Lesson 6: Types, Shadows, and Symbols of Jesus the Christ

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“Lesson 6: Types, Shadows, and Symbols of Jesus the Christ,” Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel Teacher Manual (2015)

“Lesson 6,” Teacher Manual

Lesson 6

Types, Shadows, and Symbols of Jesus the Christ


Modern prophets have declared that Jesus Christ “instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). In addition to the ordinance of the sacrament, the scriptures tell us of many events, circumstances, objects, and people that were intended to remind us of and instruct us regarding the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. This lesson will help students consider some of these scriptural types, shadows, and symbols that point us to the Savior.

Background Reading

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 11:4; Moses 6:63

Scriptural symbols of Christ

Show several pictures of well-known signs or symbols such as the following:


After students identify the meaning of each sign, ask them for examples of other easily recognized signs or symbols.

Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to study and compare 2 Nephi 11:4 and Moses 6:63. Ask them to discuss what these passages have in common and what they teach about Jesus Christ and the purpose of God’s creations. After the pairs have discussed their findings, ask the class:

  • How would you state a central truth recorded in these scripture passages? (Students should identify the following truth: All things were created to testify of Jesus Christ.)

  • What are some examples of things that have been “given of God” that are “the typifying of” (2 Nephi 11:4), or symbolic of, Jesus Christ?

Tell students that all scriptures contain types, shadows, symbols, and similitudes of Jesus Christ. Explain that types, shadows, symbols, and similitudes are representations of greater realities. For example, the Liahona described in the Book of Mormon is a representation of the words of Christ. In this portion of the lesson, we will focus on types and imagery found in the Old Testament. Much of this imagery is in the form of people, objects, events, and circumstances (it might be helpful to write these categories on the board). Copy the following list of scripture references on the board, or provide it to students on a handout:

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Types, Shadows, and Symbols of Jesus the Christ

Old Testament Types, Shadows, and Symbols of Christ

Fulfillment in the Life of Christ

Genesis 22:1–14

John 3:16; 19:16–18; Jacob 4:4–5

Exodus 3:7–8, 10–12

Matthew 1:21; 2 Nephi 6:17

Exodus 12:3, 5–7, 13–14, 46

John 1:29; 19:14, 31–36; 1 Peter 1:18–19

Exodus 16:14–15, 18

John 6:5–10, 48–51

Leviticus 8:15, 30; 17:11

Hebrews 9:22; 13:12

Leviticus 16:2–6, 17

Hebrews 9:6–12; 10:11–12

Leviticus 22:19–22

Hebrews 9:14; Doctrine and Covenants 20:22

Numbers 21:4–9

John 3:14–15; Helaman 8:13–15

Jonah 1:17; 2:10

Matthew 12:38–40

Assign one or more students to study each set of scripture passages and to prepare to explain the Old Testament symbolism and how it points to Jesus Christ. After sufficient time, ask students to report what they discovered.

If time permits, consider also discussing some of the symbols of Christ identified by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his article “In This Holy Land” (Tambuli, Feb. 1991, 10–19).

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • Why do you think all things have been created to represent or to symbolize the Savior?

  • What is the value of continually seeking to discover how all things testify of Jesus Christ? (Make sure students understand the following principle: We can learn more about Jesus Christ as we come to recognize the imagery, types, and symbols that testify of Him.)

  • How has something that symbolizes the Savior strengthened your faith in Him?

  • What could you do to recognize Christ in the symbols we have been given?

2 Nephi 11:2–6

Symbols and images of Christ in gospel covenants and ordinances

Explain that this segment of the lesson will focus on a different aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ that contains symbols and images of Christ. Invite students to search 2 Nephi 11:2–6, looking for those things that Nephi took delight in. You may want to suggest that they mark what they find.

  • What did Nephi delight in?

Point out the phrase “the covenants of the Lord” in verse 5. Explain that covenants and ordinances are an important part of Jesus Christ’s everlasting gospel. There are many elements of covenants and ordinances that are symbolic and teach about and lead us to Jesus Christ. Display the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask a student to read it aloud:

McConkie, Bruce R.

“Every divine ordinance or performance ordained of God, every sacrifice, symbolism, and similitude; all that God ever gave to his people—all was ordained and established in such a way as to testify of his Son and center the faith of believing people in him and in the redemption he was foreordained to make” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 28).

  • What is a doctrine or principle taught in this statement? (One possible answer is that we will see symbols of Christ in gospel ordinances if we look for them.)

  • How can this knowledge be helpful as we participate in gospel ordinances?

Invite students to study Romans 6:3–6 and 3 Nephi 18:7, 11 silently, looking for symbols that refer to the Savior. Then ask:

  • What are some ways that gospel covenants or ordinances teach about the Savior and help you to remember Him?

To help students feel the truth and importance of learning to recognize types and symbols of Christ, ask questions like the following:

  • What is a symbol of the Savior that has great meaning to you?

  • How do you ensure that you notice this symbol?

  • How has seeing this as a symbol of Christ blessed your life?

Invite students to apply the principles in this lesson by inviting them to write down how they can better recognize types, shadows, and symbols of the Savior in the scriptures, in the ordinances of the gospel, and in their daily lives. Encourage them to select a day in the near future on which they will consciously look for images, objects, or events that remind them of the Savior. Encourage them to keep a list of what they find and to share their list with a family member or friend or perhaps through social media.

Student Readings