In Matthew 19–20the Savior begins the trek to Jerusalem for the Passover to offer Himself as the sacrificial lamb. Along the way He continues to minister and teach, and multitudes follow Him (see Matthew 19:2). The teachings and events of these two chapters bring us to the time just before Jesus’ triumphal entry and the beginning of the last week of His life.
Prayerfully study Matthew 19–20and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Marriage is ordained of God and is designed by Him to endure forever. While divorce is sometimes necessary in mortality, “from the beginning it was not so” (see Matthew 19:8; see also 1 Corinthians 11:11–12; D&C 131:1–3).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 130–33.
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Matthew 19–20.
Invite a student to the front of the class. Show him two different kinds of candy and ask him to choose one or the other. Ask the class:
How many decisions do you make in an average day?
What are some of the important decisions you have had to make today? (List responses on the board.)
What do you think will be the most important decision you will make in this life?
Share the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The greatest single factor affecting what you are going to be tomorrow, your activity, your attitudes, your eventual destiny … is the one decision you make that moonlit night when you ask that individual to be your companion for life. That’s the most important decision of your entire life!” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 301).
How do you think some people of the world feel about the importance of marriage?
What are some ways you have observed for couples to solve problems in their marriage?
Invite students to read Matthew 19:5–6looking for what the Savior taught about marriage. Show the class a picture of a temple and ask students where they want to be married. Then read verses 7–9 and ask: What do we learn about marriage by understanding Jesus’ teachings about divorce? (Note: Be sensitive to students whose parents or family members may be divorced. The emphasis should not be on others’ problems but on helping the students prepare for eternal marriage.) Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
“Celestial or eternal marriage is the gate to exaltation. To fill the full measure of his creation and obtain eternal life a man must enter into this order of matrimony and keep all of the covenants and obligations that go with it. If a couple is so sealed, the two persons become husband and wife in this life and continue in the same relationship in the world to come. (D. & C. 131:1–4; 132.) …
“Divorce is not part of the gospel plan no matter what kind of marriage is involved. But because men in practice do not always live in harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce for one reason or another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people involved. … Under the most perfect conditions there would be no divorce permitted except where sex sin was involved. In this day divorces are permitted in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are permitted by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which under a higher system would attend such a course” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:547).
Stress that although there is a lot of divorce in the world, even with members of our own families in some cases, it is important not to judge those who have had difficulties in their lives. Rather we should apply these teachings of the Savior in our own lives in a positive way. Ask: How can you prepare to make the right decision regarding marriage? (Set a goal to be married in the temple, live the way you would want your future spouse to live, associate with youth who are worthy to go to the temple.)
Write the word Worship on the board. Ask students to define the word. (There are many correct answers.) After a few definitions, share the following definition Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave:
“Perfect worship is emulation” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ , 568).
To give students ideas about ways in which we could be more like the Savior, sing or read the words to “More Holiness Give Me” (Hymns, no. 131). Ask students to write on a piece of paper the biggest single change they need to make in their lives to become more like Jesus. Ask: Do you think everyone wrote the same thing? Why not?
Share the following statement by President Harold B. Lee:
“The rich young ruler did not need to be taught repentance from murder nor from murderous thoughts. He did not have to be schooled in how to repent from adultery, nor from stealing, lying, defrauding, or failing to honor his mother. All these he said he had observed from his youth. …
“The Master, with His keen discernment and the power of a Great Teacher, diagnosed the young man’s case perfectly: His need and his lack were to overcome his love for worldly things. …
“Every one of us, if we would reach perfection, must one time ask ourselves this question, ‘What lack I yet?’ if we would commence our climb upward on the highway to perfection. The effective leader is one who helps the learner to discover that lack, to diagnose his basic difficulties, and then to prescribe his spiritual remedies” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 208–10).
Encourage students to put forth real efforts to change their lives to become better people. Encourage them to pray to know what else they can do to become more like the Savior.
Ask students to pretend that they have just been made the leader of their country. Have them imagine that the press is about to interview them and will want to know what the focus of their administration will be. Ask: What would you say?
Ask them to list some of the characteristics of a good leader. Have students read Matthew 20:25–28and list what the Lord says in these verses about leaders. Have them read Mosiah 2:11–19, 27and count the number of times the words serve or service appear. Ask:
How did King Benjamin feel about service?
How do these verses compare to what the Savior taught in Matthew 25:34–40?
What did you learn from these verses about the role of a leader?
In what ways do you think you might be called to lead? (Point out that almost all of us are called on at some time in our lives to give leadership at church, school, work, or in our families.)
What can you do now to prepare to be a leader?
How can we support our leaders now in ways that help them fulfill their responsibilities?