Jesus teaches that we must become as little children.
Through the parable of the unmerciful servant, Jesus teaches about forgiveness.
Through the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus teaches about charity.
A study of this lesson will help us humble ourselves, forgive others, and
show charity for one another.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 14 Handout (PDF
Following The Transfiguration
James E. Talmage: "Our Lord's descent from the holy heights of the Mount
of Transfiguration was more than a physical return from greater to lesser
altitudes; it was a passing from sunshine into shadow, from the effulgent
glory of heaven to the mists of worldly passions and human unbelief; it
was the beginning of His rapid descent into the valley of humiliation.
From lofty converse with divinely-appointed ministers, from supreme communion
with His Father and God, Jesus came down to a scene of disheartening confusion
and a spectacle of demonized dominion before which even His apostles stood
in impotent despair. To His sensitive and sinless soul the contrast must
have brought superhuman anguish; even to us who read the brief account
thereof it is appalling." (Jesus The Christ, p378)
MATTHEW 17:14-21. Healing of the demoniac youth.
Prior to this event the Twelve had been ordained with priesthood and power.
They had been on missions, preached the gospel, healed the sick, and cast
WHY WERE THE DISCIPLES UNABLE TO HEAL THE YOUNG MAN WHO WAS POSSESSED BY
AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT?
This was a particularly evil and difficult spirit. According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
"Clearly there are degrees of...evil powers among hell. Just as there
is a heavenly hierarchy, so is there a government that puts one evil spirit
in charge of another; are degrees of righteousness and glory, so are there
levels evil. It takes greater faith to overcome greater evils." (Mortal
Of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, faith seems to be
the most difficult to understand and yet it is the foundation for the others.
The Lord often spoke of faith:
"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall
say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove;
and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20)
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that
believeth." (Mark 9:23)
WHAT IS FAITH? WHAT IS THIS GREAT POWER THAT CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS?
"...faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things;
therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which
are true." (Alma 32:21)
- It must entail some knowledge, but as Alma says it "is not to have a
- It is a hope for things which are not seen, but are true.
- Alma says: "[God] desireth, in the first place, that ye should
believe, yea, even on his word." (Alma 32:22)
HOW DOES ONE OBTAIN AND STRENGTHEN FAITH?
Some keys are found in
Some knowledge, not a perfect knowledge - a perfect knowledge requires
In other words, there may be some action (study) involved here. If one
wishes to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon he cannot lay it on his
desk or beside his bed he must -
Open it and read, study, and ponder.
Study the Prophet Joseph Smith and his testimony.
Hope - as one studies this record and discerns the implications
and meaning of its truthfulness one, who is honest in heart, will begin
to hope that it may be true.
Believe - Alma says that the Lord desires us to then believe.
Alma continues in the (see Alma
He says to try an experiment upon his words.
If your faith is weak, exercise it by simply desiring to believe.
"Let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a
manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words" (v27).
Compare the word unto a seed and plant it and nourish it. Do not cast it
out by your unbelief.
"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth
to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking
forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be
a tree springing up unto everlasting life." (v41)
Fasting and prayer:
The Lord told his disciples that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer
and by fasting."
These are acts of desire, hope, belief, and faith. It is part of nourishing
the seed of which Alma spoke.
Fasting is a sacrifice which the Lord will recognize and bless, if it is
done in the proper spirit.
If we are not willing to make even a minor sacrifice, such as fasting, how
then can our faith possibly grow?
How can we possibly develop faith, without truly experimenting on the words
of the Lord?
ARE WE WILLING TO TAKE THE LEAP?
Are we willing to take a single step.
Service to our neighbors.
Sharing the gospel.
THE SAVIOR TAUGHT, "IF YE HAVE FAITH...NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE UNTO
YOU." DOES THIS MEAN THAT WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE DESIRE?
See Helaman 10:4-11.
"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done;
for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word,
which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared
them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and
to keep my commandments.
"And now, because thou hast done this with
such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make
thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that
all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt
not ask that which is contrary to my will." (v4-5)
Discourse On Meekness & Humility
On becoming as a little child.
MATTHEW 18:8-9. If thy hand offend thee, cut
MATTHEW 18:1. Who is the greatest in the kingdom.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE DISCIPLES WERE CONCERNED ABOUT WHO WOULD BE GREATEST
IN THE LORD'S KINGDOM?
As mortals, I am sure that they wondered who was most favored by their
Master. Many of us have had the experience of having our children come
up and ask who among the children we love most. Most of us enjoy
being in a favored position. I do not think these disciples were so different.
Peter, James, and John had been taken aside at times and there probably
was some discussion as to their being chosen to a higher or more favored
WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT CONCERN ABOUT RANK AND STATUS STILL EXISTS
AMONG CHURCH MEMBERS TODAY?
MATTHEW 18:2-5. The Lord's answer to the above
WHAT IS JESUS' COUNSEL TO THOSE WHO DESIRE TO ACHIEVE TRUE GREATNESS IN
WHAT DOES THE LORD MEAN WHEN HE TEACHES US TO BECOME LIKE A CHILD? CERTAINLY HE DOESN'T EXPECT
US TO ACT LIKE OUR CHILDREN ACT AT TIMES?
Little children are fresh from the presence of the Father and without sin.
We must allow the refining powers of the gospel to take effect in our lives.
Little children are submissive.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SUBMISSIVE? HOW DO WE TO BECOME SUBMISSIVE?
A child tries to please his parent. Shouldn't we be doing the same
with our Heavenly Father?
Little children are humble and without pride.
Does a little child care if he is wearing the latest style or name brand.
Children have a willingness to believe.
WHY DO MANY OF US HAVE DIFFICULTY FOLLOWING THIS COUNSEL?
HOW DOES THIS COUNSEL COMPARE WITH WHAT THE WORLD TEACHES ABOUT HOW WE
The Lord taught his disciples, "If thy hand or thy foot offend thee,
cut them off, and cast them from thee." This sounds rather brutal.
WHAT IS THE LORD TEACHING? HOW CAN WE CLEANSE OURSELVES OF THINGS THAT
LEAD US TO SIN OR TO CAUSE US TO WAIVER IN OUR COMMITMENT TO CHRIST?
Robert L. Millet: "The Lord of Life is speaking not
in literal terms but in metaphoric terms of the need to rid ourselves of the
elements in our personality or our associations that might dilute our
discipleship. Just as it is excruciatingly painful to pluck out an eye, so it is
painful to excise sin from our souls. Just as having a hand or a foot cut off is
terrible agony, so also is it extremely difficult to sever those associations
that hinder more than help. If in the process of attempting to help lift one
another's burdens, we find ourselves burdened by the same sins or difficulties,
we need to lift ourselves out of the situation. It is one thing to be a
second-miler and quite another to accompany someone down the broad road to
destruction." (An Eye Single to the Glory of God, p53)
We must cast away that which may tempt us or lead to sin.
As a man thinks, so is he. If we expose ourselves to negative influences,
it will affect our lives.
Negative/immoral television, even the news, can affect our actions.
Books, magazines, and those whom we associate with impact our thoughts
I have on cassette tape a speech entitled Dynamic Living by Skip Ross. In his
talk Mr. Ross states that he came to a time in his life when he was frustrated
with the direction, or lack of direction, in his life. He decided the most
important thing he could do to aid his success was to control his mental
environment. For eighteen months he did not expose himself to the following negative
- Negative conversations
His life was changed by this experience and Mr. Ross went on to enjoy great
success. He says, "Get rid of what you don't want, to make room for
that which you do want." He says that you cannot afford to have anything
in your life that is a serious energy drain.
Mr. Ross was willing to perform mental surgery to achieve his goals. What
are we willing to do for eternal values?
Once we have cast away the negative, we must fill that void with positive
- WITH WHAT CAN WE FILL THIS VOID?
- As part of his 18 month experiment, Skip Ross replaced the negative by spending from 1.5 to 5 hours daily:
- Reading positive books.
- Listening to positive recordings.
- Thinking positive thoughts.
- We can follow a similar approach to that of Mr. Ross:
- We can read the words of eternal life.
- We can listen to talks and uplifting music.
- In quiet moments we can focus our thoughts on gospel ideals.
- Give of ourselves in service to others.
- Where is our heart? Do we need to perform mental surgery?
Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee,
go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear
thee, thou hast gained thy brother." (Matthew 18:15)
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall
my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith
unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times
seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
WHAT SHOULD WE DO IF WE HAVE BEEN OFFENDED?
WHY IS THIS THE BEST WAY TO RESOLVE DISPUTES?
Neal A. Maxwell: "There are no guarantees; the risks of such openness
are real. Yet, significantly, we are not to wait and pout, but are to seek
(in the spirit of love and candor) to communicate what we believe are our
legitimate concerns of injury to him who has offended us. It is not always
that he whom we believed has erred will be wrong. Confrontation can improve
our own perceptions of the other person; it can make us aware of extenuating
circumstances which otherwise would never be known to us. Finally, even
though our feelings initially are those of injury, the fact that we care
about improving our relationship with the other person can eventually mean
something to him. Caring enough to complain is often evidence of deep and
loving feelings. In fact, expressing our feelings of disappointment may
be more helpful to others than to present an antiseptic, intellectual analysis
of failure. The latter can be challenged and rationalized, but honest statements
of feelings can make the reprover and the reproved feel enough concern
to focus on what needs to be done." (A More Excellent Way, p78)
MATTHEW 18:23-35. Parable of the unmerciful servant.
"That means, practically, an unlimited number of
times. In the days of our Lord, the Rabbis taught that no one was under
obligation to forgive a neighbor more than three times. Peter, asking the
Master for a ruling on that question, suggested that perhaps seven times
would be a liberal improvement on the rule of the Jewish teachers, but
our Lord answered, 'seventy times seven'." (D&C Commentary, p626)
The greatness of the number itself suggests that we should forgive as many
times as we are offended. We could easily track three offenses, or even
seven offenses, in our mind. But to track more than that would require
some sort of system (or database, in modern lingo) to keep an accounting.
The effort of keeping such a system would be evidence in itself that we
have not forgiven even the first offense.
This reminds me of a personal situation. A few years ago, the
bus route that took me directly into Seattle for work was cancelled. It
was replaced with a shuttle that took me three miles to the freeway entrance
where I transferred to another bus going downtown. I had to do the reverse
when coming home. Occasionally the connections did not work and I was forced
to wait up to 40 additional minutes for the bus. I became frustrated and started calling Metro (King County municipal bus service)
every time the connection failed. They didn't seem to listen to my pleas,
so I started tracking the failed connections on an Excel spreadsheet. My
intent had been to take my evidence to the Metro planners and demand change.
The interesting thing about tracking and focusing
on the failed connections is, that in a strange sort of way, I began focusing
on the failures and not the successes. At times I hoped for a failed connection
in hopes of adding evidence to my list. After about three months time I probably made about 60 round trips to
Seattle. I suffered through 10 to 15 failed connections out of
about 120 total connections. So more than 100 times the connection worked. And when the connection worked, it actually
got me home earlier
than the old route. I suspect that if I had focused on the time saved versus
the time lost, I would have discovered that I had actually saved time over the
So it is in our lives. When we dwell on the negative, the offenses of others,
this becomes the focus and we get caught up in the negative. As Skip Ross
stated, we need to "Get rid of what you don't want, to make room for
that which you do want." Do we want the blessings of the Spirit in
our lives? Do we want to become like our Heavenly Father? Then we must
forgive and purge the negative thoughts and feelings
that can overpower our lives.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE KING'S EXAMPLE IN FORGIVING OTHERS?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DANGERS OF NOT FORGIVING OTHERS?
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE?
- KNOWING THE GOOD FEELING THAT COMES FROM FORGIVING AND BEING FORGIVEN,
WHY DO SOME OF US CONTINUE TO HOLD GRUDGES AND LET OFFENSES FESTER? HOW
DO WE OVERCOME THIS?
Parable Of The Good Samaritan
In Luke 10:25-37 the
Savior teaches us about charity.
While the Savior was teaching, "a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted
him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (v25).
The lawyer answered the Lord's question by saying, "Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all
thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself"
HOW DID THE MASTER ANSWER?
"What is written in the law? how readest thou?" (v26).
This is about the same as saying, "If you want eternal life, keep the
law of Moses" (Mortal Messiah, 1:75).
The lawyer then asked the question, "Who is my neighbor?" (v29).
The lawyer was quoting from the Law of Moses:
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy
"thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Jesus confirmed the lawyer's answer, "Thou hast answered right: this
do, and thou shalt live" (v28).
James E. Talmage: "These simple words conveyed a rebuke, as the lawyer
must have realized; they indicated the contrast between knowing and doing.
Having thus failed in his plan to confound the Master, and probably realizing
that he, a lawyer, had made no creditable display of his erudition by asking
so simple a question and then answering it himself, he tamely sought to
justify himself by inquiring further" (Jesus The Christ, pp429-430)
Resource Note 1: The Good Samaritan: Forgotten
LUKE 10:30-37. The parable of the good Samaritan.
WHO ARE OUR NEIGHBORS?
President Howard W. Hunter: "We need to remember that though we make
our friends, God has made our neighbors--everywhere. Love should have no
boundary; we should have no narrow loyalties." (Ensign, Nov 1986)
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS THAT PEOPLE NEED HELP TODAY?
There were times at work when the workload is so heavy that we were required to
work Saturdays. While living in Seattle, I usually drove downtown with an associate and
a few blocks from the building. As we walked to the office, we walked under
a viaduct. We usually saw a number of people camped out in tents, or blankets
spread between shopping carts, or maybe just laying in a sheltered doorway.
These "neighbors" deserve our help. What tragic lives they live.
But we also have neighbors around us every
day crying out for spiritual help. Their buckets are empty and their thirst
is great. We are carrying buckets full of living water. We need to stop
and dip into our buckets and share this water with those who are so thirsty.
President McKay said that every member should be a missionary. Are we being
stingy with our bucket of living water because we are so caught up in our
own lives and activities? How did the Savior live his life?
WHAT ARE SOME REASONS WE DO NOT HELP OTHERS IN NEED?
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED BY "GOOD SAMARITANS"?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
A few weeks ago in our discussion of the great Sermon on the Mount,
we read where the Lord declared that we should be "perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect." Why? Because this is our ultimate
goal, to become like the Father. In this lesson we have learned some of the things
we need to do to become like the Father. We need to exercise our faith.
We need to become, humble and submissive. We must completely forgive others
of their trespasses. And we must reach out and serve those around us. We
each need to look into our hearts and seek ways of more fully implementing
these great messages into our lives and then commit to doing it.
Record your thoughts on the teachings of Jesus in this lesson. What does
it mean to forgive others? Who are your neighbors and how can you serve them?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A More Excellent Way by Neal A. Maxwell.
An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship by
Robert L. Millet.
Doctrine & Covenants Commentary by Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
3, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
28 March 2015