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How can I use comparisons to teach others about the Atonement?

To help others understand an intangible, spiritual concept like the Atonement, it is helpful to compare it to something tangible and familiar. The Lord and His prophets often refer to familiar objects or experiences to help those they teach understand spiritual principles. As we study these comparisons, we can come to understand the Atonement better ourselves, and we can become more effective in teaching it to others.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Prayerfully study these scriptures and resources. What do you feel inspired to share with the youth?

Isaiah 1:18 (Isaiah refers to snow and wool to teach about repentance)

Matthew 11:28–30 (The Savior compares the help He gives us to a yoke)

Luke 15:11–32 (Parable of the prodigal son)

2 Nephi 1:15 (Lehi compares redemption to being encircled in the arms of God’s love)

D. Todd Christofferson, “Redemption,Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 109–12

James E. Faust, “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,Ensign, Nov. 2001, 18–20; Liahona, Jan. 2002, 19–22

Dallin H. Oaks, “The Atonement and Faith,Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2010, 30–34

Comparisons and Object Lessons,” Teaching, No Greater Call (1999), 163–64

Video: “The Mediator”; see also Book of Mormon Presentations

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between things they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help you:

  • Ask the youth what their teachers, leaders, and parents have done to help them understand the Atonement.
  • As a class, read “Comparisons” from Teaching, No Greater Call (pages 163–64). Why do teachers use comparisons to teach gospel truths? Invite the youth to share examples of comparisons that have helped them understand the gospel better.

Learn together

Each of the activities below can help the youth learn how to use comparisons to teach others about the Atonement. Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Show the video “The Mediator.” Invite the youth to work individually to list the various components of the comparison President Boyd K. Packer uses (such as the creditor, the debtor, the debt, and so on) and write down what each represents. Divide the class into pairs, and ask them to teach each other about the Atonement using President Packer’s comparison. How does this comparison help the youth understand the Atonement better? 
  • Ask the youth to think of and share examples of comparisons in the scriptures that could be used to teach about the Atonement (see, for example, the scriptures suggested in this outline). What do they learn about the Atonement from these comparisons? Write on the board, “__________ is like __________.” Invite the youth to fill in the first blank with a principle related to the Atonement (such as repentance, forgiveness, or resurrection) and the second blank with something familiar that they could use to teach others about that principle. Give the youth several opportunities to practice this teaching method.
  • Divide the class in two groups. Assign one group to read and discuss President James E. Faust’s story about Little Jim (in his talk “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope”), and ask the other group to read and discuss Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s example of a tree bending in the wind (in his article “The Atonement and Faith”). Ask each group to teach the other group what they learned about the Atonement from the comparison they studied.
  • Invite the youth to review the stories about Jean Valjean and Sara in Elder Christofferson’s talk “Redemption.” What do they learn about the Atonement from these stories? How would they use these stories to teach others? What similar experiences from their own lives could they use to teach others about the Atonement?

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand how to use comparisons to teach others about the Atonement? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Invite to act

  • Ask the youth to think about what they learned about teaching today. What do they feel inspired to do to teach others about the Atonement? If possible, allow them to teach each other during class, or arrange for them to teach in other settings.
  • Bear your testimony of the blessings the youth can bring to others as they teach about the Atonement.