Matthew 8–12 presents a continuation of the Savior’s Galilean ministry overviewed in Matthew 4:23: “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching … and preaching … and healing all manner of sickness” (see also Matthew 9:35). Having recorded an important part of the Savior’s teaching and preaching in chapters 5–7, Matthew next documented in chapters 8–9 numerous miracles that Jesus Christ performed. These miracles illustrate the Savior’s power and authority over all things and prepare readers for Matthew 10, which records the Savior conferring on His Apostles the power to minister and to perform similar miracles. The Savior’s power can give us confidence in His promise and ability to lighten the burdens of all who come unto Him (see Matthew 11:28–30).
Briefly have students respond to the following questions:
How do we recognize individuals who have authority to enforce laws? (They may wear a uniform or have a badge.)
How do we know when people in the Church have authority? (We sustain them in Church; they conduct and preside at meetings.)
How would individuals living in the time of Jesus Christ recognize that He had authority? (Answers might center on His teachings or miracles.)
Assign half of the class to look briefly in Matthew 8 and the other half of the class to look in Matthew 9 for evidence that Jesus Christ came with power and authority. Give students only a few minutes to identify these evidences. List students’ responses on the board. (Most of the responses will likely be focused upon specific miracles that Jesus Christ performed and the manner in which He taught.)
How do the responses listed on the board show that the power and authority of the Savior was different from the power and authority the scribes and Pharisees claimed to have?
According to this verse, what could the Apostles do with the power the Savior gave to them?
As students share their responses, emphasize this truth: Jesus Christ came with power and authority, which He conferred on His Twelve Apostles.
Ask students to identify the names of the Twelve Apostles, found in Matthew 10:2–4. Then turn with students to the chart in the student manual commentary for Matthew 10:2–4. Give students a few minutes to read over the information contained in the chart. Help students analyze the information in the chart by asking questions such as:
What general observations do you have about these twelve men?
What do you notice about the occupations of these men? (In general they were common men, chosen from various walks of life.)
In what areas of the world did these men preach the gospel of Jesus Christ? (Note that although the Savior specifically commanded His Apostles not to teach the gospel to the Gentiles, as recorded in Matthew 10:5–6, He later changed these instructions, as recorded in Matthew 28:19.)
Have half of your students study Matthew 10:7–15, 40–42, and prepare to answer the following questions:
What do these verses further teach about the authority Jesus Christ conferred upon His Apostles? (Jesus gave them the authority to do the same things He had done, as recorded in Matthew 8–9.)
How might these verses affect how we view living Apostles today? (To help students understand that Apostles today hold the same power as the ancient Apostles, you may want to refer to the quotation by Elder L. Tom Perry in the student manual commentary for Matthew 10:1–5.)
Have the other half of your students study Matthew 10:16–27 and look for answers to the following questions:
Which parts of the Savior’s counsel do you think would have given the Apostles the greatest comfort?
Though the Savior gave this counsel specifically to His Apostles, what parts of this counsel do you think also apply to all members of the Church? How does the counsel apply?
As students work on reading their assigned verses and accompanying questions, you might consider having them study alone or in pairs, and then you could invite several students from each group to present their answers to the class.
You might conclude this portion of the lesson by inviting a few students to share the feelings they have for living Apostles and how they have witnessed apostolic power and authority today.
Refer students to the list you made earlier on the board showing evidences of the Savior’s authority. Point out that most of these items relate to miracles Jesus Christ performed. Write the following references on the board:
Ask students to read these verses and look for what is repeated, looking especially at the verbs used in the verses.
As students report what is repeated in these verses, help them recognize that individuals either “came” unto Christ or were “brought” to Him. Ask students:
What did Jesus Christ do for those who came unto Him or were brought unto Him? (He healed them, made them whole, cast out devils, and forgave sins.)
Point out that in many of the miracles listed on the board, the people had diseases and the Savior healed their physical bodies. What are examples of other types of burdens people might have? (Possible answers: Grief, loneliness, fear, discouragement, temptations, and problems in relationships with others. You might add these to the list on the board.)
Invite the class to silently read Matthew 11:28–30 and ponder how the Savior’s invitation relates to the list on the board of burdens people carry and burdens the Savior relieved through His miracles.
To whom did Jesus Christ extend His invitation? (All who are heavy-laden or who have burdens.)
Draw a stick figure on one side of the board, tape a picture of the Savior on the other side of the board, and draw an arrow between them pointing to the Savior (you may need to erase the board before doing this). The board might look something like the following:
Help students to identify the principles taught in Matthew 11:28–30 by asking:
What did Jesus Christ promise to those who come unto Him? (As part of the students’ discussion, help them to understand this principle: When we come unto Jesus Christ with our burdens, He gives us rest. Consider writing the principle on the board.)
How would you explain how a person comes unto Christ? (Write student responses on the board beneath the arrow. Possible answers: Pray, read scriptures, serve others, fast.)
Invite students to quietly study Omni 1:26; Moroni 10:32; and the fourth article of faith for additional ways we come unto the Savior. If time permits, you might also refer students to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s statement in the student manual commentary for Matthew 11:28–30, “Come unto Me.” Ask students to share what they find, and add their answers to the board. The board might look something like the following:
Have a student read the student manual commentary for Matthew 11:28–30, “Take My Yoke upon You.”
What does it mean to take upon ourselves the Savior’s yoke? (We are willing to keep His commandments. We are bound to Him. He stands side by side with us, giving us the strength we need to press forward in living the gospel.)
What do you find encouraging in President Howard W. Hunter’s statement?
How have you experienced the rest that comes from coming unto Jesus Christ and taking upon yourself His yoke?
Point out that the “rest” promised by the Savior does not mean that all our burdens will be taken from us. In many instances, the Savior strengthens us to bear our burdens and causes our burdens to feel lighter (see Mosiah 24:15). If we are faithful, the final “rest” we are promised is “the fulness of his glory” (D&C 84:24), which means exaltation.
As the Spirit prompts you, this might be an appropriate time to speak of your love for the Savior and share how He has relieved your heavy burdens or strengthened you in bearing your burdens because you have taken upon yourself His yoke.
Summarize Matthew 12:1–28 by pointing out that the Savior proclaimed His identity and performed miracles, and Matthew recorded how the Jewish people and leaders chose to react to Him. The Savior healed many, causing some of the Jewish people to wonder aloud whether He was the “son of David” (Matthew 12:23), meaning the Messiah. Many were willing to commit to follow Him. On the other hand, the Pharisees accused Him of being evil, openly opposed Him, and conspired how they might destroy Him (see Matthew 12:14, 24).
Before teaching the rest of Matthew 12, tell students that the last half of Matthew 12 records that the Savior referred to the Pharisees as a “generation of vipers” (verse 34), “an evil and adulterous generation” (verse 39), and “this wicked generation” (verse 45). Ask:
What does this tell you about the conversations Jesus was having with the Pharisees at that time?
Write these doctrines and principles on the board:
Divide your class into small groups. If you have a large class, more than one group may be assigned the same material. Assign each group to study one of the following scripture blocks:
As groups study their assigned material, have them (1) identify which statement on the board they feel best reflects the Savior’s teachings to the Pharisees, as recorded in their assigned verses; (2) prepare to explain to the rest of the class how the Savior used these teachings to rebuke the Pharisees; and (3) prepare to share how they think their assigned verses apply to us today.
After sufficient time, have several groups report their findings. If you assigned more than one group to study the same material, you might have just one group report their findings and the other group(s) share any additional information they discussed.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of this truth: Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires our committed devotion to Him.