Scheduled for study May 20-26, 2019. This week’s lessons has a number of parts, including recognizing that all things belong to God, that He doesn’t judge as we do, and that he is okay with rebellion, as long as it is followed by repentance.

Day 1

Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12 – Behold Thy King Cometh.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Before reading the ideas in this outline, read Matthew 21-23; Mark 11; Luke 19-20; and John 12.

Today’s lesson is all about fruit. The opening paragraphs of this week’s lessons talk about the infamous fig tree that so disappointed the Savior that he cursed the tree on the spot. As he traveled into Jerusalem he was hungry and saw a fig tree in the distance. It was covered in leaves and gave every indication that it should be able to provide refreshment in the form of fruit. This would satisfy his hunger. But upon arriving at the tree and looking closer, the tree was “all show and no go,” as they say. It had all the outward appearance of what a fig tree was supposed to provide, but had no actual fruit to give this hungry traveler.

This is what Jesus had been dealing with in all his interactions with the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. They dressed well, acted holier than thou, taught the law and set themselves up as the ultimate source of knowledge of the law of Moses, but their individual lives were full of hypocrisy. None of them were living their religion, just teaching others how they were supposed to live it as the pharisees saw fit for them to do so. They were just like the fig tree, full of show and promise, but empty and barren where it really counted.

Jesus cursed the fig tree, which withered from the roots up within the day. As you read his interactions with the leaders of the Jewish nation you will see that he curses them as well for the same reason he cursed the tree. It was their responsibility as the spiritual leaders of the people to teach them how to keep the commandments and live by the law. Unfortunately, they had turned the whole law of Moses into a grand show with no substance for spiritual nourishment. Jesus cursed them all and told them none of them would escape hell.

When was the last time we each took the time to compare our preaching words with our living actions to see if they really match?

Is our life bearing the fruit of the gospel the gospel is intended to create? Or are we doing something in our life that makes it impossible for the Lord to bless us as he wants to because we aren’t living as we are supposed to?

Day 2

Matthew 23; Luke 19:1-10; 20:45-47 – The Lord judges not by the outward appearance but by the desires of the heart.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. 

Jewish society was really judgmental. If you worked for the Roman overlords it was assumed you were a sinner. And that was for no other reason than for who your employer was. If you even had so much as a birth defect, the people assumed either you or your parents had sinned and angered God. The defect was your punishment. This judgmental attitude was promoted and kept alive by the attitudes of their religious teachers, the pharisees. They set themselves up as the judges of all things having anything to do with God and the law of Moses.

Let’s look at how this applies to Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (publican). He was a man of great social standing, because he was over all the tax collectors in the region. Many of the tax collectors extorted money from the people in the name of Rome. They were hated by the Jewish people. But Zacchaeus was an honest man in a hated profession. How many people do you know can honestly claim they restore fourfold to anyone they accidentally take money from? And how many generous people do you know who literally give away half of all they make to the poor? Yet Zacchaeus was hated and called a sinner because of his occupation.

Zacchaeus was such a humble man that he was willing to climb a tree in order to just get a glimpse of the Lord as he made his way down the street. Throwing caution and pride to the wind, he climbed the sycamore tree in his robes,  and was overjoyed when the Lord noticed him and wanted to eat at his house. Are we this innocent in our efforts to please the Lord?

The manual paints a contrast between the Lord’s reaction to the “sinner” Zacchaeus and the “righteous” Pharisees. The Pharisees were labeled as hypocrites by the Lord because they always made sure to put on an outward show of righteousness, while they were corrupt within. But Zacchaeus, who was righteous both inwardly and outwardly, was labeled by the Pharisees and society as a sinner, just because of his profession.

How does it help you in your life that the Lord doesn’t look on your appearance, your income, or your social standing to judge your personal righteousness?

What does this example of righteous judging mean for us as we work and serve other people?

Day 3

Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-16 – Jesus Christ is my King.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. 

These scriptural references are the beginning of the great betrayals of our Lord. Six days before his crucifixion Jesus stayed in Bethany at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, his friends. Before leaving to go into Jerusalem, Mary used a pound of spikenard, a very expensive essential oil to anoint Jesus’ feet. Judas Iscariot was very offended by this “waste” of oil, because that pound of oil could have been sold for almost a year’s wage, and the money given to the poor.

I did some hunting to see why Mary might have used her hair to wipe his feet instead of something more sensible, like a cloth or rag. I found this quote. This is not the definitive answer, but it provides food for thought.

“In Judaism (and in many other cultures in the ancient world), hair was associated with woman’s glory, her self-worth and respect. Not only did Mary pour an extremely expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet, she also used her hair to wipe the oil that did not get absorbed into Jesus’ skin. In other words, she placed her self-worth at his feet; she gave him her riches and her glory.”

Mary provides us with two examples in the scriptures when she anointed the Savior with oil and wiped it with her hair. What do her acts of devotion tell us about our own willingness to submit and to love the Lord?  The Jews hailed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna, which means “save, please!” They had just had the feast of the tabernacles which includes the custom of waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna.” As Jesus entered the city, those who followed him acknowledged his miracles and his Messiahship by waving palm branches, strewing them, and their own clothing, in his path as he rode into town on the colt of an ass. This was in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of how the Messiah would be greeted as he entered Jerusalem.

In less than six days many of these same people would be calling for the crucifixion of Jesus. This shows us that many were swept up in the public sentiment of both occasions, and weren’t truly converted to him.

How are your feelings for Christ affected by public sentiment?

This is a good time to look inside ourselves and ask if we are more like Mary or the crowds that hailed Jesus as the Messiah then six days later cried for his death.

Mary obviously spent a lot of money on the ointment she used on the Savior’s feet. How precious do you consider your relationship with Jesus of Nazareth?

What are you willing to sacrifice in his behalf?

Day 4

Matthew 22:34-40 – The two great commandments are to love God and love others as myself.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. 

The manual makes a good point. We listen to many voices each week. Each of these voices tells us to do something different than the other voices. This can become confusing as we try to worship God in the best way possible. The prophets speak of those who are obsessed with a one note melody. An example I can give of this is a friend of mine who was into doing family history work. It didn’t matter what the subject matter was in Sunday School, Priesthood, Sacrament meeting, or anywhere else he was, he always found a way to talk about family history work and how we all needed to do it. He couldn’t seem to think about or talk about any other subject. We have all sorts of people in the Church who are in love with their one note melodies. Some love the Word of Wisdom, some the law of tithing, others family history work, and others missionary work.

It can become confusing as to where we should put our attention next. The manual wisely suggests (well, infers, actually) we do two things: just focus on the two great commandments. Each time we become confused as to what the Lord might want us to do at a particular moment in time, ask yourself how obeying any one commandment ties into keeping one of the two great commandments. It doesn’t matter which one you obey, just focus on how whatever it is you are about to do ties into one of those two commandments. If all our actions lead us to obey at least one of the two great commandments then we will be safe.

How does performing your assigned ministering help you obey either of the two great commandments?

How does attending the Temple help you keep either of the two great commandments?

How does being generous in your fast offerings and in paying an honest tithe help you keep either of the two great commandments?

How does faithfully studying the scriptures and holding regular family or group home evenings help you keep either of the two great commandments?

Jesus taught that all laws and all teachings of the prophets hang or depend on these two commandments, to love God, and to love our fellow man as we love ourselves. As long as we can connect what we do to obeying one of these two great commandments, it doesn’t really matter which part of the gospel we are obeying, we are contributing to our obedience to the great commandments. The other half of this process the manual doesn’t mention is that we need to be listening to the Spirit so He can lead us to do those things that are most important to our personal salvation.

Day 5

Matthew 21:28-32 – What lessons from the parable of the man with two sons might help your family?
(This day’s lesson is from the Ideas for Family Scripture Study.)

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. 

We probably all know both kinds of people represented in this story. How many times have we heard someone promise they will do something then don’t do anything they promised they would do? And how many times have we experienced someone who declines an invitation to do something, but later repents or changes their mind and does it anyway?

The point to this story, at least as I see it, is that the Lord is not so concerned with our initial reaction to his invitation to obey or to come unto Him, as he is with what we eventually end up doing. In the end analysis, it was the son who declined his father’s request who actually did as his father asked him to do. The other son may have seemed more obedient at the outset, but he ended up disobeying to his father and lying to him, because he didn’t keep his word. The second son who agreed to please his father, but never followed through on his promise lacked the integrity to honor his word.

The whole point of this story is that repentance is an important part of our lives. It allows change. How we behave in the end is how we will be judged, not by how we first react when faced with a task of obedience. And just as the Lord is willing to let us change our minds and let us find our own way back to him through repentance, so too are we required to forgive and allow others the same privilege as they find their own way to the Savior.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Matthew 22:15-22What things are God’s?

I just have to make a personal comment here about those who continually tried to catch Jesus in his words. Have you ever listened in on a conversation with someone of superior intellect? How long does it take to figure out if someone is not too bright or is just the opposite, brilliant! Jesus was the most intelligent of all God’s children. Yet these men could not see that they were the equivalent of dogs barking at a spaceship made of light. He was so far ahead of them in every conceivable respect, yet they continued to have the arrogance to think they could trick him into making a mistake. Over and over again they tried, and over and over again he left them speechless, yet still undaunted.  I can’t figure out if they were really that clueless or if he was really just that smooth. You pick.

When they tried to get Jesus to speak out against the governance of Israel by Rome by asking him if it was lawful for Rome to exert authority over them, they were trying to get him to commit treason under Roman law. But what would have been treason to the Romans would have been pro Israeli, and anything pro Roman would have been anti-Israeli. They saw this as a no brainer and a win/win for them. Either way they would be able to condemn Jesus for being unfaithful to one or the other government.

Jesus, seeing through their deceit said that if something belonged to Caesar, then they should give it to Caesar, and if it belonged to God, give it to God. He made it clear that we can separate the two entities in mortality. The question this brings up then is “what belongs to god?” Can you think of anything that does not belong to God?

I can think of only one thing that I possess that doesn’t already have its origin in God and His possessions. That thing is my will. And even my personal will is allowed to be mine alone because God has granted me the right to exercise my own will. Does God ask you to give back all your earthly possessions into his care and keeping? No, he does not. Does He demand that you pay tribute to Him for what you get to use and discover in your lifetime? No, He does not. The only thing the Lord asks that we willingly give Him that belongs to us is our will. And even then we are not told He wants to have it and keep it. He only wants us to be willing to bend our will to His. But it has to be of our choosing.

Clearly everything physical in nature belongs to God, as its creator. The only thing He doesn’t own is the individual will of His children. And interestingly enough, it is only in the surrendering of our will that He can teach us the lessons we need to learn to become like Him.

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

New Testament 21