“Lesson 53: Luke 15,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 53,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
The Pharisees and scribes complained about the Savior’s association with publicans and sinners. The Savior responded by giving the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.
Begin class by asking students if they have ever lost an item that was valuable to them.
What were you willing to do to find it? Why?
What do you think it means for a person to be spiritually “lost”? (Help students understand that this can refer to those who have not yet received the restored gospel of Jesus Christ or are not currently living according to the teachings of the gospel.)
Invite the class to think of someone they know who may be spiritually lost. Ask them to ponder how they feel about this person.
Explain that Luke 15 contains the Savior’s teachings about those who are spiritually lost. Invite students to look for truths in Luke 15 concerning how Heavenly Father feels about those who are spiritually lost and the responsibilities we have toward them.
Ask a student to read Luke 15:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for who drew near to Jesus and what the Pharisees and scribes complained about.
Who drew near to the Savior? Why were the Pharisees and scribes complaining?
What does this complaint reveal about the Pharisees and scribes?
Explain that the Savior responded by giving three parables: one of a lost sheep, one of a lost coin, and one of a lost son. These parables were meant to both give hope to the sinner as well as condemn the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Encourage students to pay attention to why the subject of each parable became lost and how it was found.
New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 53
What was lost?
Why was it lost?
How was it found?
What words or phrases describe the reaction to it being found?
© 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
After sufficient time, ask students to explain their assigned parable and report their answers to the questions in the chart to their partners. After both students in each group have finished, invite a few students to come to the board and fill in the chart with their answers or (if you did not draw the chart on the board) to share their answers with the class.
What is the difference between how the sheep and the coin were lost? (The sheep became lost through no fault of its own, while the coin was lost because of the negligence or carelessness of its owner [see David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1945, 120, 121–22].)
What is our responsibility toward those who are lost, regardless of how they became lost?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: When we help others feel a desire to repent …
Based on the responses of those who found what was lost, how would you complete the statement on the board? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: When we help others feel a desire to repent, we feel joy and the heavens rejoice. Complete the written principle on the board. You may want to invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures next to Luke 15:1–10.)
How have you or someone you know helped a person who was spiritually lost feel a desire to repent or draw closer to Heavenly Father? When has someone helped you? (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.)
Invite the class to consider the following scenario: A young woman has committed serious sins and has stopped praying and attending church. She feels a desire to begin praying and living the Lord’s standards, but she worries that He would not want her back.
Ask students to reflect on whether they know someone who may have felt like the individual in the scenario. Explain that the third parable in Luke 15 is the story of a prodigal (meaning wasteful and recklessly extravagant) son, his older brother, and their father. Invite students to look for truths as they study this parable that can help individuals who may feel they are lost beyond hope.
After students have finished reading, ask them to discuss the questions on the handout in their groups.
Ask students how they would complete the third column (Luke 15:11–32) of the chart on the board or on the first handout. Write students’ answers on the board, or invite students to write their answers on their handouts.
Why did the prodigal son become lost? (In contrast to the sheep and the coin, the prodigal son became lost due to his own rebelliousness.)
Understanding that the father in this parable represents Heavenly Father, what can we learn about how Heavenly Father responds to those who return to Him by repenting? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we return to Heavenly Father by repenting and seeking His forgiveness, He will rejoice and welcome us back with open arms. Write this principle on the board.)
How might this principle help those who feel spiritually lost?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The tender image of this boy’s anxious, faithful father running to meet him and showering him with kisses is one of the most moving and compassionate scenes in all of holy writ. It tells every child of God, wayward or otherwise, how much God wants us back in the protection of His arms” (“The Other Prodigal,” Ensign, May 2002, 62).
Remind students of the older brother in the parable.
Why do you think the older brother was angry?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Holland, and ask the class to listen for insights regarding why the older brother was angry:
“This son is not so much angry that the other has come home as he is angry that his parents are so happy about it. Feeling unappreciated and perhaps more than a little self-pity, this dutiful son—and he is wonderfully dutiful—forgets for a moment that he has never had to know filth or despair, fear or self-loathing. He forgets for a moment that every calf on the ranch is already his and so are all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer. He forgets for a moment that his faithfulness has been and always will be rewarded. …
“… He has yet to come to the compassion and mercy, the charitable breadth of vision to see that this is not a rival returning. It is his brother. …
“Certainly this younger brother had been a prisoner—a prisoner of sin, stupidity, and a pigsty. But the older brother lives in some confinement, too. He has, as yet, been unable to break out of the prison of himself. He is haunted by the green-eyed monster of jealousy” (“The Other Prodigal,” 63).
According to Elder Holland, why was the older brother angry?
What do we need to remember when we see God being merciful and blessing those who repent and return to Him?
What principle can we learn from this parable about becoming more like our Father in Heaven? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: We can become more like our Father in Heaven by responding with compassion and joy when others repent.)
Review the principles students learned from the parables in Luke 15. Ask students to explain how they might have used these principles to respond to the Pharisees and scribes who complained when Jesus ate with sinners.
Remind students of the person they thought about at the beginning of class who may be spiritually lost. Encourage them to prayerfully consider how they might be able to help that person repent and draw closer to Heavenly Father. Invite students to write their response to the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
What is one way you will apply what you have learned today?