Beginning with the testimony of the angel Gabriel (Noah) and culminating with Heavenly Father’s own voice declaring the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, chapters 1–3 of Luke present numerous testimonies concerning the divinity and redeeming mission of Jesus Christ. These chapters include the testimonies of Zacharias, Elisabeth, Mary, a chorus of angels, shepherds, Simeon, and Anna, as well as Jesus’s statement as a 12-year-old boy that He was about His Father’s business. In presenting a lineage of the Savior, Luke also affirmed the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ by noting that Joseph was the “supposed”—not actual—father of Jesus (Luke 3:23).
The first chapter of Luke also provides knowledge of the foreordained mission of John the Baptist, as announced by Gabriel and prophesied by Zacharias. Luke 3 then records how John fulfilled his mission to prepare others to receive the Savior, and it preserves some of John’s teachings not recorded anywhere else in scripture.
Note: Because the baptism and genealogy of Jesus Christ were taught in previous lessons, these topics are not covered here.
Show a book to the class, and open to the book’s introduction. Ask:
How many of you read the introduction when you read a book?
What is the benefit of reading the introduction?
If you were writing a paper or book on Jesus Christ, what would you include in the introduction?
Briefly explain that Luke began his Gospel with a formal introduction that stated a purpose of his book. Ask the class to read Luke 1:1–4 and identify this purpose. As you discuss Luke’s purpose in writing his Gospel, help students understand this truth: Studying the Gospel of Luke can help us “know the certainty” of the truths and events associated with the life of Jesus Christ.
Ask students to read “What are some distinctive features of Luke?” under “Introduction to the Gospel According to St. Luke” in chapter 15 of the student manual. Ask students to look for truths and events found in the Gospel of Luke that can help them strengthen their testimonies of the Savior. Ask questions that will help students engage in thoughtful discussion, such as:
Which truths and events recorded in the Gospel of Luke are you most excited to study? Why?
How do you think studying these truths will help you increase your knowledge and testimony of the Savior?
Conclude this part of the lesson by briefly sharing one or two highlights from Luke’s Gospel that are of particular importance to you. Share your thoughts and feelings about the value of the Gospel of Luke and your testimony that students’ love for the Savior can increase through prayerful study of its contents.
Invite students to think of a joyful, exciting message they have received at some time during their lives. Encourage a few students to share brief examples. Explain that the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke show how the Lord sent joyous tidings of salvation to His people.
Write the following list on the board, or photocopy it and distribute handouts to the students.
Assign students to study one of the recipients of glad tidings and prepare answers to each of the study questions. If your class is large enough, you might divide students into five groups. Assign each group to study one of the five recipients mentioned in the list and work together to answer the questions.
Instead of having the students study Simeon’s testimony in Luke 2:25–35, consider showing the video “The Christ Child Is Presented at the Temple” (1:53) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, available on LDS.org. This video covers Luke 2:22–38. Follow up by asking students the study questions in connection with Simeon.
After students have found the answers to the questions, invite them to share with the class what they learned. One overarching truth students should understand from this activity is: Many people testified of the divine mission of Jesus Christ at the time of His mortal birth.
Explain to class members that we can learn important truths by focusing on the ways people responded to the news they received.
What was the difference between Zacharias’s response to the message given to him by Gabriel and Mary’s response to the message she received?
What truths can we learn from how Zacharias and Mary responded to the message of an angel? How can we apply these truths in our lives?
As individual students share what they learned, encourage the rest of the class to consider how the truths taught may apply in their lives as well. For example, after a student shares an idea, you might thank him or her and then ask:
When have you, like Mary, chosen to respond with faith to a truth you received from the Lord? After responding in this way, what did you learn? (Allow several students to share an experience, and consider sharing one of your own.)
Is there another way we can apply the truths in these verses to ourselves? Who else can share an insight?
As a result of the discussion, the students should understand this principle: The Lord blesses those who respond with faith to the truths they receive from Him. You may want to bear testimony of this truth.
As you teach this portion of the lesson, please keep in mind this caution from President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973):
“If teachers were wise in speaking of [the parentage of Jesus Christ] about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34–35. …
“Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary’s] conception was a divine personage. We need not question [Heavenly Father’s] method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8–9: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
“Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 14).
Draw the following diagram on the board:
Ask a student:
What is a physical trait you inherited from your father, and what is a physical trait you inherited from your mother?
Add the student’s response to the diagram on the board (see example):
Invite the students to read Luke 1:30–35 and identify key words or phrases that teach of the parentage of Jesus Christ. (These include “thou shalt conceive in thy womb,” “shall be called the Son of the Highest,” “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”) Discuss what the students found and why particular words and phrases were significant to them in describing the birth of the Savior.
Erase the previous diagram and draw this one on the board:
Have students read the student manual commentary for Luke 1:31–35. Then ask:
What important traits did the Savior inherit from His parents?
As students respond, on the diagram above, list under “Mary” the traits Jesus Christ inherited from His mother, and list under “Heavenly Father” the traits inherited from His Father. (Under “Mary,” you could list mortality and the ability to die physically. Under “Heavenly Father,” you could list the powers of godhood, immortality, and the power to live forever.)
Why did the Savior need the powers of both mortality and immortality to complete the Atonement?
As a result of this activity, be sure students understand that if Jesus Christ had been born of two mortal parents He could not have overcome death or endured the infinite pain and suffering of the Atonement. Because Jesus Christ was born of one divine Parent (Heavenly Father) and one mortal parent (Mary), He had the ability to suffer infinitely, to allow Himself to die, and then to overcome death through His Resurrection. You might have students read Mosiah 3:7–8, which records King Benjamin’s testimony of these truths.
If time permits, you might invite students to read Luke 3:21–22 and look for further testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father.
If time permits, you might ask students to briefly review Luke’s account of the Savior’s genealogy, found in Luke 3:23–38. Point out some of the more recognizable names, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (verse 34), and Seth, Adam, and God (verse 38). Explain that Luke traced the Savior’s genealogy through Adam and then to God, further emphasizing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.
Conclude by making sure that students understand this doctrine: Jesus Christ is literally the divine Son of Heavenly Father. Ask students why knowing this doctrine is an important part of a strong testimony.
Remind students that Zacharias was struck dumb for disbelieving the words of the angel Gabriel (see Luke 1:18–20). Briefly summarize the miracle that occurred on the eighth day following John the Baptist’s birth (see Luke 1:57–66). Explain that after Zacharias’s ability to speak was miraculously restored, he prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ and the redemption of Israel. Invite a student to read the first part of his prophecy, found in Luke 1:67–75. Have the class look for words and phrases that describe the blessings Jesus Christ would bring to Israel.
After students have explained what they identified, explain that Zacharias also prophesied of the mission of his infant son, John. Ask students to read Zacharias’s prophecy, found in Luke 1:76–77. Ask them to identify specific ways John the Baptist would prepare people to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
Give students a copy of the following chart, or write the chart on the board. Use the chart and the following activity to help students understand this truth: John the Baptist was divinely ordained to prepare people to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. You may want to write the truth on the board.
Prophecies (Luke 1:76–77)
Specific Things John Did to Fulfill These Prophecies (Luke 3:2–18)
John would go before the Lord and prepare His ways.
John would give people knowledge of salvation by baptizing them for the remission of their sins.
Ask students to search Luke 3:2–18 and identify specific things John did that fulfilled the prophecies found in Luke 1:76–77 and prepared people to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. (For variety, you may ask students to study alone, to work in partnerships, or to study together as a class.) Students may identify some of the following truths: John taught people before Jesus began His ministry, thereby “going before the Lord” (Luke 3:3–6); John taught people about baptism for the remission of their sins and baptized them (see Luke 3:3, 18); John emphasized the necessity of repentance (see Luke 3:7–9); John explained to individuals what they must do to forsake their sins (see Luke 3:10–14); John taught and testified of Jesus Christ (see Luke 3:15–18).
Ask students to review the chart to see what John taught to prepare people to receive Jesus Christ. Then ask:
In what ways does John’s ministry inspire you?
To help students further understand and apply what is written on the chart, invite them to answer the following question:
Which of John’s teachings could you follow today to help you more completely come unto the Savior? How would these teachings help you receive the Savior in your life?
Bear testimony of this truth: John the Baptist fulfilled his prophetic calling by teaching repentance and testifying of Jesus Christ. Emphasize that as we follow the teachings John taught, we will also come unto Christ.