New Testament Lesson 19 (Luke 12–17; John 11)
A PARABLE ABOUT THE SECOND COMING
● The Parable of the Great Supper
— This is a parable about those who will be exalted at the last day (Luke 14:12–24).
— Elder James E. Talmage interpreted the parable of the great supper, saying that the invited guests represented the covenant people, or house of Israel. When the servant (Jesus) asked them to come to the feast (accept the gospel), they made excuses and refused to come. So the invitation was given to the Gentiles. Those descendants of Israel who refuse the invitation will not receive the blessings of exaltation.1
TEACHINGS ON REDEMPTION & PRIORITIES
“Rejoice with Me” — Three Parables of Finding the Lost
● The Pharisees found fault with Jesus because He “receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:1–2). Jesus responded with three parables that emphasized the importance of finding and redeeming those who are lost.
— These three parables illustrate the three conditions under which someone might become lost and the types of efforts that are required to redeem them under each circumstance.
● The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3–7). Those who stray away unintentionally. Our duty as good shepherds is to leave the “ninety and nine” and find and rescue those who have strayed.
● The Lost Coin (Luke 15:8–10). Those who are neglected and forgotten. These have not wandered away, but they have been neglected and forgotten. We are to “sweep the corners” (search records, visit the homes, etc.) until they are found and restored.
● The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). Those who willfully disobey the commandments. We do not interfere with their agency. While they are lost we pray for their redemption. And then when they finally repent and return, we welcome them back with love.
— The word prodigal means wasteful. The younger son wasted his inheritance in riotous living (v. 13), just as many today waste their eternal inheritance in pursuit of worldly pleasures.
— Sooner or later, as the difficulties of life press upon us, we are liable to reflect on how much happier we were “at home” in the gospel. Such was the case with this young son, who found himself in the midst of famine and humiliating life circumstances (vv. 14-17).
— He resolved to return to his father and ask for forgiveness (vv. 18–19). Would he have done this if his father had “disowned” him when he made his unwise choice? He knew his father loved him and would forgive.
— His father saw him “while he was yet a long way off” (v. 20). This father had probably looked down the road many times, hoping to see his son coming home. And when he saw him coming he “ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (v. 20). He also made a great feast of celebration, saying, “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (v. 24).
— Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants with all His heart for us to be happy and exalted to His Kingdom. When we repent and return to His ways, He rejoices, as do all the angels in heaven.
● The Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1–12)
— Jesus told a parable about how energetically those who seek after worldly wealth pursue their objectives.
— He then observed that we must seek spiritual wealth with the same enthusiasm and energy we have in the pursuit of money and possessions.
● Jesus Predicts His Resurrection (Luke 16:31)
— Speaking of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). This prophecy proved to be literally true. After Jesus’ crucifixion, they knew that He had risen from the dead. The soldiers at the tomb were witnesses of the angel who appeared and rolled back the stone (Matthew 28:4). And what did the leaders of the Jews do? They bribed the soldiers to keep quiet about what they had seen (Matthew 28:11–15).
FORGIVENESS, GRATITUDE, AND OBEDIENCE
● Jesus Heals Ten Lepers
— As the Savior went to Jerusalem, he healed ten lepers, only one of which returned to thank Jesus for healing him (Luke 17:11–19).
— Ten lepers were healed and freed from this terrible disease (Luke 17:11-14).
— Of those ten lepers, only one returned to express gratitude (Luke 17:15-16). We may sometimes take for granted the blessings that God has granted to us. We must take the time to thank Him in our prayers and testimonies.
● The Parable of the Unprofitable Servant
— Jesus presented this parable after the Apostles requested of him, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5–10). We grow in faith by diligently serving the Lord.
RAISING LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD
● Jesus Deliberately Delays Coming to Help
— He received word that Lazarus was sick but waited two days before he went to Bethany (John 11:1–7).
— He knew that Lazarus was dead but waited for a specific purpose. When Jesus and his Apostles arrived, Lazarus’ body had already lain in the tomb four days (John 11:11–15, 17).
— The Jews believed that the spirit of the deceased lingered around the body for three days, hoping to be able to enter it once again. After that (when decay began to set in) the spirit departed forever.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Why this studied buildup, this centering of attention upon one of the mightiest miracles of his ministry? Two reasons in particular stand out. (1) As our Lord neared the climax of his mortal ministry, he was again bearing testimony, in a way that could not be refuted, of his Messiahship, of his divine Sonship, of the fact that he was in very deed the literal Son of God; and (2) He was setting the stage, so as to dramatize for all time, one of his greatest teachings: That he was the resurrection and the life, that immortality and eternal life came by him, and that those who believed and obeyed his words should never die spiritually.”2
— This left Jewish unbelievers without excuse for rejecting their Messiah. Elder James E. Talmage said, “No question as to the actual death of Lazarus could be raised, for his demise had been witnessed, his body had been prepared and buried in the usual way, and he had lain in the grave four days. At the tomb, when he was called forth, there were many witnesses, some of them prominent Jews, many of whom were unfriendly to Jesus and who would have readily denied the miracle had they been able. God was glorified and the divinity of the Son of Man was vindicated in the result.”3
● Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
— Martha ran out to meet him and expressed her great faith in Him (John 11:18–27). This is the same Martha who had been so busy on Jesus’ previous visit while her sister chose to sit at His feet and listen to His teachings. We can see from this that Martha was just as faithful as her sister.
— After Martha told her Jesus had come, Mary also ran out to meet him and expressed her faith in Him (John 11:28–32).
— Jesus showed great compassion for their sorrow by also weeping for them (John 11:33–37). Why did he not just say, “Chin up, sisters. There’s no reason to weep, I’m going to raise Lazarus from the dead.” Why instead did He cry? We seem something of Jesus’ true compassion when we see Him weep for the sorrow of these two women.
— Despite her great faith, Martha objected when Jesus asked the stone to be removed because by now His body’s decomposition would have already began (John 11:38–40).
— Jesus offered a prayer of gratitude to the Father, then raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41–44).
— The Pharisees now feared that the “whole world” would follow him (John 11:45–57), and they sought thereafter to kill Him.
What are some doctrinal insights we receive from this week’s lesson material? You should consider discussing one or more of these with your class.
● Although all ten lepers were cleansed, only the man who returned was “made whole” (Luke 17:14, 19). Bishop Merrill J. Bateman taught, “In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole.”4
— Modern scripture explains the importance of gratitude in the eyes of the Lord (D&C 59:15–21).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Prayers of thanksgiving are as important as prayers petitioning divine favor. It is here worthy of note that the cleansed Jewish lepers went on their way and that only a lone Samaritan returned to pour out his gratitude to the Master Healer. . . . There are greater blessings than to be healed physically. . . . Here all of the ten were cleansed of their physical affliction, but it is evident that one grateful recipient of our Lord’s favor was blessed in a special manner, perhaps being made whole spiritually also. . . . [Also] . . . this exhibition of gratitude by a Samaritan was another evidence to the Apostles that all men are acceptable to the Lord and that the Jewish claim to exclusive superiority as a chosen race was soon to be replaced with a command to take the gospel of peace to all races.”5
● There is joy in heaven when a lost soul returns and repents. The display of love of the father in parable of the prodigal son troubled the older, more faithful son, who had never received any such joyful display of love (vv. 25–30).
— Notice that the older son would still receive all that his father had. His inheritance was sure because of his righteous choices and loyalty (v. 31). The young son would not now receive an inheritance. He had wasted it.
— Nevertheless, there is joy in heaven when a lost soul returns and repents (v. 32).
— President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“Some of our own . . . cry out in pain and suffering and loneliness and fear. Ours is a great and solemn duty to reach out and help them, to lift them, to feed them if they are hungry, to nurture their spirits if they thirst for truth and righteousness . . .
“There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord.
“My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray that each of us . . . would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.”6
● The Kingdom of God Is Within You (Luke 17:20)
— The Kingdom of God came quietly the first time—“not with observation” but with the quiet birth of a baby in a remote village.
— When the Savior said that “the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), He meant that the Kingdom of God was “among” them with the presence of the Savior and His Church in their midst. They did not need to look for some future event; it had already happened.
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “One of the heresies which prevails in a large part of modern Christendom is the concept that Jesus did not organize a Church or set up a formal kingdom through which salvation might be offered to men. This poorly translated verse is one of those used to support the erroneous concept that the kingdom of God is wholly spiritual; that it is made up of those who confess Jesus with their lips, regardless of what church affiliation they may have; that the kingdom of God is within every person in the sense that all have the potential of attaining the highest spiritual goals; and that baptism, the laying on of hands, celestial marriage, and other ordinances and laws are not essential to the attainment of salvation. . . . Even the marginal reading in the King James Version changes the language here involved to read, ‘The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’”7
1. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 452.
2. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:530–531.
3. Jesus the Christ, 496.
4. In Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 16; or Ensign, May 1995, 14.
5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:536–537.
6. In Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 86.
7. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:540.