Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

“Not as I Will, but as Thou Wilt”

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As we have studied through half of this year, how do you hope to apply the principles and doctrines we have learned from the New Testament? President Thomas S Monson reminded us that it is not the goal to pour information into our minds but to be inspired to think about and feel about, then do something about living gospel principles. As we begin our study this week of the events in the account of the Atonement, in Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, let us pray to be inspired to do something to make our understanding of this most important event in history great and our actions concerning it more meaningful. As we do so, our relationship and understanding will undoubtedly be life changing. 

We cannot possibly argue which portion of Christ's ministry is the most significant, for each aspect of his mission is an integral part of the whole design. It would be safe to say, however, that the events connected with the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and trial, his crucifixion, and his resurrection were the culminating events of his ministry. From the day of his birth and through every step of his ministry, his face was set toward Jerusalem, the cross, and the empty tomb.  (Gerald Lund Jesus Christ Key to the Plan of Salvation)

Chapter Backgrounds 

Matthew 26
The information in Matthew 26 begins Matthew’s account of the events of the Atonement—from the Savior’s foretelling of what was about to happen to Him through Peter’s three denials of Christ. The important events leading up to and including the Atonement account include (1) the Savior’s Last Supper with His disciples, at which He instituted the sacrament—an ordinance that represents His Atonement; (2) His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, during which He experienced intense agony of body and soul, yet submitted His will to His Heavenly Father; and (3) His betrayal, arrest, and trial before the Jewish council.

Mark 14
This chapter contains Mark’s account of the events of the Atonement from the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane through His death on the cross and His burial.  

Many of the teachings and events in the Savior’s ministry that are found in Luke 22 are also found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John comprising events of the Atonement. As His mortal ministry drew to a close, Jesus instituted the sacrament, taught His disciples to serve others, and commanded Peter to strengthen his brethren. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice began in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was arrested and tried before Caiaphas. While the Savior was being tried, Peter denied knowing Him.

This chapter covers the betrayal and arrest.  Jesus is examined and maltreated first before Annas, then before Caiaphas.  Peter denies knowing Jesus and Jesus is arraigned before Pilate.

In the garden of Gethsemane and later on the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the sins, pains, and sufferings of every person who ever lived. There were only three mortal witnesses to Jesus Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and they slept through much of it.  God the Father, however, was aware. He heard the pleading of His faithful Son: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:42–43). While we were not physically present to witness this act of selflessness and submission, in a sense, we can all be witnesses of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every time we repent and receive forgiveness of our sins and every time we feel the Savior’s strengthening power, we can testify of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Part 1 Matthew 26:26–29; Luke 22:19–20  The sacrament is an opportunity to always remember the Savior

What do you do to remember people who have been important in your life? When the Savior introduced the sacrament to His disciples, He said, “This do in remembrance of me”

26 ¶ And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

19 ¶ And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

21 ¶ But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

What was the purpose of the Passover feast?  The Passover was instituted in Moses’s time to remind the children of Israel that the destroying angel passed over their houses and slew the firstborn children in Egypt Exodus 12:21–28; 13:14–15. As part of the Passover, the Israelites sacrificed a lamb and sprinkled its blood over their doorposts. This lamb symbolized the coming Messiah, whose atoning sacrifice would save mankind from death and sin.  

Why did the Savior institute the sacrament? Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament for us to remember Him and His Atonement for our sins.

 The Last Supper was the first event in the last twenty-four hours of the Savior's life and was a Passover meal. Jesus taught His Apostles that those who had entered into the new covenant were to partake of the tokens of His death—the bread and wine—to remember His sacrifice on their behalf and to renew the covenant they had made with God at baptism to obey His commandments. Just as ancient Israel at the first Passover celebrated the mighty act of God on the morrow that would deliver them from bondage and death in Egypt, so the Apostles, at the Last Supper, celebrated through the bread and wine the mighty act of God on the morrow, when Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross would begin the process of the Atonement that would deliver all from the bondage of sin and death.  (The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ Vol 3 Thomas A. Wayment, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel)  

According to these verses, what do these emblems of the sacrament represent?  The emblems of the sacrament represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which He sacrificed for us.

The Joseph Smith Translation provides additional insight into these verses:  JST, Matthew 26:24–25

24 For this is in remembrance of my blood of the new testament, which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins.
25 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end.

What are some things we can do to ensure the sacrament helps us remember Jesus Christ and His Atonement for our sins?  Merely eating the bread and drinking the water during the sacrament does not automatically qualify us to receive a remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and partake of the sacrament with real intent by always remembering Him and striving to keep His commandments. By worthily partaking of the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenants.

How could we help someone else understand what these commitments mean?  The gospel of John tells us that the Last Supper, the arrest, and the trial of Jesus Christ occur the day before Passover; and Jesus is crucified on the cross at the same time the sacrificial lambs are being offered at the temple. For John,  Jesus is the Passover lamb, and His body is put into the sepulchre just as the Israelites are beginning to eat the Passover meal.  He is the ultimate sacrifice, the Messiah. So when we repent and partake of the sacrament with real intent, we can receive a remission of our sins.

The sacrament not only symbolizes the Savior’s Atonement but also looks forward in anticipation to the time when He will return to the earth in glory  1 Corinthians 11:26.   If we keep our covenants and endure to the end, we can be among those who partake of the sacrament with the Savior at this future time D&C 27:4–14.   (New Testament Student Manual)

What can you do to make sacrament more meaningful?  Remember His teachings, His acts of love, times when you have felt especially close to Him, or the sins and pains He took upon Himself in your behalf.

How do you remember the Savior during sacrament and throughout the week? 

Part 2 Matthew 26:36–46 We become more Christlike when we choose to submit our will to the Father’s

The Savior’s example of submitting to the Father’s will can help us when we need to do the same.

36 ¶ Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

What did Jesus ask his Apostles to do in the Garden of Gethsemane?   Luke 22:39–40
39 ¶ And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

Why did Jesus ask the Apostles to pray? Luke 22:40.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

How does prayer strengthen us against temptation?

What did Jesus ask Peter, James, and John to do in the Garden of Gethsemane?  Matthew 26:38, 41. The word watch in these verses means to stay awake.  
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

How might the command to watch, or stay awake, apply to us as we strive to live the gospel? 2 Nephi 4:28; Alma 7:22; 32:26–27

Why was Jesus willing to submit to the great suffering he knew he would experience in the Garden of Gethsemane?  Matthew 26:39, 42, 44.  
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught why He was willing: “In Gethsemane and on Calvary, He worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history. Thus He became our Redeemer—redeeming all of us from physical death, and redeeming those of us from spiritual death who will obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 14).

What does it mean to submit to God's will? Mosiah 3:19 3 Nephi 9:20.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Have you had a time when you submitted yourself to something you knew God wanted you to do?  

What motivated you to do those things?

How have you been blessed as you have submitted to Heavenly Father’s will? 

After Jesus said that he would do Heavenly Father’s will, “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” Luke 22:43.  What can this teach us about our Heavenly Father?   He will strengthen us as we humbly do his will.

Part 3 Matthew 26:20–22, 31–35 We must examine our own lives to determine how the Lord’s words apply to us

We hear many gospel lessons in our lives, but sometimes it’s tempting to assume those lessons apply mostly to other people. Matthew 26 can help us overcome this tendency

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Contrast the disciples’ responses in these two accounts. What lessons can we learn from how the disciples applied the Savior’s words to themselves?  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught We must put aside our pride, see beyond our vanity, and in humility ask, “Lord, is it I?” 

It was our beloved Savior’s final night in mortality, the evening before He would offer Himself a ransom for all mankind. As He broke bread with His disciples, He said something that must have filled their hearts with great alarm and deep sadness. “One of you shall betray me,” He told them.

The disciples didn’t question the truth of what He said. Nor did they look around, point to someone else, and ask, “Is it him?”

Instead, “they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”

I wonder what each of us would do if we were asked that question by the Savior. Would we look at those around us and say in our hearts, “He’s probably talking about Brother Johnson. I’ve always wondered about him,” or “I’m glad Brother Brown is here. He really needs to hear this message”? Or would we, like those disciples of old, look inward and ask that penetrating question: “Is it I?”

In these simple words, “Lord, is it I?” lies the beginning of wisdom and the pathway to personal conversion and lasting change.  (“Lord, Is It I?” Ensign Nov. 2014, 56–59).

Part 4 Matthew 26:36–46 Jesus Christ performed an infinite Atonement for us

Matthew 26 describes what happened in Gethsemane, but do we really understand its significance in our lives?  What happened in Gethsemane? and Why is it important to me?  Matthew 26:36–46; Alma 7:11–13; and Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19.

Elder James E. Talmage taught: “Christ’s agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. … He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. … In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, ‘the prince of this world,’ could inflict. … In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 613).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “As part of His infinite atonement, Jesus knows ‘according to the flesh’ all that through which we pass. (Alma 7:11–12). He has borne the sins, griefs, sorrows, and … pains of every man, woman, and child (see 2 Nephi 9:21)” (Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 89)

Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ? Alma 34:9
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.

Why we need the Atonement: 
Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are subject to physical death, which is the separation of the body and the spirit Moses 6:48

When we sin, we bring spiritual death upon ourselves because we separate ourselves from God. Our sins make us unclean and unable to dwell with God 1 Nephi 10:21

Because we cannot overcome physical or spiritual death by ourselves, Heavenly Father sent his Only Begotten Son to offer the Atonement John 3:16; 2 Nephi 2:5–9

What blessings are available to us because of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice? How can we receive these blessings? 

1.  Because the Savior submitted to death and was resurrected, we will all be resurrected, overcoming physical death Mosiah 16:7–8

2.  Because he took upon himself our sins, we can repent of our sins and be forgiven, making us clean and worthy to dwell with God Alma 7:13–14; Articles of Faith 1:3

3.  Because he took upon himself our infirmities, he understands our difficulties and knows how to help us Alma 7:11–12 We receive peace in him as we humbly follow him D&C 19:23

Elder Marion G. Romney explained that through the Atonement, all people are saved from physical death and the repentant and obedient are also saved from sin: “It took the atonement of Jesus Christ to reunite the bodies and spirits of men in the resurrection. And so all the world, believers and non-believers, are indebted to the Redeemer for their certain resurrection, because the resurrection will be as wide as was the fall, which brought death to every man.

“There is another phase of the atonement which makes me love the Savior even more, and fills my soul with gratitude beyond expression. It is that in addition to atoning for Adam’s transgression, thereby bringing about the resurrection, the Savior by his suffering paid the debt for my personal sins. He paid the debt for your personal sins and for the personal sins of every living soul that ever dwelt upon the earth or that ever will dwell in mortality upon the earth. But this he did conditionally. The benefits of this suffering for our individual transgressions will not come to us unconditionally in the same sense that the resurrection will come regardless of what we do. If we partake of the blessings of the atonement as far as our individual transgressions are concerned, we must obey the law.

“… When we commit sin, we are estranged from God and rendered unfit to enter into his presence. No unclean thing can enter into his presence. We cannot of ourselves, no matter how we may try, rid ourselves of the stain which is upon us as a result of our own transgressions. That stain must be washed away by the blood of the Redeemer, and he has set up the way by which that stain may be removed. That way is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel requires us to believe in the Redeemer, accept his atonement, repent of our sins, be baptized by immersion for the remission of our sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and continue faithfully to observe, or do the best we can to observe, the principles of the gospel all the days of our lives”
(Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 35–36).

In the Book of Mormon, Jacob calls the Atonement of Jesus Christ “an infinite atonement” 2 Nephi 9:7.

What ways can the influence of the Savior’s sacrifice be considered infinite?   Hebrews 10:10; Alma 34:10–14; Doctrine and Covenants 76:24; and Moses 1:33.

President Russell M. Nelson taught:  “[Jesus Christ’s] Atonement is infinite—without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all. And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.

“Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being” (“The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).

President Heber J. Grant taught: “Not only did Jesus come as a universal gift, He came as an individual offering. … For each one of us He died on Calvary and His blood will conditionally save us. Not as nations, communities or groups, but as individuals”
(“A Marvelous Growth,” Juvenile Instructor, Dec. 1929, 697).

How can we show our appreciation for what the Savior has done for us?

Read Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; and John 18, and ponder the thoughts and impressions that come to your mind.  Find ways to better understand the sacrament as a sacred covenant and treat it as such.  Remember as we become more Christlike we are willing to submit to the Father's will, and as we do so angels will be sent on our behalf to give us aide. I can testify personally of this!

Let each of too us ask ourselves Lord is it I? Praying for understanding so that we examine our own lives rather than other's, rectifying those things which may be amiss and ensuring our own salvation. As we do so our understanding of His Infinite Atonement will take us on a new journey one that is life changing and soul saving filled with a love of God and security that even in the awful tough times will carry us through.

Old Testament Student Manual
A Marvelous Growth Heber J Grant
Jesus the Christ
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson
The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ Vol 3 Thomas A. Wayment, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel
Joseph Smith Translation Bible
Jesus Christ Key to the Plan of Salvation Gerald Lund
Behold the Man Gerald Lund
Conference Reports
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants
Pearl of Great Price

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...