“Lesson 9: Matthew 5:1–16,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 9,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Matthew 5–7 records a sermon the Savior gave at the beginning of His ministry. It has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:1–16 records the Savior’s teachings about principles that lead to happiness. The Savior also commanded His disciples to set a righteous example.
Write the following questions on the board: Are you happy? Why or why not?
Invite students to ponder (or write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals) how they would respond to these questions. (You may want to tell students that they will not have to share their answers with the class.)
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:
“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
“… External circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
“… We determine our happiness” (“Of Regrets and Resolutions,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 23).
What do you think the phrase “we determine our happiness” means? Why is this important to know?
Explain that as the Savior began His ministry, He gave a sermon near the Sea of Galilee. This sermon is often called the Sermon on the Mount and is recorded in Matthew 5–7. In this sermon the Savior explained what we can do to be truly happy, regardless of our external circumstances.
Invite students to scan Matthew 5:3–11 silently, looking for words that are repeated at the beginning of each verse. Ask students to report what they find.
Invite a student to read Matthew 5:3, footnote a, aloud, and ask the class to look for what the word blessed means.
What does the word blessed mean?
Explain that because blessed translates from the Latin word beatus, meaning to be fortunate or happy, these verses are commonly called the Beatitudes.
New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 9
To be poor in spirit means to be humble and “to recognize gratefully [our] dependence on the Lord—to understand that [we] have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgment that [our] talents and abilities are gifts from God” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 86).
To mourn is to feel or express sorrow. A person may mourn over the difficulties and trials of mortality, including the death of loved ones. Likewise, a person may also mourn because of sorrow for sin.
“To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is ‘manifesting patience and long-suffering: enduring injury without resentment’ [Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1976) ‘meek,’ 1403]. Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).
To hunger and thirst after righteousness implies a great desire to know and do the will of God.
“Mercy is the compassionate treatment of a person greater than what is deserved” (“Mercy,” Gospel Topics, lds.org/topics). We are able to receive Heavenly Father’s mercy because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Alma 33:11).
“The pure in heart are those who love the Lord, who seek to follow Him and keep His commandments, who are striving to live virtuous lives and endure faithfully to the end. The pure in heart are those who control their thoughts to keep themselves free from immoral fantasies and deeds” (Sheldon F. Child, “Words of Jesus: Chastity,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 44).
“[Peacemaking] is the gift to help people find common ground when others are seeing differences” (Henry B. Eyring, “Learning in the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 63).
To be “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” means to be willing to obey and defend Jesus Christ and His teachings, even when we may be mocked or mistreated for doing so.
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Divide students into eight groups and assign each group one of the beatitudes listed on the chart (if you don’t have enough students to form eight groups, consider assigning more than one beatitude to a group). Invite students to prepare a short presentation about their assigned beatitude(s). They should include the following activities in their presentation (you may want to write these instructions on the board or create a handout for reference):
After sufficient time, invite each group to present their assigned beatitude to the class.
After students have finished presenting, point out that the Beatitudes teach about attributes of Jesus Christ and that by living them we can become more like Him.
Based on what you have learned in Matthew 5, what will happen to us as we develop these and other Christlike attributes? (Though they may use different words, students should identify the following principle: As we develop Christlike attributes, we will find increased happiness. Write this principle on the board.)
Consider sharing your testimony of this principle. Remind students of the questions concerning their happiness that they pondered at the beginning of the lesson. Invite students to seek greater happiness by choosing one of the attributes listed in the Beatitudes and setting a goal to develop that attribute.
Ask students to think of someone they know, such as a family member or friend, who could be blessed by drawing nearer to Heavenly Father. As students continue to study Matthew 5, invite them to look for principles that can guide them as they try to help this person.
Display a container of salt and pour out a small amount into a bowl.
In what ways can salt be useful?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for some of the uses of salt:
“[Good salt] … is clean, pure, uncontaminated, and useful. In this state or condition, salt will preserve, flavor, heal, and perform other useful functions” (“Salt of the Earth: Savor of Men and Saviors of Men,” Ensign, May 1980, 42).
Invite students to read Matthew 5:13 silently, looking for whom the Savior likened to salt.
To whom did the Savior liken salt? (His disciples.)
In what ways do disciples of Jesus Christ demonstrate the same characteristics of good salt?
According to verse 13, what happens when salt loses its savor?
Explain that the word savor refers not only to salt’s flavor but also to its unique qualities that make it a healing and preserving agent.
What causes salt to lose its savor? (Salt loses its savor when it mixes with other materials and becomes contaminated.)
Pour other material, such as dirt, into the bowl, and mix the salt and other elements together.
What happens to the salt’s usefulness when it is mixed with other materials?
As disciples of Jesus Christ, what can cause us to lose our savor, or the Christlike qualities that allow us to be a blessing to others? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: Becoming contaminated by the sins of the world can prevent us from being a blessing to others. Write this principle on the board.)
What can we do to retain or regain our savor?
Display a candle (do not light the candle). Invite a student to read Matthew 5:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior compared His disciples to a candle.
What are Christ’s disciples asked to do with their light?
What does it mean to let your light shine? (See 3 Nephi 18:24.)
What will our good works lead others to do?
Explain that among other things, the phrase “to glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (verse 16) means to give praise and honor to God through word or action.
What principle can we learn from verses 14–16, about how our righteous example can influence others? (Students may use other words, but make sure they identify the following principle: Our righteous example can encourage others to draw nearer to Heavenly Father. Write this principle on the board.)
When has someone set a righteous example that has helped you draw nearer to Heavenly Father?
Encourage students to ponder what they can do to be a better example to their family and friends.
Review the principles that were identified and written on the board in this lesson. Write the words Start, Stop, and Continue on the board. Invite students to evaluate their lives and choose one thing they could start doing, one thing they could stop doing, and one thing they could continue doing to apply these principles in their lives.
Explain that throughout the year students will focus on 25 scripture mastery passages, including Matthew 5:14–16. These passages will help them understand and explain basic doctrines of the gospel. The 25 scripture mastery references are listed on the back of the seminary bookmark for the New Testament. Explain that “mastering” scripture passages includes being able to locate, understand, apply, and memorize them.
To help students memorize this passage, invite them to recite it several times in their minds and then aloud to a classmate. You may want to have the class recite this passage aloud at the beginning or end of each class during the next week.