need to do to be gathered by the Lord?

  • What blessings have come into your life as you have been gathered by the Lord?

missionaries: elders missionaries: sisters Salt Lake Temple

Display the pictures Missionaries: Elders; Missionaries: Sisters; and Salt Lake Temple (Gospel Art Book [2009], nos. 109, 110, 119; see also LDS.org).

  • What can we do to assist the Savior in gathering Heavenly Father’s children?

  • What blessings have you received as you have helped the Lord gather the righteous through missionary work or temple work?

Assure students that because we all make mistakes, the Savior invites us to repent so that we can be gathered with the righteous. Invite students to ponder what they can do to gather themselves, their families, and others to the Savior and His Church. Invite students to act on any promptings they receive.

Matthew 13:31–35, 44–52

Jesus uses parables to teach about the kingdom of heaven

Display pictures of the following items or draw them on the board: a mustard seed, leaven or yeast (or bread—explain that leaven is used in cooking and is added to bread dough to help it rise before baking), a pearl, a small treasure chest, and a net.

Explain that in several different parables the Savior compared each of these items to the kingdom of heaven. Remind students that the kingdom of heaven represents the Savior’s Church and gospel. Write the following references on the board: Matthew 13:31–32; Matthew 13:33; Matthew 13:44; Matthew 13:45–46; Matthew 13:47–50. Divide students into pairs or small groups, and assign each pair or group one of the references on the board. Invite each pair or group to complete the following activities (you may want to provide this list on a handout):

  1. 1.

    Read your assigned verses together.

  2. 2.

    Discuss what object(s) the Savior likened to His Church and His gospel.

  3. 3.

    Discuss what truth you think the Savior was teaching in this parable about His Church and His gospel. Write that truth in your class notebooks or scripture study journals.

After sufficient time, invite a student assigned to the parable of the leaven and a student assigned to the parable of the mustard seed to read their parables aloud to the class.

Invite a few students to read to the class the truths they wrote down. (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a truth similar to the following: The restored Church of Jesus Christ will grow from a small beginning to fill the whole earth. Write this truth on the board.)

Invite a student to read the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith, who taught how followers of Jesus Christ can be likened to leaven:

President Joseph F. Smith

“While it may be said, and it is in a measure true, that we are but a handful in comparison with our fellowmen in the world, yet we may be compared with the leaven of which the Savior spoke, that will eventually leaven the whole world” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 74).

  • What can we do as Latter-day Saints to help the Savior’s Church grow?

Invite a student assigned to the parable of the treasure in a field, a student assigned to the parable of the pearl of great price, and a student assigned to the parable of the net to read their parables aloud to the class. Invite a few students to read to the class the truths they wrote down. (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a principle similar to the following: Because the blessings of the gospel are of eternal value, they are worth any sacrifice. Using students’ words, write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this principle, write the following headings on the board:

Blessings of the gospel

Sacrifices to obtain blessings

Ask students to list some of the blessings of the gospel (examples may include knowledge from the scriptures, guidance from living prophets, saving ordinances, and eternal marriage). For each blessing listed, ask students to explain what sacrifices they may need to make to obtain that blessing. Write students’ responses on the board.

Ask students to choose a blessing listed on the board and explain why obtaining that blessing is worth any sacrifice.

  • When have you or someone you know sacrificed something in order to receive a blessing of the gospel?

Write the following questions on the board and invite students to respond to them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

What blessing of the gospel do you desire to obtain?

Why do you desire that blessing?

How might you have to sacrifice to receive that blessing?

Matthew 13:53–58

Jesus teaches in Nazareth and is rejected by His own people

Summarize Matthew 13:53–58 by explaining that the people of Nazareth rejected the Savior and His teachings. Because of their unbelief, the Savior did not perform many miracles among them (see also Moroni 7:37).

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 13. The gathering of Israel

The Prophet Joseph Smith summarized the topic of Matthew 13 when he taught the following:

“The sayings of the Savior, recorded in the 13th chapter of His Gospel according to St. Matthew, … afford us as clear an understanding upon the important subject of the gathering, as anything recorded in the Bible” (in History of the Church, 2:264).

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that we can help gather Israel on both sides of the veil:

“This doctrine of the gathering is one of the important teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil. …

“… We gather pedigree charts, create family group sheets, and do temple work vicariously to gather individuals unto the Lord and into their families” (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 80–81).

The following chart shows how the parables of Matthew 13 teach about the gathering of Israel and the growth of the Savior’s Church from the days of His mortal ministry to His Second Coming.

Parable in Matthew 13

The Gathering

Sower (verses 3–23)

Jesus Christ and His Apostles sowed the seeds of the gospel in their day.

Wheat and tares (verses 24–30, 36–43)

The righteous and wicked grew together in New Testament times, eventually leading to the Great Apostasy. In the latter days, the righteous will be gathered into the Church and the wicked will be destroyed.

Mustard seed (verses 31–32)

The Church of Jesus Christ will be restored. From small beginnings it will grow, spread, and become a majestic worldwide Church.

Leaven (verse 33)

The latter-day Church will spread throughout the earth, aided by the leaven of the testimonies of the Three Witnesses and the latter-day scriptures.

Hidden treasure (verse 44) and pearl of great price (verses 45–46)

The righteous will gather to the kingdom of God. Latter-day Saints will sacrifice and work to build Zion.

Net (verses 47–50)

All types of people will be gathered into the Church. At the end of the world, the wicked will be cast out and destroyed.

(Adapted from New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 43–44.)

Matthew 13:31–32. The parables of the mustard seed and leaven

The Prophet Joseph Smith provided the following explanation of the parables of the mustard seed and leaven:

“‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. …’ [Matthew 13:31.] Now we can discover plainly that this figure is given to represent the Church as it shall come forth in the last days. …

“Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering with lofty branches and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven [see Psalm 85:11; Moses 7:62], and God is sending down His powers, gifts, and angels to lodge in the branches thereof. …

“‘… The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven. …’ [Matthew 13:33.] It may be understood that the Church of the Latter-day Saints has taken its rise from a little leaven that was put into three witnesses. Behold, how much this is like the parable! It is fast leavening the lump, and will soon leaven the whole” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 301, 302–3).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how followers of Jesus Christ can be likened to leaven:

“We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is ‘like leaven,’ whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21; Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 25).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

video iconMatthew 13. Video presentation—“The Sower”

To help students learn how to understand the Savior’s parables, consider showing the video “The Sower” (12:10), which demonstrates how to understand parables by using the parable of the wheat and the tares as an example. This video is available on New Testament DVD Presentations 1–25 and on LDS.org. Invite students to listen and watch for suggestions that will help them understand the Savior’s parables. Because of the length of the video, you might consider showing it on another day when you have more time.

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