Lesson 22

Matthew 19–20

“Lesson 22: Matthew 19–20,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Jesus Christ taught about the sanctity of marriage. He emphasized the importance of choosing eternal life over worldly wealth and taught the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Jesus also foretold His death and taught His disciples to serve others.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 19:1–12

The Savior teaches about the sanctity of marriage

young newlyweds

Display a picture of a happily married couple who has been sealed in the temple. Point out that the Lord’s doctrine concerning marriage and divorce differs from many of the world’s beliefs.

  • What are some of the world’s beliefs about marriage and divorce? (Caution: Avoid spending too much time on topics that could take time away from other important principles in today’s lesson.)

Invite students as they study Matthew 19:1–12 to look for the Lord’s teachings about marriage and divorce and consider the importance of these teachings for them.

Ask a student to read Matthew 19:1–3 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the question the Pharisees asked Jesus. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that the phrase “to put away his wife for every cause” (Matthew 19:3) refers to a man divorcing his wife for any reason, even if it is trivial or selfish.

Invite a student to read Matthew 19:4–6 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the Savior taught about marriage and divorce.

  • What truths about marriage do we learn from the Savior’s response to the Pharisees? (Students may identify several truths, but be sure to emphasize that marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred relationship designed and established by God.)

Invite a student to read Matthew 19:7 aloud, and ask the class to look for another question the Pharisees asked the Savior.

  • What did the Pharisees ask the Savior?

Invite a student to read Matthew 19:8–9 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Savior’s response.

  • According to the Savior, why did Moses allow divorce among the Israelites? (Because of the hardness of the people’s hearts.)

To help students understand how this teaching relates to our day, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“The kind of marriage required for exaltation—eternal in duration and godlike in quality—does not contemplate divorce. In the temples of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal. Because ‘of the hardness of [our] hearts’ [Matthew 19:8], the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law” (“Divorce,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 70).

Consider inviting students to share their testimonies that God designed and established marriage as a sacred relationship between a man and a woman.

Matthew 19:13–30; 20:1–16

Jesus teaches of eternal life and gives the parable of the laborers in the vineyard

Invite a student to come to the front of the class. Tell the student that if he or she can do 10 push-ups, he or she will receive a small reward (such as 10 small pieces of candy). After the student does 10 push-ups, give him or her the reward, and then ask for another volunteer. Ask the second student to do one push-up, and then ask the class what reward they think this student should receive and why. Invite the two students to return to their seats. Inform the class that later in the lesson the second student will receive a reward based on what the class learns in the scriptures.

Summarize Matthew 19:13–27 by explaining that Jesus encouraged His followers to seek eternal life rather than worldly wealth. Peter asked what the disciples would receive because they had given up their worldly possessions to follow the Savior. (Note: The events discussed in these verses will be taught in detail in the lesson on Mark 10.)

Invite a student to read Matthew 19:28–30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s response to Peter.

  • According to verse 29, what will everyone who forsakes all to follow the Savior inherit?

Explain that the Savior then taught His disciples a parable to help them understand Heavenly Father’s desire to give all His children the opportunity to receive eternal life. In this parable, a man hires laborers at different times throughout the day to work in his vineyard. A normal working day in New Testament times would have been from about 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with slightly varied lengths at different seasons of the year.

Copy the following chart on the board or provide it to students as a handout:

Laborers (Start Time)

Salary Agreed On

Hours Worked

Amount Paid

Early in the morning (6:00 a.m.)

     

3rd hour (9:00 a.m.)

     

6th hour (12:00 p.m.)

     

9th hour (3:00 p.m.)

     

11th hour (5:00 p.m.)

     

Invite students to work in small groups. Ask them to read Matthew 20:1–7 in their groups, looking for how long each group of laborers worked and the salary they agreed on. (“A penny” refers to a denarius, which was a Roman coin roughly equal to a laborer’s wages for a day.)

After sufficient time, invite a few students to come to the board and fill in the first two columns of the chart (or invite them to fill them in on the copies you have provided).

  • Who do you think should be paid the most?

Invite a student to read Matthew 20:8–10 aloud, and ask the class to look for the payment each group of laborers received.

  • What payment did each group of laborers receive? (After students respond, write 1 penny in each of the boxes in the column labeled “Amount Paid.”)

  • If you were among the laborers who worked all day, what thoughts or feelings might you have had as you received the same reward as those who worked for only an hour?

Invite a student to read Matthew 20:11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those who labored all day said to the lord of the vineyard and what he replied to them.

  • What was the complaint of those who had worked all day?

  • What did the lord of the vineyard say in response?

  • How had the lord of the vineyard been just (or fair) with those who had worked all day?

To help students identify a truth from this parable, explain that the wage of one penny can represent everlasting or eternal life, as mentioned in Matthew 19:29. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: God gives eternal life to all people who …

  • If the reward in this parable represents eternal life, what could the labor represent? (Students may give a variety of answers, but be sure to emphasize that the labor in this parable can represent making and keeping sacred covenants with God. After students respond, complete the truth on the board as follows: God gives eternal life to all people who choose to make and keep sacred covenants with Him.)

Point out that this truth helps us understand Heavenly Father’s mercy for individuals who do not make or keep covenants early in life and for those who do not have the opportunity to do so until after they die (see D&C 137:7–8).

  • Why do you think it is important for us to know that God gives eternal life to all people who choose to make and keep sacred covenants with Him, regardless of when that may occur?

Remind students of the second student who did only one push-up, and ask:

  • What reward do you think this student should receive for doing one push-up? (Give the student the same reward you gave to the student who did 10 push-ups.)

Ask a student to read Matthew 20:15–16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how the lord of the vineyard responded to those who complained about his kindness toward the other laborers.

  • What do you think the lord of the vineyard meant when he asked, “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (verse 15).

Explain that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles paraphrased this question as follows: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?” (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 31).

  • What does it mean in verse 16 that “many [are] called, but few chosen”? (To be called means to be invited to participate in Heavenly Father’s work. To be chosen means to receive His blessings—including the blessing of eternal life.)

  • What principle can we learn from verse 16? (Students may identify a number of principles, including the following: If we choose to be jealous of Heavenly Father’s blessings upon others, then we may lose the blessings He wants to give us.)

Read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and invite students to ponder how they might be tempted to be jealous of the blessings Heavenly Father gives to others:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“There are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin. …

“… Coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live” (“Laborers in the Vineyard,” 31, 32).

Share your testimony of the truths students identified as they studied the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.

Write the following statement on the board. Give students time to complete the statement in their class notebooks or scripture study journals: Based on what I have learned from this parable, I will …

After sufficient time, invite a few students who feel comfortable doing so to share with the class what they wrote.

Matthew 20:17–34

Jesus foretold His own death and taught His disciples to serve others

Summarize Matthew 20:17–34 by explaining that the Savior foretold that He would be betrayed and condemned to death when He returned to Jerusalem. He taught His disciples that rather than striving for position and authority, they should follow His example and serve others.

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 19:3–6. “What God hath joined together”

Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy explained that prophets have long taught the role of marriage in God’s plan:

“Eternal marriage is a principle which was established before the foundation of the world and was instituted on this earth before death came into it. Adam and Eve were given to each other by God in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. The scripture says, ‘In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them’ (Gen. 5:1–2; emphasis added).

“The prophets have uniformly taught that the consummate and culminating element of God’s great plan for the blessing of His children is eternal marriage” (“Eternal Marriage,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 92).

Sister Julie B. Beck, who served as Relief Society general president, taught the following about why marriage is ordained of God:

“We know that in the great premortal conflict we sided with our Savior, Jesus Christ, to preserve our potential to belong to eternal families. … We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married” (“What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 110).

Matthew 19:6–9. Divorce

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on divorce’s impact on families:

“There are many good Church members who have been divorced. … We know that many of you are innocent victims—members whose former spouses persistently betrayed sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. …

“… All who have been through divorce know the pain and need the healing power and hope that come from the Atonement. That healing power and that hope are there for them and also for their children. …

“… We cannot control and we are not responsible for the choices of others, even when they impact us so painfully. …

“Whatever the outcome and no matter how difficult your experiences, you have the promise that you will not be denied the blessings of eternal family relationships if you love the Lord, keep His commandments, and just do the best you can” (“Divorce,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 70–71, 73).

Matthew 19:10–12. “For there are some eunuchs”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that anciently some people held the false belief that a life of celibacy was to be sought after:

“Apparently those who made themselves eunuchs were men who in false pagan worship had deliberately mutilated themselves with the expectancy that such would further their salvation. It is clear that such was not a true gospel requirement of any sort. There is no such thing in the gospel as willful emasculation; such a notion violates true principles of procreation and celestial marriage” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 241).

Matthew 20:1–16. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared an important lesson to be learned from the parable of the laborers in the vineyard:

“Like other parables, this one can teach several different and valuable principles. For present purposes its lesson is that the Master’s reward in the Final Judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 34).