New Testament Lesson 20 (Matt. 19-20; Mark 10; Luke 18)
THE RICH YOUNG MAN
● The rich young man loved his possessions more than the Lord (Mark 10:17–22; Matthew 19:16–20).
— President Joseph F. Smith said, “The difficulty with the young man [was that] he had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ . . . No man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it.”1
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
“We might well ask, ‘Isn’t it enough to keep the commandments? What more is expected of us than to be true and faithful to every trust? Is there more than the law of obedience?’ In the case of (the) rich young (man) there was more. He was expected to live the law of consecration, to sacrifice his earthly possessions, for the answer of Jesus was: ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’
“As you know, the young man went away sorrowful, “for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16–22) And we are left to wonder what intimacies he might have shared with the Son of God, what fellowship he might have enjoyed with the Apostles, what revelations and visions he might have received, if he had been able to live the law of a celestial kingdom. As it is, he remains nameless, as it might have been, his name could have been had in honorable remembrance among the Saints forever.”2
● Jesus spoke of the difficulty of entering the kingdom of God when we have riches (Mark 10:23–25).
● The disciples then asked, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matthew 19:27).
● Among other things, the Lord said that the original Twelve Apostles will judge all of Israel (Matthew 19:28–30).
MARRIAGE IS ORDAINED OF GOD (Matthew 19:3–9)
● Consider introducing the topic of marriage with the following quote from Elder Robert D. Hales: “None of us marry perfection; we marry potential.”3
● Invite class members to think of a married couple whom they admire. What qualities does this couple have? What qualities would class members want in a spouse, and what qualities do they want to develop in order to be a good spouse?
● Also consider what statements you could use from President Russell M. Nelson’s message “Celestial Marriage”4 to help inspire class members to seek a celestial marriage.
● Increasingly, the world’s views on marriage diverge from eternal truth. To help your class learn about God’s views on marriage, you might invite them to read Matthew 19:3–9 and list on the board the truths they find regarding marriage.
— You should help class members feel better prepared to explain or defend the Lord’s teachings on marriage.
— You could invite them to list on the board some questions they have heard about the Church’s teachings regarding marriage. They could then suggest answers to these questions using what they know about the plan of salvation and statements from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”13
— Consider inviting class members to role-play how they might explain our beliefs about marriage to someone who believes differently.
ETERNAL LIFE IS AVAILABLE TO ALL
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16)
● Eternal life is available to all—no matter how early or late we accept the gospel.
● What does this parable suggest about the kingdom of heaven? No matter how soon or late in life we choose to repent and labor in the Lord’s vineyard, the reward—eternal life—is the same.
● Additional insights about this parable can be obtained from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s message “The Laborers in the Vineyard.”
PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge
● Jesus gave this parable to a group of Pharisees to teach we “ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1–8).
● What does it mean to “pray always”? (Alma 34:27; 2 Nephi 32:9; D&C 90:24).
— Elder James E. Talmage said: “Jesus did not indicate that as the wicked judge finally yielded to supplication so would God do; but He pointed out that if even such a being as this judge, who ‘feared not God, neither regarded man,’ would at last hear and grant the widow’s plea, no one should doubt that God, the Just and Merciful, will hear and answer.”6
— Elder Richard G. Scott said, “It is a mistake to assume that every prayer we offer will be answered immediately. Some prayers require considerable effort on our part. . . . When we explain a problem and a proposed solution [to our Heavenly Father], sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer. He will not fail us.”7
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
● The Pharisee exalted himself in his prayers, while the publican showed humility (Luke 18:9–14).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Pharisees and publicans are found in every religious group. As here described, the Pharisees are self-styled Christians who work in the Church in order to be admired for their religious achievements. They flaunt their charitable contributions, boast of their good works, publicize their strict compliance with this or that law, and rejoice in their supposed spiritual superiority over ordinary men. Publicans are those who are so reticent and self-effacing that, though possessed of a proper spirit of humility, they are too timid to serve in positions of leadership in the Church organizations. If members of the Church could do the works of the Pharisees and have the spirit of the publican, they would be sound, balanced, useful Saints.”8
AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH AND HUMILITY
Jesus Heals a Faithful Blind Man near Jericho
● A blind man near Jericho showed his faith by calling out to the Lord (Luke 18:35–43).
— He called Jesus “thou son of David,” which indicates his belief that Jesus was indeed the rightful heir to David’s throne and the King of Israel (vv. 37, 39).
— He fully believed that Jesus could heal him, and would not be silenced by those who found him annoying as he cried out (vv. 38–39).
— Jesus showed great compassion by asking, “what wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?” and the man said simply, “that I may receive my sight” (v. 41). Jesus commanded him to receive his sight, and it was done immediately (vv. 42–43).
— The man showed his gratitude by “gloryfying God,” which caused others to also praise God for the thing which had been done for him (v. 43).
What are some doctrinal insights we receive from this week’s lesson material? You should consider discussing one or more of these with your class.
● Father, are you there? Our Gospel Doctrine lesson this week includes profound teachings about prayer and our relationship with our Heavenly Father:
Before Elder Hugh B. Brown left on a mission, his mother told him, “Hugh, you remember when you were a little boy and you would have a bad dream or wake up in the night frightened? You would call from your room, ‘Mother, are you there?’ and I would answer and try to comfort you and remove your fears. Now as you go on a mission and out into the world, there will be times when you will be frightened, when you feel weak, inadequate, alone, and have problems. I want you to know that you can call to your Heavenly Father as you used to call to me and say, ‘Father, are you there? I need your help.’ Do this with the knowledge that He is there and that He will be ready to help you if you will do your part and live worthy of your blessings. I want to reassure you that He is there and will answer your prayers and needs for your best good.”9
This is an excellent way to begin the lesson because it emphasizes our Father’s love for each of his children. You may also want to share a personal experience with prayer that illustrates the same thing.
● Jesus Is Received in Zacchaeus’ Home (Luke 19:1–7). Zacchaeus—a publican— showed his great desire to see Jesus by climbing a tree. The Jews despised him because of his profession. They considered all publicans to be traitors.
— Jesus specifically requested that Zacchaeus take Him to his home, which Zacchaeus did with great joy (v. 6).
— While others despised Zacchaeus and shunned him, Jesus set the example by showing him respect and love. It is important that we do not shun others or think we are better than they are (Alma 5:54–56; 38:13–14). Each person is a child of God and is loved by Him.
— Even among our youth, this kind of hatred is increasing; bullying has become a national problem in our schools and on the Internet. In some extreme cases, young people have committed suicide because of the treatment they have received from 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.”10
● The Church’s statement on marriage. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued this statement regarding marriage:
“We encourage all to bear in mind our Heavenly Father’s purposes in creating the earth and providing for our mortal birth and experience here as His children [see Genesis 1:27–28; 2:24]. . . . Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. . . .
“ . . . God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”11
● Showing compassion to those who are homosexual. The Lord expects us to show love and compassion to those who advocate or participate in something other than God’s plan for marriage, such as cohabitation or same-sex marriage.12 True compassion includes doing our best to lovingly and patiently invite them to follow God’s plan, which is the only plan of true happiness. To embrace or endorse alternatives to God’s plan is more harmful than helpful. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” may be helpful in discussing why the Lord’s prophets warn against anything that is contrary to marriage between a man and a woman.
● Family is an eternal concept. (Genesis 2:18, 21–24; 1 Corinthians 11:11) We are all part of God’s family, and His plan is that men and women be married and sealed so that they can live as families for eternity.
As part of God’s plan, husbands and wives are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28) and nurture their children in righteousness. The ultimate purpose of God’s plan is exaltation, or eternal life, in God’s presence, where faithful husbands and wives may have eternal increase and eternal joy (D&C 132:19–21). God’s plan is the only way to achieve exaltation (D&C 131:1–4).
Additional truths concerning marriage can be found in the following scriptures: Doctrine and Covenants 42:22; 49:15–17; 131:1–4; Moses 3:18, 21–24. These truths are reinforced in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”13
1. Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 261.
2. In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 75–76, or Ensign, May 1975, 51.
3. “Meeting the Challenges of Today’s World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 46.
4. Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 92–95.
5. Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 31–33.
6. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 436.
7. In Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 38; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 30–31.
8. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:543–544.
9. Told by Marvin J. Ashton, “Know He Is There,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 50.
10. In Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 39.
11. “LDS Church Instructs Leaders Regarding Same-Sex Marriage,” Jan. 10, 2014, mormonnewsroom.org.
12. See mormonandgay.lds.org
13. Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.