“Home-Study Lesson: The Plan of Salvation–Introduction to and Context of the New Testament (Unit 1)” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 1,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson is intended to prepare and encourage students to study the New Testament by introducing them to a major theme found in the teachings of Jesus Christ and His ancient Apostles. As students study the New Testament, they will learn how to respond to the Savior’s repeated invitation to come unto Him and receive His help and direction in their lives.
Before class, write the following question on the board: What are some difficult burdens that youth experience in our day?
Bring to class an empty box or backpack and heavy objects to put in the box or backpack, such as large rocks or books. Invite a student to come to the front of the room, and ask him or her to hold the empty box or to put on the backpack. Ask the class to respond to the question written on the board, and ask another student to list students’ responses on the board. After each response, place a heavy object in the box or backpack until it is full.
How would you feel if you had to carry this burden all day?
Ask students to explain the challenges or difficulties that a few of the burdens listed on the board could cause someone.
Explain that the New Testament teaches us about Jesus Christ’s mortal and post-resurrection ministries, including His teachings, miracles, atoning sacrifice, and visits to early church disciples. Throughout His teachings and interactions with others is a repeated truth that can help us with the burdens we carry.
Explain that Matthew 11 includes an example of this major theme that students will see often in their study of the New Testament this year. Invite a student to read Matthew 11:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s invitation to those who carry difficult burdens.
What do you think it means to labor and be heavy laden?
What did the Savior say we must do in order to receive His rest? (Using students’ words, write the following principle on the board: As we come unto Jesus Christ with our burdens, He will give us rest.)
What do you think it means to come unto Jesus Christ?
To help students understand what it means to come unto Christ, invite a student to read Matthew 11:29–30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s instructions to those who desire to come unto Him.
According to these verses, what must we do in order to come unto Christ?
Draw a picture of a yoke for oxen on the board, or show a picture of a yoke.
Explain that a yoke is a wooden beam that joins or couples a pair of oxen or other animals, enabling them to pull together on a load.
What is the purpose and benefit of a yoke? (Although the yoke is a weight or a burden, it allows both animals to combine their power and strength, thereby increasing their productivity.)
What do you think it means to take the Savior’s yoke upon us?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how we can take the Savior’s yoke upon us and what blessings we can receive by doing so.
“A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task.
“Consider the Lord’s uniquely individual invitation to ‘take my yoke upon you.’ Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
“We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and ‘strength beyond [our] own’ (‘Lord, I Would Follow Thee,’ Hymns, no. 220)” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 88).
What “yokes” us to the Savior, Jesus Christ?
According to Elder Bednar, what are the blessings of being yoked to the Savior?
Point out that the Savior’s promise of “rest” in Matthew 11:28–29 does not necessarily mean that He will remove our problems or challenges. Often, the Savior will give us the peace and strength we need to overcome or endure our trials, thus making our burdens lighter. If we are faithful through the challenges of mortality, the ultimate rest we will receive is exaltation with God (see D&C 84:23–24).
Ask students to ponder how the Savior has given them rest when they have come unto Him. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.
Invite students to set specific goals regarding ways they can come unto Jesus Christ throughout this year of studying the New Testament. Encourage them to include in their goals studying the scriptures daily and reading all of the New Testament this year.
Write the names of the writers of the four Gospels on the board: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Explain that each of these disciples of Jesus Christ recorded events and teachings from the Savior’s life. Their records are called the Gospels. The word gospel means “good news.” Point out that the Joseph Smith Translation changes the title of each Gospel to testimony, as in “The Testimony of St. Matthew.”
Why is it helpful to have more than one gospel or testimony of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ?
Explain that although the four Gospels vary in some details and perspective, they all recount the events of the Savior’s life and earthly ministry among the Jews. All four Gospels testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Refer students to the chart “The Mortal Life of Jesus Christ at a Glance,” at the end of the Unit 1: Day 4 lesson. Invite them to use the chart to identify a few major events in the Savior’s mortal ministry.
According to the chart, how long was the Savior’s mortal ministry?
Where was the Savior during most of His ministry?
Invite students to use this chart to better understand the context of the four Gospels as they study the New Testament.
Invite students to open to the table of contents of the Bible. Explain that while the Gospels give an account of the Savior’s ministry, the books from Acts through Revelation record the ministry of Christ’s ancient Apostles after His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. These Apostles traveled throughout the land of Israel and the Roman Empire preaching the gospel and establishing branches of the Church. By studying these Apostles’ acts and writings, we can strengthen our faith in the Savior and learn how to receive the blessings of His Atonement. We can also see how closely The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parallels the ancient church of Jesus Christ.
Consider sharing your testimony of the New Testament, and invite students to look for truths that will bless them as they study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles in the New Testament.
Explain that in the next unit students will study some of the details surrounding the birth of the Son of God. They will also study Jesus Christ’s teachings about how to be truly happy in this life and become perfect like Heavenly Father.