Luke 1–3

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 72–75


timeline

Introduction

“For generations, enlightened mankind anxiously sought the fulfillment of prophecies uttered by righteous men inspired of Almighty God. …

“Then came that night of nights when the angel of the Lord came upon shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock, with the pronouncement: ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’ (Luke 2:8–11.) …

“With the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment—a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to be the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Promised Messiah, even Jesus Christ the Son of God.

“Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, he came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God” (Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 141). The testimony of Luke opens with a detailed account of the events that surrounded Christ’s birth.

Prayerfully study Luke 1–3and 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, 21–25.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Luke 1–3.

Luke 1:1–2:20(see also Matthew 1:18–24; John 1:1–5). Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Mary, and many others were foreordained in the premortal life to fulfill certain missions on earth.

(25–35 minutes)

Show students different kinds of announcements (for example wedding invitations, newspaper advertisements, and award notices). Ask: If you could receive any announcement today, what would you like it to be? Invite students to read Luke 1:5–17, 26–31and look for the announcements Mary and Zacharias received. Ask: What clues do these verses give as to why they were the ones to receive these special announcements?

Share the following statements by Elder Bruce R. McConkie with the class:

“Our Lord’s mother, Mary, like Christ, was chosen and foreordained in pre-existence for the part she was destined to play in the great plan of salvation. Hers was the commission to provide a temporal body for the Lord Omnipotent, to nurture and cherish him in infancy and youth, and to aid him in preparing for that great mission which he alone could perform. Certainly she was one of the noblest and greatest of all the spirit offspring of the Father” (Mormon Doctrine, 471).

“Though many of the Jews in the meridian of time were in a state of direful and awful apostasy, such darkness of mind and spirit was not universal. It did not envelope the whole nation. Elizabeth and Zacharias were righteous saints. Both were lineal descendants of Aaron, and Zacharias held the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:78).

Ask: What do we learn about Mary, Zacharias, and Elisabeth from these statements?

Point out to students that Zacharias’s wife, Elisabeth, was barren (infertile) and Mary was a virgin. Ask:

  • How do these circumstances add to the significance of these births?

  • Do you know of anyone who was born under seemingly miraculous circumstances?

  • What thoughts or feelings have your parents shared with you about how sacred and special it is to bring a child into the world? (Consider asking a parent to visit the class to share these thoughts and feelings.)

Read Luke 1:38–55, 67–79as a class. Ask students to pay attention to the descriptions of peace, joy, and hope that Mary and Zacharias expressed. Then ask:

  • How do you imagine you might feel when you become a parent?

  • How might such feelings be more intense because these two children were to be Jesus and John the Baptist?

  • What do these verses teach about the faith of Mary and Zacharias?

  • What lessons can you learn from them to help your faith grow?

Have students recall Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts of these events, and ask: What is significantly different about Luke’s testimony? Read the information on “audience” and “unique features” in the introduction to the Gospel of Luke (p. 72). Ask: How does this information help you understand why Luke was the only Gospel writer to mention Mary’s and Zacharias’s experiences with an angel?

Display a picture or some figurines from a nativity scene, and invite students to listen as you read of Christ’s birth from Luke 2:1–20. Testify of the Savior and allow students who would like to share their testimonies to do so.

Luke 1:13. Prayers are not always answered immediately. Sometimes we must wait a long time to receive answers to our prayers.

(10–15 minutes)

After the opening prayer, ask students:

  • Does God hear every prayer?

  • Does He answer every prayer?

  • What should we do if an answer doesn’t come right away?

Read Luke 1:13. What does this verse teach about God? (He hears and answers prayers.) Review verses 5–12 and look for how long Zacharias and Elisabeth may have prayed before an answer came. What does that teach you about God answering prayers?

Share the following statement from Bishop H. Burke Peterson, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric:

“Heavenly Father listens to every prayer from his children. … No matter what we may have done wrong, he listens to us. …

“… Some [prayers] are answered immediately, but some do take longer, and that’s where we may become discouraged. …

“There are … times when you wonder if he is ever going to answer. About twenty-two years ago our fourth daughter was born. After she was born, the doctor told my wife that she shouldn’t have any more children. We talked about it, and she said, ‘I feel that there is another child for us.’ So we decided, of course, that we were going to have another baby.

“Well, a year went by, and the baby didn’t come; and two years went by. Finally one of the girls said to me, ‘Are you sure we’re supposed to have another baby?’ My wife had said that she knew we could have one, so we went and collectively asked her, ‘Are you sure we’re going to have a baby?’ She said, ‘Yes, but we haven’t prayed long enough or hard enough.’ So we prayed for another year, and still no baby came. Then we asked the question again: ‘Are you sure you know what you’re talking about?’ ‘Yes,’ was her reply. So we prayed and prayed and prayed for one and two and three and four and five and six and seven and eight years! And then one day at the table she said, ‘Guess what? We’re going to have a baby.’ Prayers, you see, are sometimes answered quickly, but other times you pray a long, long time before you get what you want. …

“May the Lord bless you to persevere in righteous purposes” (“Prayer—Try Again,” Ensign, June 1981, 73–75).

Invite students to share how it makes them feel to know that God answers prayers.

Luke 1:13–17, 26–56; 3:1–22(see also Matthew 3; 14:3–5; Mark 1:4–11; 6:17–20; John 1:1–36). Mary and John can serve as examples for us.

(45–50 minutes)

Bring a mirror to class, and hold it in front of several students.

  • What do you like about mirrors? What do you dislike?

  • How concerned are you about the way you look? What do you do to try to change your looks?

  • How important is your outward appearance compared to your personality and inner traits? (see also 1 Samuel 16:7).

Briefly discuss how famous people (such as television stars, fashion models, sports stars, or musicians) can affect our standards. Ask: What harm might result from having some of those people serve as your role models? Testify that some of the best role models are found in the scriptures, and as we follow their examples we can strengthen our spirits, not just improve our physical appearance or abilities. Two of the best role models we can follow are John the Baptist and Mary.

Read Luke 7:28and look for how the Savior described John the Baptist. Share the following statement from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, and invite students to listen for reasons the Lord described John the way He did.

“Few prophets rank with John the Baptist. Among other things, his ministry was foretold by Lehi (1 Ne. 10:7–10), Nephi (1 Ne. 11:27; 2 Ne. 31:4–18), and Isaiah (Isa. 40:3); Gabriel came down from the courts of glory to announce John’s coming birth (Luke 1:5–44); he was the last legal administrator, holding keys and authority under the Mosaic dispensation (D. & C. 84:26–28); his mission was to prepare the way before, baptize, and acclaim the divine Sonship of Christ (John 1); and in modern times, on the 15th of May, 1829, he returned to earth as a resurrected being to confer the Aaronic Priesthood upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. ([Joseph Smith—History 1:66–75]; D. & C. 13.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 393).

Tell students that John is a good example for those holding the Aaronic Priesthood. Read with them the prophecy concerning John in Luke 1:13–17.

  • Which of John’s qualities can you find that would be important for modern priesthood holders to possess? (He brought joy and gladness to others [v. 14], he was great in the sight of the Lord [v. 15], he helped prepare people to receive the Lord [v. 17].)

  • Why would having these qualities be important?

  • How do these qualities compare in importance to our outward appearance?

Ask the girls in your class: How would you feel if the Aaronic Priesthood holders of today had the characteristics John did? Have students silently read Luke 3:1–22looking for other qualities or accomplishments of John that young men could emulate, and discuss these as a class.

Ask:

  • What kind of woman do you believe Mary was?

  • Read 1 Nephi 11:14–15. How concerned would you guess she was over her outward appearance?

Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie about Mary:

“As the Father chose the most noble and righteous of all his spirit sons to come into mortality as his Only Begotten in the flesh, so we may confidently conclude that he selected the most worthy and spiritually talented of all his spirit daughters to be the mortal mother of his Eternal Son” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:85).

Ask the girls in your class: Why would it be particularly helpful to have a female role model in the scriptures? Invite students to read Luke 1:26–56, and ask:

  • Which attributes of Mary do you feel are worth emulating? (She was chaste [vv. 27, 35], the Lord was with her [v. 28], she was a humble servant [v. 38], she magnified the Lord [vv. 46–47].)

  • Which of those qualities would you most like to acquire?

  • What could you do to develop those qualities?

Ask the boys: How would you feel if today’s young women had the attributes of Mary? Invite the girls to quote the Young Women Theme (see Young Women Personal Progress: Standing as a Witness of God [2001], p. 5). Ask: What qualities expressed in that theme do you think Mary had?

Tell students that the way John and Mary lived helped further the plan of salvation. They prepared the way for the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ. Their great acts were intended to increase the Savior’s glory, not their own. Testify that the way we live matters much more than our outer appearance. Refer to the mirror and encourage the boys to try to “reflect” what they have learned about John in their personal lives, and encourage the girls to reflect the attributes of Mary.

Luke 1–3 (see also Matthew 3; 14:3–5; Mark 1:4–11; 6:17–20; John 1:1–36). Everyone who gains a testimony of Jesus Christ should bear testimony of Him to others in word and deed.

(35–40 minutes)

Ask students to recall and share experiences in which they felt the Spirit as someone bore testimony.

  • What did the person testify of?

  • In what ways did the testimony influence your life?

Have students consider what they think is most important to bear testimony of. Ask them to write their testimonies in a sentence or two on a piece of paper, and invite them to share what they wrote.

The first three chapters of Luke contain the testimonies of several people:

Mary

Luke 1:46–55

Zacharias

Luke 1:67–79

the angel in the fields

Luke 2:10–12

the heavenly host

Luke 2:13–14

the shepherds

Luke 2:20

Simeon

Luke 2:29–35

Anna

Luke 2:38

John the Baptist

Luke 3:4–6; JST, Luke 3:4–11

Heavenly Father

Luke 3:22

Invite students to review these testimonies and to consider what they have in common. Ask:

  • Why is it significant that all of these testimonies focus on the Savior?

  • How would having Jesus Christ as the foundation of your testimony bless your life?

  • What is not appropriate to speak of when we stand to express ourselves in testimony meetings?

Share the following statement from Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, about what to avoid while sharing a testimony:

“Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting … won’t give sermons or exhortations or travel reports or try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language nor to go on at length” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 43; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 32).

If you have time, invite students to reread the scriptures listed in the chart looking for what these people did to gain a testimony. (For example, the shepherds received their witness as they carried out their daily labor. Simeon followed the Spirit and was found in the temple. Anna fasted and prayed.) Encourage students to strive to live in such a way that they can gain or strengthen their testimonies.

Luke 2:40–52. Even when Jesus’ parents did not know where He was, He was always doing the will of His Father in Heaven.

(35–40 minutes)

Ask your students if any of them have ever been lost. If so, ask them to describe their feelings when they realized they were lost. If not, have them imagine how it might feel to be lost. Ask them to imagine being a parent whose child is lost.

  • How do you think a parent might feel?

  • Do you think you would be more or less worried if your child were lost in your neighborhood or while you were on a trip far from home?

Have students read Luke 2:40–45and look for who was lost.

  • How do you imagine Mary and Joseph felt when they discovered Jesus was lost?

  • Where would your own parents probably go looking for you if you were lost?

  • What does the place where you can usually be found reveal about the type of person you are?

  • Read Luke 2:46. Where did Joseph and Mary find Jesus?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 109:12–13. According to these verses, why is the temple still a good place to “search for Jesus”?

  • What does being found in the temple reveal about the type of person Jesus Christ was, even when He was just twelve years old?

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 101:22. How does this verse relate to this story?

Invite students to read Luke 2:43–51and look for evidence of the Savior’s greatness when He was a child. Ask students to consider these questions:

  • According to these verses, how good a son was Jesus?

  • What evidence is there that His parents trusted Him?

  • Read the Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 2:46. What do these verses add to our understanding of the Savior?

  • What evidence is there that Jesus already knew who He was?

Read the following statement about Jesus by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 392).

Encourage students to follow the example of Jesus by obeying Heavenly Father’s will, especially while in their youth. Discuss with students some ways that we can “be about [our] Father’s business” today.

Luke 3(see also Matthew 1:1–16; 3; 14:3–5; Mark 1:4–11; 6:17–20; John 1:1–36). Church membership alone does not bring the full blessings of the gospel; we must faithfully keep our covenants in order to obtain those blessings.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • How many of you have heard that you are a chosen generation and were selected to come forth in the last days?

  • What do you believe that statement means?

  • What responsibilities come because you are a part of this generation?

Read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith:

“Now may I say to all those who forsake the world and join the Church, and to all the members of the Church, that Church membership alone will not assure us of the full blessings of the gospel or guarantee us an entrance into the celestial kingdom. After baptism we must keep the commandments and endure to the end” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 7).

Help students see that while it is essential to belong to the Church, being “chosen” will not help us if we are not faithful and worthy. Help them understand that it isn’t enough to be active in the Church. We have to be “active in the gospel” as well.

Show students that Jesus was born through the lineage of Abraham by briefly reviewing His genealogy in Luke 3:23–38.

  • Read Genesis 22:15–18. Why was it vital for Jesus to be a descendant of Abraham?

  • Read Abraham 2:9–11. What blessings are available to those who are of the covenant lineage?

Teach students that the people of Jesus’ day misunderstood the Abrahamic covenant. They thought that because they were of the house of Israel they automatically received the blessings of Abraham.

  • Read Luke 3:7–8. What do these verses teach about the misunderstanding of the Jews? (see also the commentary for Matthew 3:9in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 28).

  • How can verse 8 be applied to members of the Church today?

  • What does verse 9 add to our understanding of these verses? (If we do not bring forth good fruit through keeping our covenants, no matter what our lineage is, we will not receive the blessings of the gospel but will be cast out.)

Invite students to read Luke 3:10–22and look for what we can do to be worthy of the responsibility of being a “chosen generation.”