Lesson 29: Matthew 25:14–46

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

As Jesus Christ taught His disciples about His Second Coming while on the Mount of Olives, He related the parable of the talents. He also explained that He will separate the righteous from the wicked when He comes again.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 25:14–30

Jesus Christ teaches His disciples the parable of the talents

Before class, place five coins on one side of the room and two coins on the other side. Place eight other coins in your pocket.

To begin the lesson, invite three students to come to the front of the class to help you act out a parable that Jesus Christ taught His disciples as part of His instruction concerning His Second Coming.

Invite a student to read Matthew 25:14–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what each servant received and what he did with it.

  • What did the master give to each of his servants? (Explain that the talents in this parable were sums of money. Take the eight coins out of your pocket, and give five to one student, two to the next student, and one to the third student.)

  • What did each servant do with the money he had been given?

Invite the student with five coins to retrieve the additional five coins from one side of the room. Ask the student with two coins to retrieve the additional two coins from the other side of the room. Invite the student with one coin to hide or pretend to bury the coin.

Ask the students to return the coins to you and be seated. Write the following elements of the parable on the board (without the interpretations in parentheses):

The master of the servants (The Lord Jesus Christ)

The servants (The Lord’s disciples)

The talents (The gifts and abilities the Lord gives His disciples)

  • What might the elements of the parable represent? (Explain that some of the gifts and abilities we have in mortality were received and developed in our premortal life. We can choose to continue to develop those gifts and others in mortality.)

  • According to Matthew 25:15, why did the master give each servant a different amount of money? (After students respond, point out that the phrase “according to his several ability” indicates that God gives each of us the gifts and abilities we need according to our circumstances.)

Read aloud the following questions, and invite students to ponder them:

  • Which servant do you feel is most like you: the one given five talents, two talents, or one talent? Why?

Invite a student to read Matthew 25:19–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the master said to the servant who had received five talents.

  • What did the master say to the first servant?

Explain that being made a “ruler over many things” and “enter[ing] … into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21) refer to fulfilling our divine potential and receiving eternal life with Heavenly Father.

  • What principle can we learn from the first servant’s experience? (The following is one principle students may identify: If we faithfully use the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us, then we can fulfill our divine potential and receive eternal life.)

  • What are some examples of how we can faithfully use the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us?

Point out that the second servant could have complained when he saw that the first servant had received five talents and he had received only two. Instead, he faithfully used the talents he had been given.

Invite a student to read Matthew 25:22–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the master said to the servant who had received two talents.

  • What did the master say to the servant who had received two talents?

  • Even though the master had given the first two servants different amounts of money, why do you think they both received the same response from their master?

  • What principle can we learn from the experience of the man who was given two talents? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: The Lord will bless us if we faithfully use the gifts and abilities He has given us, regardless of how many we have or what they may be. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board.)

Ask the class to ponder if they have ever felt that someone else had more or better gifts and abilities than they had. Point to the principle you just wrote on the board.

  • How can remembering this principle help us when we feel that someone else has received more or better gifts than we have?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Quentin L. Cook

“The growth in our own talents is the best measure of personal progress. … Comparing blessings is almost certain to drive out joy. We cannot be grateful and envious at the same time. If we truly want to have the Spirit of the Lord and experience joy and happiness, we should rejoice in our blessings and be grateful” (“Rejoice!” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 29, 30).

  • How can we discover the gifts and abilities that the Lord has given us?

Give each student a piece of paper and ask them to write their names at the top. Invite them to pass their papers to the student sitting next to them. Ask students to write a gift or ability they see in the person whose name is on the paper. Instruct them to continue passing their papers around the room and writing down gifts and abilities they have observed.

After a few minutes, ask students to return the papers to their original owners. Give students time to read about the gifts and abilities others see in them. Then ask them to write on their papers an answer to the following question:

  • What is one way you can use one of your gifts to further the Lord’s work?

Point out that the parable of the talents includes warnings about the gifts and abilities we have been given. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 25:24–30. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the master responded to the servant who hid the talent. After verse 27 is read, explain that usury means interest (income gained from investing or lending money).

  • Why did the last servant hide his talent? How did the master respond to this servant’s choice?

  • Even though the servant had not lost any of his master’s money, what was wrong with the servant’s actions?

  • How do you think the master would have responded to the servant if he had brought back two talents?

  • What happened to the talent the master gave to the servant? (It was taken from him and given to another.)

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Sterling W. Sill of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for why we lose gifts and abilities if we do not use them for good.

Elder Sterling W. Sill

“[The third servant’s] loss was not because he did anything wrong, but rather because his fear had prevented him [from] doing anything at all. Yet this is the process by which most of our blessings are lost. …

“… When one fails to use the muscles of his arm he loses his strength. … When we don’t develop our abilities, we lose our abilities. When the people in past ages have not honored the Priesthood, it has been taken from them. … Neither spiritual, mental nor physical talents develop while they are buried in the earth” (The Law of the Harvest [1963], 375).

  • What principles can we learn from the servant who hid the talent? (Although students may suggest a variety of principles, make sure they identify the following truths: Fear can prevent us from using the gifts and abilities the Lord has given us. If we do not develop and use our spiritual gifts for good, then we will lose them.)

  • In what ways can fear prevent us from doing good with our gifts and abilities?

Invite students to testify of the principles they have discussed. Encourage them to use their gifts and abilities to further the Lord’s work.

Matthew 25:31–46

The Savior foretells the separation of the wicked from the righteous at His Second Coming

The Second Coming

Display the picture The Second Coming (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 66; see also LDS.org). Invite a student to read Matthew 25:31–33 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord will do with the people on the earth after His Second Coming.

  • What will the Lord do with the people on the earth after His Second Coming?

  • What animals did the Lord use to represent the wicked? The righteous?

Divide students into pairs. Invite half of the pairs to read Matthew 25:34–40 aloud together, looking for how the Lord will determine whether someone is a “sheep” (Matthew 25:32–33). Invite the other pairs to read Matthew 25:41–46 aloud together, looking for how the Lord will determine whether someone is a “goat” (Matthew 25:32–33).

After sufficient time, assign each pair to work with a pair that read a different passage. Ask students to summarize what they read and discuss the following questions in their groups:

  • How does the Lord distinguish between those who love Him (sheep) and those who do not (goats)?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses?

Invite someone from each group to write on the board the principle their group identified. Students should identify principles similar to the following: As we love and serve others, we show our love for the Lord. As we neglect others’ needs, we neglect the Lord.

To help students understand these principles, ask questions similar to the following:

  • How might the kind of person on the Lord’s right hand treat his or her little sister who is asking for help with her homework?

  • How might a person on the Lord’s left hand treat a fellow student who drops his or her books in the hall?

  • How can understanding these principles help us to improve our relationships with others?

Invite students to ponder how they have treated others in the past 24 hours. Invite them to consider whether they would choose to act differently if they were in a similar situation in the future. Encourage students to think of ways they can more frequently love and serve others, and invite them to act on their plan. You may want to follow up with students the next time you meet and invite them to report some of their positive experiences.

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 25:15. “He gave … to every man according to his several ability”

President James E. Faust of the First Presidency spoke of the different gifts we are given:

“The Lord entrusts all of His servants, including every priesthood holder, with spiritual talents. … While we are not all equal in experience, aptitude, and strength, we have different opportunities to employ these spiritual gifts, and we will all be accountable for the use of the gifts and opportunities given to us” (“I Believe I Can, I Knew I Could,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 50).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video iconMatthew 25:35–40. Video presentation—“The Coat”

To illustrate the concept of helping others in need as described in Matthew 25:35–40, consider showing the video “The Coat” (2:08), which depicts an event from the childhood of President Heber J. Grant. The video is available on LDS.org. Invite students to watch the video, looking for whom the boy was serving.

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