Matthew 19–23

“Lesson 7: Matthew 19–23,” New Testament Teacher Manual (2018)

Introduction and Timeline

Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry was drawing to a close. After a final journey from Galilee to Judea and a few days in Jerusalem, it would be complete. With only a few weeks remaining in His mortal life, the Savior taught doctrines of the kingdom—such as the sanctity of marriage; the reward of eternal life for those who keep their covenants; and the two great commandments, which are to love God and to love our neighbor. Knowing what awaited Him, the Savior boldly entered Jerusalem and confronted the Jewish leadership, openly revealed their secret plots to kill Him, and rebuked them for their hypocrisy.


Chapter Overviews

Matthew 19

The Savior left Galilee for the last time in mortality and traveled south toward Judea. He taught about the sanctity of marriage. He counseled the rich young man to sell his possessions and to give to the poor. He encouraged His disciples, promising that those who sacrifice for His sake would inherit everlasting life.

Matthew 20

Jesus Christ taught the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, foretold His own death and Resurrection, and taught His Apostles to serve others. He healed two blind men.

Matthew 21

Jesus Christ rode triumphantly into Jerusalem amid shouts of “Hosanna.” He cleansed the temple, cursed a fig tree, and withstood the challenge of the chief priests and elders as He taught in the temple. He told the parable of the two sons and the parable of the wicked husbandmen.

Matthew 22

The Savior continued to teach in the temple. He told the parable of the marriage of the king’s son. Jewish leaders confronted Jesus and were silenced as He taught about paying tribute to Caesar and to God and about marriage and the Resurrection. He taught the two great commandments, and He asked, “What think ye of Christ?”

Matthew 23

Jesus Christ concluded His teaching in the temple by denouncing the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. He lamented the coming destruction of Jerusalem.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 19:3–12; 22:23–33

The Savior’s Teachings on Marriage

Draw the following continuum on the board:

New Testament Student Manual : Religion 211-212

Begin establishing the relevance of today’s lesson in the minds of the students by reading the following statements to the class. As you read each statement, pause for a moment and have students silently consider where on the continuum they would place themselves. Ask them to think about how well each of the following statements represents their attitudes and beliefs.

  • I believe God desires for me to prepare for marriage.

  • I plan on marrying in the temple.

  • In God’s plan for His children, He intends for marriage to last forever.

  • Satan is working to destroy marriages and families.

  • There are many reasons for which divorce is justified.

As you teach this section on marriage, remember that some of your students may have experienced the pain of divorce in their families. Some may have been through a divorce themselves. Keep these students in mind and be sensitive to them as you direct the learning in this section.

Read Matthew 19:3 with your class, and ask a few students to restate the Pharisees’ question in their own words. Have a student read Matthew 19:4–6 while the rest of the class listens for the Savior’s answer concerning divorce.

  • How would you restate in your own words the Savior’s answer to the Pharisees’ question about divorce?

As students share their responses, emphasize this doctrine: Marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred relationship ordained of God.

Have students read Matthew 19:7–9, and ask:

  • What is meant by the phrase “from the beginning it was not so”? (God did not intend for Adam and Eve or their posterity to get divorced.)

  • What reason did Jesus Christ give in Matthew 19:9 that might justify divorce?

In modern society people seek divorce for numerous reasons. Share the following statement by President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency, in which he discussed what would be “just cause” for divorce:

Faust, James E.

“In my opinion, ‘just cause’ [for divorce] should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship which is destructive of a person’s dignity as a human being.

“At the same time, I have strong feelings about what is not provocation for breaking the sacred covenants of marriage. Surely it is not simply ‘mental distress,’ nor ‘personality differences,’ nor ‘having grown apart,’ nor having ‘fallen out of love’” (“Father, Come Home,” Ensign, May 1993, 36–37).

Help students explain the sacred nature of marriage by asking questions like the following:

  • From President Faust’s teachings about divorce, what do we learn about marriage?

  • In modern society, what attitudes about marriage and divorce reflect a lack of respect for the sanctity of marriage? (If needed, you might refer to the quotations by President Dallin H. Oaks and President Gordon B. Hinckley in the student manual commentary for Matthew 19:1–12.)

  • What do you think a married couple can do to create a relationship that is unified and permanent?

Ask students to think back to the five questions you asked at the beginning of the lesson concerning their beliefs toward marriage and divorce. Ask each of the five questions again, but this time ask students to think about how the Savior would answer.

Explain to students that as recorded in Matthew 22, another group of Jewish leaders asked the Savior a different question about marriage. Read Matthew 22:23–28 together as a class.

  • According to Matthew 22:23, what group came to Jesus and what did they believe?

  • Since the Sadducees did not believe in the Resurrection, what do you think about the question they asked the Savior? (They were not sincerely seeking an answer about marriage in the Resurrection.)

Help students understand the context of the Sadducees’ question by explaining that according to the law of Moses, when a man died leaving his wife childless, his brother was supposed to marry the deceased man’s wife to provide for her and to raise up children for the deceased man (see Deuteronomy 25:5). This is referred to as Levirate marriage (see Bible Dictionary, “Levirate marriage”).

Have the class silently study Matthew 22:29–32 and the student manual commentary for Matthew 22:23–30, looking for what Jesus taught about marriage in the eternities. Then ask:

  • What are we to understand from the statement, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”? (Marriage is an ordinance that must be performed on earth in a temple, by proxy if necessary, in order to endure beyond this life. Marriage does not endure after the Resurrection for those who do not marry for eternity.)

  • As recorded in verses 31–32, how did the Savior correct the false beliefs of the Sadducees regarding the Resurrection? (He said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were among “the living,” thereby declaring that they would be resurrected.)

To help students feel the importance of eternal marriage, invite a few students to share how they have come to believe in eternal marriage. (Students should not share comments that are too personal.) Testify that marriage is sacred, and even though Satan is trying to destroy marriages and families, we can enjoy the blessings of marriage and family eternally by following the teachings of the Lord.

Matthew 19:16–29; 20:1–16

The Rich Young Man and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

Invite students to read Matthew 19:16, and ask them how they would respond to the young man’s question.

Divide the class into two groups. Assign half of the class to study Matthew 19:16–29 and the student manual commentaries for Matthew 19:16–22 and for Matthew 19:27–29. Have these students consider responses to the following questions:

  • What is the difference between the young man’s commitment to follow the Savior and Peter’s commitment?

  • The young man asked, “What lack I yet?” Based on these verses, what do you think he lacked?

Assign the other half of the class to study Matthew 20:1–16 and the student manual commentary for Matthew 20:1–16. Tell these students that the parable they will study helps answer the question of what we must do to inherit eternal life. As they study, have students consider responses to the following questions:

  • From an eternal perspective, why is it fair that each laborer received the same reward? What is our reward when we labor faithfully in God’s vineyard?

  • Just as the householder made an agreement with the laborer, we make a covenant with the Lord when we are baptized. What does this parable teach about keeping the baptismal covenant we have made?

After the students have had time to study, invite a few students from each half of the class to (1) give an overview of the scriptures they studied, and (2) explain their answers to the questions. After their responses, invite students to state a principle they learned by asking:

  • From what you read in these verses and from the reports given, what must a person do to inherit eternal life? (During the discussion, make sure these principles are emphasized: We must be willing to make the sacrifices required of us as the Savior’s disciples. All who keep God’s commandments and their covenants with Him will receive the reward of eternal life.)

As you conclude this portion of the lesson, draw students’ attention once more to Matthew 19:20 and the phrase “What lack I yet?” Give students a moment to ponder what they may lack that is required for eternal life and what commandment the Lord would have them obey more fully. Encourage students to ponder whether the covenants they have made with their Heavenly Father are more important to them than the things of the world.

Matthew 21:1–16, 23–46; 22:1–14, 35–46

The Triumphal Entry, Cleansing of the Temple, and Teaching through Parables

Christ's Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

Show a picture of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. You could use Triumphal Entry (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 50; see also LDS.org). Ask students to ponder the picture as a student reads aloud Matthew 21:1–11.

  • What do you think your reaction would have been if you had been in Jerusalem that day?

Ask a student to read the student manual commentary for Matthew 21:1–11.

  • What message did Jesus convey to the people by the way He rode into Jerusalem? (Jesus declared that He was the Messiah and the King of Israel.)

Display a chart like the following on the board or a poster, or make copies of the chart and distribute them to students:

Our Actions Reveal Whether We Accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God



What do these people’s actions reveal about their feelings toward the Savior?

Money changers in the temple

Matthew 21:12–13


Chief priests

Matthew 21:15–16, 23–27, 45–46


First son

Matthew 21:28–32*


Second son

Matthew 21:28–32*



Matthew 21:33–42*


Those invited to the wedding

Matthew 22:1–6*


Those in the highways

Matthew 22:8–14*

  • Student manual commentary is available.

Assign each student to study one or more of the scripture passages shown in the chart and any related material in the student manual. Ask students to look for what the actions of the individuals reveal about their feelings toward Jesus Christ. After a few minutes, have students report what the individuals they studied about did and what these actions reveal about the individuals’ possible attitudes toward the Savior. Fill in the chart with student responses. Then have each student turn to another member of the class and, referring to the completed chart, discuss how the scripture passages teach this principle: Our actions reveal whether we accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. After students have discussed this, ask:

  • How do some people today show that they have the same feelings toward the Savior as the individuals you studied?

Give a sheet of paper to each student and have students write a paragraph describing one of the following topics: (1) Think about your actions today, and then write what you feel these actions reveal about your feelings toward the Savior. (2) Think about what you can do for the remainder of the day to demonstrate your devotion to the Savior. Write your thoughts, and then act on them today. After students have completed the writing, have them put the paper where they will be reminded of it and can reflect upon it throughout the rest of the day.

Matthew 21:17–22; 23:1–33

The Barren Fig Tree and Hypocrisy

Have a student read aloud Matthew 21:17–19.

  • What was there about the outward appearance of this fig tree that would have led people to expect to find fruit growing on it? (Its leaves.)

  • How might the Jewish leadership be like the fig tree? (The Jewish leaders had an outward appearance of righteousness, but inwardly they did not repent or believe in Jesus Christ. Spiritually, they had “withered” and would not bear fruits of righteousness.)

Prepare students for the remainder of this teaching suggestion by explaining that, as recorded in Matthew 23, the Savior denounced the deliberate hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. The Bible Dictionary states that the word hypocrite “generally denotes one who pretends to be religious when he is not” (Bible Dictionary, “Hypocrite”).

Read Matthew 23:1–3, and have students look for what Jesus warned the people about.

  • What group of people did Jesus Christ warn His disciples about? (Scribes and Pharisees.)

  • As recorded in verse 3, what did Jesus say that the scribes and Pharisees did wrong? (Their actions did not match what they taught.)

  • What principle can you learn from the Savior’s teachings in verses 2–3 that can help to guide your own behavior?

As the students present their ideas, help them to understand this principle: Sincerely following the Lord requires our behavior to be consistent with the faith we profess. Writing this principle on the board will help students see its importance.

Have students quietly read Matthew 23:4–7, looking for actions of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus said were not right. If students have difficulty understanding the word phylacteries, refer them to the student manual commentary for Matthew 23:1–5.

  • What details in these verses help us understand why the scribes and Pharisees acted as they did? (They did things to be seen of men and to receive praise from others.)

Have students quickly skim Matthew 23:13–29, looking for a phrase that is repeated often. (“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”) You might invite students to highlight the phrase “Woe unto you” in their scriptures. Explain to students that woe is a term the Lord used to denounce the actions of the scribes and Pharisees and to declare that distress and sorrow would come upon them because of their actions. Have students study Matthew 23:13–33 and the student manual commentary for Matthew 23:13–33, including the chart summarizing the hypocritical actions denounced by the Lord. Then ask the class the following questions:

  • Which of the hypocritical actions identified by the Lord stands out most to you? Why?

  • What are some examples of hypocrisy that we could be guilty of today?

  • What are steps that a person might take to identify and then eliminate hypocrisy in his or her life?

As time permits, you might read and discuss the student manual commentary for Matthew 23:23–28. Conclude by testifying of the principle discussed earlier: Sincerely following the Lord requires our behavior to be consistent with the faith we profess. Invite students to examine their lives for possible areas of hypocrisy. Encourage them to take steps to eliminate any forms of hypocrisy they might identify. This would also be an appropriate time to praise students for Christlike attributes you have seen in them and Christlike actions you have observed.