“Unit 3, Day 3: Matthew 11–12,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 3, Day 3,” New Testament Study Guide
Jesus Christ testified that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Him, and He promised rest to all who come unto Him. He responded to the Pharisees’ allegations that His power came from the devil. He warned them against making false accusations and seeking signs, and He taught the parable of the empty house.
Why is it important to know that people who present themselves as police officers or doctors truly are who they appear to be? How can you know that they are who they appear to be?
During Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry, as He performed miracles and taught the people, many sought to know if He was who He appeared to be—the promised Messiah. At this time King Herod had arrested and imprisoned John the Baptist. Read Matthew 11:2–3, looking for how John the Baptist helped two of his disciples gain a witness for themselves of who Jesus was.
What did John send his disciples to ask Jesus?
With this question in verse 3, John’s disciples were asking Jesus if He was the Messiah. Remember that John the Baptist already knew that Jesus was the Messiah (see Matthew 3:11, 13–14; John 1:29–34).
Why do you think John sent his disciples to find out for themselves if Jesus was the Messiah when he already knew who Jesus was?
Read Matthew 11:4–5, looking for how Jesus answered their question.
Rather than simply confirming that He was the Messiah, what did Jesus invite John the Baptist’s disciples to do?
Jesus could have easily told John’s disciples that He was the Messiah. Instead, He invited them to ponder His works and then return to John and testify of the things they had heard and seen Jesus do.
How might pondering Jesus’s works have helped John the Baptist’s disciples receive a more powerful witness of the Savior than if He had just told them who He was?
From this account we learn that as we seek to learn of Jesus Christ and as we testify of Him, our own testimony of Him can be strengthened.
- In your scripture study journal, write about how you have come to know for yourself that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Matthew 11:7–27 records that after the two disciples left, Jesus told the multitude that John the Baptist was the prophet chosen to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus condemned those who rejected Him and John the Baptist despite having witnessed clear evidences of Jesus’s divinity.
Read Matthew 11:28–30, looking for the invitation and the promise Jesus offered to all those who accept Him as the Messiah. (Matthew 11:28–30 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark this scripture in a distinctive way so you will be able to locate it easily.)
Complete the following principle based on what you learned from verses 28–30: If we come unto Jesus Christ, He will .
- Record your answer to the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt the Savior ease your burdens as you have come unto Him?
- To help you memorize Matthew 11:28–30, create actions that could represent words or phrases in each verse. Teach these actions to someone else (such as family members during family home evening or a friend). Practice performing the actions while reading the verses until you can recite the passage from memory. In your scripture study journal, write a sentence indicating that you have completed this assignment.
We learn in Matthew 12:1–21 that after Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day, some of the Pharisees began seeking to destroy Him. When He healed someone possessed of a devil, they attempted to discredit Him in front of people by accusing Him of performing those works by the power of the devil. Jesus knew their thoughts and asserted that, on the contrary, by casting out devils He was demonstrating that He was the Messiah and was establishing God’s kingdom.
Read Matthew 12:30, looking for what Jesus taught about those who do not join with Him.
According to verse 30, if we desire to be part of God’s kingdom, we must be fully committed to Jesus Christ.
Ponder some ways you can demonstrate your full commitment to Jesus Christ.
Matthew 12:31–42 records that Jesus affirmed again that His good works were evidence that He was of God and not the devil. He also warned the Pharisees that God would hold them accountable for their accusing words. Some of the scribes and Pharisees then asked for a sign, and Jesus rebuked them for sign seeking and for failing to see that He was greater than any former prophet or king in Israel. The Lord also condemned sign seeking in our day and taught that faith does not come after signs (see D&C 63:7–11).
What does it mean to commit “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 12:31)?
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained how someone commits this sin: “He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy” (in History of the Church, 6:314).
Sometimes Latter-day Saints are concerned about the sin of blasphemy against or denying the Holy Ghost. President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The sin against the Holy Ghost requires such knowledge that it is manifestly impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 123).
In Matthew 12:39–40, sign seeking was condemned by the Savior. The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke about this teaching of the Savior: “He who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man” (in History of the Church, 3:385).
The Prophet Joseph Smith later said: “When I was preaching in Philadelphia, a Quaker called out for a sign. I told him to be still. After the sermon, he again asked for a sign. I told the congregation the man was an adulterer; that a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and that the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person. ‘It is true,’ cried one, ‘for I caught him in the very act,’ which the man afterwards confessed when he was baptized” (in History of the Church, 5:268).
Imagine that one of your friends has asked for advice on how to avoid repeating a sin he or she is trying to forsake. What counsel would you give to help your friend resist temptation?
Jesus Christ gave a parable about an unclean spirit that was cast out of a man. As you study this parable, look for a principle that could help your friend learn how to overcome temptation.
Read Matthew 12:43–44, looking for what the unclean spirit did after being cast out of the man.
What did the unclean spirit do after not finding rest anywhere?
What words describe the state of the “house,” or the man, when the unclean spirit returned?
Read Matthew 12:45, looking for what the unclean spirit did after finding the “house,” or the man, empty.
How could the man’s experience in this parable represent someone who is repenting of sin and trying to resist temptation?
After removing the devil, what does the man in the parable fail to do that allows the evil spirit to return?
As you read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball, ponder how the man in the Savior’s parable may be like someone struggling to resist temptation:
“The devil knows where to tempt, where to put in his telling blows. He finds the vulnerable spot. Where one was weak before, he will be most easily tempted again.
“In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. He must make them. … He must be certain not only that he has abandoned the sin but that he has changed the situations surrounding the sin. He should avoid the places and conditions and circumstances where the sin occurred, for these could most readily breed it again. He must abandon the people with whom the sin was committed. He may not hate the persons involved but he must avoid them and everything associated with the sin. … He must eliminate anything which would stir the old memories.
“Does this mean that the man … finds life empty for a time? The things which engaged him and caught his fancy and occupied his thoughts are gone, and better substitutions have not yet filled the void. This is Satan’s opportunity. …
“Many who have discontinued bad habits have found that substitution is part of the answer, and have conquered a bad habit by replacing it with a good or harmless one” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 171–73; italics added).
One principle we can learn from the Savior’s parable is that we can repel evil influences after removing them from our lives by replacing them with righteousness. Consider writing this truth in the margin of your scriptures near Matthew 12:43–45.
Study the following statement, and mark ways we can resist evil influences by filling our lives with righteousness:
“It is not enough to simply try to resist evil or empty your life of sin. You must fill your life with righteousness and engage in activities that bring spiritual power. Immerse yourself in the scriptures. Pray daily for the Lord to give you strength beyond your own. At times, fast for special blessings.
“Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses. This obedience includes actions you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 135).
- Ponder on some things you can do to fill your life with righteousness. List them in your scripture study journal, and explain how doing these things can bring greater spiritual power into your life and help you overcome evil influences.
The rest of Matthew 12 records that while Jesus was teaching, someone told Him that some members of His family wanted to speak to Him. The Lord then taught that all who do the will of the Father are a part of His family.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 11–12 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: