John 9–10

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 119–22


timeline

Introduction

Jesus said, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (John 9:39). One of the paradoxes of the scriptures is that a man born blind came to see that Jesus was the Son of God, while the teachers of the Jews, with all their knowledge of the law of Moses, were blind to Him (see John 9). Jesus said a good shepherd “goeth before” his sheep, “and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:4). How ironic that those claiming to be guardians of the word of God shut their ears to the True Shepherd. John 9–10helps us understand what we must do to hear the voice of Jesus Christ.

Prayerfully study John 9–10and 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, 108–10, 118–20.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for John 9–10.

John 9:1–5. Illness and tragedy are a necessary part of life’s experiences, not necessarily evidence of sin.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students why they think some people are born with disabilities. (Note: Be sensitive to those in your class who might have disabilities.) Responses may include:

  • Because this world is fallen and imperfect.

  • As a test for the person with the disability.

  • As a test for others.

  • So that God can show His power in our lives.

Ask students to read John 9:1–5.

  • According to these verses, why do some people have disabilities in mortality?

  • What reasons did the disciples suggest to explain why the man was born blind?

  • What did Jesus say was the reason this man was blind? (Point out to students that this reason may not apply to every disability.)

Share the following three statements with students. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

“This is a doctrine … which reminds us mortals that we do not have all of the data. There are many times when we must withhold judgment and trust God lest we misread, as did Jesus’ disciples when they inquired about the man blind from birth and Jesus gave the immortal reply: ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him’ (see John 9:1–3)” (But for a Small Moment [1986], 94).

Earlier Elder Maxwell, then a member of the Seventy, wrote:

“There are clearly special cases of individuals with special limitations in life, which we cannot now fathom. Like him who was ‘blind from birth,’ some come to bring glory to God. (John 9:1–2.) We must be exceedingly careful about imputing either wrong causes or wrong rewards to all such. They are in the Lord’s hands and he loves them perfectly. Some of those who have required much waiting upon in this life may be waited upon in the next world—but for the highest of reasons” (Things As They Really Are [1978], 26).

Elder Boyd K. Packer said:

“There has always been in all of humanity a sprinkling of those who are described in the scriptures as the blind, the halt, the lame, the deaf, the withered, the dumb, the impotent folk. We refer to them as having learning or communication disorders, as the hearing or visually impaired, as those with motor or orthopedic limitations. We speak of intellectual or emotional impairment, of retardation, and mental illness. Some suffer from a combination of these, and all of them cannot function without some help. …

“… It is natural for parents with handicapped children to ask themselves, ‘What did we do wrong?’ The idea that all suffering is somehow the direct result of sin has been taught since ancient times. It is false doctrine. That notion was even accepted by some of the early disciples until the Lord corrected them [see John 9:1–3]. …

“There is little room for feelings of guilt in connection with handicaps. Some handicaps may result from carelessness or abuse, and some through addiction of parents. But most of them do not. Afflictions come to the innocent.

“The very purpose for which the world was created, and man introduced to live upon it, requires that the laws of nature operate in cold disregard for human feelings. We must work out our salvation without expecting the laws of nature to be exempted for us. Natural law is, on rare occasions, suspended in a miracle. But mostly our handicapped, like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, wait endlessly for the moving of the water. …

“If healing does not come in mortal life, it will come thereafter. Just as the gorgeous monarch butterfly emerges from a chrysalis, so will spirits emerge [see D&C 138:17; Alma 40:23; 2 Nephi 9:13; 1 Corinthians 15:19]. …

“If our view is limited to mortal life, some things become unbearable because they seem so unfair and so permanent. There are doctrines which, if understood, will bring a perspective toward and a composure regarding problems which otherwise have no satisfactory explanation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 6–8; or Ensign, May 1991, 7–9).

Have students read 1 Samuel 16:7. Ask: Why is it important not to speculate unduly about physical disabilities? Explain that Heavenly Father’s plan is fair and just, and that we cannot always understand reasons for suffering because of our limited mortal perspective. Encourage the students to be more sensitive to others’ disabilities and suffering.

John 9:6–33. The account of the blind man coming to see that Jesus was the Son of God illustrates that testimonies grow with proper care and nourishment.

(30–35 minutes)

Ask students if they know anyone who is a convert to the Church. Invite one of them to relate that person’s conversion story. Ask: Why don’t converts understand the entire gospel of Jesus Christ all at once?

Give students a copy of the chart entitled “A Man Born Blind” from the appendix as a handout (p. 286). Have them read the statement from the scriptures in the left column and mark in one of the last three columns who made the statement. Have them look for which individuals grew spiritually and which ones did not.

Ask students why they believe some people grow spiritually and others do not. Have students read and mark the following references: Moroni 7:16–19; Doctrine and Covenants 42:61; 50:23–25; 88:6–13, 67; 93:26–27. Discuss with the class the principles of spiritual growth that are found in these passages. Ask:

  • How might the principles in these passages apply to the man born blind?

  • Have you noticed any of these principles functioning in your own life?

Allow any students who would like to share examples with the class to do so. Encourage students to apply the same principles that the man born blind applied—accept and live the truth they are blessed with, and go on to greater knowledge and truth.

John 10:1–5. By following Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, we become His sheep.

(25–30 minutes)

Play a recording of several familiar voices and ask students to identify the voices. (Or blindfold several members of the class and have them try to identify the voices of different class members.) Some will recognize familiar voices more quickly than others. Ask students:

  • Why could some recognize the voices more quickly than others?

  • How does knowing a person affect how easily we recognize a voice?

Explain that it is much the same in recognizing the voice of the Lord. Emphasize that often the “voice” of the Lord is not an audible voice but a “still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things” (D&C 85:6; see also 1 Kings 19:11–12; 1 Nephi 17:45).

Have students read John 10:1–5, and ask: Whose voice do we need to become most familiar with during our mortal life? Explain that how well we know the Lord makes a difference in how well we hear and follow His voice. Have students read John 21:15–17, and ask:

  • Who did Jesus appoint to be a “shepherd” during His absence?

  • What was it that Jesus wanted this shepherd to do?

Play a recording of the voice of the President of the Church and have the students identify the voice. Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38and ask:

  • How might the living prophet’s voice also be considered the voice of the Shepherd?

  • Who else might be considered shepherds of the Lord’s sheep today?

  • What qualities would it take to be a good shepherd?

Have students read Ezekiel 34:1–5looking for the importance of taking care of the Lord’s sheep.

Testify to the importance of knowing and hearkening to the voice of the Shepherd as well as striving to be the kind of shepherd that He is.

John 10:1–28(Scripture Mastery, John 10:16). Jesus is the True Shepherd of Israel.

(20–25 minutes)

Display a picture of Jesus as a shepherd or of a shepherd leading his sheep. Invite students to review John 10:1–28and find ways Jesus Christ is a shepherd. (He knows the names of His sheep, He leads His sheep and they follow Him, He is willing to lay down His life for His sheep, He protects them, He brings all of His sheep together.)

Elder John R. Lasater, a member of the Seventy, related an experience he had that illustrates how well the Good Shepherd knows His sheep:

“Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit the country of Morocco as part of an official United States government delegation. As part of that visit, we were invited to travel some distance into the desert to visit some ruins. Five large black limousines moved across the beautiful Moroccan countryside at considerable speed. I was riding in the third limousine, which had lagged some distance behind the second. As we topped the brow of a hill, we noticed that the limousine in front of us had pulled off to the side of the road. As we drew nearer, I sensed that an accident had occurred and suggested to my driver that we stop. The scene before us has remained with me for these many years.

“An old shepherd, in the long, flowing robes of the Savior’s day, was standing near the limousine in conversation with the driver. Nearby, I noted a small flock of sheep numbering not more than fifteen or twenty. An accident had occurred. The king’s vehicle had struck and injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd. The driver of the vehicle was explaining to him the law of the land. Because the king’s vehicle had injured one of the sheep belonging to the old shepherd, he was now entitled to one hundred times its value at maturity. However, under the same law, the injured sheep must be slain and the meat divided among the people. My interpreter hastily added, ‘But the old shepherd will not accept the money. They never do.’

“Startled, I asked him why. And he added, ‘Because of the love he has for each of his sheep.’ It was then that I noticed the old shepherd reach down, lift the injured lamb in his arms, and place it in a large pouch on the front of his robe. He kept stroking its head, repeating the same word over and over again. When I asked the meaning of the word, I was informed, ‘Oh, he is calling it by name. All of his sheep have a name, for he is their shepherd, and the good shepherds know each one of their sheep by name.’

“It was as my driver predicted. The money was refused, and the old shepherd with his small flock of sheep, with the injured one tucked safely in the pouch on his robe, disappeared into the beautiful deserts of Morocco” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 86–87; or Ensign, May 1988, 74).

Read John 10:16and ask: What other sheep did Jesus have besides the people in the Jerusalem area? Read 3 Nephi 15:21; 16:1–3; 17:4and have students cross-reference these verses with John 10:16. Ask:

  • With so many sheep in different places, how does the Shepherd know each one individually? (see John 10:14; see also Luke 12:6–7; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:37–39).

  • What evidence have you seen in your life that the Lord knows you personally?

Testify that God knows and loves each of us individually.

John 10:9, 11, 14, 36. The “I am” statements in the Gospel of John testify that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament.

(20–25 minutes)

Ask: If you were speaking at a gathering of important people, how would you like to be introduced? Why?

Have students read Exodus 3:13–14. Ask:

  • Why do you think the Lord responded in this way to Moses?

  • What is the significance of the phrase “I am that I am”?

Consider using the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie to help answer this question:

“Christ is the Great I AM, the I AM, the I AM THAT I AM, meaning that he is the Eternal One, the One ‘who is from all eternity to all eternity’ (D. & C. 39:1; Ex. 3:14), the God who is ‘from everlasting to everlasting’ (Ps. 90:2), whose course is one eternal round and who never varies or changes. (1 Ne. 10:17–20.) ‘From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail’ (D. & C. 76:4), for he is the I AM. When he said to the Jews, for instance, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58), it was the same as saying, ‘Before Abraham, was I AM, the Everlasting God, he “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”’ (Mic. 5:2.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 340).

Divide the class into groups and assign each one or more of the “I am” statements from the following chart. Have each group read the accompanying scriptures looking for how Jesus fulfilled each statement. Have them report to the class, and discuss their findings. (Possible answers are included with the chart.)

“I Am” Statement

Fulfillment

“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35; see vv. 47–51).

Jesus Christ gave Himself for us in the Atonement, and He feeds us spiritually. Because of Him we will be resurrected, and if we obey Him we will have eternal life.

“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Jesus Christ is the source of all truth. If we follow His words and example, we will not stumble in the darkness of the world.

“I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7; see vv. 8–10).

Jesus Christ protects us like a shepherd at the door of a sheep enclosure. Also no one can enter His kingdom or become part of His fold except through Him.

“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11; see vv. 12–15).

Jesus Christ leads us. He gave His life for us in the Atonement. He knows each of us individually.

“I am the Son of God” (John 10:36).

Jesus is the Firstborn of the Father’s spirit children (see D&C 93:21) and His Only Begotten Son in the flesh (see John 1:14). Only through Jesus Christ, the literal Son of God, can mankind receive eternal life (see John 20:31).

“I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25).

Through Jesus Christ’s Atonement we can overcome spiritual death. He also gives us the gift of the Resurrection.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and the source of all truth. He gives us the Resurrection and offers us eternal life.

“I am the true vine” (John 15:1; see v. 5).

We depend on Jesus Christ for life. Only by following His teachings will we be able to bear fruit.

Ask students:

  • What do you think the phrase “I am” meant to Jesus’ listeners?

  • Read John 8:58. Who was Jesus saying He was?

  • How did the Jews respond? (see v. 59).

  • What difference does it make to know that Jesus is Jehovah, the Great I AM, the God of the Old Testament?

Emphasize to the students that Jesus is God the Son, a divine being, and not merely a great person. Help them understand that there is a continuity between the Old and New Testaments and that that continuity is through Jesus Christ and His gospel.