Two days before the Passover, Judas conspired with Jewish leaders who desired to kill Jesus. On the night of the Passover, Jesus instituted the sacrament.
Before class, prepare a table by covering it with a tablecloth and placing on it a few pieces of flatbread (or crackers) and a cup. After the devotional explain that during the time of Christ, these items, among others, would have been found on the Jews’ tables during the Passover.
What was the purpose of the Passover feast? (The Passover was instituted in Moses’s time to remind the children of Israel that the destroying angel passed over their houses and slew the firstborn children in Egypt [see Exodus 12:21–28; 13:14–15]. As part of the Passover, the Israelites sacrificed a lamb and sprinkled its blood over their doorposts. This lamb symbolized the coming Messiah, whose atoning sacrifice would save mankind from death and sin [see Guide to the Scriptures, “Passover,” scriptures.lds.org].)
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus said would occur after the Passover.
What did Jesus say would occur after the Passover?
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:3–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify who was formulating a plan to kill Jesus at this time.
Why did the scribes and chief priests decide to wait until after the Passover to kill Jesus?
Summarize Matthew 26:6–13 by explaining that while Jesus was in Bethany, a woman came to Him and anointed Him with very expensive ointment to acknowledge His impending death and burial. Some of His disciples, including Judas, one of the Twelve Apostles and the group’s treasurer, complained that the ointment should have been sold to help the poor. However, Judas was not truly concerned for the poor but was a thief who wanted the money for himself (see John 12:4–6). (Note: The anointing of Jesus in Bethany is discussed more thoroughly in the lesson on Mark 11–14.)
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Judas did after the Savior chided him for complaining.
What did Judas do? (He conspired with the chief priests to help them locate and arrest Jesus.)
How much did the chief priests pay Judas to deliver Jesus to them?
Explain that “according to the law of Moses, thirty shekels of silver would compensate an owner for the death of a slave (see Exodus 21:32). … The betrayal price reflects the low regard Judas and the chief priests had for the Savior” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 81). It also fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy of Judas’s betrayal of the Savior (see Zechariah 11:12).
Display a mirror and ask:
What are some ways mirrors can be helpful to us?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“Often we try to avoid looking deeply into our souls and confronting our weaknesses, limitations, and fears. …
“But being able to see ourselves clearly is essential to our spiritual growth and well-being. …
“May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination” (“Lord, Is It I?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 58).
How might the scriptures and the talks given at general conference be like a mirror?
As students study Matthew 26:17–25, invite them to look for a principle that can help them recognize their weaknesses and work to overcome them.
Summarize Matthew 26:17–19 by explaining that Jesus told His disciples to secure a room in Jerusalem for the Passover meal.
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:20–21 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus told His Apostles during the Passover meal.
What did Jesus say to His Apostles?
If you had been one of the Apostles, what might you have been thinking at this moment?
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Apostles’ response to Jesus’s statement.
What question did the Apostles ask?
What does the question “Lord, is it I?” teach us about the eleven faithful Apostles?
Based on this account, what principle can we learn about how disciples of Jesus Christ should respond when they hear the words of the Lord? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: When disciples of Jesus Christ hear the word of the Lord, they examine their own lives to see how it applies to them.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Uchtdorf:
“The disciples didn’t question the truth of what [Jesus] said. Nor did they look around, point to someone else, and ask, ‘Is it him?’
“Instead, ‘they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?’ [Matthew 26:22].
“I wonder what each of us would do. … Would we look at those around us and say in our hearts, ‘He’s probably talking about Brother Johnson. I’ve always wondered about him,’ or ‘I’m glad Brother Brown is here. He really needs to hear this message’? Or would we, like those disciples of old, look inward and ask that penetrating question: ‘Is it I?’ (“Lord, Is It I?” 56).
What are some examples of how we might be tempted to disregard the Lord’s words and assume they are meant for someone else?
Invite another student to read aloud the following statement by President Uchtdorf, and ask the class to listen for what President Uchtdorf invites us to do when we hear the words of the Lord:
“In these simple words, ‘Lord, is it I?’ lies the beginning of wisdom and the pathway to personal conversion and lasting change. …
“We must put aside our pride, see beyond our vanity, and in humility ask, ‘Lord, is it I?’
“And if the Lord’s answer happens to be ‘Yes, my son [or daughter], there are things you must improve, things I can help you to overcome,’ I pray that we will accept this answer, humbly acknowledge our sins and shortcomings, and then change our ways by becoming better” (“Lord, Is It I?” 56, 58).
How have you been blessed as you have applied the words of the Lord and made changes in your life?
Testify of the principle students identified previously. Invite students to examine their own lives whenever they hear or read the words of the Lord and to act quickly on the promptings they receive.
Invite a student to read Matthew 26:23–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s answer to the Apostles’ questions.
Explain that immediately after Jesus identified Judas as the one who would betray Him, Judas left (see John 13:30).
Display the picture The Last Supper (Gospel Art Book , no. 54; see also LDS.org). Inform students that as the Savior ate the Passover meal with His Apostles, He instituted the ordinance of the sacrament.
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals their answers to the following questions (you may want to write these questions on the board before class):
Hold up the cup and the bread displayed on the table. Invite a student to read Matthew 26:26–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord did with the bread and the contents of the cup.
What did the Lord do with the bread and the contents of the cup?
According to these verses, what do these emblems of the sacrament represent? (Students should identify the following doctrine: The emblems of the sacrament represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which He sacrificed for us.)
Explain to students that the Joseph Smith Translation provides additional insight into these verses. Invite students to read silently the excerpt from Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:22 that is found in Matthew 26:26, footnote c. Also invite them to read Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24–25 (in the Bible appendix). Ask students to look for what inspired changes were made to these verses, which can help us understand an important purpose of the sacrament.
Why did Jesus Christ institute the sacrament? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament for us to remember Him and His Atonement for our sins.)
What are some things we can do to ensure the sacrament helps us remember Jesus Christ and His Atonement for our sins?
How has trying to remember the Savior and His Atonement influenced your feelings and experiences while partaking of the sacrament?
To help students identify another principle, ask:
According to verses 27–28, what does the shedding of Christ’s blood allow us to receive as we partake of the sacrament? (A remission of our sins.)
Point out that merely eating the bread and drinking the water during the sacrament does not automatically qualify us to receive a remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and partake of the sacrament with real intent by always remembering Him and striving to keep His commandments. By worthily partaking of the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenants. Write the following truth on the board: When we repent and partake of the sacrament with real intent, we can receive a remission of our sins.
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how they will apply the truths concerning the sacrament that they have identified in Matthew 26. Invite a few students who feel comfortable doing so to share their responses with the class.
Invite a student to reread Matthew 26:29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for when the Savior said He would next partake of the sacrament. Ask students to report what they find.
Explain that “the sacrament not only symbolizes the Savior’s Atonement but also looks forward in anticipation to the time when He will return to the earth in glory (see 1 Corinthians 11:26)” (New Testament Student Manual, 83). If we keep our covenants and endure to the end, we can be among those who partake of the sacrament with the Savior at this future time (see D&C 27:4–14).
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths identified in today’s lesson.