parables
Scheduled for study May 6-12, 2019. This is a week of parables. Almost half of all the parables Jesus taught were delivered in these chapters. The lessons to be learned include our Father’s love for each of His precious children, and our need to focus on eternal things, rather than earthly things.

Day 1

Luke 12:14–16 – I should set my heart on eternally important things rather than on the things of this world.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Luke 12-17 and John 11, prayerfully seek what Heavenly Father wants you to know and do. Your study of these chapters can open your heart to messages meant just for you.

The parables in this week’s lessons illustrate how short sighted we are and how easily we can be tricked into thinking in wrong and harmful ways. The old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” really applies here. Most of us learn early on in life that if we don’t have food we go hungry. Hunger is painful, unpleasant, and something we all want to avoid. We also learn that nice clothes are generally more pleasing to feel and to look at, and more comfortable to wear than cheap, ill-made clothing. How does one compare a fine silk with a rough broadcloth? Both fabrics do the job of covering our bodies, but one does the job so much more nicely. The list of comparisons between having things in this world and not having things can get extensive.

As a result of this common education among all of humanity, we tend to prize having things over not having things. We prefer to have nicer things than poorer things. And what provides all these comforts that help us feel safe, secure, and comfortable? It is money, prestige, power, and influence. These are the things the world desires most. But why?

I believe the world pursues these comforts so vigorously because this life is all most of us have learned to see. We are focused on the here and now, today. Tomorrow is uncertain, but today is right in front of us. It is easy to believe in today, but harder to believe in tomorrow.

In the parables Jesus teaches about priorities, where is his focus?

Why do you think he is less worried about present wants and needs than he is about future wants and needs?

Why would Christ’s focus be on eternity if so many of those around him were suffering today?

In the parable of the foolish rich man (Luke 12:13–21), Jesus ends the story by saying this:

20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

The key is in the use of the word “soul.” God is worried about our souls, that part of us which is eternal in nature. What happens to our bodies is not important to Him in the grand scheme of things. Our current bodies are little more than temporary shelters for our eternal spirits. Any problems with our bodies in mortality will be dealt with either through the atonement of Christ or through the Resurrection by Christ, so the state of our current bodily comfort is a far distant second to the state of our soul in the eyes of God. The problem is, most of us only see the current state of our bodies. We don’t understand fully the state of our souls. This is, in large part due to our short sighted natures. We have real difficulty thinking in terms of an eternity we can’t comprehend, which is the only way God thinks.

God fully expects us to learn to think as He does, and to keep our focus on the state of our souls in eternity. By thinking in terms of eternity, rather than in terms of today’s comforts, we learn to behave in ways that will secure our eternal comfort and glory rather than just today’s comfort and ease. This is what God was saying about the foolish rich man. The man was more concerned about amassing vast storage facilities for his own comfort for many years down the road, but God knew that his soul would be taken home, back into the eternities that night. The man had given no thought to the eternal welfare of his soul, only to his earthly comfort.  This is why the Lord wants us to set our hearts on heavenly treasures, not earthly treasures.

In 2 Nephi 9:30 we are taught that when we don’t focus our attention primarily on the eternal welfare of our souls, we become so wrapped up in our earthly pursuit and hoarding of our earthly treasures that we forget the divinity of our fellow brothers and sisters of God’s family who are on earth with us.

30 But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.

As a result of forgetting our siblings own divinity as children of God, we treat them poorly, because we view them as in competition for our precious resources, and our “things” become what we worship rather than our God whom we should be worshiping. What we forget is that earthly treasures belong ONLY to the earth. Once we die we leave all earthly things behind. We cannot take them with us. All we can take with us is our relationships with God and with others. To cling to earthly treasures is like a parent who needs to remove a child from a burning house, but the child is clinging desperately to her bed because she doesn’t want to leave her beloved bed behind.

Things are replaceable. People are not. Our relationship with God is our most valuable possession in mortality, because maintaining it is the reason we came into mortality.

Day 2

Luke 15 – Heavenly Father rejoices when those who are lost are found.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Luke 12-17 and John 11, prayerfully seek what Heavenly Father wants you to know and do. Your study of these chapters can open your heart to messages meant just for you.

I’m sure the Lord has moments when He just shakes His head and wonders who screwed our heads on this morning. Let’s take a brief moment to look at our perspective of this world. When we drive or ride in a car we don’t usually spend much energy thinking about what a miracle such a vehicle actually is. When we are 35,000 feet in the air flying at 350 miles per hour we are more concerned that the size of our snack is not as big as those in first class seating. We don’t give much thought to the fact that suction has lifted us inside a giant metal tube and engines are hurtling us through the air at phenomenal speeds.

We wake up in the morning and expect the earth to have rotated sufficiently to give us a sunrise. We expect the weather to create clouds and give us rain when we want or need it. We expect the seasons to come and go on schedule and not hinder our activities unduly. How often do we stop to contemplate the planet on which we live? The Lord has created this little masterpiece for us to spend our time in mortality. It has almost every terrain and climate imaginable. It has a protective layer around it to keep out the most dangerous rays from the sun so everything lives and grows, and we can get properly sun tanned. We don’t even think of the fact that the entire planet is suspended in space, sandwiched ever so delicately between multiple planets as we all spin around the sun, each at its own rate and in its own path. If any of the planets were to become just a hair larger or smaller, a bit closer or further away, we probably wouldn’t survive the change.

For our planet to be the way it is, the perfect home for us, our Father had to create an entire solar system, positioned “just so” in the galaxy so as to keep everything in balance for us. Yes, it is all for us. The vast diversity of wild life, the beautiful colors, the amazing plants, the smell of the flowers – everything – just for us.

All of this just to give us a nice place to prove ourselves during the rigors of mortality, yet we wonder when Jesus gives us parables like the Lost Coin, the Prodigal Son, and the parable of the Lost Sheep, why the Lord makes such a big fuss over one lost coin, or one lost sheep, or one son who makes such bad decisions. We really can be short sighted.

The point we are missing here is that in God’s eyes each of us is most precious and wonderful. He values us far above and beyond anything else in his repertoire of creations. Because of His love for each of us He suffered the loss of one third of His children through rebellion so that the rest of us could have the best opportunity to become like Christ. He gave us His only begotten Son, His only perfect child to be offered on the alter of sacrifice in order to open the door to repentance and resurrection. Every one of His children had to leave His presence, most never to return, in order for any of us to have the possibility of one day returning in triumph and glory to rule and reign with Him forever. Just as Christ gave us his all, so too, I believe, did our Father in Heaven.

Is it any wonder that God places such value on the one. Each of us is a cherished and precious child of God. He can’t bear that any of us become lost if there is any way possible to reclaim us. This is why Jesus taught these parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. He was trying to teach us that what we might consider just a “little thing” is not a little thing to God. We are His all in all, His everything.

Day 3

Luke 16:1–12 – What was Christ teaching in the parable of the unjust steward?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Luke 12-17 and John 11, prayerfully seek what Heavenly Father wants you to know and do. Your study of these chapters can open your heart to messages meant just for you.

Between what is written in the manual and this article by Elder Tsung-Ting Yang, Area Authority Seventy, I was really inspired. Elder Yang’s article has some great illustrations of the principles of this parable.

Day 4

Luke 17:11–19 – Gratitude for my blessings will bring me closer to God.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Luke 12-17 and John 11, prayerfully seek what Heavenly Father wants you to know and do. Your study of these chapters can open your heart to messages meant just for you.

This parable brings up an interesting question: Does God love those who are grateful more than he loves those who are not?

Think about how the Lord refers to different people in the scriptures. Those who disobey him he condemns and calls them to repentance, while those who repent and acknowledge God’s grace and kindness in their lives he acknowledges as friends and as his flock. Christ and our Father love perfectly, but there is an expressed fondness and appreciation for those who have expressed their love for them through their obedience.

What happens to me when I express gratitude? Is there a change in my heart or in my attitude? If so, what happens?

Who grows the most, the one who acknowledges and expresses gratitude or the one who does not?

What kind of growth do you think takes place?

And why does this growth make a difference? How does it make a difference?

What scriptures can you find about gratitude and the Lord’s attitude about gratitude?

Day 5

John 11:1–46 – Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read Luke 12-17 and John 11, prayerfully seek what Heavenly Father wants you to know and do. Your study of these chapters can open your heart to messages meant just for you.

Over and over again we see the disciples and Apostles of Jesus in a state of confusion. They kept thinking that Jesus was speaking literally, but he was really speaking of spiritual realities that they did not understand or comprehend. Much of their understanding wouldn’t be cemented in their souls until after the day of Pentecost when they all received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Here are some important points to remember in the story of Lazarus.

  • We don’t know where Jesus was when he was informed of the illness of his friend Lazarus. Bethany, where Lazarus lived with his two sisters, is within an hour’s walk from Jerusalem. But if Jesus were further north, it may have taken more than a day’s journey to return to the Jerusalem area where Bethany is located.
  • Jesus deliberately lingered, wherever he was, in order to give Lazarus time to die. He not only needed him to be dead, but to be in the tomb for more than the required three days to prove he was really dead. There were known cases when people were thought to be dead, but revived after a couple of days. So they weren’t considered officially dead until they had remained dead at least three days. Jesus waited until the fourth day to visit Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.
  • Both sisters knew and stated as much that if Jesus had been there before Lazarus died that Jesus could have prevented his death. Neither of them had any doubt about that.
  • Jesus loved this family of two sisters and their brother. He had a history with them. They were long-time friends.

I encourage you to watch the Church video of this story. You can find it here. You can also watch it below.

Jesus is trying to make a point with this miracle. Life comes from him, Jesus. As he can bring life to the dead in mortality, so too can he give us eternal life in the world to come, the kind of life God has. This miracle was meant to demonstrate that Jesus truly had the power over life and death in a very literal way. This miracle would make more sense to everyone within a very short period of time when Jesus resurrected himself from the grave with an immortal body.

This miracle is different from the other two times Jesus raised the dead. In both the earlier cases Jesus raised people who were more immediately passed away. Lazarus was given the time to pass all known tests for being truly and permanently dead.

It is also important to note that raising someone from the dead is not the same as resurrection from the dead. Raising someone from the dead is just bringing a mortal who has died back to life. They will continue to grow old and will die again someday. Resurrection is a permanent reunion between the body and the spirit, and there is glory infused into the resurrected body. So a resurrected person never dies, but lives forever in a state of glory.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Luke 15:11–32 – The prodigal son

This is one of those parables where each of us can take the place of any one of the characters and the story still works.

The Prodigal – When we transgress the commandments we, in essence, waste our inheritance from God, who is our Father. The story of the prodigal son to one degree or another could be the story of any one of us. The son “came to himself,” or in other words, had that moment of realization that his father’s servants never had to live with the pigs and starve. Even living as a servant in his father’s house would be better than the life he had managed to make for himself. He finally became humble enough to go and face his father, whom he had so terribly disrespected by demanding his inheritance while his father was still alive. He was now willing to take any punishment his father could offer him, because anything would be better than what he was currently experiencing.

What he wasn’t expecting was the degree to which his father was willing to forgive him and receive him home again with joy. It is true that he would never have the inheritance he had claimed then wasted, but his father would love him and care for him the rest of the Father’s natural life.

Hopefully, each of us will come to ourselves and realize that the price of repentance is worth whatever we have to pay to be forgiven, for after our repentance we will come out on the other side forgiven, with a new heart, and a much greater appreciation for God’s love and his blessings in our life.

The Father – This character has two roles to play. For all of us we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, but is willing to let us go and do our thing when we get full of ourselves and think we can do better without Him. He anxiously looks for our return, hoping we come to ourselves and realize we are far better off with Him than without Him. Did you notice in the story that even though he did not know his son was coming home he saw him yet a great way off in the distance and ran to meet him? This means he was looking for him every single day. How anxious do you think our Heavenly Father is for us to finally choose Him and want to come home? How willing is He to forgive us and welcome us back into the family?

For some of us we also experience the grief of the father in the story. How many of us have children who have left the family to pursue their life as they want to experience it? How agonizing is that? How painful to see them suffer as they struggle to find joy in their bad decisions? How glorious is it to see them come to themselves and seek to come home again?

The Eldest Son – For many of us we are not the one who ran off to live a profligate lifestyle. We were obedient, faithful, plodding along day and night doing what we have been asked to do. When the prodigal returns it can be difficult to see past the differences in choices made and welcome the sibling back into the fold. The eldest brother’s problem was that he was only thinking of himself, not his brother. Jealousy is a purely selfish emotion. You might even say that the faithful brother was coveting what was already his own. He feared that his father would try to take away part of his own inheritance to give to his brother, so he refused to even acknowledge his brother’s return. His father had to remind him that everything was his, precisely because of his faithfulness. He chided his son for not being able to feel anything for his brother’s return, all because of his fear of losing his own inheritance to his younger brother.

Sometimes when a member of the Church returns to activity we get this niggling sense that they have been allowed to live the high life. And now they are turning to daily obedience, and somehow we feel short changed. They got to experience all the “thrills” of mortality, but now get all the blessings of the gospel. What our own ignorance prevents us from also seeing is that they also experienced all the hollowness, pain, emptiness, sorrow, and regret the world has to offer by living their profligate lifestyle. Those who are faithful to the commandments of God never know what that kind of suffering is like, though none of us are ever shorted on suffering in this life.

Can you imagine Jesus being jealous of our willingness to sin and having to suffer the consequences of those sins? That is not something any of us should be jealous over. The Father tried to teach His son a lesson about gratitude and about keeping perspective. His brother was precious and had returned. That was all that really mattered.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 19