“Chapter 17: Luke 9–14,” New Testament Student Manual (2018)
“Chapter 17,” New Testament Student Manual
The events recorded in Luke 9–14 represent a new stage in the Savior’s ministry. He began preparing His disciples for greater responsibility, empowering and sending forth the Twelve and the Seventy to preach and heal. In addition, Jesus Christ repeatedly emphasized vital aspects of discipleship, such as compassion, prayer, faith, repentance, sacrifice, humility, and perseverance. He also warned against hypocrisy and the tendency to allow temporal concerns to displace spiritual priorities.
This growing emphasis on the requirements of discipleship occurred as Jesus Christ “steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), where He knew He would suffer and die (see Luke 9:22, 31). As He faced this difficult aspect of His earthly mission, the Savior modeled perfect devotion to God, reinforcing His teachings on discipleship with “the eloquence of his example” (Neal A. Maxwell, “The Pathway of Discipleship,” Ensign, Sept. 1998, 13).
Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 9 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The following chart identifies where you can find student manual commentary for these teachings and events:
Location of Topic in Luke
Commentary in This Manual
Luke 9:1–6. The Savior sent the Twelve out to preach and heal.
Luke 9:7–9. Herod had John the Baptist killed and desired to see Jesus.
Luke 9:10–17. Christ fed the five thousand.
Luke 9:18–22. Peter testified that Jesus is the Christ.
Luke 9:23–27. Whoever will “take up his cross” and “lose his life” gains salvation.
Luke 9:28–36. The Transfiguration took place.
Luke 9:37–42. A man’s son, who was possessed by an unclean spirit, was healed.
Luke 9:46–48. The disciples asked which should be greatest among them.
Luke 9:49–50. “He that is not against us is for us.”
The Herod mentioned in Luke 9 was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. The word tetrarch technically means a ruler over a fourth part of the country. Antipas was ruler over Galilee and Perea. Herod Antipus had murdered John the Baptist and was haunted by this action because he heard rumors that John, whom he knew to be a great man, had come back from the dead. He also heard rumors that Jesus could be the fulfillment of the prophesied return of Elias (Greek for Elijah) foretold by Malachi (see Malachi 3:1; 4:5). When Herod Antipas heard these things, he wanted to meet Jesus.
After Jesus completed His mission in Galilee and knew that it was time for Him to travel toward Jerusalem (see Luke 9:51), He sent messengers to prepare a place for Him in a Samaritan village. But because the Samaritans hated the Jews, the villagers would not let the Savior stay in their village. In these circumstances, Jesus demonstrated patience and forbearance and admonished His disciples to do the same. He taught them that they were not acting under the influence of God’s Spirit.
To learn more about historical tensions between Jews and Samaritans, see the commentary for John 4:19–24.
Just as the Savior urged His disciples to exercise forbearance, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) asked Church members to show respect for those with whom we may differ: “There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of diversity. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry” (“This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71).
When a “certain man” said that he would follow the Savior wherever He went, the Savior answered that “the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58), indicating that He had no home of His own. His mission was void of comforts and ease, implying that such may also be the case for those who follow Him.
Respect for parents was very important in Jewish culture and included the responsibility to provide a proper burial for them when they died. After preparing a body for burial and placing it in a tomb, family members typically returned a year later to place the bones in a stone box called an ossuary, which remained in the tomb as a secondary burial. If the disciple was speaking of his father’s secondary burial, the Savior’s response would seem to communicate that now was the time for the man to serve a mission (see Luke 9:59–60). The man could be at peace about letting his deceased father remain in the tomb with other dead members of the family. It is also possible that the Savior’s response could be understood, “Let the [spiritually] dead bury their [physically] dead.”
In either case, the Savior’s words do not mean it is wrong to mourn the loss of a loved one or give proper respect at a funeral. Rather, these words emphasize devotion to the Lord as a disciple’s highest priority.
President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) explained the Savior’s analogy of a man starting to plow a field and then looking back. The Savior used this analogy to teach the dangers of looking back once we have decided to follow Him: “To dig a straight furrow, the plowman needs to keep his eyes on a fixed point ahead of him. That keeps him on a true course. If, however, he happens to look back to see where he has been, his chances of straying are increased. The results are crooked and irregular furrows. We invite those of you who are new members to fix your attention on your new goal and never look back on your earlier problems or transgressions except as a reminder of your growth and your worth and your blessings from God. If our energies are focused not behind us but ahead of us—on eternal life and the joy of salvation—we assuredly will obtain it” (“Am I a ‘Living’ Member?” Ensign, May 1987, 17).
Luke is the only Gospel writer to record that Jesus Christ called the Seventy, in addition to the Twelve Apostles, to preach the gospel and prepare the way for Him. The Savior’s calling of the Seventy and instructions to them (see Luke 10:1–16) were similar to the instructions He gave to His Twelve Apostles (see Matthew 10). President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that because modern Apostles cannot go everywhere they are needed, they assign members of the Seventy to minister in their stead:
“Each of the Seventy has had conferred upon him the apostolic authority. … The Seventy go where the Twelve, limited by their number, cannot. Seventies are scattered across the world, as they were in the early days of the Church” (“Fledgling Finches and Family Life” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 18, 2009], 4; speeches.byu.edu).
Just as the Savior declared the need for more laborers to bring about the harvest of salvation, latter-day prophets have consistently called for greater numbers of missionaries. President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) reiterated this message to the youth of the Church:
“I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. …
“A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service” (“As We Meet Together Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 5–6). For additional information on the Savior’s teaching concerning the harvest and the laborers, see the commentary for Matthew 9:37–38.
In response to the lawyer’s question, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29), the Savior gave the parable of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:30–37). There was considerable animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans at the time of Christ. Under normal circumstances, these two groups avoided association with each other.
President Howard W. Hunter taught that by acting with compassion toward a man who was a Jew, “the Samaritan gave us an example of pure Christian love.” Applying the parable to our lives, President Hunter also taught, “We need to remember that though we make our friends, God has made our neighbors—everywhere. Love should have no boundary; we should have no narrow loyalties. Christ said, ‘For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?’ (Matthew 5:46)” (“The Lord’s Touchstone,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 34–35).
In the written law of Moses, priests and Levites were assigned to serve God and their fellowmen, both in the temple and as teachers and exemplars of God’s law. These priesthood bearers were fully aware of the commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). In fact, Levites were specifically charged with helping travelers economically and in other ways (see Leviticus 25:35–36). In the Savior’s parable, however, the priest and the Levite violated these commandments—both noticed the wounded man yet “passed by on the other side” (Luke 10:31–32). The priest and Levite were following the oral law or tradition of the rabbis, which stated that Jews were not bound to deliver non-Jews or those of unknown ethnicity from death, for such a person was not a neighbor. The priest and Levite were within the bounds of oral law or tradition, but they were not within the pure law of Moses.
Ironically, the Samaritan filled the roles of the priest and the Levite as outlined in the written Mosaic law, whereas the oral law or tradition excused the behavior of the priest and the Levite.
Jesus’s parable undoubtedly had the ring of authenticity to His listeners. The road that “went down from Jerusalem to Jericho” (Luke 10:30), dropping 3,400 feet in elevation, was in those days infested with robbers and bandits and was known as the “red way” or “bloody path.”
The Samaritan treated the injuries of the wounded man with oil and wine, both of which have medicinal value. Oil was used to soothe and wine to disinfect. Wine and oil are also symbolic of the Atonement of Christ (see Matthew 26:27–29 and the commentary for Matthew 26:36). The oil and wine used by the Samaritan can be seen as symbolic of the Christlike love he showed to the wounded Jew. Other aspects of this parable further remind us of the Savior’s atoning act. Like the good Samaritan, Jesus Christ saves those in need of help. He has compassion and heals the spiritual wounds of sin. He saves us from death. Jesus brings us to safety and employs others to help us. Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ has personally paid the price for our recovery.
President Thomas S. Monson invited us to place ourselves in the parable of the good Samaritan to consider how we will respond to those who need our help:
“Each of us, in the journey through mortality, will travel his own Jericho Road. What will be your experience? What will be mine? Will I fail to notice him who has fallen among thieves and requires my help? Will you? Will I be one who sees the injured and hears his plea, yet crosses to the other side? Will you? Or will I be one who sees, who hears, who pauses, and who helps? Will you?
“Jesus provided our watchword: ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’ When we obey that declaration, there opens to our view a vista of joy seldom equaled and never surpassed.
“… When we walk in the steps of that good Samaritan, we walk the pathway that leads to perfection” (“Your Jericho Road,” Ensign, Feb. 1989, 2, 4).
Hospitality was very important in Jewish society, and a woman’s honor and reputation depended partly on how well she fulfilled cultural expectations regarding the role of hostess. Because of these social customs, Martha’s complaint that her sister, Mary, had left her to serve alone (see Luke 10:40) would have been seen as justified by many people of the time. But the Savior responded to Martha by commending her sister’s choice: “Mary hath chosen that good part” (Luke 10:42). One of the things the Savior’s response clarified is that there are higher priorities than social customs, even if they are good customs. President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency observed that righteous members of the Church must, like Mary, learn to discern those activities that are most important in life:
“Just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.
“Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. … It was praiseworthy for Martha to be ‘careful and troubled about many things’ (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more ‘needful.’ The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35; Alma 32:14–15). …
“Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. …
“Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families” (“Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–5, 107).
Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer of the Seventy invited Church members not to hastily misjudge Martha for being “careful and troubled about many things” on this one occasion:
“Many Sunday lessons have been taught using this story which have cast Martha in a lesser position in terms of her faith. Yet there is another story of this great woman, Martha, which gives us a deeper view of her understanding and testimony. It happened when the Savior arrived to raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead. On this occasion it was Martha whom we find going to Jesus ‘as soon as she heard’ He was coming.”
The Savior shared with Martha the “great doctrine of the resurrection” and asked her if she believed in Him.
“She responded with her powerful testimony: ‘Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world’ [see John 11:20–27]. …
“Many a sister has often heard the first story and wondered if she were a Mary or a Martha, yet the truth lies in knowing the whole person and in using good judgment. By knowing more about Martha, we find she was actually a person of deep spiritual character who had a bold and daring testimony of the Savior’s mission and His divine power over life. A misjudgment of Martha may have caused us not to know the true nature of this wonderful woman” (“Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 103–4).
The Savior’s instructions in Luke 11:5–10 include a parable, sometimes called the parable of the friend at midnight. The friend to whom the host of the traveler goes for bread represents our Father in Heaven. The parable teaches that persistent, righteous, and faithful prayers to our Father open the doors of heaven because of His overwhelming goodness and His love and concern for His children. The Joseph Smith Translation adds an introduction to the parable that helps make this clear: “Your heavenly Father will not fail to give unto you whatsoever ye ask of him” (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 11:5 [in Luke 11:5, footnote a]).
Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted the differences between the friend in this parable and our Heavenly Father: “The Lord’s lesson was, that if man, with all his selfishness and disinclination to give, will nevertheless grant what his neighbor with proper purpose asks and continues to ask in spite of objection and temporary refusal, with assured certainty will God grant what is persistently asked in faith and with righteous intent. No parallelism lies between man’s selfish refusal and God’s wise and beneficent waiting. There must be a consciousness of real need for prayer, and real trust in God, to make prayer effective; and in mercy the Father sometimes delays the granting that the asking may be more fervent” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 435).
Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 11–12 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. The following chart identifies where you can find student manual commentary for these teachings and events:
Location of Topic in Luke
Commentary in This Manual
Luke 11:14–23. Evil spirits
Luke 11:24–26. Parable of the empty house
Luke 11:27–32. Sign of Jonah
Luke 11:33–36. Light and darkness
Luke 11:37–54. Reproving Pharisees and lawyers
Luke 12:1–5. Hypocrisy
Luke 12:22–32. Counseling the Apostles
Luke 12:32–34. Treasures in heaven
The Savior’s warning to “beware of covetousness” was addressed to a man who complained of his brother’s apparent greed. The exchange between this man and Jesus Christ demonstrates how the Lord will often show us our own weakness (see Ether 12:27), particularly when we are prone to finding fault with another (see Matthew 7:3–5; Luke 10:40–42).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned of the dangers of covetousness: “Beware of covetousness. It is one of the great afflictions of these latter days. It creates greed and resentment. Often it leads to bondage, heartbreak, and crushing, grinding debt” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 40).
The foolish rich man’s selfishness can be seen in Luke 12:17–19, where the words I and my appear repeatedly; the man failed to consider sharing his fortune with others. Furthermore, he failed to recognize the source of his riches. In no way did the man acknowledge, as the Savior did, that it was “the ground” that “brought forth plentifully” (Luke 12:16), nor did the man thank the Lord for creating the earth in which his crops grew. Ultimately, the man was condemned not for the wise practice of storing temporal provisions but for failing to prepare spiritually for the future.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided insights into the Savior’s warning to the covetous man (see Luke 12:13–15) and the parable that followed: “In this conversation with a covetous, worldly-minded man, and in the resultant parable of the rich fool which grew out of it, our Lord teaches that those whose hearts are set on the things of this world shall lose their souls. The parable itself condemns worldly-mindedness, reminds men that death and judgment are inevitable, and teaches that they should seek eternal riches rather than those things which moth and rust corrupt and which thieves break through and steal” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:474).
In the Savior’s parable recorded in Luke 12:35–40, we are compared to servants who do not know when “their lord” will return. They must be ready at all times for His return, just as we must be ready at all times for the Savior’s Second Coming. The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that the Lord can come at any “watch of the night”—not just at the Second Coming—meaning that we will each face His judgment when we die:
“For, behold, he cometh in the first watch of the night, and he shall also come in the second watch, and again he shall come in the third watch.
“And verily I say unto you, He hath already come, as it is written of him; and again when he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, blessed are those servants when he cometh, that he shall find so doing;
“For the Lord of those servants shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
“And now, verily I say these things unto you, that ye may know this, that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night.
“And it is like unto a man who is an householder, who, if he watcheth not his goods, the thief cometh in an hour of which he is not aware, and taketh his goods, and divideth them among his fellows” (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 12:41–45 [in the Bible appendix]).
When some people reported to Jesus Christ that a group of Galileans had been killed at the temple by Roman authorities, presumably in the quelling of a riot, the Savior used this occasion to challenge the belief that calamities are always punishments from God. In making His point, He also reminded His listeners of a tower that had fallen in Jerusalem and claimed 18 lives. He further used this opportunity to emphasize that all have need of repentance. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the Savior’s teachings:
“To say that particular individuals slain in war, killed in accidents, smitten with disease, stricken by plagues, or shorn of their property by natural calamities, have been singled out from among their fellows as especially deserving of such supposed retribution is wholly unwarranted. It is not man’s prerogative to conclude in individual cases of suffering or accident that such has befallen a person as a just retribution for an ungodly course. … The Lord brings difficulties upon the most righteous of his saints to test and try them; persecution … is the heritage of the faithful.
“The real lesson to be learned from Jesus’ conclusion, ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,’ is that there was no difference in righteousness between the slain and the living, and that unless the living repent they would perish with the dead. … In a broader sense the thought is that as these have perished temporally so shall all perish spiritually unless they repent” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:475–76).
After teaching that all people must repent or perish (see Luke 13:1–5), the Savior spoke a parable about a barren fig tree. The “certain man” represents God, the “fig tree” represents the Jewish remnant of Israel, “his vineyard” represents the world, and the “dresser of his vineyard” represents the Son of God. For three years the owner of a vineyard waited in vain for a fig tree to produce fruit. He granted a final year for the tree to bear fruit, during which time it had to either produce fruit or be removed from the vineyard. This parable underscored the Savior’s teaching that all must repent or perish. Earlier, John the Baptist had declared a similar message (see Luke 3:8–9). After giving this parable, the Savior continued to emphasize that Israel was failing to produce righteousness within its season of opportunity (see Luke 13:33–35).
After the Savior healed the woman who had suffered a physical affliction for 18 years (see Luke 13:10–17), the leader of the synagogue where the healing occurred complained because the miracle had been performed on the Sabbath day. The Savior’s response taught that it is lawful to do good things on the Sabbath day and that those who teach otherwise are hypocrites. From this response, we learn the importance of looking for good things we can do on the Sabbath day rather than becoming overly concerned with what we cannot do.
For further insight into the parable of the mustard seed, see the commentary for Matthew 13:31–32.
In response to a question regarding the number of people who will be saved, the Savior gave a parable describing conditions of salvation that “many” would fail to meet (see Luke 13:23–30). Jesus Christ’s reference to the “strait gate” (verse 24) reinforces a theme, prevalent throughout Luke 9–14, concerning the strict requirements of discipleship. The image of a strait gate or narrow way is used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the necessity of receiving and honoring essential ordinances and covenants (see 2 Nephi 31:17–18; D&C 132:19–25). The Savior’s parable warns that those who possess knowledge of the Savior, yet fail to meet the requirements of discipleship, will be excluded from the celestial kingdom of God.
For further insight into the mourning of Jesus over Jerusalem, see the commentary for Matthew 23:37–39.
At the time of the Savior’s mortal ministry, many Jewish leaders prided themselves on their strict Sabbath observance. However, Jesus Christ rebuked their hypocrisy for being willing to help an animal, but not a person, on the Sabbath (see Luke 13:15–16; 14:5–6). The phrase “the ox is in the mire,” based on Luke 14:5, is used by some people in our day to justify activities inconsistent with the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) acknowledged that emergencies may occur on the Sabbath, but he cautioned against intentional or habitual violations of proper Sabbath observance: “The Savior knew that the ox gets in the mire on the Sabbath, but he knew also that no ox deliberately goes into the mire every week” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 55).
Luke 14:1 provides context for the Savior’s teaching, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11), by noting that the Savior was in “the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread.” Verse 7 further states that Jesus Christ noticed how others who were invited to the feast sought places of honor for themselves; the words “chief rooms” mean places of honor. According to custom, the most honored guests were seated closest to the host. The Savior used this setting to teach an eternal principle about the relationship between humility and exaltation: “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11; see also D&C 101:42).
While teaching the scribes and Pharisees about humility, Jesus provided an example of the actions of those who are humble, as recorded in Luke 14:12–14. He taught that when we treat individuals who are poor or sick especially well, we will be rewarded in the “resurrection of the just.”
The Savior then presented His parable of the great supper (see Luke 14:15–24). In this parable, the feast represents the blessings of the gospel. This gospel feast is especially prepared for us and can fill and satisfy our needs. Though we are invited to partake of the feast, we may choose to refuse it. In the parable, the gospel blessings were offered to invited guests—the Jews—who chose not to come to the feast. The blessings were then offered to others who had not been invited—the Gentiles. The “certain man” in this parable represents God, and the “servant at supper time” represents Jesus and his Apostles.
Latter-day revelation provides other applications of the parable. In the latter days, all nations will be invited to “a supper of the house of the Lord.” The first people to be invited will be “the rich and the learned, the wise and the noble.” If they do not accept the gospel, “then shall the poor, the lame, and the blind, and the deaf, come in unto the marriage of the Lamb, and partake of the supper of the Lord” (D&C 58:9–11). Also, the statement made by one of Jesus’s listeners—“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15)—reminds us that just before the beginning of the Millennium, Christ and His servants will partake together of the bread and water of the sacrament (see D&C 27:5–14).
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder F. Burton Howard referred to Doctrine and Covenants 58:8–10 and explained that these verses help us understand how concern for material things can prevent us from partaking of gospel blessings: “If the Lord is providing his own commentary on the parable of the great supper—and it seems that he is—then it is frightening to note that those who declined the invitation were those more concerned with temporal problems—for example, a piece of ground, a yoke of oxen, or a wife who did not understand the significance of the supper. As we look at the part riches play in this parable, we can see that there is great risk in them—risk that concern for material things may cloud our view of what is eternally important” (“Overcoming the World,” Ensign, Sept. 1996, 13).
The excuses given in the parable of the great supper would have been considered insulting to the host; the excuses made clear that the guests did not want to attend, even though they had previously agreed to do so. The first two guests declined attending the feast so they could attend to ridiculous financial ventures—the purchase of land without having seen it or the purchase of five costly teams of oxen without having tested them. The third guest’s excuse, that he had recently married, seems more legitimate (see Deuteronomy 24:5), but it foreshadows the Savior’s teaching in Luke 14:26 that even one’s spouse should not take priority over the Lord.
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder F. Melvin Hammond encouraged us to avoid excuses and do what we must to partake of the Lord’s blessings: “We often must make significant changes in our lives in order to attend the feast at the table of the Lord. Too many of us put those changes off, thinking there is no urgency. Perhaps this parable could be called the ‘don’t bother me now, Lord’ parable. We try to excuse ourselves in various ways. Each rationalization comes from selfishness and almost always relates to something temporal. For some it is the Word of Wisdom. For others it is the law of tithing. Perhaps it is a reluctance to live the law of chastity. Whatever the reason, we who reject or delay our response to the Savior’s invitation show our lack of love for Him who is our King” (“Parables of Jesus: The Great Supper,” Ensign, Apr. 2003, 52).
In the context of Luke 14:26, the Greek word translated as “hate” means to “love less” or “esteem less.” The Savior was not revoking the commandment to “honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12); He was teaching about priorities. For a disciple, devotion to family must come after devotion to Jesus Christ. For more information on these teachings, see the commentary for Matthew 10:34–37.
As recorded in Luke 14:26–33, Jesus Christ taught His followers about the sacrifices they had to be willing to make in order to persist as His disciples. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how he was affected by hearing of a new convert who made the sacrifices required of him as a disciple of Jesus Christ:
“I had just returned home from my mission. So much seemed ahead of me. Would I be able to consistently make the right choices throughout my life?
“Then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley spoke [during April 1973 general conference] of meeting a young naval officer from Asia. The officer had not been a Christian, but during training in the United States, he had learned about the Church and was baptized. He was now preparing to return to his native land.
“President Hinckley asked the officer: ‘Your people are not Christians. What will happen when you return home a Christian, and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?’
“The officer’s face clouded, and he replied: ‘My family will be disappointed. … As for my future and my career, all opportunity may be foreclosed against me.’
“President Hinckley asked, ‘Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?’
“With his dark eyes moistened by tears, he answered with a question: ‘It’s true, isn’t it?’
“President Hinckley responded, ‘Yes, it is true.’
“To which the officer replied, ‘Then what else matters?’ [see ‘The True Strength of the Church,’ Ensign, July 1973, 48].
“Through the years, I have reflected on these words: ‘It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?’ These questions have helped me put difficult issues in proper perspective. …
“Of course, for all of us, there are other things that matter. When I heard President Hinckley’s talk as a 21-year-old, I needed to be serious about my studies; I needed employment to keep me in school; somehow I had to figure out how to convince a special young lady that she should take a chance on me; and I enjoyed other worthy activities.
“How do we find our way through the many things that matter? We simplify and purify our perspective. Some things are evil and must be avoided; some things are nice; some things are important; and some things are absolutely essential” (“It’s True, Isn’t It? Then What Else Matters?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 74).
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Larry W. Gibbons explained that to be “settled” in the gospel requires a decision to live in total harmony with the commandments:
“In Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 14:28 [see Luke 14:27, footnote b] the Lord says: ‘Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.’ I love that phrase ‘settle this.’ Brothers and sisters, I pray that we are ‘settled.’ There are precious blessings that come only from the complete yielding of one’s heart to God. …
“Now, young men and young women, as you begin to set your priorities in life, remember, the only true security in life is living the commandments. …
“… What a great thing it is to decide once and for all early in life what you will do and what you will not do with regards to honesty, modesty, chastity, the Word of Wisdom, and temple marriage.
“Brothers and sisters, stay on the straight and narrow path. No, stay in the middle of the straight and narrow path. Don’t drift; don’t wander; don’t dabble; be careful.
“… Living the commandments will bring you the happiness that too many look for in other places” (“Wherefore, Settle This in Your Hearts,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 103–4).
For further insights into the Savior’s teaching about being the “salt of the earth,” see the commentary for Matthew 5:13.