John 18–21

“John 18–21,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 130–34


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


The final chapters of John provide us an opportunity to ponder the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the ignominy of the Savior’s trials. Look for indications of Jewish feelings about Roman rule, and consider how the Jewish leaders were able to persuade Pilate to authorize the execution of Jesus though he knew He was innocent of any crime. After experiencing ridicule, an illegal hearing, and abuse at the hands of Herod and Pilate, Jesus was led away to be crucified at Calvary, where those who passed by Him reviled Him by saying, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (see Mark 15:30). His body was laid in a garden tomb, which was sealed shut, but it would not long remain there. As you read, ponder the relief and joy of Mary Magdalene and the disciples as they realized that the Lord Jesus Christ had risen from the dead and would live forevermore.

Prayerfully study John 18–21and 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, 181–87, 192–93, 200–205.

  • “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 18–21.

video iconNew Testament Video presentation 10, “Feed My Sheep” (13:04), can be used in teaching John 21(see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

calendar iconJohn 18–19. Jesus Christ suffered and died so that all mankind might be saved. Our love and appreciation for Him increase as we learn more about His sacrifice for us.

(35–40 minutes)

Ask students to think of something that they have strong feelings for (for example a principle of the gospel, their family, the Church, a job, or their testimony). Ask:

  • How have you felt when others have ridiculed or mocked something special in your life? Why?

  • Why do you think some people ridicule what we have come to prize?

  • What other kinds of adversities do we experience in life?

Have students read Hebrews 2:18and footnote 18a looking for who has experienced all life’s difficulties and can comfort us. Explain that we can learn much about enduring trials from the life of the Savior.

Write the following questions and references on the board. Divide the class into four groups and assign each a question. Have the groups use the scripture references to find the answers. Encourage them to look at cross-references as needed. When they finish, have a student from each group read their question and share their answer.

  1. How does Jesus know what it is like to be misrepresented, misunderstood, or betrayed? (see John 18:1–13, 19–24).

  2. How does Jesus know about feeling forsaken or alone? (see John 18:15–18, 25–27; 19:25–30).

  3. How does Jesus know about being the victim of injustice and legal persecution? (see John 18:28–40; 19:8–15).

  4. How does Jesus know about disease and physical suffering? (see John 19:1–7, 16–24).

Point out to students that we cannot teach Jesus about suffering because He knows already. Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Indeed, we cannot teach Him anything! But we can listen to Him. We can love Him, we can honor Him, we can worship Him! We can keep His commandments, and we can feast upon His scriptures! Yes, we who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by Him! We are His ‘work’ and His ‘glory,’ and He is never distracted! (See Moses 1:39.)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 10; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 9).

  • Read John 19:38–42. How did Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus show respect and reverence for the Lord?

  • Read Matthew 27:59–60. What do these verses tell us about Joseph of Arimathea’s devotion to the Savior?

  • How can we show our devotion to Jesus Christ?

Conclude by singing or reading “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” (Hymns, no. 194).

John 18:1–13. Understanding who we are and the purposes of life can give us courage to endure difficulties.

(30–35 minutes)

Before class, tape a mirror in the bottom of a shoe box and replace the lid. Tell students that they are going to learn about a mystery person today. Explain that in the box is a clue to the identity of this person. Invite a student to look into the box and discover the clue. Have the student tell the class who the mystery person is. Ask:

  • How do you know that it is you?

  • Do you know who you really are?

Write on the board the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

“We must ever remember who we are and what God expects us to become” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 67; or Ensign, May 1994, 50).

Ask students:

  • Who are we really?

  • What does God expect us to become?

  • How can believing that we are literally the sons and daughters of God help us have courage as we face the trials of life?

Review the story of Jesus’ betrayal in John 18:1–9. Have students read verses 10–13, and ask:

  • What did Jesus say in these verses that shows He knew who He was and what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do?

  • What evidence is there in these verses that Jesus had courage to face this serious trial?

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

“As you continue to face many challenging choices in life, remember, there is great protection when you know who you are, why you are here, and where you are going” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 97; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 75).

On the left side of the board write Jesus Christ (John 18:19–24, 28–37). On the right side write Peter (John 18:15–18, 25–27). Assign half the class to study the references after Jesus’ name, and the other half to study the ones after Peter’s. Ask the first group:

  • What evidence did you find in these verses that Jesus knew who He was?

  • How do you think He found strength in that knowledge?

Ask the other group similar questions about Peter. Ask some or all of the following questions as part of a class discussion:

  • How did Jesus Christ’s response to His accusers show He knew who He was?

  • Why was Jesus born?

  • Why did Peter lie about his association with the Savior?

  • How does Peter’s experience indicate he may not have known who he really was?

  • What does Luke 22:60–62tell us about how Peter felt after he denied the Savior three times?

  • How do you feel when you know you have fallen short of your potential?

  • How can remembering who we are help us avoid falling short?

Conclude by reading the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard or giving it to students as a handout:

“By focusing on and living the principles of Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness, we can separate ourselves from the wickedness of the world. If we are anchored to the correct understanding of who we are, why we are here on this earth, and where we can go after this mortal life, Satan cannot threaten our happiness through any form of temptation. If we are determined to live by Heavenly Father’s plan, we will use our God-given moral agency to make decisions based on revealed truth, not on the opinions of others or on the current thinking of the world” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 30–31; or Ensign, May 1995, 24).

John 20:1–23(see also Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:2–14; Luke 24:1–12, 36–49). Prophets testify of the Resurrection so that we may believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

(20–25 minutes)

Write Job 14:14 on the board. Ask students to read the scripture and answer the question posed by Job. Ask:

  • How can we be sure that we will live again?

  • What evidence do we have that Jesus Christ broke the bands of death and was resurrected?

Explain that John recorded evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and that we can learn by studying his witness.

Write the following heading on the board: John’s testimony of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Review with students the story in John 20:1–10, looking for evidence of the Resurrection. Consider asking questions like the following:

  • What three people visited the tomb in which Jesus had been buried?

  • What did they find in the tomb?

  • What is significant about the tomb being empty?

  • Is an empty tomb conclusive evidence that Jesus Christ was resurrected? Why or why not?

Under the heading on the board write The tomb was empty. Review with students John 20:11–18, looking for more evidence of the Resurrection. Ask questions like the following:

  • Who was at Jesus’ tomb now?

  • Who did Mary think was the gardener?

  • What was Mary’s testimony in verse 18?

  • What evidence does this add to the empty tomb concerning the Resurrection?

To the list on the board add Mary testified that she saw the Lord. Review with students the story in John 20:19–23looking for still more evidence, and ask questions like these:

  • Who was gathered in a room “for fear of the Jews”?

  • When Jesus appeared, what evidence did He give them that it was He? (He showed them His wounds and may have allowed them to feel the wounds also; see John 20:25; 3 Nephi 11:14–15.)

Write Disciples saw and might have touched the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. Ask:

  • How do these evidences combine to testify of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

  • How can John’s testimony help to strengthen our own?

Invite a student to read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency:

“Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences as the victory of the crucified Lord, who came forth in the Resurrection that first Easter morning” (“The Son of God,” Ensign, Dec. 1992, 2).

John 20:24–31. Believing in Jesus Christ without seeing Him is more pleasing to the Lord than believing after seeing.

(15–20 minutes)

Show the class a world map. Point to a country that your students have not visited. Ask them if they know for a fact that this country exists. Use the following questions in a discussion:

  • How do you know this country exists?

  • How does this relate to the phrase “seeing is believing”?

  • Why is it important at times to depend on the word of others who have seen?

Invite students to read John 20:24–25and look for Thomas’s attitude concerning the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Compare this attitude with John’s in John 20:8. Ask: Why do you think Thomas didn’t depend on the word of his brethren? Be careful not to deride Thomas for doubting. Point out to students that there had never been a resurrection since the world was created. Ask: How might this fact have influenced Thomas’s willingness to believe?

Read John 20:25–29, asking the following questions as you read:

  • What was Thomas’s response after he saw and felt the wounds in the Savior’s hands and side?

  • What important truth did the resurrected Lord teach Thomas?

  • What principle of the gospel do we develop when we believe without seeing?

  • Read John 20:30–31. According to these verses, why did John record these events?

  • What blessings does the Resurrection give us?

  • What condition would we be facing at death if Jesus Christ had not broken the bands of death? (see 2 Nephi 9:8–9).

  • How do you feel about the promise of the Resurrection?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:22–24and testify that people in our day have seen the resurrected Christ. Encourage students to believe the testimonies of these people that Jesus Christ was resurrected and lives today.

John 21:1–6, 15–17. Great blessings come to those who put the Lord’s work first in their lives.

(20–25 minutes)

Write the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, on the board, but leave a blank space in place of the word time: “We love that to which we give time, whether it be the gospel, God, or gold” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 31; or Ensign, May 1981, 24). Invite students to suggest a word that best completes the sentence. When one of them suggests the word time, write it in the space and ask: Why do you think this statement is true?

Have students read John 21:2–6looking for how Peter and the disciples decided to spend their time. Ask questions like the following:

  • How successful were they at fishing through the night?

  • What lesson do you think the Savior was trying to teach them by having them throw the net over the other side of the boat?

  • Read Luke 5:4–11. How did Peter, James, and John respond the last time the Savior did this? (They left all and followed Jesus.)

  • What can we do to show our love for Jesus Christ and His gospel?

Read John 21:15–17.

  • What do you think the Savior meant when He said “feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep”?

  • Who are the lambs or sheep?

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales:

“Feeding the lambs could well be missionary labors working with newly baptized members, who must be nurtured and given caring warmth and fellowship in the family of Saints. Feeding the sheep could well refer to the mature members of the Church, some active and some less active, who need to be cared for and brought back to the flock” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 114; or Ensign, May 1997, 83).

President Gordon B. Hinckley further stated:

“With the ever increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 66; or Ensign, May 1997, 47).

Discuss with students how they can more effectively spend their time and show their love for the Lord by helping to feed His sheep.

John 21:18–24. The Lord may require different sacrifices from one person than from another.

(15–20 minutes)

Draw a cross on the board. Invite students to read Matthew 16:24.

  • According to this verse, what must we do to be saved?

  • What does it mean to take up one’s cross?

List responses to one side of the cross on the board. Read the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 16:26(see footnote 24d) and ask:

  • What does this verse add to our understanding of what it means to take up our cross?

  • Read John 21:18–19. What did it mean to Peter to take up his cross? (He would follow Jesus in death.)

Write this answer on the other side of the cross on the board. Explain that in Peter’s case, the request to “take up his cross, and follow me” was more literal than it is for most of us. According to tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome, upside down at his own request because he did not consider himself worthy to meet death in the same manner as the Lord.

Tell students that John 21:20–24gives another example of what it means to follow the Lord. Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith received a more complete account of that event by revelation. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 7. Ask questions like the following:

  • What was John’s desire?

  • How did it compare to Peter’s?

  • What was good about each of the requests?

  • What change needed to happen to John in order for him to receive his request? (His body needed to be changed to allow him to remain that long on the earth.)

  • What can we learn from these two different examples of following the Savior?

Testify that there are different ways we can “give our lives” to the Lord. Some give their lives through dying for the gospel cause. Others give their lives by living the principles of the gospel each day. Encourage students to take up their cross and follow the Lord.