John 13–17

“John 13–17,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 126–29


The Life of Jesus Christ


Events in these chapters likely occurred within this period

First year of the Lord’s ministry

Second year

Third year

Christ’s birth

First Passover

Second Passover

Third Passover

Final Passover and last week


John 13–17takes place in the upper chamber of a disciple’s home after the Last Supper. They record the words and acts of the Savior as He prepared His disciples for His betrayal and Crucifixion. He performed the ordinance of washing His disciples’ feet. He named Judas as His betrayer. In an extended discourse containing some of the most powerful teachings of His ministry, He taught His disciples about loving one another, the two Comforters, the allegory of the vine and the branches, the persecutions to come, and our need to rely on the Holy Ghost. Then He offered one of the greatest of all recorded prayers in behalf of His Apostles and disciples. We would do well to feast often upon the words in these chapters.

Prayerfully study John 13–17and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 160–72.

  • “The Last Week of the Savior’s Life,” 288 in this manual.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for John 13–17.

calendar iconJohn 13:1–17. Jesus is our example of how to humbly serve each other.

(25–30 minutes)

Show pictures of various noted community and world leaders. Ask students:

  • Why are these people leaders? (Keep the discussion focused on principles of leadership rather than on politics or individual political figures.)

  • If these people did not hold positions of power or authority, would you still consider them to be leaders? Why or why not?

  • What are the differences between the way the world and the Church view leadership? (Discuss their answers.)

Hold up a picture of the Savior and ask why they would consider Jesus to be a leader. Write Christlike leadership on the board along with the following references: Mark 10:42–44; Luke 22:24–30; John 13:1–17. Read these passages as a class, and then ask:

  • What did Christ teach in these passages about leadership?

  • Why do you think the Savior washed His disciples’ feet?

Remind students that the Savior washed even Judas’s feet, though He knew Judas would shortly betray Him (see Matthew 26:21–25; John 13:23–30). Ask: What does that teach you about the Savior’s view of service and leadership?

President David O. McKay, commenting on Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples, said:

“What an example of service to those great servants, followers of the Christ! He that is greatest among you, let him be least. So we sense the obligation to be of greater service to the membership of the Church, to devote our lives to the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 159).

Ask students:

  • What does President McKay suggest we could do to serve better?

  • What can we do to apply the Savior’s example in our lives?

  • What are some examples of service you have given recently as an individual, a family, or a member of the Church?

  • Why should we consider ourselves either leaders or potential leaders?

Invite students to write on a piece of paper what they could do to serve others better. Invite a few students who would like to share what they have written with the class to do so. Encourage students to fulfill their potential and become Christlike leaders.

John 13:34–35; 15:8–13. We show our love for Christ by loving others as He loves us.

(30–35 minutes)

Before class, prepare a display of various gifts that are expressions of love (for example a wedding ring, flowers, a heart-shaped box of candy). Put it where the students will see it when they enter the classroom. In the middle of the display, include the picture Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–45) (item no. 80612) or a similar picture. Ask questions like these:

  • How do you show love for your friends, family, and neighbors?

  • How does the world teach that we can show love?

  • What are some examples where the Savior taught about love?

Explain that Jesus taught His disciples much about love during His final hours with them. The King James Version of the Bible uses forms of the word love thirty-four times in John 13–17.

Have students use the Topical Guide to locate a scripture telling us what the two “great” commandments are. Have a student read Matthew 22:36–40. Explain that during Jesus’ final hours with His Apostles in mortality He stressed again the importance of these commandments.

Have students read silently John 15:13and ponder its meaning. Ask: What do the scriptures teach that the Savior expects of us? Explain that the Greek word that is translated “lay down” in the King James Version can also mean to “set aside.” Jesus Christ set aside His mortal life to bring about our eternal life. Not only did He suffer and die for us as an expression of His love, He also lived His life for us and for Heavenly Father. He often expressed that He did the will of the Father and not His own will. Ask: Why does the Lord expect His followers to set aside their own desires to obey Him and serve others? Have students reread John 15:12.

  • How can we grow in our love for others?

  • How can we better demonstrate our love for others?

Encourage students to pray to have more love and to show it better through service and self-sacrifice. You could close with the hymn “Love One Another” (Hymns, no. 308).

scripture iconJohn 14:15–27(Scripture Mastery, John 14:15). We show our love for Christ by keeping His commandments.

(15–20 minutes)

Write on the board, If you loved me, you would. Ask students how the following people might fill in the blank: a mother, a sister, a friend, and Jesus. Have a student read John 14:15, and ask:

  • How would Jesus like us to express our love for Him?

  • Why is obedience an expression of love?

  • What does a person’s disobedience suggest?

Discuss how our actions often express our feelings more accurately than our words.

Have students read John 14:16–27looking for the promises Jesus gave to those who love Him, and write these on the board. Ask: What other blessings from Heavenly Father might be an expression of His love for us?

Give students paper and invite them to write their testimonies of or feelings for the Savior and what they will do to show greater love for Him. Encourage them to read their letters from time to time.

John 14:15–26; 16:7–14. The First Comforter is the Holy Ghost, who gives comfort and peace, teaches, testifies, reminds us of the Lord’s teachings, and reproves sinners. The Second Comforter is Jesus Christ, who will one day reveal Himself to those who love and serve Him.

(25–30 minutes)

Ask students: What was your most frightening experience as a little child? Have a few students share their experiences, and ask them: Was there anything that comforted you or brought you peace after this experience?

Have students read John 14:15–26looking for the promises of comfort the Savior gave His disciples. Ask:

  • Why did the disciples need comfort?

  • When do we need a special comforter such as the Holy Ghost?

  • Who qualifies to receive the Holy Ghost?

Explain that the Holy Ghost is sometimes referred to as the First Comforter. Have students read John 14:18–21, 23.

  • According to these verses, who could be called the Second Comforter? (Christ.)

  • Who receives the promise of the Second Comforter? (Those who keep the Lord’s commandments and love Him; see vv. 21, 23.)

Read Doctrine and Covenants 93:1, and explain that the Second Comforter is available to all Saints, but that the blessing comes after we prove ourselves faithful at all costs. Use all or parts of the following statements to help you teach about the two Comforters.

Referring to John 14:15–26, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“These statements about the two Comforters climax and crown the teachings of the Son of God. We have no record of anything he ever said which can so completely withdraw the curtain of eternity and open to the faithful a vision of the glories of God. Based on love, born of obedience, Jesus promises the saints that they can have, here and now in this life, the following:

  1. The gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost; the comfort and peace which it is the function of that Holy Spirit to bestow; the revelation and the sanctifying power which alone will prepare men for the companionship of gods and angels hereafter;

  2. Personal visitations from the Second Comforter, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the resurrected and perfected being who dwells with his Father in the mansions on high; and

  3. God the Father … shall visit man in person, take up his abode with him, as it were, and reveal to him all the hidden mysteries of his kingdom” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:735).

The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of the two Comforters this way:

“There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost, the same as given on the day of Pentecost, and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism. This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge. …

“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.

“Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses. …

“Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions—Isaiah, Ezekiel, John upon the Isle of Patmos, St. Paul in the three heavens, and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 149–51).

Remind students that we should make ourselves ready for the Second Comforter but that Christ will reveal Himself “in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (D&C 88:68). We should focus on receiving and heeding the First Comforter, because that is available to each of us now.

Ask students to read John 14:26and John 16:7–14looking for the helps available through the gift of the Holy Ghost. List these on the board and discuss them.

Ask: Do we ever need to feel alone or abandoned in our quest for happiness and eternal life? Bear testimony of the peace, joy, and comfort that come from the Holy Ghost.

John 15:1–8. The Savior is the True Vine, and we are the branches. We receive nourishment from Him, and without Him we can do nothing.

(15–20 minutes)

Bring an electrical appliance and a plant to class. Turn on the appliance without plugging it into an electrical outlet. Ask: Why doesn’t it seem to work? Point to an individual branch or leaf on the plant. Ask students some of the following questions:

  • What enables the leaf or branch to live?

  • What will happen if you break it off?

  • In what ways are the leaf and the electrical appliance similar? (Both need a source of power to accomplish their purpose.)

  • How are we like the appliance and the plant? (Help students see that they need a divine source of power and nourishment to realize their potential.)

Have students read John 15:1–8. Ask them to identify the meaning of the following symbols from this parable:


  • What lessons can we learn from this comparison?

  • In what ways are we dependent on God?

You may choose to read the following statement by Elder John Taylor:

“As a Saint you say, ‘I think I understand my duty, and I am doing very well.’ That may be so. You see the little twig: it is green; it flourishes and is the very picture of life. It bears its part and proportion in the tree, and is connected with the stem, branches, and root. But could the tree live without it? Yes, it could. It need not boast itself and get uplifted and say, ‘How green I am! and how I flourish! and what a healthy position I am in! How well I am doing! and I am in my proper place and am doing right.’ But could you do without the root? No: you bear your proper part and position in the tree. Just so with this people. When they are doing their part—when they are magnifying their calling, living their religion, and walking in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord, they have a portion of his Spirit given to them to profit withal. And while they are humble, faithful, diligent, and observe the laws and commandments of God, they stand in their proper position on the tree: they are flourishing; the buds, blossoms, leaves, and everything about them are all right, and they form a part and parcel of the tree” (in Journal of Discourses, 6:108).

Have students read and ponder King Benjamin’s exhortation on gratitude in Mosiah 2:19–25. Invite students to share their thoughts and feelings on this message.

calendar iconJohn 17. Jesus Christ is our intercessor and advocate with Heavenly Father.

(45–50 minutes)

Arrange the classroom like a courtroom, with props such as flags, a gavel, and a Bible for swearing in. Select four students to play the role of judge, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, and defendant. Tell the prosecutor to find as many things wrong with the defendant as possible through aggressive questioning, for example, “Have you ever lied?” “Have you ever cheated?” “Have you ever broken a law?” Tell the defense attorney to plead the case for the defendant. For example, if the defendant admits to a mistake or error, the defense attorney should point out extenuating circumstances or explain that the defendant has repented. Tell the defendant (and make sure the class understands) that this is a role play and the answers need not be true but that they should reflect how the student feels a typical person might respond. Allow the role players about five minutes to practice away from the rest of the class, and then have them present the role play.

Write Advocate on the board and ask the students to define the term. (An advocate is like a lawyer who pleads a case or cause.) Have a student read 1 John 2:1to the class, and then have a second student read Doctrine and Covenants 62:1. Ask: How is Jesus Christ our advocate with Heavenly Father?

Write the word Intercession on the board and ask for a definition. (To intercede means to reconcile, mediate, or plead for.) Have a different student read 2 Nephi 2:9–10, and then have a fourth read Mosiah 15:7–9. Ask: In what ways does Jesus intercede with the Father in our behalf?

Remind the students of the role play and ask:

  • Who do you think the defense attorney might represent?

  • Who might the prosecutor represent? (Explain that one of Satan’s names is “the accuser”; see Revelation 12:9–10.)

  • Who might the defendant represent? (Any of us.)

Point out that, like the fictitious defendant, all of us sin and make mistakes in our lives. Our repentance and obedience allow the Savior, who is without sin and who atoned for us, to be our advocate with the Father and to intercede on our behalf.

Read the commentary for John 17:1in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (pp. 171–72). Ask students to explain why John 17is referred to as the intercessory prayer.

Have students read John chapter 17 looking for evidence of the Lord acting as an intercessor on behalf of His disciples. Discuss what they find. Ask: How do you feel knowing that Jesus Christ is our advocate and intercessor? Close with the following statement by President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was a member of the First Presidency:

“I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children. I do not think he intends to shut any of us off. …

“… I believe that in his justice and mercy he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 84).

scripture iconJohn 17:3(Scripture Mastery). “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

(10–15 minutes)

Read John 17:3and ask: What do you think is the difference between knowing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and knowing about them? Read 1 John 4:7–8; Mosiah 5:13; and Doctrine and Covenants 132:21–24and discuss how we can come to know the Father and the Son better.

Help students memorize John 17:3by writing the scripture on the board and having students recite it. After a few recitations, erase a couple of key words and have them recite it again. Continue in this way until students are able to recite the entire scripture without any helps on the board.