Scheduled for study June 17-23, 2019. What makes Jesus who he is? What makes us who we are? So if we want to be more like Jesus then what changes do we need to make in our lives to bring about the desired effects? How we live determines who we become.

Day 1

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19 – In every word and deed, Jesus Christ exemplified pure love.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Today’s lesson is found in the opening paragraph of this week’s study material. One of the lessons I am learning repeatedly is that very often when I am seeking for understanding of a subject, the knowledge for that answer will come from more than one source. It is up to me to recognize the parts of my answer and for me to put them together for greater understanding through the Spirit. This lesson follows this pattern.

I watched a post on Facebook that talked about loving the unlovable at the same time I had just just recently run across an experience between an old married couple. Then I read the opening paragraph to this week’s lessons, and suddenly I saw that they were all connected to the same subject, charity. For today’s lesson I refer you to my personal journaling about charity at the following link: The Secret to Charity.

The takeaway lesson from where my answer came from is that it is up to us to continually be trying to connect all the dots in our lives to see if there are connections that can change our perspective for the better. The gospel of Christ covers every subject in the world. There is no knowledge that lies outside the gospel’s boundaries. Everything we experience changes us in one way or another. We are responsible for learning to recognize how what we are experiencing, in all parts of our lives, can influence our attitudes, and help us become more informed and righteous children of God.

Have you experienced someone’s love you felt you didn’t deserve? What happened?

What lessons of appreciation did you learn from that experience?

Have you ever felt that you couldn’t repay the Savior or our Father in Heaven for their kindnesses? Why do you think they continue to bless us when we are so often unappreciative for what they have done for us?

Have you ever experienced a kind of love that was its own reward? I’m talking about a love that required no acknowledgement from the person receiving your love, no repayment, no praise. This kind of love is worth your time and energy just because you feel happier when you do it. Is this how you would describe charity, the pure love of Christ?

Day 2

Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19 – Jesus Christ’s willingness to suffer shows His love for the Father and for all of us.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

I recommend you watch the two videos associated with today’s lesson. They are named at the bottom of the day’s study material. I encourage you to watch these videos with a stake in the events. If you were just watching a movie in a theater, you might find someone’s scourging and crucifixion uncomfortable, but not much else. As you watch Jesus get scourged and crucified, include in your watching that part of what he was experiencing was as a whipping boy for you.

What is a whipping boy?

In past ages, when a royal or very wealthy young person committed a wrong worthy of punishment, there was a problem. Their teacher was not able to directly whip the child for their misbehavior because of their station in life, so the royal/wealthy child would present the teacher with someone considered “dispensable.” They would let the teacher whip or beat their slave or servant in their place. The slave or servant was referred to as their whipping boy, the person designated to take the brunt of their punishments. The whipping boy’s only purpose was to be beaten for the crimes of their master. If they died they were simply replaced with another whipping boy. They were completely dispensable human beings.

We are the children of our Heavenly King. Jesus was sent to be our whipping boy, if you will. The irony of him being our whipping boy is that no one could be more innocent of any crime than Jesus was. No one could be more deserving of praise, glory, and exaltation than was Jesus, yet he willingly submitted himself to bear for us what we all knew and recognized we could not bear on our own. He loved us so much that he voluntarily stepped in and took the brunt of all the punishments for the eternal laws of God we violate in our ignorance, our arrogance, our willfulness, and our rebelliousness. Jesus made himself a shield to protect us and free us from the full punishment of God’s laws, on condition that we be willing to repent and try to become like him.

The only way Jesus could perform this glorious task was to come to earth and be completely perfect in every choice, attitude, and feeling during his years in mortality. By being completely without fault in any way, he was able to be worthy of paying for the debts of others, something he could not have done had he had his own debts to pay. A great Old Testament reference to this process is found in the law of Moses. Look up the purpose of the scapegoat in the Bible dictionary.

As you watch these videos, remember that he deserved none of the treatment he received. We deserved it, but he stepped between us and the law and took our punishments for us. We owe him everything, every love, every loyalty, every obedience, every thing. Notice his majesty as he hangs on the cross, nailed hands and feet. His back has been torn to shreds by the scourging then was made to rub against the rough-hewn post he was nailed to. In the midst of all that immense physical pain, he was still able to demonstrate forgiveness to the guards who crucified him, and to commit the care of his mother into the hands of his beloved Apostle, John. His focus was pure, complete, and unwavering. Everything he did was in an effort to fulfill the will of his Father. And even when the Father withdrew from him so he could finish the work on his own, he continued through this last trial and faithfully fulfilled the work his Father sent him to earth to complete. He only allowed himself to die once he knew that every ounce of his Father’s will had been fulfilled. There was literally nothing else that could be required of him. Only then did he allow himself to pass from mortality.

This demonstration of love transcends anyone else’s ability to show love. It is the perfect example of complete sacrifice on behalf of someone else, of charity, the pure love of Christ. His own comfort was not important. His own convenience was not considered. His own station in the eternities was temporarily ignored. He did what was required for the welfare of those he loved, and to fulfill the will of our Father in all things. God’s will was all he counted dear to himself. There is a lesson in that.

Day 3

Matthew 27:27-49, 54; Mark 15:16-32; Luke 23:11, 35-39; John 19:1-5 – Mocking of God’s truth should not weaken my faith.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

The purpose of mocking someone is to produce shame and doubt. It is an act of emotional terrorism. Mocking someone is a wanton act of emotional aggression designed to tear down a person’s beliefs, sew doubt, and destroy their resolve in whatever is being ridiculed. It is cruelty, plain and simple. The problem with mockery is that it is cruelty of the unseen variety.  Someone who is mocked walks away with no visible scars – no broken legs, no bruises, no concussion, no blood loss. Mockery is designed to tear someone apart from the inside out.

If done successfully, mockery leaves the person mocked with no esteem, no moral compass, nothing to rely on. The doubt of mockery is designed to disrupt one’s moral compass, cause a separation of that person from those things that person held near and dear to their heart. Mocking is, by its very nature supposed to make a person feel stupid, worthless, duped, tricked, lost, and without any moral bearings or support. Successfully done, the mocked person feels completely alone and without any support or sense of direction. Mockery, well done, is a deadly game.

But like all of Satan’s deceptions, mockery is empty. It tears down what someone else holds dear, but replaces what it tears down with nothing. It just leaves the other person in a pile of emotional rubble. Mocking is completely unproductive, in that it produces nothing of value, and only causes destruction. People who mock you are not your friends, since mocking is defined as the opposite of anything you would find in a friendship. Only enemies mock or ridicule others. It takes someone of great shallowness of character to tear down another person’s sense of right and wrong, their life values, or their belief structure. No one with any true character or depth would do such a thing to another person.

With that said, think about the character of the Pharisees, and others who came to mock Jesus as he was being unjustly tried, scourged, and crucified. They acted all “holier than thou” while they strutted around in their sanctimonious sense of self importance, seeking to humiliate and destroy as far as was emotionally possible, someone who was literally nailed to a wooden cross and being left for dead. Physical death wasn’t good enough for them, they wanted him to feel complete and utter defeat. No, even that wasn’t enough. They wanted him to feel completely humiliated by his failure to live up to the claims they thought he had made to them. The notion that none of them even remotely understood him would never have occurred to them. Their mockery was what we refer to as kicking someone when they are already down on the ground. It is pure derision and spite.

What was Jesus’s response to their mockery?

When someone chooses to mock us for our beliefs, what does that say about them?

What does the way we react to someone’s mocking say about our character?

Does the mocking of someone actually have to damage us? What they say are just words. Do words have to hurt us?

Can we dismiss the hateful and hurtful words of others without believing them?

Is it actually possible for us to love someone who is mocking us for our beliefs or for something we have done for which they want to create shame in us?

Day 4

Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 – Did Heavenly Father forsake Jesus on the cross?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

As you read Elder Holland’s comment on the Father forsaking Jesus while on the cross, what do you think it means for us to be left without the Spirit?

Remember that Jesus had been given full access to the Holy Spirit during his entire life. We only have very limited access to him. Christ’s calling required that kind of access for him to accomplish what he did as our Savior.

What does it mean to be separated from the presence of God? Isn’t that the definition of spiritual death?

Spiritually, Christ had to descend below all things in order to ascend above all things. After all he experienced in Gethsemane then throughout the next day with his trials, the mocking, the abandonment of almost every one of his disciples and friends, his scourging, and finally his crucifixion, his final test was to be left alone to feel what it is like to be completely without the Spirit of God for support, to be left all alone in the universe. It was only temporary. It was only meant to teach him this one last lesson. It was his last trial. He had to feel abandoned, even though the Father never would actually abandon His Son.

At this final juncture Christ could have thought to himself, that he had gone through so much, had done everything commanded of him, sacrificed literally all of himself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, only to be left to hang out to dry without any acknowledgement of what he had gone through. That would have been the mortal, human thing to think. But Jesus knew his Father’s love for him, and though it hurt to feel abandoned, he knew he just had to persevere to the bitter end, even if he had to do it by himself. Even Jesus had to learn what it means to “endure to the end.” Neither his suffering nor his death was quick and painless. Both were agonizing, and he knew he had to endure until he knew his sacrifice was accepted by his Father.

We don’t know how Jesus knew he had finally done enough, but somehow he did know. When he finally knew that the laws had all been satisfied, and justice could ask no more of him, he knew he had completed his mission and could return home to his God in triumph, having glorified his Father the way he had always wanted to do.

Sometimes we are also left to ourselves to see how we will react and behave. We are never actually abandoned, though at times it may feel like it. There is always something to be learned in such moments. What helps us persevere during such times is remembering all the times the Lord has carried us through hard times, rescued us, answered our prayers, etc. It is remembering the nature and character of God that allows us to continue on in our trial, knowing that though it seems impossible to survive at the moment, we know that we will never actually be left alone by our Father. He will always come to our rescue.

Day 5

Luke 23:34 – The Savior is our example of forgiveness.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19 include descriptions of the final hours of the Savior’s mortal life. Seek to feel His love for you as you study about His sacrifice and death.

Here is the verse (Luke 23:34). I have included, in italics, the JST addition to this verse that clarifies who Jesus was talking about.

34 ¶ Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Meaning the soldiers who crucified him). And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Let’s get some perspective. Who was there at the crucifixion? There were the Romans who were carrying out the sentence of death, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and others who took issue with Jesus for the things he said and did, his mother and a few other women, and his beloved friend and apostle, John. This is why we need the clarification about who this statement is about.

Jesus had already told the Pharisees and others they would be going to hell for the lives they were leading, so he couldn’t have been talking about them. And he had no issues with anyone else there. What I find interesting is that Jesus, who had just been scourged (look up what is involved in a scourging – not pleasant), he had been brutally nailed to rough-hewn wood in at least 5 places, was being verbally mocked by his detractors, was publicly humiliated, bleeding, and was slowly suffocating, which is how crucifixion kills you. In the middle of all of this he still had the presence of mind to verbally ask the Father to forgive those soldiers who were gambling over the his clothing just a few feet away. They didn’t even wait until he was dead to divide the spoils. They did it right next to him.

Even in his extremity Jesus was able to recognize those soldiers were being required by their government to follow orders. They had no choice. Nor had they been taught, as had the Jews, who he was and what he was. They truly were innocent of any offense toward God. That Jesus would publicly pronounce them innocent and fulfill his role as intercessor with the Father to excuse them for the part they played in his death, shows the generosity of his heart. Many a regular person would be filled with such indignation or anger at the unjustness of the situation that they would want to punish everyone who had anything to do with their pain. Not Jesus. Even in his state of complete exhaustion he was willing to forgive. He had been up for more than 24 hours, had been paraded from ruler to ruler, publically shamed and humiliated, rejected, and condemned then scourged and nailed to the cross. His was truly an example of enduring to the end.

All this shows us how important it was to Jesus to be forgiving, but what does it mean for us? Sometimes we take it for granted that Jesus just simply forgave and forgave. He did it so often, and under so many circumstances, that we begin to ignore what kind of personal sacrifice it takes to actually do the forgiving ourselves.

When Jesus forgave the soldiers while on the cross, he had just undergone the most brutal treatment. If any of us went through the same experiences, if the experiences themselves didn’t kill us, we would have been completely traumatized by the shame, humiliation, and betrayal he went through. Yet for all of this, he was able to quickly and wholeheartedly see, and recognize that these men dividing his very clothing among themselves while he hung dieing on the cross, were innocent of any wrongdoing. He freely forgave them. He completely understood how important it was to not put blame where there shouldn’t be any.

When someone says something petty about us, or besmirches our name or reputation, it can be easy for us to pass judgment on them and cast blame on them. We have been commanded by Jesus to forgive all men. He reserves the right to not forgive someone to himself, alone. Only he can righteously judge the thoughts and intents of another’s heart. Only he knows the person’s background and personal suffering. So he has told us that if we want forgiveness from him we must first be willing to forgive others.

Are there conditions under which  we are allowed to be unforgiving? No. Someone can burn down our home, kill our family members needlessly, throw us in prison, ruin our reputation, or any one of a thousand other horrible things, but our commandment from Jesus is that we must forgive them and let him be the judge of that person. By doing this he will bless us and strengthen us to bear up and learn from the lessons we are presented by our trials. Without forgiveness we can’t learn what we need to learn to become godly in our attitudes and conduct.

Jesus has always had the right to forgive sins. In my mind, what makes this instance special is that this is the first instance on record of Jesus forgiving someone after having paid for all of our sins in Gethsemane. And Jesus did it by praying that his Father forgive them. This is how he forgives us as well, he goes to his Father and pleads for us to be released from the responsibility of whatever wrongdoing we did.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Emulate the Savior’s Life (from Improving Our Teaching)

It is easy to forget that the whole purpose of the gospel of Christ is to change our very natures from where we are into something fit and ready to return to live with God. There is nothing in the whole plan of salvation that doesn’t contribute to this goal. It is this very goal that is addressed in the Father’s personal statement of purpose, His raison d’etre (reason for being). It is found in Moses 1:39.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Can you think of one principle of the gospel that has nothing to do with improving the kind of person you are? Are there any laws that detract or don’t contribute in at least some small way into helping you to be a better person when we live that law? The whole plan of salvation is about self improvement, about becoming more godly in our attitudes and behaviors.

Jesus was the master teacher because he was the master of all the principles of the gospel. He lived them, practiced them, and exemplified them in every act and attitude of his life. When he taught he did so with power and authority. His power and authority came from the fact that his life was a living testament to everything he taught. The same principle applies to us. If we want to teach chastity with authority, we must first be chaste. Our lives must have already tasted of the fruits of living a chaste existence. If you want to speak with power about any law of the gospel, first live that law and come to understand the power that is inherent in that law. Only then can we speak from personal experience and with authority. For only then can we speak as one who truly knows the power of living that law or principle.

This is why we are told that the most influential teachers are those who live what they preach. People who live what they preach have experienced the changes that living the gospel makes in our lives. They understand the blessings and outlooks, the attitudes and connections to other principles and laws that living the gospel creates. There is no substitute for personal experience and personal conversion to a law or principle of the gospel. Such experience allows us to teach with authority and power, especially when we have the Spirit present in our teaching.

This principle also makes us more believable when we bear witness to those we minister to, for they will more easily see that we speak the truth. They will see our lives as living proof of what we say. There is something good to be said for consistency between belief and action.

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

New Testament 25