Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Breaking It Down: Mathew 1/Luke 1

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It is important to study the New Testament for it is essential in helping us to develop greater faith in Jesus Christ. Through out this Holy book we learn about many individuals that were truly awe inspiring in their acceptance and following of the will of the Lord.  Some of them seem to be perfect from the start with a complete knowledge and faith and others were more human and required a refining; yet after their trail and then during their calling they were tremendous.

In thinking of the New Testament and the people of the time, let me ask you a question.  If you could meet anyone in this book besides Jesus, whom would you want to meet and why?

We are often drawn to righteous people because they follow the Savior and testify of him.  As we become better acquainted with these people, we also become better acquainted with Jesus Christ.  For this reason we begin this year's journey of the New Testament studying and comparing Mathew 1 and Luke 1 for they contain several people whose righteous examples can help us draw closer to the Lord.

Who was Matthew

Matthew (Levi) was a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a publican or tax gatherer before his call. Edgar Goodspeed has suggested the following regarding the author of the first Gospel: "Matthew was probably a man of somewhat more education, as we would call it, than some of his fellow disciples. He must have been able to read and write, and to use the elements at least of arithmetic, in his work as a tax collector. . . . Matthew is more likely to have known Greek than any of the rest, for he was a tax collector. He is likelier to have been readier with the pen than most, perhaps than any, of the group, and he may even have jotted down for his own use not a few of Jesus' striking sayings, especially after the missionary travels of the Twelve about the Jewish towns." 24

Christian tradition holds that Matthew collected the logia (sayings) of Jesus in Hebrew (presumably meaning Aramaic) and later translated the same into Greek. From Papias we have the following fragment: "Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them the best he could." 26 Likewise, according to Irenaus, Matthew "produced his gospel written among the Hebrews in their own dialect." 27 Indeed, "if Matthew had made notes from time to time of things of especial interest and importance that Jesus had said, he would naturally have done so in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke and they all used." Further, "in Antioch [the traditional source of Matthew's Gospel], of course, his public was largely Greek, and he naturally translated the sayings into that language as he had occasion to use them, or unwritten things that he simply remembered. This is doubtless the background of Papias's remarks." 28 
(Studies is Scripture Vol 5 Kent P Jackson)

The Book of Matthew

Some of the most prominent themes in the Gospel of Matthew are (1) the importance of the Church and kingdom of God; (2) Jesus' condemnation of first-century Judaism and its traditions; and (3) Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of prophecy.

1. The Importance of the Church and Kingdom of God. Matthew's work is appropriately known as the "Gospel of the Church." It is, indeed, the only canonical Gospel to use the term church (Greek ekklesia) in referring to the Christian community. Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi ("Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God") was acknowledged and commended by the Savior as of divine origin. The Lord continued: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 16:13-19, emphasis added.) The significant contribution of Matthew's Gospel in this regard (the matter of the church) is grasped by simply comparing the Synoptics in parallel. Mark's account (8:29-30) contains 23 words, Luke's account (9:20-21) contains 22 words, while Matthew's description of the occasion consists of 128 words.

Instructions on regulating the church are given in Matthew 18. Among the subjects discussed, the following are paramount: the need for conversion (vv. 1-5); removing harmful elements from the members' lives and thus from the church (vv. 12-14); resolving differences between individual Saints (vv. 15-17); and the need in the church for genuine forgiveness (vv. 21-35). The instructions regarding the resolution of differences between members (compare the similar counsel in D&C 42:84-92) conclude with the following: "And if he [the accused] shall neglect to hear them [witnesses], tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." (Matt. 18:17, emphasis added.) The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew is an even stronger witness than the King James Version that one of Matthew's areas of stress is the place of the church in administering the gospel to the Saints. The Joseph Smith Translation places a stronger emphasis upon the place of commandments (for example, JST, Matt. 5:50; 6:29-30; 9:35-36; 16:25-29) and ordinances (for example, JST, Matt. 5:1-4; 18:10-11). 32

In a related manner, Matthew placed great stress upon the King and his kingdom. Messiah is a royal title, and Jesus' royal/messianic status was critically important to Matthew. The genealogy of Jesus given in Matthew (1:1-17) is the Lord's royal line. Matthew laid out the genealogy in such a manner as to divide the forty-two generations into three sections of fourteen (from Abraham to David, from David to Babylonian captivity, and from exile to Jesus). For Matthew, the very number fourteen has royal significance. How so? The name David in Hebrew consists of three Hebrew consonants, each having numerical equivalents. Thus: Dahlet (d =4) + Vav (v =6) + Dahlet (d =4) =14.

Aspects of the Savior's life that highlight his royal status in Matthew include such things as the wise men searching for the King (messiah) of the Jews (2:1-12); Herod's alarm over the birth of a potential rival king (2:7-16); parables of the kingdom (13:1-52); the triumphal entry (21:1-11); Christ's mention of his eventual position at the throne of glory (25:31); and the inscription prepared by Pilate and placed above Jesus' head on the cross—"This is Jesus, the King of the Jews" (27:37). In the words of one New Testament scholar, "Matthew is the Jewish Gospel, dealing with the King and the Kingdom. In Greek, the term 'kingdom of heaven' occurs thirty-three times, and the term 'kingdom of God' four times." 33 Indeed, the ever-present plea of the disciple to the Father in the Gospel of Matthew is "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (6:10).

2. Jesus' Condemnation of First-Century Judaism and Its Traditions. Jesus chided the Jews of his day for becoming enamored with externals, with means rather than ends. He attacked their empty formalism and hypocrisy. This theme is far more prominent in Matthew than in any of the other Gospels. 34

In the purest sense, Jesus was an observant Jew. He loved and honored the law of Moses and sought to keep the statutes and ordinances associated with it. "Christ Himself," said the Prophet Joseph Smith, "fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it." 35 The Master thus taught that until the infinite atonement was accomplished, the law was to be kept and observed. "Heaven and earth must pass away," he taught, "but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven." (JST, Matt. 5:20-21.) Had the Pharisees been more intense in their study of the pure law, rather than the traditions of the elders, the commentary upon the law, and more eager to apply its teachings, rather than seeking for further things they could not understand (see Jacob 4:14), they might have distilled the central message of the Torah and thereby recognized Jesus of Nazareth as the giver of the law and the promised Messiah. Such was not, however, the case. One of the most interesting contributions of the Joseph Smith Translation may be found in chapter 9 of Matthew's Gospel. Note the relationship between rejecting (or ignoring) the law and rejecting the Christ:

 There can be little doubt that Matthew used his citations to attract the attention of uninterested (and possibly even hostile) Jews who still awaited a Messiah. Matthew's purpose was to declare with boldness that the Messiah had come and that they should "believe the gospel, and look not for a Messiah to come who has already come." (D&C 19:27.) At the same time, a major function of the formula citations may have been didactic as well as apologetic. "The formula citations," writes Raymond Brown, "had a didactic purpose, informing the Christian readers and giving support to their faith. Some of the citations are attached to the minutiae of Jesus' career, as if to emphasize that the whole of Jesus' life, down to the least detail, lay within God's foreordained plan."   

 (Studies is Scripture Vol 5 Kent P Jackson) 

 Who was Luke? 
Luke was one of Paul’s “fellowlabourers” (Philemon 1:24) and Paul’s missionary companion (2 Timothy 4:11). Because Luke did not claim to have been an eyewitness of the Savior, but rather to have gained a perfect understanding from those who were “eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2), it may be presumed that he was converted to Christianity at some point following the Savior’s Resurrection and Ascension.

Some very significant things can be said about Luke, but the most prominent fact about him is that he was not prominent. With normal early Christian modesty, he does not directly name himself in his writings, nor is he mentioned except incidentally in the New Testament. So a relatively obscure person consistently appears as the author of Luke and Acts, the largest and most impressive block of writing in the New Testament from a literary and historical point of view. 

Paul adds a third insight to Luke that is clear but not as obvious. Before noting the "beloved physician" in his letter from Rome to Colossae, the apostle mentioned three companions "of the circumcision" and immediately added the Greek phrase that they were his "only fellow workers" in the work of the kingdom of God. (Col. 4:10.) There certainly were such Jewish companions at other times and places, but Paul's concern to point out faithful Jewish companions makes an important point about Luke. For he is listed afterward with the Gentile missionaries laboring with the apostle. Paul's full characterization of this associate is importantly reflected in Luke's Gospel, but nothing is so evident as Luke's attraction to Jesus' concern with all classes and all nationalities. This emphasis in the selection of his materials reflects both Luke's non-Jewish origins and his experiences with Paul in the Gentile missions. 
(Studies is Scripture Vol 5 Kent P Jackson) 

The Book of Luke

As the third of the synoptic Gospels, the book of Luke is treasured for the additional witness it provides of many truths recorded by Matthew and Mark and for its unique content. Luke desired that his account would help others to “know the certainty of those things” (Luke 1:4) that they had previously learned about the Savior. The Gospel of Luke will broaden and deepen your understanding of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and help you more fully appreciate the inclusive scope of His love and compassion for all mankind, as manifested during His mortal ministry and through His infinite Atonement.  

The book of Luke was intended for a Gentile audience, as evidenced by Luke’s use of Greek (Hellenistic) terminology and the literary style that characterizes his writing. Luke specifically addressed his Gospel and the book of Acts to “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3), which in Greek means “friend of God” or “beloved of God.” It is apparent that Theophilus had received previous instruction concerning the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (see Luke 1:4). Luke hoped to provide further instruction by offering a systematic account of the Savior’s mission and ministry. He wanted those who read his testimony to “know the certainty” (Luke 1:4) of the Son of God—His compassion, Atonement, and Resurrection.

Luke is the longest of the four Gospels and the longest book in the New Testament. Luke’s Gospel contains the most unique material of the three synoptic Gospels. Some of the most well-known stories of Christendom are unique to the Gospel of Luke: the traditional Christmas narrative (see Luke 2:1–20); the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy in the temple (see Luke 2:41–52); beloved parables such as the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:30–37) and the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11–32); the story of the ten lepers (see Luke 17:11–19); and the account of the resurrected Lord walking beside His disciples on the road to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13–32). Other unique features are Luke’s inclusion of teachings of John the Baptist not found in the other Gospels (see Luke 3:10–14); his emphasis on the prayerfulness of Jesus Christ (see Luke 3:21; 5:16; 9:18, 28–29; 11:1); and his inclusion of the calling, training, and missionary labors of the Seventy (see Luke 10:1–22). Moreover, Luke is the only Gospel writer to record that the Savior shed His blood in Gethsemane (see Luke 22:44).

In recounting the early spread of Christianity, Luke’s Gospel demonstrates the Lord’s interest in all people—Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. It emphasizes the Savior’s regard for women, His empathy for the downtrodden, and His concern for those considered to be outcasts and sinners (see Luke 19:10). Because Luke’s Gospel begins and concludes at the temple, it also signals the temple’s importance as a principal location of God’s dealings with mankind (see Luke 1:9; 24:53).  (New Testament Student Manual) 

As I prayerfully read these two chapters I made some notes of things that I thought stood out, or that caught my attention.  

Matthew 1: 1-17  These first verses had a focus on family history, generations, where one comes from and for me telling that genealogy is at the top of the list of importance.  Three times in these verses he states that there were 14 generations from the carry away into Babylon unto Christ.  Stating something three times makes it pretty significant so I gleaned from these first verses not only is it of great importance to know the history of Christ in showing that he fulfilled prophesy from prophets of old but that also our heritage, our generations are of great value and we should treat them as such in doing the work to find them and perform saving ordinances needed.  

Matthew 1: 21, 23  In these verses great emphases is placed on the name of the Savior.  Through out our study of the Old Testament we found that the names of the prophets and leaders of that time had great meaning as to their calling.  The same holds true here for the Savior.  The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning "to deliver; to rescue."  The name Emmanuel has more of a history.  Immanuel (Hebrew: עִמָּנוּאֵל‬ meaning, "God with us"; also romanized Emmanuel, Imanu'el) is a Hebrew name which appears in the Book of Isaiah as a sign that God will protect the House of David.   See Also Luke 1: 31

The name Jesus comes from Iēsous, a Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua (Joshua in English). Yeshua means “Jehovah saves,” and the long form of the name, Yehoshua, means “Jehovah is salvation.” Both forms of the name bear witness of the identity and mission of Jesus Christ, who was Jehovah in the premortal life. Matthew described the Savior’s mission of salvation by declaring, “He shall save his people from their sins” (see also Helaman 5:10).

The first chapter in Matthew announces that Jesus Christ would be called, in Hebrew, Emmanuel, “which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; italics added). The last verse in Matthew contains the Savior’s promise to His disciples: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20; italics added). By placing these parallel declarations at the beginning and the end of his Gospel, Matthew may be identifying a message running throughout the Gospel of Matthew—God will not forget us; He is with us always. 

Matthew 1: 18-25  I gleaned several things from these verses.

First God sends messages, direction, visitations, answer to prayers and help through dreams and visions.  Both Joseph and Mary were visited, taught, instructed and guided; Joseph particularly in answer to pondering and prayer.  Also see Luke 1:11

Second, trust in God.  Both Mary and Joseph had complete trust and faith in God.

Third, magnify your calling.  Both Mary and Joseph were being called to hard task, things that would be difficult in ways that we can't even imagine especially with the circumstance of the situation; yet, both did not question, they followed the instruction and guidance given seeing it through to the end.  The did not say no when asked to serve, they went forth and did...

Luke 1:1-4  These verse states the following;   Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us... Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;...Luke is telling us that they believed the things he wrote, these things were MOST believed by the people, which tells us of their great faith and testimony in the same way the Doctrine and Covenants tells of the great faith and testimony of those Saints.  As well he states that his account is eye witness from the Apostles and wrote because he knew of a certainty of things transpired that needed to be shared and taught.  

Luke 1:17  Here again genealogy is emphasized as well as repentance and preparation all of which are needed to make ready for the Lord, then and now...

Luke 1:18-20  DON'T QUESTION THE MESSENGER! Do not doubt.  When you are called just go and do, he will make a way for all things to work as they should.  

Luke 1:24-25  Elizabeth hid herself not out of shame or fear, she hid herself out of respect for the holiness of what was happening. 

Luke 1: 37   For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Many things are seen in these verses but one of the fist things that came to my mind was joyful service.  Neither Mary no Elizabeth complained or cried do to their conditions or trials it would bring.  They were joyful and humble that they were chosen to serve, their faith was perfect. 

Luke 1: 57-63   Obeying God.  Both Elizabeth and Zaccharias obeyed the instruction of the Angel in holding to the naming of their child even though their friends and family tried to persuade them differently.  How often do we allow ourselves to be pulled away by others from what we know we should do, because we fear man more than God.  These two people teach us of the great blessings that come from being true and faithful.

Luke 1: 64  Repentance, humbleness, acceptance, forgiveness all these words come to mind when reading this verse, for Zaccharias for nine months had been "disfellowshiped" if you will for his mouth had been shut do to his non belief and questioning of the Angel.  His mouth was opened again because his heart and been changed, he had repented and obeyed.   

We are more likely to have a meaningful study experience if we can relate in some way to the people we are reading about.  To help us with this following are the four main people of this weeks lesson.  Pick one person you would like to learn more about and read the scripture next to their name, then think about, and make a note, what you learned from that person's experience.  

Mary Luke 1:26-59    Joseph Matthew 1:18-25  
Elisabeth Luke 1:5-7, 24-25, 40-45, 57-60   Zacharias Luke 1:5-23, 59-64

What could you do to follow that person's faithful example?  To help us figure it out lets break down these two chapters and learn more about these amazing people.  

Breaking it Down Matthew 1,  Luke 1

God's Blessings Come in His Own Time
There are probably many of us who, like Elisabeth and Zacharias, are living righteously and yet have not received a hoped for blessing. If not you then I am sure you know someone who has. How can we help them or ourselves learn from the examples of Elisabeth and Zacharias? Following is their story, as we break it down and study look for ways of how they waited upon the Lord and make notes in your gospel doctrine journal. Lets figure out what we learn from their examples that can help us or others wait upon the Lord. 

Elder Neal A Maxwell taught: "Faith includes trust in God's timing, for He has said, "All things must come to pass in their time."  (D&C 64:32) (Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds Ensign May 1991)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:

“Every one of us is called to wait in our own way. We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right and so good to us that we can’t possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer.

“I remember when I was preparing to be trained as a fighter pilot. We spent a great deal of our preliminary military training in physical exercise. … We ran and we ran and we ran some more.

“As I was running I began to notice something that, frankly, troubled me. Time and again I was being passed by men who smoked, drank, and did all manner of things that were contrary to the gospel and, in particular, to the Word of Wisdom.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wait a minute! Aren’t I supposed to be able to run and not be weary?’ But I was weary, and I was overtaken by people who were definitely not following the Word of Wisdom. I confess, it troubled me at the time. I asked myself, was the promise true or was it not?

“The answer didn’t come immediately. But eventually I learned that God’s promises are not always fulfilled as quickly as or in the way we might hope; they come according to His timing and in His ways. Years later I could see clear evidence of the temporal blessings that come to those who obey the Word of Wisdom—in addition to the spiritual blessings that come immediately from obedience to any of God’s laws”
(“Continue in Patience,” Ensign May 2010, 58)

Part 1: John the Baptist is born Luke 1:5–25, 57–80
In these verses Gabriel promises Zacharias that Elisabeth will bear a son, whom they will name John.  He also tells Mary that she will be the mother of the Son of God, then Mary visits Elisabeth and utters a psalm of praise.  John the Baptist is born and Zacharias prophesies of John’s mission.

How are Elisabeth and Zacharias described in the scriptures?   Luke 1:6–9
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless

7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. 
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, King David had divided the priests of Israel into 24 families (called “courses”), each of which was called to serve in the temple twice a year for one week each time. Zacharias belonged to the priestly family of Abia (also called Abijah; see 1 Chronicles 23:1–6; 24:1–19). Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 1:8 replaces the word course with priesthood (see Luke 1:8, footnote b). The priests drew lots to determine who among them would receive the high honor of offering incense within the temple. Because of the large number of priests, the opportunity to burn incense was a rare privilege, one that would have been a high point in Zacharias’s life of service as a priest.  (New Testament Student Manual)

What blessing had Zacharias and Elisabeth prayed for? Luke 1:7, 13.

7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

How was this prayer finally answered? Luke 1:11–13, 24–25. Zacharias and Elisabeth had probably prayed for many years that they would be blessed with a child. However, Heavenly Father did not grant them this blessing until the time was right to accomplish his purposes.

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach 

among men.

Zacharias and Elisabeth praying, by Paul Mann

In ancient Israel, childlessness among married couples was regarded as a serious misfortune; some even believed it to be a punishment for sin. It is evident from
Luke 1:13 that Zacharias and Elisabeth had prayed for the opportunity to become parents. Zacharias had no posterity through whom his priesthood line could continue, and Elisabeth later remarked that her barrenness had been viewed with “reproach among men” (Luke 1:25). In spite of this trial, however, Zacharias and Elisabeth had remained “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). This is the first of many instances recorded in the Gospel of Luke that demonstrates the Lord’s awareness of and mercy toward those who are afflicted or downtrodden.(New Testament Student Manual)

How can we remain faithful and avoid discouragement when our sincere prayers are not immediately answered in the way we desire? Be patient trusting that God knows what is best for us and help or answers will come, the light will come, we just need to wait for it and hold on to the truths we know right now to keep us connecting and in tune.

What did Gabriel prophesy about John’s mission? Luke 1:14–17.

14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

John would “turn [many people] to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16).
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

He would “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Luke 1:17). 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

He would “turn … the disobedient to the wisdom of the just” (Luke 1:17).
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

He would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The angel Gabriel told Zacharias that his son, John, would go before the Savior “in the spirit and power of Elias” (Luke 1:17; see also verses 14–19). Elias is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Elijah. “Elias is also a title for one who is a forerunner” (Bible Dictionary, “Elias”). Just as Elijah would appear before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to prepare the way for Him (see Malachi 4:5–6), John the Baptist was foreordained to come before the Savior’s mortal ministry “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). In this way, John would be like Elijah—a forerunner to the Savior:

“Being the forerunner was neither a simple task nor an honorary title. Difficult and dangerous work needed to be done. … John, a mere mortal—armed with the Aaronic Priesthood, a divine commission, personal righteousness, the truth of God, and a huge amount of courage—was launched on his ministry to prepare the way for the Son of God. What John was called to do placed his life in jeopardy.

“The term forerunner is descriptive. Forerunners anciently would run before the chariot of the king and clear the path of rocks or other obstacles, and loudly proclaim the coming of the ruler. … John was both a forerunner and a proclaimer of Jesus. He was the divinely appointed herald” (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [1994], 46).

The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) taught the identity of the angel Gabriel: “Noah … is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 104). (New Testament Student Manual)

What happened to Zacharias when he doubted the words of the angel? Luke 1:18–20.

18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an bold man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

How did Zacharias’s actions after John’s birth show his renewed faith?  Luke 1:59–63. He and Elisabeth named their son John, thus obeying God’s command rather than following local traditions

59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.
60 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.
61 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.
62 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

As Zacharias prophesied about the mission of his son, he also spoke of redemption, salvation, remission of sins, tender mercy, and light Luke 1:68–79

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give alight to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

To whom did he refer when he spoke of these things? John 1:6–9.  Jesus Christ.  Like John the Baptist, we should focus our service on helping others come to Christ.

6 ¶ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

After John was born, he grew and “waxed strong in spirit” Luke 1:80;
80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Why do you think John needed to wax strong in spirit to be able to fulfill his mission? 

What can we do to wax strong in spirit? 

Mary, Joseph, and the Son of God 

Sometimes we may wonder, as Mary did, how God's plans for us or promises to us can be fulfilled. To help us understand that through God's power all things are possible we break down the story of Mary and Joseph. As we study and ponder, what can we learn about overcoming the seemingly impossible? Think about experiences in which God helped you accomplish something you thought was impossible and ask yourself the following questions:

What difference does it make in your life to know that nothing is impossible with God? 

How does it change the way you serve in the Church? The way you interact with your family? 

Part 2: Mary and Joseph learn that Mary will be the mother of the Son of God  Luke 1:26–56 and Matthew 1:18–25 

What did Mary learn from the angel Gabriel?  Luke 1:26–33.
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Long before her birth, prophets knew of Mary’s sacred role as the mortal mother of Jesus Christ, and they identified her by name (see Isaiah 7:14–15; 1 Nephi 11:13–20; Mosiah 3:8; Alma 7:10). President Spencer W. Kimball taught that “in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 215)

Why did the Savior need to be the son of a mortal mother and an immortal Father?  Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:  “God was his Father, from which Immortal Personage … he inherited the power of immortality, which is the power to live forever; or, having chosen to die, it is the power to rise again in immortality, thereafter to live forever without again seeing corruption. … 
“… Mary was his mother, from which mortal woman … he inherited the power of mortality, which is the power to die. …
“It was because of this … intermixture of the divine and the mortal in one person, that our Lord was able to work out the infinite and eternal atonement. Because God was his Father and Mary was his mother, he had power to live or to die, as he chose, and having laid down his life, he had power to take it again, and then, in a way incomprehensible to us, to pass on the effects of that resurrection to all men so that all shall rise from the tomb”
(The Promised Messiah [1978], 470–71)

What can we learn about Mary from her conversations with the angel and with Elisabeth? Luke 1:26–38, 45–49Alma 7:10.  Mary is an example of a righteous young woman.

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Mary had found favor with God Luke 1:28, 30. What does it mean to find favor with God? living righteously, following the commandments, staying in tune with the spirit these things find favor with God.  Mary was the example of a righteous young woman.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why Mary was chosen to be the mortal mother of Jesus Christ: “As there is only one Christ, so there is only one Mary. And as the Father chose the most noble and righteous of all his spirit sons to come into mortality as his Only Begotten in the flesh, so we may confidently conclude that he selected the most worthy and spiritually talented of all his spirit daughters to be the mortal mother of his Eternal Son” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:85).

To what other sources do some people look for favor? From other people, from the world

How might looking for favor from these other sources make it difficult to find favor with God? We will not be focused on the things of God but will fear man, our lives will not be in harmony and will be in turmoil.  God cannot connect to us if we are fear men and are in turmoil, we will not hear his voice. 

Mary was worthy to have the Lord with her (Luke 1:28). What can we do to be worthy of this blessing? Find Favor with God

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women

Mary was humble and submissive to the will of the Lord (Luke 1:38, 48). Why is it important for us to submit to the Lord’s will? 

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

When Mary asked how she could become the mother of Jesus, “seeing I know not a man” (Luke 1:34), Gabriel simply informed her that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Ghost and that her child would be the Son of God (see Luke 1:35). Other scriptures that refer to the conception of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:18–20; 1 Nephi 11:15, 18–21; Alma 7:10) likewise emphasize that He is the Son of God but do not reveal how this miracle took place. 

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) cited these particular scriptures and then forthrightly affirmed that “the testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of His fleshly tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. … He was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!” (“Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 10–11).

President Benson further taught: “[Jesus Christ] was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Ne. 11:20.)” (“Joy in Christ,” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 3–4).

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) offered this caution: “Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary’s] conception was a divine personage. We need not question [God the Father’s] method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8–9: ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

“Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 14).

Mary’s consecrated utterance, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38), signaled her complete willingness to accept and to fulfill her sacred role. “Her faith, obedience, and humility set a standard for all women” (Virginia U. Jensen, “Ripples,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 93). To better understand the difficulties Mary may have faced after receiving her calling as the mother of the Son of God, see the commentary for Matthew 1:18–25.

How can we become more humble and submissive? 

Mary rejoiced in her Savior (Luke 1:47). How can we rejoice in the Savior? 
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Why did Elisabeth and her unborn son rejoice when Mary came to visit? Luke 1:39–44; Luke 1:15. One of the Holy Ghost’s principal roles is to testify of Jesus Christ. He was testifying to them and they rejoiced for they received his testimony and message.  

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Verses 46–55 of Luke 1 are traditionally known as the Song of Mary, or the Magnificat (which in Latin means “magnifies”). Similar hymns of praise were spoken by both Elisabeth and Zacharias. When Mary came to visit Elisabeth after learning that she would be the mother of the Son of God, Elisabeth recognized Mary’s remarkable mission and, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke words of praise and testimony, as recorded in Luke 1:41–45. When Zacharias’s tongue was loosed at the time his son, John, was circumcised and named, Zacharias, also filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke beautiful words of praise, testifying of the mission of the Savior, as found in Luke 1:67–80. Zacharias’s hymn of praise is known as the Benedictus (which in Latin means “blessed”).
Hymns of praise are also recorded in the Old Testament, which acknowledge Heavenly Father’s gracious blessings upon His people (see
Exodus 15:1–21; Judges 5:1–31; 1 Chronicles 16:7–36). Mary’s song closely resembles the song of Hannah. Hannah was a handmaid of the Lord who, through faith, miraculously conceived Samuel and dedicated him to God’s service (see 1 Samuel 1:11, 28; 2:1–10). The Song of Mary associates the birth of Jesus Christ with Israel’s sacred past and celebrates the Lord’s mercy in once again reaching out to bless and honor His people—particularly those of “low degree” (Luke 1:52).

How was Joseph’s love for Mary tested? Matthew 1:18.
18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Marriage between a young man and a young woman was arranged and agreed to by the heads of the respective families—usually the fathers. Once a prospective wife had been identified by the groom’s father or family head, negotiations were begun. They focused on, but were not limited to, the size of the “bride price,” a kind of dowry in reverse, paid by the groom’s father or family head to the bride’s family. Once the marriage was agreed upon, the wedding consisted of two stages: betrothal (also called espousal; see Matthew 1:18) and a wedding ceremony.
Betrothal was legally and religiously more significant than the subsequent marriage ceremony, after which the couple began living together. Betrothal was regarded as the final part of a solemn covenant. It carried the force of a covenant to be honored between God-fearing parties (see Genesis 2:24; Ezekiel 16:8; Ephesians 5:21–33). Though betrothed couples were legally regarded as husband and wife (see Deuteronomy 22:23–24), between the time of betrothal and the wedding ceremony, a strict code of chastity was enforced (see Matthew 1:18, 25).

How did Joseph react when he learned that Mary was with child?  Matthew 1:19.  According to the law, Joseph could have accused Mary of violating the marriage covenant and brought her to a public trial. Such a trial could have resulted in a death sentence. Rather than do this, he decided to release her privately from the marriage contract.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

When Mary was found to be with child, Joseph, knowing he was not the father, had several options. First, he could have subjected Mary to a public divorce and perhaps even execution, for people would have presumed that Mary was guilty of adultery—a crime punishable by death under the law of Moses (see Leviticus 20:10; John 8:5). Second, Joseph could have had his betrothal to Mary privately annulled before two witnesses. A third option was to proceed with the marriage. Joseph was inclined to show mercy to Mary by quietly annulling the betrothal agreement (see Matthew 1:19). However, when assured by an angel that Mary’s child was the Son of God, Joseph elected to marry her, though doing so could have brought upon him public shame and ridicule (see Matthew 1:20–25; Luke 3:23; John 8:41).

How did Heavenly Father help Joseph accept Mary’s condition and prepare for his own responsibilities?  Matthew 1:20–23.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Gerald N. Lund, who later became a member of the Seventy, discussed Joseph’s visions and spiritual sensitivity: “Matthew tells us that [Joseph] was of the lineage of King David, that he was a just and considerate man, that in a dream an angel told him who Jesus would be, that he was obedient, and that he gave Jesus his name, which means savior. (See Matt. 1.) We know that he took Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. (See Luke 2:4–6.) Less than two years later, Joseph took his family into Egypt to escape Herod, after being warned in a dream. In Egypt, a dream again told him when to return, and another dream told him to go to Galilee. (See Matt. 2:13–15, 19–22.) Four dreams from God! Joseph must have been an exceptionally visionary and spiritually sensitive man” (Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [1991], 51–52).

What did Joseph do in response to this dream?  Matthew 1:24–25.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

What does this response reveal about his character?  He was a righteous God fearing man willing to accept the will of the Lord and serve.  


A main purpose of Matthew, Luke, and the other Gospel writers was to testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This is the purpose in the very first chapters we read in the New Testament. It is our goal to recognize this purpose and draw from it so that we can magnify the Lord.  

Read Luke 1:46. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

In this verse, the word magnify refers to Mary’s efforts to praise the Lord and help others see his greatness.  How do the examples of Elisabeth, Zacharias, John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph help you see the Savior’s greatness and increase your faith in him? How can we help others increase their faith in Jesus Christ?

From this lesson it is my hope that we will gain gratitude for the righteous examples of Elisabeth, Zacharias, John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph. For the examples they set and the truths they teach us about God, about faith, about repentance, joy in service, about the saving Grace of Jesus Christ; saves us, and can save all of Gods children here and across the veil.  They teach us how to magnify our testimonies and truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, and serve righteously.  May we all glean from their accounts that we like them, will be found worthy to serve Him gaining with them eternal glory.  

Next Weeks Lesson:  Luke 2 Matthew 2

New Testament Student Manual
Studies in Scripture Vol 5 Kent P Jackson
Conference Reports 
The Promised Messiah


The Fall of Adam and Eve

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