“Home-Study Lesson: Matthew 18:1–22:26 (Unit 5)” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 5,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson can help students understand the importance of making and keeping sacred covenants with God. They can also learn the importance of rejoicing when others are blessed by God.
Invite a student to come to the front of the class. Tell the student that if he or she can do 10 push-ups, he or she will receive a small reward (such as 10 small pieces of candy). After the student does 10 push-ups, give him or her the reward, and then ask for another volunteer. Ask the second student to do one push-up, and then ask the class what reward they think this student should receive and why. Invite the two students to return to their seats. Inform the class that later in the lesson the second student will receive a reward based on what the class learns in the scriptures.
Explain that when Jesus was teaching in the coast of Judea, Peter asked what the disciples would receive because they had given up their worldly possessions to follow the Savior.
Invite a student to read Matthew 19:28–30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s response to Peter.
According to verse 29, what will everyone who forsakes all to follow the Savior inherit?
Explain that the Savior then taught His disciples a parable to help them understand Heavenly Father’s desire to give all His children the opportunity to receive eternal life. In this parable, a man hires laborers at different times throughout the day to work in his vineyard. You may want to explain that a normal working day in New Testament times would have been from about 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with slightly varied lengths at different seasons of the year.
Copy the following chart on the board or provide it to students as a handout:
Laborers (Start Time)
Salary Agreed On
Early in the morning (6:00 a.m.)
3rd hour (9:00 a.m.)
6th hour (12:00 p.m.)
9th hour (3:00 p.m.)
11th hour (5:00 p.m.)
Invite students to work in small groups. Ask them to read Matthew 20:1–7 in their groups, looking for how long each group of laborers worked and the salary they agreed on. (Explain that “a penny” refers to a denarius, which was a Roman coin roughly equal to a laborer’s wages for a day.)
After sufficient time, invite a few students to come to the board and fill in the first two columns of the chart (or invite them to fill them in on the copies you have provided).
Who do you think should be paid the most?
Invite a student to read Matthew 20:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the payment each group of laborers received.
What payment did each group of laborers receive? (After students respond, write 1 penny in each of the boxes in the column labeled “Amount Paid.”)
If you were among the laborers who worked all day, what thoughts or feelings might you have had as you received the same reward as those who worked for only one hour?
Invite a student to read Matthew 20:11–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what those who labored all day said to the lord of the vineyard and what he said to them.
What was the complaint of those who worked all day?
What did the lord of the vineyard say in response?
How had the lord of the vineyard been just (or fair) with those who had worked all day?
To help students identify a truth from this parable, explain that the wage of one penny can represent everlasting or eternal life, as mentioned in Matthew 19:29. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: God gives eternal life to all people who …
If the reward in this parable represents eternal life, what could the labor represent? (Students may give a variety of answers, but be sure to emphasize that the labor in this parable can represent making and keeping sacred covenants with God. After students respond, complete the truth on the board as follows: God gives eternal life to all people who choose to make and keep sacred covenants with Him.)
Point out that this truth helps us understand Heavenly Father’s mercy for individuals who do not make or keep covenants early in life and for those who do not have the opportunity to do so until after they die (see D&C 137:7–8).
Why do you think it is important for us to know that God gives eternal life to all people who choose to make and keep sacred covenants with Him, regardless of when that may occur?
Remind students of the second student who did only one push-up, and ask:
What reward do you think this student should receive for doing one push-up? (Give the student the same reward you gave to the student who did 10 push-ups.)
Ask a student to read Matthew 20:15–16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how the lord of the vineyard responded to those who complained about his kindness toward the other laborers.
What do you think the lord of the vineyard meant when he asked, “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” (verse 15).
Explain that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles paraphrased this question as follows: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?” (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 31).
What does it mean in verse 16 that “many [are] called, but few chosen”? (To be called means to be invited to participate in Heavenly Father’s work. To be chosen means to receive His blessings—including the blessing of eternal life. See also D&C 121:34–40.)
What principle can we learn from verse 16? (Students may identify a number of principles, including the following: If we choose to be jealous of Heavenly Father’s blessings upon others, then we may lose the blessings He wants to give us.)
Read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and invite students to ponder how they might be tempted to be jealous of the blessings Heavenly Father gives to others:
“There are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin. …
“… Coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live” (“Laborers in the Vineyard,” 31, 32).
Share your testimony of the truths students identified as they studied the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.
Write the following statement on the board. Give students time to complete the statement in their class notebooks or scripture study journals: Based on what I have learned from this parable, I will …
After sufficient time, invite a few students who feel comfortable doing so to share with the class what they wrote.
To help prepare students for the next unit, invite them to consider how they might best prepare themselves for the Lord’s Second Coming. What truths were being taught when Jesus Christ gave the parables of the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats? What ordinance did the Savior institute to replace the Passover? Invite students to look for answers in their study during the next week.