Come Follow Me - New Testament
“Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”
January 28–February 3
- Disciples prepare themselves and others to receive Jesus
- We need to bring forth “fruits worthy of repentance.”
- We follow Jesus Christ when we are baptized and receive the
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the Scriptures at LDS.org.
Lesson Handout (PDF)
Disciples Prepare Themselves and Others to Receive Jesus
John's mission foretold.
John's Calling in the Spirit of Elias.
John's divinely appointed role was as the Elias, forerunner, and witness
of the Messiah.
WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF ELIAS?
Joseph Smith: "...the spirit of Elias was a going
before to prepare the way for the greater, which was the case with John
the Baptist.... The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater
revelation of God, which is the Priesthood of Elias, or the Priesthood
that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to
prepare for a greater work, ... it was called the doctrine of Elias, even
from the early ages of the world." (TPJS, p335)
THREE ELEMENTS HAD TO BE IN PLACE FOR JOHN THE BAPTIST TO FULFILL THIS
ROLE OF ELIAS. WHAT WERE THEY?
Must have been appointed in his premortal life.
Joseph Smith: "Every man who has a calling to
minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose
in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was." (TPJS,
To be legally entitled to be a high priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, John
had to be of the firstborn lineage among the sons of Aaron.
John was the firstborn of Zacharias, a priest of the family of Aaron.
John's mission was to be the living embodiment of the law of Moses.
The law of Moses was the "preparatory gospel" functioning under the Aaronic
As the link between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he
had to be one who fully lived the preparatory gospel.
Robert J. Matthews: "He [John] was the right person
to be the final representative of the law of Moses in its capacity as a
schoolmaster to bring men to Christ. He bridged two dispensations by being
the last legal representative of the law of Moses and, at the same time,
being the one preappointed to introduce and prepare the way for the coming
of the Lord." (Ensign, Jan 1991)
The Time & Setting (see The Mortal Messiah, Volume 1).
Summer, AD 26 (according to Bruce R. McConkie in The Mortal Messiah, v1).
John is thirty years of age and begins his ministry of preaching and baptism.
In six months the Lord will begin his ministry.
It was a time of spiritual darkness.
Rome ruled the world.
The world enshrined everything that was carnal, sensual, and devilish.
There were no accepted standards of morality.
Tiberius Caesar - emperor of Rome.
Ruled with all the despotism of Augustus.
Reveled in all the vices of Caligula.
Pontius Pilate - Roman procurator (governor) in Judea.
An evil underling of Roman.
Held contempt for the Jewish people and their religion.
There were many disturbances in Judea during his time in power.
He was eventually removed from office due to a disturbance in Samaria.
Herod Antipas - tetrarch of Galilee.
A man that ruled in lust and evil.
Eventually deposed by Emperor Caligula and banished to Gaul.
WHERE DID JOHN GET HIS AUTHORITY?
D&C 84:26-28. Ordained by an angel.
He was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb.
Baptized as a child.
Ordained by an angel at eight days of age to his mission as forerunner.
According to Elder McConkie, this ordination was not John's ordination to the
do not know when he received the Aaronic Priesthood, but obviously it came
to him after his baptism, at whatever age was proper, and before he was
sent by one whom he does not name to preach and baptize with water."
(Mortal Messiah, 1:385)
Joseph Smith: "The Levitical Priesthood is forever
hereditary—fixed on the head of Aaron and his sons forever, and was in
active operation down to Zacharias the father of John." (TPJS,
Thus, it would seem that John's ordination by an angel was to bestow special
keys and to ordain John to his unique calling. The Aaronic priesthood was
on the earth and there would have been no need for a restoration from the
John spent some time in the desert as a period of trial, testing, training.
Joseph Smith: "When Herod's edict went forth to
destroy the young children, John was about six months older than Jesus,
and came under this hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take
him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey."
Elder Bruce R. McConkie indicates that it is only speculation that John
was a Nazarite and lived his entire life in the desert.
Elder McConkie: "We can think of no good reason
why the Lord would send one of his servants off into the deserts for thirty
years to prepare him for the ministry. Men are prepared to serve their
fellowmen by associating with them and by learning of their foibles and
idiosyncracies and how they will react to spoken counsel and proffered
help." (Mortal Messiah, 1:385)
Elder McConkie also believes that John had a wife and children: "That
he was married, had children, and lived as normal a life as his ministerial
assignments permitted, we cannot doubt." (Mortal Messiah, 1:385)
WHAT DID JOHN DO TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD?
MATTHEW 3:1-6. John preached in the wilderness
Taught the people.
Elder McConkie: "No one is ever prepared for the
Lord until he confesses and forsakes his sins, until he repents, until
he is baptized for the remission of sins. And the fact that John was to
prepare 'a people' for the Lord means that a people--composed of a host
of individuals--had to set their houses in order, be baptized by him, and
await patiently the coming of Him who would give them the Holy Ghost."
(Mortal Messiah, 1:386-387)
MATTHEW 3:7-10. The children of Abraham must
Many Jews believed that since they were of Abraham's posterity, they were
assured a place in the Messiah's kingdom.
WHAT DID JOHN TEACH THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES ABOUT HOW A PERSON IS CHOSEN
IN GOD'S KINGDOM?
Every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down.
All must repent.
HOW MIGHT WE MAKE AN ERROR SIMILAR TO THESE EARLY JEWS?
John taught a higher gospel (see
He taught a gospel of love.
He taught of the Messiah who would soon follow.
John was the link between the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Christ.
WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT THAT SOMEONE PREPARE THE WAY FOR JESUS?
Ran before the chariot of the King.
They cleared rocks and other obstacles from the path.
Loudly proclaimed the coming of the ruler.
John was a forerunner. In a sense, he performed the same function of the
ancient forerunners in preparing the way for Christ by:
Challenging the network of apostasy that existed among
the leaders of his people.
Proclaiming the imminent coming of the Messiah.
His influence extended to individuals who would later become Apostles
and special witnesses of the Lord.
Andrew followed John's teachings to find Jesus (Peter was his brother).
It appears that John the beloved was also a disciple of John the Baptist.
Peter seems to suggest in Acts that many, if not all of the Twelve, had
been tutored by John.
We also have a commission to be forerunners in preparing the way for the
Second Coming of the Lord.
D&C 65:1-6. Given to Joseph Smith and all
In preparation for the advent of the Savior, John taught the people to
"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"
(Matthew 3:2). Why is repentance so important as we prepare for the Second
Coming? Elder Sterling W. Sill taught us how important the practice of this
principle is in changing the world, "Because sin is the
basic problem of our world, repentance has been made one of the first and one of
the most important of the principles of the gospel of Christ. A universal,
genuine, and permanent repentance would close up our jails, do away with our
reform schools, prevent our nervous breakdowns, fill our churches, redeem our
souls, and restore harmony, peace, and happiness to the world. From any point of
view, repentance is one of the most praiseworthy actions in life. Through it we
abandon unworthy objectives and turn our lives upward toward more worthwhile
things." (General Conference, October 1964)
Elder David. B. Haight, "The mission and responsibility of
this church and its members have been made abundantly clear—to proclaim the
Lord’s teachings unto the entire world. We must be prepared to accomplish what
the Prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed—to see that 'the truth of God [goes] forth
boldly, nobly … till it has penetrated every continent … swept every country,
and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished. The
Lord has said: 'Prepare ye the way. …' Then it is our duty to prepare all of our
members so that we might develop a strong foundation and belief in the true
gospel of Jesus Christ." (General Conference, April 1971)
In speaking to the Priesthood session of General Conference, Brother Adrián
Ochoa said, "Dear young men, when you exercise the Aaronic
Priesthood in the way I have described, you are preparing yourselves for
responsibilities in your future. But you are doing much more than that. Like
John the Baptist, that exemplary Aaronic Priesthood holder, you are also
preparing the way of the Lord and making His paths straight. When you boldly
declare the gospel of repentance and baptism, as John did, you are preparing the
people for the coming of the Lord. You are often told about your great
potential. Well, now is the time to put that potential into action, to make use
of the abilities God has given you to bless others, bring them out from
obscurity and into light, and prepare the way of the Lord." (General
Conference, April 2012)
We Need to Bring Forth “Fruits Worthy of Repentance”
John taught, "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of
repentance" (Luke 3:8).
- As noted in the previous section, repentance is one of the things that we
can do to prepare the way for the Lord. As stated by Elder Sill, "From
any point of view, repentance is one of the most praiseworthy actions in
- John warned the ancient Jews that being descendants of Abraham was not
enough. They needed to change their ways and purify their lives. Even though
we have been baptized and made covenants with the Lord, the path of repentance
never ends. We need to constantly be alert to our shortcomings, strive to over
come them, and bring forth "fruits worthy of repentance." The principle of
repentance is so critical to those of us living in the latter days that it is
mentioned nearly 200 times in the revelations contained in the Doctrine and
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The gospel of Jesus Christ
challenges us to change. 'Repent' is its most frequent message, and repenting
means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and
national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the
gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that
requires change." (General Conference, October 2003)
"What shall we do then?" (Luke 3:10)
- READ LUKE 3:11-14. John lists fruits worthy of
- Elder McConkie paraphrases it this way, "Bear one
another's burdens; help the poor; feed the hungry; clothe the naked; live as
becometh saints—this is all part of your baptismal covenant. He that hath two
coats, let him impart to him that hath none, and he that hath meat, let him do
likewise.' And to the soldiers, many of whom must have been the Gentile troops
garrisoned among them, he counseled: 'Your military rank does not give you the
right to be cruel or inhuman to your fellowmen. Do violence to no man, neither
accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages'." (Mortal Messiah,
- Alma listed the fruits of repentance when he invited those that followed
him to enter the waters of baptism, "... willing to bear
one another’s burdens, that they may be light; ... willing to
mourn with those that mourn; ... comfort those that stand in need
of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in
all things, and in all places." (Mosiah 18:8-9)
ARE WE BRINGING FORTH THE "FRUITS WORTHY OF REPENTANCE?" WHAT DO WE NEED TO
DO IN OUR LIVES TO BEAR THESE FRUITS?
We Follow Jesus Christ When We Are Baptized and Receive the Holy Ghost
- Baptism did not begin with John.
- Began with Adam (see Moses
- It was performed throughout the ages prior to John.
- The Book of Mormon teaches that baptism was an important part of religious
practice prior to the time of Jesus.
- Baptism was an established part of life among faithful Jews in John's day.
- Not all Jews were baptized at that time due to great apostasy.
- We know that John was baptized in his childhood.
- Alfred Edersheim (a Christian scholar): "Hitherto
the Law had it that those who had contracted Levitical defilement were to
immerse before offering sacrifice. Again, it was prescribed that such
Gentiles as became 'proselytes of righteousness' or 'proselytes of the
Covenant,' were to be admitted to full participation in the privileges of
Israel by the threefold rites of circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice--the
immersion being, as it were, the acknowledgment and symbolic removal of
moral defilement, corresponding to that of Levitical uncleanness." (quoted
in Mortal Messiah, 1:397)
Can you imagine what John must have felt when Jesus came to him requesting
WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?
- As noted by Elder McConkie:
- To signify his humility before the Father.
- As a covenant of obedience.
- To receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, "...to
conform to the law that gave him the right to the constant companionship of
that member of the Godhead. As we are aware, this was a formality only in
his case, for he being holy and without sin, the Spirit was his companion
always. At baptism he simply went through the form that is required of all
men" (Mortal Messiah, 1:402).
- To gain an inheritance in the celestial kingdom.
- As an example to all men.
- Elder Charles W. Penrose, "Here is a pattern set by
Jesus Christ, for mankind to follow. He knew it was necessary for everyone to
be born of water and of the spirit, and He went to John, a man who had
authority from God to baptize, and was immersed by him, or baptized by him—the
words are of similar meaning—and the Spirit descended and the Father witnessed
that He was well pleased with this act." (Journal of Discourses,
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Those who seek to follow the
Savior will understand the importance of the ordinance of baptism. The Lamb
without Blemish saw fit to submit himself to baptism by one holding the
authority of the priesthood in order to 'fulfil all righteousness.' How much
more each of us has need of the cleansing and saving power of this ordinance
and the other ordinances of the gospel.
"As we always remember him, we should strive to assure
that we and our family members and, indeed, all the sons and daughters of God
everywhere follow our Savior into the waters of baptism. This reminds each of
us of our duties to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the
dead." (General Conference, April 1988)
WHY WAS THE HOLY GHOST SYMBOLIZED BY A DOVE AT JESUS BAPTISM?
- Joseph Smith: "The sign of the dove was instituted
before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil
cannot come in the sign of a dove.... The sign of a dove was given to John to
signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and
innocence." (TPJS, p275)
After we are baptized, we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- President James. E Faust, "The full benefit of
forgiveness of sin through the Savior's Atonement begins with repentance and
baptism and then expands upon receiving the Holy Ghost. As Nephi said, baptism
is the gate, 'and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy
"If worthy, those possessing this spiritual gift can
come to enjoy greater understanding and enrichment and guidance in all of
life's activities, both spiritual and temporal. The Holy Ghost bears witness
to us of the truth and impresses upon our souls the reality of God the Father
and His Son, Jesus Christ, so surely that no earthly power or authority can
separate us from that knowledge. Indeed, not having the gift of the Holy Ghost
is somewhat like having a body without an immune system." (General
Conference, April 2001)
The Prophet Joseph Smith summarized John's mission: "The
question arose from the saying of Jesus—'Among those that are born of women
there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he that is least
in the kingdom of God is greater than he.' How is it that John was considered
one of the greatest prophets? His miracles could not have constituted his
"First. He was entrusted with
a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever
had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.
"Secondly. He was entrusted
with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize
the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great
a privilege and glory? Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism,
and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of
a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove, in witness of that administration?....
"Thirdly. John, at that time,
was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was
then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey
his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled
all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to
Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead
of destroying it. The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the
power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven,
and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman."
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for the Lord. His ministry
was involved in assisting individuals to prepare themselves to participate
in the kingdom of God. He taught them to repent, to be baptized, seek for
the true Messiah, and to live a good life. Jesus set the example by being
baptized. We need to prepare ourselves for the
coming of the Lord by following in the footsteps of Jesus and heeding the
counsel of John.
Record your thoughts on the teachings of John and the baptism of Jesus. How can you better prepare yourself to become a
forerunner to the Lord's second coming?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Journal of Discourses
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS)
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
1, by Bruce R. McConkie
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Changes last made on:
19 December 2018