Matthew 26–28

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 53–56


timeline

Introduction

The final chapters of Matthew describe the last few days of the mortal life of Jesus Christ. Here are recorded such sacred events as the institution of the sacrament and Christ’s Atonement, death, and Resurrection. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the supreme importance of these when he said:

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 121).

These chapters contain the great doctrinal scriptures about the Atonement and Resurrection.

Prayerfully study Matthew 26–28 and 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, 131–32, 159–61, 172, 182–84, 191–94, 200–201.

  • “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 Matthew 26–28.

New Testament Video presentation 9, “To This End Was I Born” (27:20), can be used in teaching Matthew 26–28or as part of a harmonized lesson on the last week of the Savior’s life (see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Matthew 26:1–16(see also Mark 14:1–11; Luke 22:1–6). Once we come to learn who the Savior is and what He did for us, we cannot be neutral in our feelings for Him.

(10–15 minutes)

Bring a slice of lemon to class. Hold it up and ask:

  • Is lemon flavor mild or strong?

  • Does anyone in the class like the flavor of raw lemon?

  • Who doesn’t like to eat raw lemons?

  • Are there any who are neutral?

  • Could you have an opinion on the flavor of lemons if you had never tasted one? Why?

Explain to students that there are few who have tasted a raw lemon who would be neutral. The flavor is so strong that most people either like it or dislike it. Ask: How would your responses be different if we were speaking of raisins instead of lemons?

Point out to students that it is also difficult to be neutral toward people with strong or powerful personalities. Have students read Matthew 26:1–16.

  • How did the people in verses 1–5 feel about Jesus?

  • How did the woman in verses 6–13 feel about Him?

  • How did the man in verses 14–16 feel about Him?

Review the story of Isaac Behunnin in the teaching suggestion for Matthew 12:30(p. 37) and ask if there is any neutral ground for us with regard to the Savior.

Matthew 26:26–29(see also Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:19–20). The Savior instituted the sacrament to remind us that He sacrificed His life to provide the Atonement.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask a student in the class who has recently been on vacation:

  • Did you bring back a souvenir from the place you went? What was it?

  • Why did you pick out that particular souvenir?

  • What do you think of when you see the souvenir?

  • How does it remind you of your vacation?

Invite students to read Matthew 26:26–29.

  • Why did Jesus provide His disciples with the sacrament?

  • What did Jesus do with the bread before giving it to His disciples?

  • How does broken bread remind us of the Savior’s body?

  • How does wine (or water) remind us of His blood?

Point out to students that when we eat or drink something, it becomes a part of our body.

Ask: How might partaking of the symbols of the Atonement help us apply the Atonement in our lives?

Share the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Every time we take the bread and water, there should be a reconsecration, a rededication. When we are not living the commandments, when we are in transgression, when we have angers and hatreds and bitterness, we should consider seriously if we should take the sacrament” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 225).

Encourage students to ponder the sacrifice of the Savior and their spiritual condition when they take the sacrament each week.

Matthew 26:30 (see also Mark 14:26). Music is an important part of the gospel.

(5–10 minutes)

Ask the class:

  • What role does music play in your lives?

  • Raise your hand if you have listened to some kind of music in the last twenty-four hours.

  • Have you ever learned something by putting it to music? (The alphabet, the books of the New Testament.)

  • How can music also be valuable even if it has no words to it?

  • What evidence is there that music is part of the Lord’s plan?

Have students use their Topical Guides to find scriptures that show the importance of music. (There are many references under “music” [p. 334] and “singing” [p. 476].) Have students read Matthew 26:30 and look for what Jesus did with His disciples just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for the sins of all mankind. If desired, share information from the “First Presidency Preface” in the hymnbook. Consider ending this discussion by singing one of the students’ favorite hymns.

Matthew 26:31–35 (see also Mark 14:27–31; Luke 22:31–34; John 13:36–38). Jesus prophesied Peter’s denial.

If you wish to teach these verses, see the teaching suggestion for Luke 22:31–38, 56–62.

Matthew 26:36–45 (see also Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46). Jesus Christ suffered great agony to provide an Atonement for all mankind.

(30–35 minutes)

Write AT-ONE-MENT on the board. If available, display the picture Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–45) (item no. 62175). Invite the class to consider the meaning of the Atonement by reading the following verses and answering the related questions:

Understanding the Atonement

Question

Scripture with the Answer

What was one result of the Fall of Adam?

Moses 5:4

What is the scriptural term for this condition?

Alma 42:9

In what spiritual condition must we be to dwell with God?

Moses 6:57

How many of us are unclean?

1 John 1:8

What is the mission of the Church?

Moroni 10:30, 32

After discussing these questions, write under AT-ONE-MENT the following question: If we are cut off from God by our sins, how can we ever return to His presence? Share the following experience of Stephen E. Robinson:

“One day … my daughter Sarah, who was seven years old, came in and said, ‘Dad, can I have a bike? I’m the only kid on the block who doesn’t have a bike.’

“Well, I didn’t have enough money to buy her a bike, so I stalled her and said, ‘Sure, Sarah.’ …

“I said, ‘You save all your pennies, and pretty soon you’ll have enough for a bike.’ And she went away.

“A couple of weeks later as I was sitting in the same chair, I was aware of Sarah doing something for her mother and getting paid. She went into the other room and I heard ‘clink, clink.’ I asked, ‘Sarah, what are you doing?’

“She came out and … said, ‘You promised me that if I saved all my pennies, pretty soon I’d have enough for a bike. And, Daddy, I’ve saved every single one of them.’

“She’s my daughter, and I love her. My heart melted. She was doing everything in her power to follow my instructions. I hadn’t actually lied to her. If she saved all of her pennies she would eventually have enough for a bike, but by then she would want a car. But her needs weren’t being met. Because I love her, I said, ‘Let’s go downtown and look at bikes.’

“We went to every store in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Finally we found it. … She got up on that bike; she was thrilled. She then saw the price tag, reached down, and turned it over. When she saw how much it cost, her face fell and she started to cry. She said, ‘Oh Dad, I’ll never have enough for a bicycle.’

“So I said, ‘Sarah, how much do you have?’

“She answered, ‘Sixty-one cents.’

“‘I’ll tell you what. You give me everything you’ve got and a hug and a kiss, and the bike is yours.’ … She gave me a hug and a kiss. She gave me the sixty-one cents. Then I had to drive home very slowly because she wouldn’t get off the bike. She rode home on the sidewalk, and as I drove along slowly beside her it occurred to me that this was a parable for the Atonement of Christ” (“Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement,” in Brigham Young University 1989–90 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1990], 122–23).

Invite students to read 2 Nephi 25:23 and compare it to this story. Where does the “grace” come from in the scripture and the story? Refer to the word AT-ONE-MENT on the board.

Explain that we can become “one” with God through the Atonement. Jesus began to fulfill the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Read Matthew 26:36–45 and look for the circumstances surrounding Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane. Cross-reference these verses with Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 and Mosiah 3:7. Have the students look in these scriptures to learn how difficult and painful the Atonement was. Read Alma 7:11–13 and ask:

  • What else did Jesus suffer and take upon Him in addition to our sins?

  • How does it make you feel to know Jesus did this for you and me?

Share your testimony of the Atonement, and invite a few students to do the same.

Matthew 26:46–27:35(see also Mark 14:42–15:25; Luke 22:47–23:33; John 18:1–19:18). With the example and blessings of the Lord we can endure the difficult trials we face.

(35–40 minutes)

Ask students what difficult trials they have endured. (Some may have experienced the death of family members, severe illnesses, financial loss, lost friendship, or family or school challenges.) Ask a few to share their experiences.

Explain to students that in the hours between Gethsemane and His Crucifixion, the Savior endured terrible abuse. Invite students to take turns reverently reading verses from Matthew 26:46–27:33and to reflect on the Lord’s suffering. These verses are powerful and will hold the students’ interest. As they read about Jesus, have them consider how He might have felt. Have them consider the meekness and restraint that the Lord showed in allowing wicked men to afflict Him when He had the power to stop them. You may wish to have students write on the board each of the trials as they read and highlight them in their scriptures. The accompanying chart is included for your reference.

Some of Jesus’ Trials between Gethsemane and the Crucifixion

After Gethsemane, Jesus was physically weak and exhausted.

Matthew 26:36–46; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:16–19

He was betrayed by a disciple and close friend, Judas.

Matthew 26:45–50

Many, including disciples, forsook Him.

Matthew 26:55–56

People lied about Him.

Matthew 26:59–62

He was accused of blasphemy for telling the truth.

Matthew 26:63–65

He was sentenced to death without a cause.

Matthew 26:66

He was spit on, beaten, and mocked more than once.

Matthew 26:67–68; 27:29–30

A government leader condemned Jesus to death, though he knew He was innocent.

Matthew 27:11–26

Jesus was scourged (a brutal form of whipping that frequently killed the person).

Matthew 27:26

He was stripped of His clothing.

Matthew 27:28, 35

The soldiers pushed a crown of thorns onto His head.

Matthew 27:29

Ask students:

  • How can our sufferings and trials give us a greater appreciation for what the Savior suffered?

  • How can we show our love and gratitude for what He did for us? (see John 14:15).

Invite a student to recite the thirteenth article of faith.

  • Which part of this article of faith applies to what we have just studied about the Savior? (“We have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.”)

  • What kind of trials might you have to endure in the future?

  • How can the Savior’s example help us in our trials?

Matthew 27:35–54(see also Mark 15:24–39; Luke 23:34–47; John 19:23–30). Jesus Christ suffered a terrible and painful death.

(20–25 minutes)

Sing or read the words to one or more of the following hymns: “Upon the Cross of Calvary” (no. 184), “Behold the Great Redeemer Die” (no. 191), “There is a Green Hill Far Away” (no. 194). Ask:

  • What is your favorite hymn about the Atonement?

  • Why do you like it?

Ask students to take turns reading aloud verses from Matthew’s account of the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:35–54). Invite them to ask questions and make comments as they read. You may also wish to share Elder James E. Talmage’s description of the Crucifixion from The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (see the commentary for Matthew 27:35, p. 184).

If desired, sing another hymn on the Atonement. Then invite students to write on a piece of paper a letter to the Savior, describing how they feel about His suffering for us and how they can show their gratitude.

Matthew 27:52–53; 28:1–10(see also Mark 16:1–14; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–18). Through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will also be resurrected.

(25–30 minutes)

Ask students:

  • How do you feel when you see a person with a disability, for example someone who is mentally retarded or missing an arm or leg or who is blind or deaf?

  • How valuable would a cure for these ailments be?

  • Have any of you lost a close friend or relative in death?

  • Why is death such a difficult experience?

Tell the students that you know of a “cure” not only for these ailments but also for death itself. Invite students to read Alma 11:43–44and find the remedy. Have them read Matthew 28:1–10and 27:52–53 and answer the following questions. (If desired, give these to the students as a handout or write them on the board.)

Use the following object lesson to help students better understand the Resurrection. Hold up one of your hands. Move your fingers and close them into a fist. Tell students that your hand could represent our spirit body. Put a glove on your hand and ask students:

  • How can the glove represent our physical body? (Our spirit gains or “puts on” a body when we are born.)

  • How can we represent death? (Remove the glove.)

  • How can we represent the Resurrection? (Place the hand back in the glove.)

  • What difference does it make to know that you will be resurrected and that after your resurrection you can never get sick or die?

  • What difference does it make to know that you can live again with loved ones who have died?

  • Who do you think will be the most excited for the Resurrection? Why?