Matthew 1–2

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 20–22


timeline

Introduction

Matthew chapters 1–2 record information about the birth and childhood of the Lord. The unusual circumstances surrounding His birth show that He was different from all others who have lived on the earth. Many prophets have performed miracles similar to those the Savior performed. But the Lord’s birth, Atonement, and Resurrection are the events that most clearly witness of His divinity.

Prayerfully study Matthew 1–2and 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, 21–23.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Matthew 1–2.

Matthew 1:1–17 (see also Luke 3:23–38). Knowing our genealogies and where we came from is important.

(10–15 minutes)

Invite a few students to come to the board and outline their genealogies. See who can list the most generations. Or ask a few students to tell something interesting about someone in their family history. (Since this lesson will come at the beginning of the year, if you have not taken the opportunity to introduce the class members, this might be a good way to do it. Invite all your students to tell their names and briefly describe an ancestor.) Tell a brief story from your own family history that illustrates how interesting family history research can be.

Explain that Matthew started his testimony by recording the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Ask students to quickly read Matthew 1:1–17looking for names they recognize in the Savior’s genealogy (for example, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth). Ask:

  • To whom did Matthew trace the Savior’s genealogy?

  • What two people in the Savior’s genealogy did Matthew focus on?

  • What type of leaders were David and Abraham? (One was a king, the other a prophet.)

  • Why would it be important that Jesus Christ be the heir of both an Israelite political leader and a religious leader?

Ask students to read Revelation 19:16and consider how the titles used in this verse to describe the Messiah could apply to Him as both a political and a religious leader. (For additional information see the commentary for Matthew 1:17and Luke 3:23–28in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 21.)

Have students identify the woman spoken of both in Matthew 1:5and Ruth 1:4.

  • From what country did this ancestor of Jesus come?

  • Of what nationality was she?

Tell students that Jesus Christ had some ancestors who were valiant and others who succumbed to temptation. Consider asking the following questions:

  • How important is it to be born into a family that has been in the Church for many generations?

  • What advantages are there to having righteous ancestors?

  • What effect do our ancestors’ mistakes have on our ability to do what is right?

Matthew 1:18–23. Jesus Christ is the divine son of Heavenly Father and Mary. From Mary He inherited mortality, which allowed Him to die. From His Heavenly Father He inherited immortality and the power to resurrect.

(10–15 minutes)

Write the following phrases, without the scripture references, on the board:

Ask the students which of the miracles and experiences listed on the board were unique to the Savior. Help students answer the question for each item by showing them a picture of a prophet performing that miracle or having that experience or by reading the scripture references included above.

Ask: If others also performed these miracles, how was Jesus different? Read Mosiah 3:7and Alma 34:8–10looking for what the Savior did that no one else could do. Read Matthew 1:18–23and Luke 1:32, 35and look for what gave Him the ability to work out the Atonement. To help students visualize this principle, draw the following diagram. Help students understand that Jesus was literally the son of God, and that His ability to perform the Atonement and bring about the Resurrection are proofs of that divine sonship. (See “Points to Ponder” in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, pp. 23–25.)

parents of Jesus Christ

Matthew 1:18–25. Certain qualities make good parents.

(10–20 minutes)

Ask two students to describe a characteristic they like about their parents. Invite a father or mother of a student to come to class and speak for three to five minutes and describe their feelings when their child was born, tell what the child was like as a baby, and express their love for the child. (Or, if available, use a speaker phone in the classroom to call some parents and ask them to do the same. Or ask some parents to do so in writing or on audio- or videotape, and then share the parents’ responses with the class.)

Invite students to list the qualities of a good parent. Divide your class in half. Ask one half to read Matthew 1:18–25looking for good qualities Joseph had as a husband and father. Invite the other half to read Luke 1:28–30, 38, 46–55looking for good qualities of Mary.

Read Romans 8:16–17and look for the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven as we are led by His Spirit. Read Ephesians 2:4and look for how our Heavenly Father feels about us. Ask:

  • How does being a good parent in this life help prepare us for godhood?

  • What could you be doing now to prepare to be good parents in the future?

List the students’ answers on the board.

Matthew 1:22–23. The birth and life of Jesus Christ fulfilled many promises made to ancient prophets.

(15–20 minutes)

Invite students to write a prediction of some future event on a piece of paper. Collect the predictions and share some of them with the class. Ask:

  • How likely is it that some of these predictions will come to pass?

  • How sure is it that all of them will occur?

  • Does making a true prediction necessarily prove that someone is a prophet? Why or why not?

Help students understand that prophets don’t guess the future. Prophets have the future revealed to them by God, and their prophecies are always fulfilled.

Reproduce the accompanying chart, leaving the middle column blank. Invite students to read the verses and write in the blank spaces the fulfillment of the prophecy.

When they have finished, ask:

  • What do these prophecies and their fulfillment show about Jesus?

  • Why was it important that Jesus fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament?

  • How can prophecies from scriptures about the last days help us today?

Matthew 2:1–11. Wise men from the East were led to the Christ child.

(15–20 minutes)

Ask students to draw a picture of the nativity scene, or invite a student to draw on the board the nativity as described by the other students. Tell them to include everything they can from memory alone to make it as accurate as possible. After a few minutes, read Matthew 2:1–11and Luke 2:1–16, and have the students look for details they should add or subtract from their pictures to make them more accurate. (For example, many students will draw three wise men, though Matthew doesn’t refer to any specific number. Also, Matthew 2:11seems to imply that the wise men came later, when Mary and the Christ child were staying in a house.) Discuss the following questions:

  • Why do some people have misconceptions about Christ’s birth?

  • Why are the scriptures frequently misunderstood? (People often don’t read the scriptures enough, or carefully enough. Errors in translation can also lead to misconceptions.)

  • How can we avoid misunderstanding principles and stories from the scriptures? (We can search the scriptures and study the prophets’ and apostles’ interpretations of them.)

Matthew 2:1–9. Those who understand and follow the teachings of the scriptures will be better prepared to meet the Lord.

(10–15 minutes)

Before class place a small paper star somewhere in view of the students. Begin class by drawing on the board the outline of a stop sign without the word stop. Ask students:

  • What does this sign represent?

  • Are seeing the shape of the sign and knowing what it means the same thing? (Not necessarily.)

  • How many of you saw the new star in the room when you came in?

  • Did anyone know what it meant?

Invite students to read Matthew 2:1–9and look for where the new star signifying the Christ child’s birth appeared.

  • Could there have been some who saw the star but did not understand its meaning?

  • Why were the wise men able to discern the meaning of the star?

  • Why didn’t many others recognize the significance of the star?

To help students understand how the wise men not only saw the new star but also understood its meaning, read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“The probability is [that the wise men] were themselves Jews who lived, as millions of Jews then did, in one of the nations to the East. It was the Jews, not the Gentiles, who were acquainted with the scriptures and who were waiting with anxious expectation for the coming of a King” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:358).

Invite students to read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29–31and look for what signs God has revealed today. Ask:

  • To whom are these signs meaningful today?

  • How may we, like the wise men of old, find the Savior?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:34–35and 45:39 and look for other ways we can find Jesus today.

Matthew 2:11. Just as the wise men gave Jesus gifts, we can give Him gifts too.

(5–10 minutes)

Bring in a couple of packages wrapped as gifts. Ask students:

  • What was the last gift you gave someone?

  • Why did you select that gift?

  • How does knowing someone influence the gift you choose to give that person?

  • How does our love for someone affect the kind of gift we choose for that person?

Read Matthew 2:11and look for what the wise men gave Jesus. Ask: Why do you think the wise men chose the gifts they did? (Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were all expensive gifts befitting a king. Frankincense was a type of incense offered to the Lord in the temple in Jerusalem. Myrrh, which was used in embalming, may have been a prophetic indication of Christ’s sacrifice.) Invite students to read Matthew 11:29–30; Alma 11:42–44; Doctrine and Covenants 14:7; 19:16–19and identify the gifts the Savior has offered to us. (If desired, list their responses on the board.) Give students a piece of paper and invite them to write a list of gifts they could give Jesus today (for example, keeping the commandments and living righteously, treating others kindly, and being grateful for what Jesus does for us).

Matthew 2:13–21. The purposes and work of the Lord cannot be frustrated.

(5–10 minutes)

Show the students a glass of water and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir the sugar into the water. Then invite a student to separate the sugar from the water. Read Doctrine and Covenants 121:33and ask students:

  • How is the difficulty of separating sugar and water like what is taught in this scripture?

  • What power can stay the heavens?

Read Matthew 2:14–21and ask:

  • What did Herod do in an attempt to destroy the work of the Lord?

  • What did the Lord do to foil Herod’s actions?

  • According to verse 14, what role did Joseph and Mary play in stopping Herod’s plan?

To help students apply this principle, ask:

  • How can we help to thwart the designs of Satan in our own lives?

  • What difference does it make in your life to know that the Lord and His plans will be victorious and that His plan and purposes will all be fulfilled?