Disciples of Christ willingly school their feelings to the point that their desires are the same as the Lord’s. The Savior’s followers put the kingdom of God first and reject the enticements of the fallen world. Nevertheless, we all fall short through sin or neglect and suffer a measure of separation from God.
Sometimes those who stray from the Lord are neglected by others. In the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, the Savior taught that rather than forgetting those who are lost, we must do all in our power to rescue and forgive them (see Luke 15:3–32). Rather than murmuring like the Pharisees did when Jesus received sinners and ate with them (see Luke 15:2), we should be engaged in God’s work to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39; see also D&C 4; 15:6; 18:10, 13–16). As you read Luke 14–15 notice how that which was lost was found because someone cared enough to respond.
Prayerfully study Luke 14–15and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Disciples of Christ willingly obey His commandments and make sacrifices (see Luke 14:25–33).
We should not be jealous of blessings received by others (see Luke 15:25–32).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 123–24, 126–27.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Luke 14–15.
Luke 14. It is better to choose humility than to be compelled to be humble because of our circumstances.
Which of the following would you most like to have front-row seats for: the championship game of your favorite sport, a concert featuring your favorite band, a professional symphony performance, an awards night for famous movie stars, or a royal wedding?
What is most appealing to you about the thought of attending that event?
What benefits might you receive from attending?
Invite students to read Luke 14:1, and ask:
What is the setting?
What do you think the atmosphere was like?
What do you think the other guests thought and felt?
If you had also been there as a guest, how might you have benefitted from these teachings of the Savior?
Where can we have a similar experience today?
Tell students significant blessings come to those who obey the teachings of Jesus Christ. Read Luke 14:1–6and look for the first teaching given.
How did healing the man with dropsy emphasize this point? (Note: Dropsy is a disease that causes body parts to swell.)
What does this teach us about appropriate activities for the Sabbath?
Ask students to study Luke 14:7–11.
What did the Savior say about those who wanted to take the most honorable seats?
What are some modern “seats” or places where people try to be seen?
What does verse 11 teach us about humility?
Point out to students that in these verses Jesus was applying an ancient proverb Solomon gave to the people of his day (see Proverbs 25:6–7). Christ taught how life is like a wedding feast during which decisions must be made. While in the proverb the proper choice was the “lowest room,” in life the proper choice is to be humble. In verse 11, Jesus summarized the whole purpose of mortality as a test to see if people will flee from pride and serve Him humbly. Have a student read the following quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“People ask me frequently what is my favorite verse of scripture. I have many and this is one of them, ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers’ (D&C 112:10). What a promise to those who walk without arrogance, to those who walk without conceit, to those who walk without egotism, to those who walk humbly. ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.’ What a solid and wonderful promise that is” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 265).
Invite students to read Luke 14:12–24, and discuss the following questions:
In what ways is the “great supper” in this parable like the gospel?
What distracts some people from “feasting with the Lord”?
What are some typical excuses you hear from people who don’t want to accept gospel teachings?
How do you feel about the Savior’s challenge that we gather the poor, maimed, halt, and blind?
Who are these people, and where do we find them?
Have a student read the accompanying interpretation by Elder James E. Talmage:
“The covenant people, Israel, were the specially invited guests. They had been bidden long enough aforetime, and by their own profession as the Lord’s own had agreed to be partakers of the feast. When all was ready, on the appointed day, they were severally summoned by the Messenger who had been sent by the Father; He was even then in their midst. But the cares of riches, the allurement of material things, and the pleasures of social and domestic life had engrossed them; and they prayed to be excused or irreverently declared they could not or would not come. Then the gladsome invitation was to be carried to the Gentiles, who were looked upon as spiritually poor, maimed, halt, and blind. And later, even the pagans beyond the walls, strangers in the gates of the holy city, would be bidden to the supper. These, surprised at the unexpected summons, would hesitate, until by gentle urging and effective assurance that they were really included among the bidden guests, they would feel themselves constrained or compelled to come. The possibility of some of the discourteous ones arriving later, after they had attended to their more absorbing affairs, is indicated in the Lord’s closing words: ‘For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.’” (Jesus the Christ, 452).
Point out to students that one group came when they were invited, but another group didn’t come until they were compelled (see v. 23). Read Alma 32:13–16and ask: Why is it better to come when you are invited rather than when you are “compelled”?
Luke 14:25–33. Disciples of Christ willingly obey His commandments and make sacrifices.
Bring a few items with price tags to class. Ask:
Who determines the cost of things?
What makes some items more costly than others?
Write The Price of Discipleship on the board. Invite students to read Luke 14:25–35, and ask:
What are the costs of being a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Why is the cost of discipleship so high?
Why is it important for you to consider now what it will cost to follow the Savior throughout your life? Why?
What does the Savior recommend in Luke 14:28–32concerning the cost of discipleship?
Tell students that true discipleship places the kingdom of God before all else. As Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed it, “The kingdom of God or nothing” (in Journal of Discourses, 6:21). Read the following statement by Neal A. Maxwell, who was then Church Commissioner of Education:
“There is a special sense of urgency infusing itself into many Church members everywhere that says, quietly, but insistently—this is the time for us to choose! It is not just that God will insist that we choose for our own sake, but that those who depend upon us, or use us as a reference point, need and deserve to know which way we are going. It is no good posing as a lifeguard if one is a non-swimmer. It is no good being a guide if one leaves his post and wanders with the multitude in search of another way, ‘for there is none other way,’ especially at a time when there is a sharper and sharper divergence in the way of the world and the straight and narrow way. The disciple must not only stand in ‘holy places’ but on holy issues and ‘not be moved.’
“In short, the events of our time and spiritual decay in the world have produced for us the equivalent situation faced by many of the disciples who followed Jesus. They followed him until he began to preach the ‘hard sayings’—the doctrines that really demand not only belief, but performance; doctrines which would distinguish them from their contemporary society. The Lord wants us to put some distance—behaviorally—between ourselves and the world, not because we love mankind less, but precisely because we do love men. It is for the world’s sake that we must sanctify ourselves. When Jesus’ followers faced their moment of truth, John records, ‘From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him,’ Jesus turned to the remainder and queried them, ‘Will ye also go away?’ (John 6:66–67.)” (A Time to Choose , 39–40).
Share with the students your own commitment to the gospel as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Luke 15(see also Matthew 18:12–14). When we help others repent, we feel joy and the heavens rejoice.
Invite several students to share experiences of having lost something that was valuable to them.
How hard did you try to find what was lost?
What kinds of feelings do you have when you lose something valuable?
Have you or a member of your family ever been lost?
How are the feelings you might feel for a lost person different from your feelings for lost things?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16. What do these verses say about being lost?
Which is worse, to be lost physically or spiritually? Why?
Have students read Luke 15:1–3, and ask:
To what groups of people did Jesus teach these parables?
In what ways could each be considered “lost”?
Encourage students to remember who is being taught as they study the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Ask:
Do you know anyone who might be considered “spiritually lost”?
What are some of the reasons people reject the gospel?
Invite students to give an example of how a Latter-day Saint can become spiritually lost without leaving the Church.
Read Luke 15:4, 8, 11–13and look for the different reasons each of the things in these parables was lost. Read the following statement by President David O. McKay, then a member of the First Presidency, to the class or give it to them as a handout:
“How did [the lamb in the parable of the lost sheep] get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.
“So we have those in the Church, young men and young women, who wander away from the fold in perfectly legitimate ways. They are seeking success, success in business, success in their professions, and before long they become disinterested in Church and finally disconnected from the fold; they have lost track of what true success is, perhaps stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, in some cases, perhaps willingly. They are blind to what constitutes true success. …
“In [the case of the parable of the lost coin] the thing lost was not in itself responsible. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. There is a difference … which I think applies to us tonight. Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. … Someone may be wandering because of the careless remark of a girl of her age in [the young women’s program], … and the president … lets her go, fails to follow her next Tuesday night and invite her to come. Another may be lost because of the … indifference of the Sunday School teacher who is satisfied with the fifteen people there that morning, instead of thinking of the fifteen who are wandering because of neglect. …
“The third parable is the prodigal son, the ‘younger son,’ we are told, so he was immature in his judgment. He was irking under the restraint, and he rather resented the father’s careful guiding eye. He evidently longed for so-called freedom, wanted, so to speak, to try his wings. So he said, ‘Father, give me my portion, and I will go.’ The father gave him his portion, and out the lad went.
“Here is a case of volition, here is choice, deliberate choice. Here is, in a way, rebellion against authority. And what did he do? He spent his means in riotous living, he wasted his portion with harlots. That is the way they are lost.
“Youth who start out to indulge their appetites and passions are on the downward road to apostasy as sure as the sun rises in the east. I do not confine it to youth; any man or woman who starts out on that road of intemperance, of dissolute living will separate himself or herself from the fold as inevitably as darkness follows the day. …
“In such cases there is little we can do but warn and plead until the recreant, as the prodigal son, at last ‘comes to himself.’” (David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1945, 120–23).
Ask: What reasons does President McKay give in this statement for people becoming lost? Invite students to share examples of how people are lost today for the same reasons.
Regardless of the reason someone strays, Elder James E. Talmage taught:
“Joy … abounds in heaven over the recovery of a soul once numbered among the lost, whether that soul be best symbolized by a sheep that had wandered afar, a coin that had dropped out of sight through the custodian’s neglect, or a son who would deliberately sever himself from home and heaven. There is no justification for the inference that a repentant sinner is to be given precedence over a righteous soul who had resisted sin. … Unqualifiedly offensive as is sin, the sinner is yet precious in the Father’s eyes, because of the possibility of his repentance and return to righteousness. The loss of a soul is a very real and a very great loss to God. He is pained and grieved thereby, for it is His will that not one should perish” (Jesus the Christ, 461).
Ask: How does the Lord want us to feel toward those who are lost? Invite students to read the rest of Luke 15 on their own and mark or write down all of the words and phrases they can find that show the concern, actions, and attitudes of those who lose something. When they are through, discuss what they discovered. Ask: What can we do to help those in our school, ward, or family who are spiritually lost?
Invite students to think about how they felt when they found something they had lost. Read again Luke 15:5–7, 9–10, 20–27, 32 and ask: What attitude in these verses impresses you most? Invite some students to share their experiences surrounding the return of a friend or family member to the gospel. Testify of the joy that is felt in missionary work.
Refer to verses 28–30 and point out that sometimes we may have feelings similar to those of the prodigal son’s brother. Ask:
Have you ever heard anyone express those feelings?
What would you say to someone who felt jealous of those who repent and receive great blessings?
Read the following insight by Elder Bruce D. Porter, a member of the Seventy:
“The parable of the prodigal son is a parable of us all. It reminds us that we are, in some measure, prodigal sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. For, as the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).
“Like the errant son of the Savior’s parable, we have come to ‘a far country’ (Luke 15:13) separated from our premortal home. Like the prodigal, we share in a divine inheritance, but by our sins we squander a portion thereof and experience a ‘mighty famine’ (v. 14) of spirit. Like him, we learn through painful experience that worldly pleasures and pursuits are of no more worth than the husks of corn that swine eat. We yearn to be reconciled with our Father and return to His home. …
“In the parable of the prodigal son, only the eldest son remains true to his father; in his own words, ‘Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment’ (Luke 15:29). Similarly, in the plan of salvation the Firstborn of the Father is sinless and without spot. Yet there is a vital difference. In the parable, the eldest son is jealous of the attention paid to the returning prodigal. In the plan of salvation, however, the Eldest Son makes possible the return of the prodigals.
“The Father sends Him forth to redeem His sons and daughters from bondage. The Eldest is filled with compassion. ‘I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them’ (Ezekiel 37:23). He journeys the long distance to find and bring home the prodigal ones. And there He finds us weary, hungry, and downtrodden. He feeds us and gives us drink. He lives among us and shares our burdens. Then, in a final act of supreme love, the Eldest Son takes of His own wealth and, one by one, He ransoms us. In order to pay the fulness of our debt, He is compelled to sacrifice His own fortune, yea, all that He has, every whit.
“There are those who refuse the proffered ransom. Chained by pride, they prefer bondage to repentance. But those who accept of His offering and forsake their errant ways receive healing at His hands and liberty as His gift. These He leads back to the Father with songs of everlasting joy” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 15).
You could bear your testimony to the students that we must lovingly accept those who repent and come to the gospel fold.
Ask a student to sing
Give the students the following questions as a handout. Encourage them to consider these questions over the next week as they study their scriptures. In a future class, invite them to share the inspiration that may come from pondering the questions, studying, and praying.
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