Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, May 24, 2019

Behold Thy King Commeth

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What would you do if you had only one week to live? I posted this question for response to gain a perspective into what the children of God would do with only one week left to live. The general answers I received concerned family. Everyone would spend time with their family, because nothing else mattered, the goal was to enjoy each and every last minute with the ones they loved for that is what makes life important and I agree, however; I had one answer that stood out from the rest. This person stated that he would first make sure he was right with God on all accounts possible, then he would spend the remaining time with his family. That caught my attention for two reasons. One because no one else mentioned God, or Christ in their comments, and two; when I thought of the question, before posting, asking it to myself, my first thought was to repent and make myself as right as I can be in that time that I had, then do my best to get to my family but if I couldn't I would write to them and tell them how I spent my last day and beg them to be ready to do the same should it come to them, I would also pledge to them my love and any help I could send from the other side but to me the most important thing was to be ready to "meet my maker"

Like us, with our focus on families and doing Gods will, the Savior spent his last week, caring for those He loved; the children of God, and following through with His Father's will. The verses in Matthew 21–23; Mark 11; Luke 19–20; John 12 tell of events that took place in the final weeks of the Savior’s mortal ministry and will be our focus that we may gain a stronger understanding of the capacity the Savior has to know each and everyone of us on a personal basis, and be assured that we will be protected and accepted by following Him.  

History and Commentary
Events that took place in the final weeks of the Savior’s mortal ministry, as He traveled toward Jerusalem and after He arrived at the Holy City, contribute to an important theme.  That Jesus Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost”.  Accordingly, they show His compassion for individuals estranged from society and from God. 

Luke 19–20 records the conversion of the chief publican Zacchaeus, a man many would have regarded as corrupt and hopelessly lost. Jesus dined with the chief publican who received the Savior joyfully and repented then the Savior told the parable of the pounds.  The chief priests opposed Jesus and He gave the parable of the wicked husbandmen teaching that we should render unto Caesar and unto God that which is theirs. He then taught about marriage and the Resurrection.  

 Matthew 21–23 records that with only a few weeks remaining in His mortal life, the Savior taught doctrines of the kingdom such as the sanctity of marriage; the reward of eternal life for those who keep their covenants; and the two great commandments, which are to love God and to love our neighbor. Knowing what awaited Him, the Savior boldly entered Jerusalem and confronted the Jewish leadership, openly revealed their secret plots to kill Him, and rebuked them for their hypocrisy.

In Mark 11 we learn that at the beginning of the last week of His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem amid shouts of “Hosanna.” He cursed a fig tree, cleansed the temple, and confounded Jewish leaders on the question of His authority; 

And in John 12 John records that Mary anointed Jesus’s feet as a token of her love and in anticipation of His death and burial. Judas Iscariot objected to her actions. When Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, many accepted Him as the Messiah, while many others believed but did not confess faith in Him. God’s voice was heard from heaven.

This my friends is a FULL week choc full of events that are enough to make ones head spin and causes me to consider greatly the gift of the Atonement and how I spend my weeks as they go by.  Are you thinking about yours? 

Part 1 Luke 19:1–10  The Savior knows us personally
The Gospel writers included several examples of people earnestly seeking the Savior, but none as compelling to me as the story of Zacchaeus.  I think impart because he reminds me a little of myself.  I am short like he and would not be able to see over the crowd, but hope that I would be willing to go the links that he did to catch even just a glimpse of the Savior.  

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Who was Zacchaeus? Luke 19:2.  He was a publican.  Publicans were Jews who worked as tax collectors for the Roman government. The Jews generally disliked the publicans and considered them to be traitors and sinners.

Have you personally ever felt overlooked or forgotten at times in your life? I can't imagine anyone answering no to this question for surely we all have, just as Zacchaeus did at this time in his life. In Jesus’s day, many people assumed that the publicans, or tax collectors, were dishonest and stole from the people. So because Zacchaeus, the chief publican, was wealthy, he may have been even more suspect leaving him left out, forgotten or overlooked. 

How did Zacchaeus show his great desire to see Jesus? Luke 19:3–4.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

What did Jesus say to Zacchaeus after seeing him in the tree?  Luke 19:5
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house

How did Zacchaeus respond to Jesus’ words?  Luke 19:6.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

What can we do to receive the Savior joyfully into our homes?

How did the people react when Jesus went to stay with Zacchaeus?  Luke 19:7
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

How did Jesus’ response to Zacchaeus differ from the response of the others? Luke 19:5.

What can we learn from Jesus’ example in this account? Zacchaeus was a good man, who gave half of his goods to the poor and made “fourfold” restitution when necessary, well beyond what the law of Moses required (see Leviticus 5:16; Numbers 5:7). He was sincere and determined to do all he could to make things right. However, before his meeting with Jesus, Zacchaeus could have been considered the epitome of the “lost.” Not only was he a despised publican, but he was “the chief among the publicans.” Some people regarded Jewish publicans as having forfeited their claim to be among Abraham’s chosen offspring, but the Savior offered fellowship and salvation even to Zacchaeus, affirming that he “also is a son of Abraham.” The Savior’s own words help us understand the way the Savior viewed him: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Many people shunned Zacchaeus because of his profession as a publican.  In what ways do we sometimes make similar judgments against others? 

Why is it important for us not to exclude others or think we are better than they are? Alma 5:54–56; 38:13–14.
54 Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance—
55 Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them? 

56 And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.

How can we overcome unkind feelings against others? Elder Joe J. Christensen said: “There are those who wake up every morning dreading to go to school, or even to a Church activity, because they worry about how they will be treated. You have the power to change their lives for the better. … The Lord is counting on you to be a builder and give them a lift. Think less of yourself and more about the power you have to assist others, even those within your own family (Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 39).
What can we learn from Zacchaeus’s efforts about seeking the Savior?  God justifies those who humble themselves and seek His mercy. Jesus Christ will save those who earnestly seek Him and repent of their sins.  

What does this account teach us about how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know us? Christ called Zaccheaus by name, he knew him, he knew all about him, he knew his heart, he knew him personally. It teaches us that They know us in the same way, each one of us is known by name even our very hearts.  We may have or do feel at times that “There’s no hope for me; I’ve sinned too much. Jesus Christ can save other people but not me.”  This parable teaches along with many of the teaches of the Saviors last week teach us this is not so, for as stated above: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

What experiences have you had that have confirmed to you that the Lord knows you personally?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell declared: “I testify to you that God has known you individually … for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26); He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!” (“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Ensign, May 2004, 46).

Instances where the Lord called people by name.:  

Genesis 17:1–5, 15–16
1 Samuel 3:1–10
Acts 9:1–6
1 Nephi 11:1–6
Enos 1:5
Doctrine and Covenants 25:1
Moses 1:6

The Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, during the observance of the Passover, directly fulfilled the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9–10 and publicly declared that Jesus was the Messiah. In ancient times, the ass was a symbol of Jewish royalty. During the time of the monarchy in ancient Israel, following the enthronement of King Saul, the Jews held annual reenthronement rituals that featured a king riding into Jerusalem upon a donkey. The rider approached Jerusalem from east of the city, through the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley, and then came to the temple. These rituals looked forward to the time when the Messiah would come to His people in this same way. Thus, at a time when Jerusalem was flooded with Jews, Jesus entered Jerusalem in a manner that demonstrated He was the Messiah, the King of Israel. Riding on a donkey also showed that Jesus came as a peaceful and “lowly” Savior, not as a conqueror upon a warhorse.

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

When Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the Passover, many people came to see him because they heard that he had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17–18) How did these people recognize Jesus as their King?  As Jesus approached the city, he was greeted by a great multitude of people who spread their garments in his path and hailed him with palm branches, an honor usually reserved for kings and conquerors. This fulfilled a prophecy by Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9) and was a further witness that Jesus was the promised Messiah. 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained the significance of the multitude spreading garments and branches before the Lord as He entered Jerusalem: “Only kings and conquerors received such an extraordinary token of respect as this. (2 Kings 9:13.) … Amid shouts of praise and pleas for salvation and deliverance, we see the disciples strewing our Lord’s course with palm branches in token of victory and triumph. This whole dramatic scene prefigures that yet future assembly when ‘a great multitude,’ … shall stand ‘before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands,’ crying with a loud voice, ‘Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’ (Rev. 7:9–10.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:578).

Hosanna is a Hebrew word that “means ‘please save us’ and is used in praise and supplication.  At the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the multitudes cried ‘Hosanna’ and spread palm branches for Jesus to ride upon, thus demonstrating their understanding that Jesus was the same Lord who had delivered Israel anciently (Ps. 118:25–26; Matt. 21:9, 15; Mark 11:9–10; John 12:13). These people recognized Christ as the long-awaited Messiah” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Hosanna”; 

In addition the phrase “all the city was moved” (Matthew 21:10) suggests that Jesus’s triumphal entry was noised throughout the city and was known by many people.

What impresses you about the account of Jesus riding humbly yet triumphantly into Jerusalem?

How do you think you would have felt if you had been there that day?

The people who hailed Jesus with palm branches recognized him as a prophet and king (Matthew 21:9, 11; Luke 19:38), but others misunderstood his mission or rejected him.

In what ways do people misunderstand or reject the Savior today? How can we more fully accept and welcome him into our lives?

How do we worship Jesus Christ as our King through our words and actions?  Every thought, word, action, deed, decision, everything we do in our lives is a choice showing that we either stand with Christ or choose the world over Him. Let us choose wisely and not be like those who rejected Him...

Part 3 Matthew 22:34–40 The two great commandments are to love God and love others as ourselves

34 ¶ But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Some Jewish rabbis believed that there were 613 laws or commandments in the law of Moses.  These laws that were named were the basis of the "religion" of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  But, in their letter of the law, they missed the big picture which is if we truly love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, then we will strive to keep all of God’s commandments. We have to love first, give our hearts first, then we will understand and be able to live as He has directed us to do.  

President Ezra Taft Benson discussed the importance of the first great commandment and its relationship to the second:  

38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“To love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all-consuming and all-encompassing. It is no lukewarm endeavor. It is total commitment of our very being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—to a love of the Lord.

“The breadth, depth, and height of this love of God extend into every facet of one’s life. Our desires, be they spiritual or temporal, should be rooted in a love of the Lord. Our thoughts and affections should be centered on the Lord. …

“Why did God put the first commandment first? Because He knew that if we truly loved Him we would want to keep all of His other commandments. …

“We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.

“When Joseph was in Egypt, what came first in his life—God, his job, or Potiphar’s wife? When she tried to seduce him, he responded by saying, ‘How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ (Genesis 39:9). … When Joseph was forced to choose, he was more anxious to please God than to please his employer’s wife. When we are required to choose, are we more anxious to please God than our boss, our teacher, our neighbor, or our date? …

“If someone wants to marry you outside the temple, whom will you strive to please—God or a mortal? … You should qualify for the temple. Then you will know that there is no one good enough for you to marry outside the temple. If such individuals are that good, they will get themselves in a condition so that they too can be married in the temple.

“We bless our fellowmen the most when we put the first commandment first” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4–6; see also Mark 12:28–34).

How does focusing on the two great commandments help us obey God’s other commandments?
If we truly love Him we will want to keep ALL of His other commandments.

How can we make sure we focus our obedience on these two commandments?

Part 4 Matthew 23:13–33 We will be protected as we avoid following blind guides

Jesus Christ declared woes upon the scribes and Pharisees calling them hypocrites. The word hypocrite is translated from a Greek word meaning “actor” and refers to one who pretends, exaggerates a part, or is deceitfully inconsistent in his or her actions. The Lord denounced the scribes and Pharisees for exaggerating their outward observance of the law of Moses, while their hearts were arrogant and insincere.

13 ¶ But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

The scribes and Pharisees paid tithing, gave to the poor, attended worship services, and went regularly to the temple. What caused the Lord to condemn them? Matthew 23:5, 14, 23–28. They did these things not out of faith, but out of a desire to be seen as righteous by others.

Jesus began His critique of the scribes and Pharisees by acknowledging that they taught truths that would bring men closer to God and that those teachings should be followed. But the scribes and Pharisees did not follow their own teachings; they acted out of pride and self-interest Matthew 23:1–5. The way the scribes and Pharisees wore “phylacteries” showed their pride. Through a traditional interpretation of Exodus 13:9 and Deuteronomy 6:8, Jews adopted the custom of wearing tefillin, or phylacteries, which were small leather boxes strapped onto the forehead and arm. Inside the phylacteries were small rolls of parchment, on which were inscribed, in whole or in part, several Old Testament texts—Exodus 13:2–10, 11–16; Deuteronomy 6:4–9; 11:13–21. Most Jews wore phylacteries only at prayer time, but the Pharisees sometimes displayed them throughout the day. The Pharisees also made “broad their phylacteries,” or wore enlarged boxes, thus drawing attention to their supposed piety (Matthew 23:5). The Savior also warned His disciples not to follow the example of the scribes, who wore “long robes” to draw attention to themselves (Luke 20:46).

The Savior pronounced a series of eight “woes” that would befall the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocritical actions. The word woe means a condition of misery, distress, and sorrow resulting from great affliction or misfortune. The following briefly identifies some actions of the scribes and Pharisees that the Lord identified as hypocrisy:

Matthew 23
Actions of the Scribes and Pharisees Identified as Hypocrisy

Verse 13
They not only rejected Christ, His Church, and His offer of salvation, but they also sought to prevent others from accepting Christ and salvation.

Verse 14
They were greedy and materialistic, and they preyed upon the misfortunes of others.

Verse 15
They were recruiting souls to false beliefs.

Verses 16–22
Through their oaths, they gave more reverence to the gold and furnishings of the temple than to the Lord, whom the temple honors.

Verse 23
They obeyed rules but ignored the more important doctrines and principles the rules were based on.

Verses 25–28
They hid internal greed and self-indulgence beneath an exterior show of righteousness. They looked clean and good on the outside, but on the inside they were full of corruption and spiritual decay.

Verses 29–30
They rejected living prophets while claiming allegiance to dead prophets.

What “weightier matters” did the Lord say they had omitted? Matthew 23:23.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

When the Savior accused the scribes and Pharisees of omitting the “weightier matters of the law,” he told them they were “blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:23–24). This was a reference to the practice of some Jewish leaders who carefully strained their drinking water to avoid mistakenly swallowing the smallest of unclean animals. Yet they would symbolically swallow a camel—the largest of unclean animals (see Leviticus 11:4).

President James E. Faust explained how the Savior’s teachings focused on the “weightier” internal requirements of God’s law:  “The Savior taught that judgment, mercy, and faith are the ‘weightier matters of the law’ [Matthew 23:23].

“I wish to state unequivocally that the commandments of God must be kept to receive the blessings and promises of the Savior. The Ten Commandments are still a vital thread in the fabric of the gospel of Christ, but with His coming came new light and life which brings a fuller measure of joy and happiness. Jesus introduced a higher and more difficult standard of human conduct. It is simpler as well as more difficult because it focuses on internal rather than external requirements: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. When smitten, turn the other cheek. When asked for a coat, give your cloak also. Forgive, not just once but seventy times seven. This was the essence of the new gospel. There was more emphasis on do than do not. More moral agency was given to each of us
Matthew 7:12; 22:37–39; Luke 6:29; Matthew 5:40; 18:21–22]” (“The Weightier Matters of the Law: Judgment, Mercy, and Faith,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 53).

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy taught that hypocrisy involves inconsistency between what one does and the weightier matter of what one is:  “The Savior often denounced those who did without being—calling them hypocrites: ‘This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’ (Mark 7:6). To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender. …
“The Savior chastised the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe’—something they did—‘of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith’ (Matthew 23:23). Or in other words, they failed to be what they should have been.  “While He recognized the importance of do, the Savior identified be as a ‘weightier matter.’ The greater importance of being is illustrated in the following examples: “Entering the waters of baptism is something we do. The be that must precede it is faith in Jesus Christ and a mighty change of heart.  “Partaking of the sacrament is something we do. Being worthy to partake of the sacrament is a weightier and much more important matter.  “Ordination to the priesthood is an act, or do. The weightier matter, however, is power in the priesthood, which is based ‘upon the principles of righteousness’ (D&C 121:36), or be(“What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?” Ensign May 2011, 103–4).

How can we ensure that we do not omit these “weightier matters” in our own lives? The Savior chastened the scribes and Pharisees for their efforts to be seen and praised by others. President Howard W. Hunter similarly counseled us to serve the Lord without concern for status: “Don’t be overly concerned with status. Do you recall the counsel of the Savior regarding those who seek the ‘chief seats’ or the ‘uppermost rooms’? ‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.’ (Matt. 23:6, 11.) It is important to be appreciated. But our focus should be on righteousness, not recognition; on service, not status. The faithful visiting teacher, who quietly goes about her work month after month, is just as important to the work of the Lord as those who occupy what some see as more prominent positions in the Church. Visibility does not equate to value” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 96–97).

The Savior used the term “blind guides,” to describe the spiritually blind Pharisees and scribes how can we recognize and avoid blind guides?

How might we as Church members sometimes be hypocrites?  For example, when we attend Church meetings we may be more concerned with being seen by others than with worshiping God. We may complain about Church assignments where we do not receive much attention for our service. We may sustain our Church leaders and then criticize their decisions.

What can we do to avoid hypocrisy? Consider these questions: Am I paying tithing, giving to the poor, attending my meetings, and serving others for my own glory or for the glory of God? In all my actions, do I seek to draw closer to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ?

The scribes and Pharisees were more focused on the gold and gifts in the temple than the true meaning of the temple. President Boyd K. Packer shared this parable to teach us where our focus should be: “A merchant man seeking precious jewels found at last the perfect pearl. He had the finest craftsman carve a superb jewel box and line it with blue velvet. He put his pearl of great price on display so others could share his treasure. He watched as people came to see it. Soon he turned away in sorrow. It was the box they admired, not the pearl” (“The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 7).

What might distract us from enjoying the true blessings of the temple? of sacrament meeting?
Part 5 John 12:42–43 The praise of men can prevent us from being valiant disciples of Jesus Christ

Some of the chief rulers of the Jews believed in the Savior but refused to openly acknowledge their belief, “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” John 12:43. John’s description of these leaders echoes a warning from the Old Testament: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” Proverbs 29:25.

42 ¶ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
44 ¶ Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

Why did some of the Jewish leaders who did believe in Jesus did not “confess” or openly acknowledge, their belief? John 12:42  Elder David A. Bednar taught about the principle of “never taking counsel from your fears”: “To not take counsel from our fears simply means that we do not permit fear and uncertainty to determine our course in life. … To not take counsel from our fears means that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overrules our fears and that we press forward with a steadfastness in Him” (“Fear Not, I Am with Thee,” BYU–Hawaii commencement address, Dec. 15, 2012;

What does it mean to love “the praise of men more than the praise of God”? John 12: 43 Elder Robert D. Hales taught that there is danger in making decisions based on what others think about us “the praise of men” rather than on what will help us attain eternal life “the praise of God”:  “Every time we make choices in our lives, we should weigh the ultimate effect our decisions will have on our goal of attaining eternal life. …“We make poor and irrational decisions if we are motivated by fear: fear of man, fear of not being popular, fear of failure, fear of public opinion” (“Making Righteous Choices at the Crossroads of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 10–11)

Some people who believe in Jesus Christ may be unwilling to stand up for His gospel, especially in societies that disregard or mock religious beliefs. What lessons does John 12:42–43 have for us today? Caring more about pleasing others than pleasing God can prevent us from openly acknowledging our belief in Jesus Christ and His gospel.

What positive consequences can come from showing we believe in Jesus Christ and His gospel?

Conclusion:  The last week of the Savior's ministry was a most educational week for the diciples of Christ as well as a chance to testify that they believed. Some people chose to not believe in Jesus fulfilled prophecies and teachings. Even in spite of the Savior’s mighty works, some people chose to blind their eyes and harden their hearts against Him. In His last week on earth, He thought not about Himself, but about us, even in our day.  He thought about what we needed and what He needed to teach us before he left and he strengthened Himself to complete His mission.  So what does all this do for us?  It teaches me that if I had only one week to live my list should be to believe that Jesus Christ is our King and that He knows me personally.  That I should not be afraid, for if I have loved God first I have done my best to live the commandments and I am protected.   I should spend that time proclaiming and bearing testimony of these things, and love to the best of my ability my neighbor as myself, which includes my family members.  This is what I should do with my last week to live, and I should live as if every week, were my last week....will you....

Next Week: The Savior prophesied that in the last days even the very elect could be deceived read Joseph Smith—Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12–13; and Luke 21 to avoid deception.


New Testament Manuals
Seminary Manuals
Doctrine and Covenants
Book of Mormon
Come Unto Me Gerald Lund
Behold the Man Gerald Lund
Live and Teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles Manual
Conference Reports
BYU Speeches
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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