my love
Scheduled for study June 3-9, 2019. Time was short. The Savior had only one sermon left before his personal suffering and death. All that remained was to give his final words of instruction and comfort to his disciples and the Apostles.

This week’s lessons focus on Christ’s love and the role it plays in our relationship with him and with each other. We also get the great intercessory prayer where we learn about the unity that exists between the members of the Godhead, and how that same unity needs to be our goal among ourselves here in mortality as well.

Day 1

John 13-15 – I show my love for Jesus Christ by keeping His commandments to love.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read the Savior’s teachings in John 13-17, the Holy ghost will help you identify messages for you. Record the impressions you receive.

I would like to do something different for this day’s lesson; I would like to talk about two words – abide and abode. Both words are used in this week’s chapters to describe conditions and relationships. As Jesus prepares to endure his night in Gethsemane, and on the cross, he has this one last chance to talk to his disciples before it all begins and his believers are scattered into the crowds to hide from the very pointed hatred of the Jewish leaders. He knows they will all abandon him, but only temporarily. He knows that he must face his final trials completely alone, without any friends. The scriptures are not completely clear as to whether Jesus actually realized that even his Father would have to step back and leave him alone in the end as well.

These first four chapters of the reading are all leading up to the Lord’s intercessory prayer, which is found in chapter 17. Jesus is trying to help his disciples understand the importance of what it means to follow him and be a true disciple. True discipleship of the Christ requires love, obedience, and unity. The more times I read these passages the more references I begin to see Jesus making to what it takes to truly have become one with the Godhead in all things.

Jesus starts while Judas Iscariot is still in the room. He tells them that he has set the example of how to behave one to another, and that if they will follow his example they will be happy (John 14:15-17).

15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus says this,

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

In verse 34 Jesus says two things, that we are to love one another, then he tells them that they should love one another just as they have seen him love them. This is the standard by which others will know they follow Jesus, it is by the love they show for each other. So expressing love – demonstrating love for one another is how we show we follow Jesus.

In John 14:7-14 Jesus tries to help them see how unified he and his Father are. He tells them that if they have seen him, Jesus, they have seen the Father, for Jesus only did the works of the Father. Over and over again he is trying to help them understand the relationship between the Father and the Son, with the goal of helping the disciples understand that this is the kind of relationship they should be striving to obtain for themselves with each other.

In verse 15 Jesus tells them that if they love him they are to keep his commandments. If they will keep his commandments he will send the Holy Ghost to them to dwell (abide) in them. When the Comforter/Holy Ghost dwells in us Christ will come to us.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

What Jesus is describing is the relationship between the members of the Godhead. Jesus is teaching his disciples that when they keep the commandments the Father has given them through him, he will send the Holy Ghost to them. Later he tells them the Holy Ghost will remind them of everything Jesus has taught them and will help them understand his words. He concludes this passage by telling them that by keeping the commandments the Father will love them and will come to them. Technically, our Father will love us no matter what choices we make, but He cannot come to us and abide/dwell with us if we don’t keep the commandments.

See the pattern? It is love. What unites the Godhead is love. What unites us is love. If we want to become one with Jesus and our Father we must learn to love as Jesus loves. That means we must learn to joyfully sacrifice for the wellbeing of others just as he did for those around him in his mortal ministry. Love of others is what unites people. In chapter 15 Jesus uses the comparison of the grape vine to demonstrate the relationship he is trying to teach them.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Just as the farmer plants the vine and nourishes it and cares for it day by day so it will prosper, so the vine produces fruit to return to the farmer. It is a symbiotic relationship that requires the efforts of both parties to thrive.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

We are the branches and Jesus the vine. Without the roots and the vine, the branches have no nourishment and perish. Dead branches are good for nothing but to be cut off by the farmer and burned, for they produce nothing.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

We are not capable of eternal life without Jesus. We must rely on what he gives us and does for us or there is no life in us.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

This same unity of branch with vine, and vine with the farmer teaches us the relationship we need to have to become unified with God and Christ. We must come to understand that each of us relies on Christ to live, breathe, and be productive. Without the work Jesus did on our behalf we would all become devils, angels to a devil in the end. Only by learning to rely upon Christ in all things can we expect to gain eternal life. This means we keep his commandments and strive to be one with all our “fellow branches.” We must all seek the welfare of the vine, of Christ, and this is what we do when we keep his commandments and minister to each other. This is another way of describing the body of Christ.

We obey the commandments because we love Christ. Our obedience is the demonstration of our love and devotion to Christ. Our obedience is what enables his blessings and produces our happiness. Obedience is what we call practicing to become Christlike.

Day 2

John 14-16 – The Holy ghost helps me fulfill my purpose as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read the Savior’s teachings in John 13-17, the Holy ghost will help you identify messages for you. Record the impressions you receive.

Sometimes we are a little harsh in our judgment of the original Apostles and disciples. They were not strong in the beginning like they were after the day of Pentecost. We need to remember that as long as Jesus was with them the Holy Ghost could not attend them. It was 50 days after the Passover that the Holy Ghost was finally given to the members of the Church. From that time on their understanding was deepened, their devotion strengthened, their testimonies grew, and the Church took off with new growth.

Peter received a testimony of the divinity of Jesus early on in Christ’s ministry, but his testimony was not the same as was his testimony after the day of Pentecost. Even Joseph Smith said that it was after they received the gift of the Holy Ghost that even the simplest of passages of scripture began to have far deeper meaning to them. We cannot comprehend spiritual things unless God reveals the truths of eternity to us personally through the Holy Ghost.

This means that in order for us to fulfill our purpose as disciples of Christ, we must learn to become like him. That requires us to have his nature revealed to us, and that is done through the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we minister to those who are outside the Church or who have been away from the Church for a while, we need to remember that they may have intellectual knowledge, but unless they have had a witness from the Holy Ghost about something they can never have a sure knowledge of anything spiritual.

Day 3

John 15:1-8 – As I abide in Christ, I will bring forth good fruit.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read the Savior’s teachings in John 13-17, the Holy ghost will help you identify messages for you. Record the impressions you receive.

In these verses Jesus compares himself to a vine. In scriptural language that could mean a grape vine or it could refer to an olive tree. Both plants are grown in a vineyard (vine + yard). Either way the comparison works. If Jesus is the plant, as we are the branches of the plant, we are not good for anything without the stock that gives us our nourishment. It doesn’t matter how much fruit we produce. As the branches, all of what keeps us alive comes from the “vine” or the trunk of the plant. So how can the branch boast of itself when it can do nothing by itself?

As a branch is wholly dependent upon the plant that gives it its life, so too are we completely dependent upon the Savior for the good we do. Why? Because we are willful sinners, every one. Without the Savior’s offer of forgiveness through his atoning sacrifice, we are completely worthless in the eternal scheme of things. It is only because of his strength and grace that we are able to bear the fruits of kindness, love, generosity, spirituality, revelation, and every other good thing. It is because of Jesus that we can prosper in the eternities. Look at King Benjamin’s comments about this from the Book of Mormon found in Mosiah 2:20-25.

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.

24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.

Benjamin’s point is that we can never get out from under the debt we owe to God for His goodness to us. No matter how hard we try, He is always too quick to bless us with more. At no time can we ever reverse the tab and put Him in our debt. He “out goodnesses” us every time.

This is what Jesus is referring to in John 15 when he says that without the vine the branches are good for nothing but to be cut off and burned. This is what it means to abide in Christ. When we accept our relationship with God and accept of his goodness then do all we can to be deserving of that constant goodness, He blesses us and enables us to bring forth good fruit. This goodness glorifies us, and we in turn by producing goodness, glorify him and the Father.

Day 4

John 17 – Jesus Christ intercedes for His disciples

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read the Savior’s teachings in John 13-17, the Holy ghost will help you identify messages for you. Record the impressions you receive.

The great intercessory prayer is both easy and difficult to understand and accept. When reading his prayer for those who follow him it is easy to see that he wants us to be as united, as bonded in unity, as he is with his Father. Jesus teaches some important concepts in this prayer. If you remember from Abraham 3 in the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham saw the Lord in vision standing among what he refers to as “the noble and great ones.” These are they who belong to the house of Israel, the covenant people, those God refers to as being righteous. These are the people God says are “His.” We belong to Him. We are they whom God has given to His Son. Look at how Jesus puts it in John 17:8-9.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

The important points from these two verses is that Jesus only gave his words, those words he received from his Father, to those who believed on his name and believed his teachings or doctrine. These are they who believe Jesus came from the Father and represented the Father in everything he did. These are the people Jesus is praying for. He doesn’t pray for the world, those who choose not to obey or believe in him. He prays on behalf of those who have made covenants with him, for covenant makers are those who belong to God. In verses 20-21 he goes on to say that he prays for those who will believe on their testimony of him, because of their word.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Lest anyone get the impression that Jesus does not ever intercede for those who do not belong to his Church, remember that his whole atoning sacrifice was an intercession for all mankind. His resurrection was an intercession for all mankind. How much he does or is able to intercede on behalf of those who disobey him from day to day, I can’t say. But from the scriptures it appears that his intercession with the Father for those who believe in him is ongoing.

Day 5

John 17:11, 21-23 – How are Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father one?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you read the Savior’s teachings in John 13-17, the Holy ghost will help you identify messages for you. Record the impressions you receive.

I fear that our inability to fully comprehend the unity that exists in the Godhead comes from our lack of experience with that kind of unity in our daily lives. I think most people have the best opportunity for experiencing a godly form of unity in the relationship of marriage. When a couple becomes committed to the same purpose or cause then develops great communication, trust, love, and willingly devotes their every resource to accomplishing that purpose, they can begin to see how powerful unity can be in making things happen in life.

Too often, our problem with understanding the unity found in the Godhead comes because we are at odds with the Godhead from unrepented sins. It is only when we repent and align ourselves with the purposes of God that we begin to see things as He see them, understand things from His point of view, and we begin to develop a hunger to see His purposes accomplished. It is only when we repent that we find ourselves desiring to help bring about His glorious purposes and to listen attentively to all the Spirit has to teach us.

As the manual points out, Jesus never says that he and his Father are one substance. He constantly says that just as he and his Father are one, so too does he desire that we will be one with them, and with each other. This is not an indication that he wants to absorb our bodies into a collective personality. It speaks of his desire that we will come to learn how God thinks and appreciate what He is trying to accomplish. He wants us to become as united in the cause of Good as they are that we might all be working for the same common good to be brought to pass.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

John 16:33 – How has Christ overcome the world?

This is an interesting question. Let’s think this through. When you overcome something you get the better of it or defeat it. You overcome an illness or an enemy. You never overcome a good habit, but you do overcome bad habits. How did Christ overcome the world? Did he defeat it in a physical sense? In a spiritual sense? In a social sense? What is the definition of the word “world”? How does that apply to me? Here is the verse.

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

How am I supposed to gain peace and be of good cheer just because Jesus overcame the world? Again, how does his singular victory have anything to do with me? Does his victory somehow mean I can now have a victory that couldn’t have existed before?

The scriptural definition of the word “world” refers to the wicked. When Jesus talks about the end of the world it is often followed with the phrase, “the destruction of the wicked.” But the future death of some mean or angry people doesn’t seem to answer today’s question, does it? There must be more to the definition of the world and how he overcame it.

What about the effects of being in the world? That seems to fit. Without the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Christ we would be eternally cut off from the presence of God. This isn’t just in a spiritual sense, but also in a physical sense. Once we left His presence as spirits, the plan of salvation won’t allow us to return without glorified resurrected bodies. This means we need to be saved from the effects of death, as well as the effects of our sinful and disobedient natures. Both death and sin are the hallmarks of this world.

The atoning sacrifice stripped death of its power over us to lock us away from God’s presence forever. And the atoning sacrifice opened an escape for us to be forgiven of our sinful natures as we strive to become more like Christ. As we seek Christ and repent of our sins, he cleanses our souls of the guilt that would prevent us from returning worthily into the presence of our Father in Heaven. Repentance justifies us by bringing us inline with eternal law, so the law no longer has any hold on us. By repenting we become free from the penalties of eternal law, because we are now living within the the laws. As long as our lives are in agreement with eternal laws, they support us and make us free, rather than condemn us. As we are forgiven of our sins we also become holy or sanctified. Holy beings are those who have lost the desire to violate eternal laws and who joyfully live by those laws. These are the laws of happiness, the commandments.

So this is what Jesus overcame – sin and death – the effects of this world. And just as importantly, his victory makes it possible for us to also overcome sin and death. Through Christ, and only through Christ, we can find peace in our hearts as we are forgiven of our disobedient natures. Because of Christ we can look forward with faith and hope to a glorious resurrection and a most happy reunion with our heavenly parents and family.

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

New Testament 23