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Before we get started, here are a couple new study tools or ideas I’d like to suggest to you:
1 – Don’t Miss This. My friend and well-published writer, Emily Freeman, along with David Butler, have put together a weekly video discussion you can watch as part of your study. It comes via email and is free. All you have to do is sign up on her website: emilybellefreeman.com. Emily is a golden soul and I have always loved the thoughts she gathers. David offers a nice balance of perspective and humor. He creates these cool study sheets (pictured below) that are a kind of mind-map for what we are studying in a given week.
2 – Read Along from your Largest Family Screen. We have recently started pulling up the scriptures on our big flat screen in the family room. That way everyone in the family can see the verses and no one can say “where are we? I don’t know where we are.” It has improved our study because it keeps everyone’s attention. We have our kids bring their tactile scriptures as well, so they can mark and add notes where we indicate. But it’s nice to have things on the big screen because we can also pull up different paintings or other images and have them enlarged for everyone to see. Just use an HDMI cord to link your laptop to your TV. Or an HDMI adapter to link to your phone.
Now let’s set the scene for this week’s lesson.
At this point in the New Testament narrative, it is Passover. People from all parts of the country are gathering to participate in high holy week at Jerusalem. The city is abuzz with celebratory preparations, but seething in dark councils and hearts, the conspiracy to apprehend Jesus unfolds. Chief priests and scribes are plotting vigilantly how they can put Jesus to death. There seems to be a standing order whenever, or wherever, He appears, to arrest Him. But Jewish leadership had to be sly and calculating about it, for as Luke says, “they feared the people” (Luke 22: 2).
Scriptures to Memorize or Post
These chapters are largely dialogue and storytelling, so the quotes are slightly different. They are mostly statements or insights made during the last week of the Savior’s life, but they still offer gems of truth worth understanding, memorizing, and discussing with children. Some of them you could post in your home for the week.
“Lord, is it I?” — Matthew 26:22
“This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me… This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” — Luke 22:19-20
“Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” — Matthew 26:39
“He… fell on the ground, and prayed.” — Mark 14:35
“And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly: and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (JST).” — Luke 22: 44
“The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” — Mark 14:38
“He that is chief, as he that doth serve… I am among you as he that serveth.” — Luke 22: 26-27
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” — John 18:37
It’s important to remember that Jesus knew all things in advance, before they happened. He knew He would die. He knew how He would die. He knew He would be betrayed. And He knew who would betray Him. In Matthew 26:2, He announced to His disciples that He, “the Son of Man [was about to be] betrayed [and] crucified.”
She Hath wrought a Good Work on Me (Matthew 26: 7-13; Mark 14: 3-9; John 12: 3-8)
In this story, Jesus was at dinner in Bethany. He was with Lazarus (whom he raised from the dead) and Lazarus’ sisters — Martha and Mary. John clues us in by telling us Mary was the woman who anointed Jesus. She did this with a very costly ointment or perfume. John recorded that it was spikenard, a scented ointment imported from the Himalayas. A pound of spikenard would have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, which was almost a year’s wages.
It was this costliness that caused some of Christ’s disciples to have “indignation within themselves” at “her waste.” They felt the spikenard should have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Some scholars believe it was Judas who led this indignation, for he “held the purse” and would have been the keeper of such monies.
Jesus quickly responded: “Why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me” (Mark 14:6). That word good is reminiscent of another time in which he used the word “good” to describe Mary. You remember when she and Martha were preparing dinner for the Lord and Mary set aside her duties to sit at the feet of the Savior and be taught. Of Mary, Jesus said, she “hath chosen that good part.” She was anointing him for his burial (JST Mark 14:8). Different bible translations use words like beautiful and noble to describe Mary’s gift to Jesus.
Consider this fascinating contemporary interpretation of Jesus Anointed by a Woman painted by Chinese Christian artist, He Qi. Look at how lovely the woman is, despite Qi’s picasso-esque style. She stands boldly in the light while the men behind her are bound by their wraps of judgment and critical eyes, their faces dark and shadowed.
Every once in a while, extravagant gifts are needed. They make the receiver and giver one. In this case, Mary’s gift was indeed extravagant. But so would be the Lord’s to her. His would be the most extravagant of all. We can never adequately express our love for Jesus Christ, but we must do what we can.
I believe he wants us to look for opportunities to give extravagant gifts to others. Like forgiveness of a grievous harm, giving someone the benefit of the doubt when sources indicate otherwise, going above and beyond the extra mile to aid someone in need, gifting to a cause or person generously, doing something for a child that brings them incredible joy.
After this tender anointing of Jesus, Judas Iscariot went out from Simon the Leper’s home and found the chief priests to discuss how he could “conveniently” betray the Lord. In one of the most chilling verses of scripture, Luke tells us: “Then Satan entered into Judas surnamed Iscariot” (Luke 22:3). Whether this is literal or figurative, we do not know. But in John 13:27, John seems to believe it literally: “Satan entered into him.”
The chief priests were “glad” Luke said, to have Judas on their side. They were eager to use him and promised him what he sought — money. His Lord and His Redeemer for thirty pieces of silver.
In Frederic Farrar’s book, The Life of Christ (1875), Farrar wrote the following about Judas:
“That traitor, with all the black and accursed treachery in his false heart. He had seen, had known… had felt the touch of those kind and gentle hands, had seen that sacred head bent over his feet, stained as they yet were with the hurried secret walk which had taken him into the throng of sanctimonious murderers.”
Condemning words. And still, the Lord called this lost apostle his “friend” just before Judas betrayed Him.
Questions to Discuss: In what ways should we give our gifts? (anonymously, grudgingly, joyfully, with sacrifice?) When we receive a gift, how should we receive it? (graciously? with gratitude?) What should we notice about how a gift is given? (the intent, the circumstances, the state of the giver’s heart?)
This Do in Remembrance of Me (Matthew 26: 17-30; Mark 14: 12-26; Luke 22: 7-39)
All the synoptic gospels, (Matthew, Mark and Luke), describe the Lord’s Supper as the Passover Meal, one and the same. Passover or “Pesach” in Hebrew, lasts seven or eight days and John described the events of The Last Supper and Gethsemane as happening the day before Passover. Which would have had Christ being crucified on the cross at the same time the paschal lambs were being offered at the temple, and Christ’s body being put into the sepulcher just as Jewish families were beginning to eat the Passover meal. For John, Jesus is the Passover Lamb.
Most scholars I have studied believe this feast of the Last Supper in an upper room was a quasi-Passover meal, purposely intended to precede the Jewish Seder by a meal of far deeper and divine in significance. The sacrament.
This painting above is by Harry Anderson. See a fascinating online exhibit of Harry Anderson’s studies that preceded his final works.
Although there is a discrepancy in the timing of the narratives, and it is difficult to reconstruct the Jewish lunar calendar for clarification, I tend to feel John may be right. Because God is precise. Even more precise than we can often detect. Either way, we know and understand this truth: Jesus was THE sacrifice to end all other sacrifices.
This second painting is by a Utah artist, Benjamin McPherson. It is called The Last Supper. It is the only Last Supper painting I’ve seen that shows a window view of Jerusalem, illustrating what it might have been like to be in a higher, or upper room. I think it’s beautiful.
When we study Jesus’ explanation of the sacrament in Mark 14: 20-25, the JST is very insightful. Some religions understand the words, “Take, eat: this is my body” to be literal — that the bread is actually the body of Jesus, a process known as transubstantiation. But Joseph clarified Jesus’ explanation of the bread by changing the text to read as follows. “Eat it in remembrance of my body, for as oft as ye do this ye will remember the hour that I was with you.” And regarding the cup, Jesus (with JST edits) said, “Drink of it… in remembrance of my blood which is shed for many… And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me in the hour that I was with you and drank with you of this cup, even the last time in my ministry.”
In Matthew 26: 28 we read, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” When we think of the word remission, I find great comfort in going back to the greek root of the word, which is “aphesis.” It means “to let go from bondage as if you were never there. To have your sins ‘let go’ as if they were never committed.” That is the most hopeful definition!
I was thinking just today about my need to repent this evening in my personal prayers and how much I hope that when all is said and done, God will not drag me back through a painful recollection of all my sins. If I have truly repented, I can trust Jesus will do as He says, and offer me a complete remission of sins. A remission so cleansing and redemptive that I feel covered and sheltered by His Atonement, as if those sins were never a part of my life.
The sacrament ordinance is more meaningful for me when I pause before eating the bread or drinking the water, to think of the symbolism of each. I am filled with gratitude when I see the emblems tucked reverently under the linen cloth, representative of Christ’s body bruised and broken for us, as it lay in the tomb, covered with linen, awaiting resurrection.
While studying in Israel, we visited this large Upper Room in Jerusalem. It would have been similar to the kind of room Jesus asked his apostles to secure for their meal.
Truman G. Madsen tells the story of a man, who had left the church some time earlier, but with encouragement from some friends and business associates, found himself in Jerusalem during a business trip, in this very Upper Room for a special sacrament meeting. The man was there under protest and said he felt like he had been kidnapped. But something happened to him as the sacrament was passed. Something about the prayer that was said, and the emblems that made their way down each row, made his defiance melt away. When he left he told his associates,“I must go home and whatever it takes, start over with Christ.” I love that phrase. Each Sunday when we take then sacrament, we can start over with Christ. (Preface from The Sacrament by Truman G. Madsen)
Video: The Last Supper
Question to Discuss: What can you do to make the sacrament more meaningful for you each week?
At the conclusion of their time together in the Upper Room, Jesus and the apostles sang a hymn, which traditionally signals the closing of the Passover meal. It is known as the Hallel and the words come from Psalms 113-118.
Here are a few of my favorite verses:
From Psalm 116: “I love the Lord… Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. …He hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, my feet from falling. From 118: The Lord is on my side, I will not fear… The Lord is my strength, and song, and is become my salvation.”
Then they “went, as he was wont, to the Mount of Olives.”
Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-46; Mark 14: 32-42; Luke 22: 40-46)
Jesus and His apostles left the Upper Room, crossed the Kidron valley with it’s little stream, and made their way into a garden they had frequented and known — the Garden of Gethsemane. In Luke 22: 39 Luke described Gethsemane as a place he was accustomed to going. John said in 18: 2 that “Jesus oft times reported hither with his disciples.”
As they entered the Garden, the JST version of Mark says that they (the apostles) “began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy, and to complain in their hearts, wondering if this be the Messiah.” They were beginning to doubt.
Knowing their hearts, Jesus asked all the apostles except Peter, James, and John, to wait while he prayed. Taking those three further into the garden with him, his own soul became exceedingly sorrowful unto death, he said, “tarry ye here and watch.” These three would shoulder the leadership of the church after Christ’s death. He wanted to make sure they had no more doubts. While they would not fully understand it, they would be able to testify of the Savior’s struggle and triumph in Gethsemane.
It must have been a comfort for Jesus to have near him those apostles that loved Him best. When Luke said the Lord was “withdrawn from them a stone’s cast” the word “withdrawn” can literally mean to “tear oneself away” which indicates He must have found it painful to leave the company of His apostles.
Mark then used the phrase, Jesus was “sore amazed,” which in the Greek connotes a sudden and extreme horror, or irresistible fright in the face of a terrible event. Luke described the Lord as “being in agony,” which in the Greek means a struggle or contest with a great rival.
All the acuteness of pain both physical and spiritual, the brutality of shame, the burden of sin, the mental anguish of every condition, every malady, every failing, every sorrow, all of it laid upon Him. With “inexplicable accumulation,” as Farrar says. All on Our Jesus. Who was innocent.
Turn to Matthew 26: 39 and note this phrase: “he fell on his face and prayed.” We do not understand from the KJV, but we do in the original translations, that the verbiage in this phrase indicates this action was repeated several times. This intensifies our understanding of the Savior’s struggle. Can you envision him under this weight? Going forward and falling and praying, rising and stumbling forward, falling and praying, and continuing to struggle to His feet, then staggering forward again, crumbling to the earth, and pleading with His father.
When we were in Jerusalem, our director was Dr. Kent Brown. I will never forget a talk he gave about Gethsemane. In an attempt to illustrate this phrase from Matthew, he repeated it to us with great emphasis three times.
“He fell on his face and prayed. He fell on his face and prayed. He fell on his face… and prayed.”
Not My Will — But Thine by Walter Rane
For personal study, Orson F. Whitney’s vision of Gethsemane is exquisitely moving. It is several paragraphs long, but the end is worth reading aloud to your children. It is so incredibly tender. You can find it in the first section of this talk by Jeffrey R. Holland.
Questions to Discuss: President Nelson has invited us to “invest time in learning about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice.” What can you do personally or as a family to better understand Jesus’ Atonement? Why was an Atonement necessary? What did the Savior experience in Gethsemane? How does Christ’s suffering affect your life? What is the significance of the olive trees and the word Gethsemane?”
Betrayal (Mark 14: 41-52; Luke 22: 447-53)
Only minutes earlier, Jesus had sweat great drops of blood from every pore for every human soul. He had atoned for the sins of all mankind — an experience and event so heavy our mortal minds and hearts cannot even begin to comprehend the weight, depth or breadth of it. And those who loved him best, whom he had asked to watch and wait, had fallen asleep. Despite their weakness, he gently woke them and said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Mark 14:41)
They came. The Jewish leaders, the soldiers, and Judas. They came with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Peter cut off one of the servant’s ear and Jesus retrieved it from the ground, replaced it and healed him. He then turned to Peter and said, “Put up thy sword… the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”
I love that Jesus mentioned all He had to do was pray to His Father and the Father would send Him twelve legions of angels! But Jesus did not ask. He gave himself up. Willingly.
Jesus was then betrayed by Judas with a kiss. “Judas,” He said, “betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22: 48) Judas had successfully orchestrated the apprehension of His Master. Jesus then spoke to the Jewish leaders. “When I was daily with you in the temple you stretched forth no hands against me, but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22: 53)
Look at this painting by Italian painter, Caravaggio (1598). It is so packed with emotion. Judas has just completed the sign of betrayal, his hands still clutched around the Savior’s shoulders. Their faces are lit by moonlight. The man on the left, thought to be John, is fleeing. And the man on the right is Caravaggio, who painted himself into the piece, holding the lantern.
Jesus was then bound and led like a dog to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas. Mark tells us, “all the chief priests sought for witnesses against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none.” (Mark 14:55) He explains further in verse 56, “For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.” One lie cannot stand alone.
“But [Jesus] held his peace” (Mark 14: 61). I love this phrase for the power it demonstrates. I believe silence is power when we are roused to moments of anger and contention. Something I am trying to teach my children (and work on myself).
Video: The Betrayal of Jesus
Questions to Discuss: How can you show constancy and devotion to your family? How can you be a loyal sibling, child, spouse, or parent? What should we do when someone we love betrays us?
Peter’s Denial (Matthew 26: 69-75; Mark 14: 66-72; John 18: 25-27)
Kelly Ogden and Andrew Skinner wrote the following about Peter:
“After three years of preparation and training, Peter was scheduled for more than three decades of mortal leadership in the Lord’s kingdom. Satan knew that, and he wanted to destroy the future presiding officer. The devil would thrust at Peter every possible sword of doubt, indecision, discouragement and disability in order to get the apostle to fail and fall. The Lord would allow the adversary to test, try, and prove Peter to refine him and remove all impurities. The Lord allows the same sifting process for all of us; in fact, Joseph Smith Translation Luke 22: 31 indicates that Satan’s effort is to sift all “the children of the kingdom as wheat.” (pg. 589, Verse by Verse The Four Gospels, Ogden and Skinner)
I think this is, by far, the greatest depiction of Peter’s Denial, painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch.
Peter was approached by three different individuals who questioned him about his connection to Jesus. All three times Peter denied them. After the third denial, the cock crowed and “the Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” Peter remembered the words of the Lord. Can you imagine that moment when they locked eyes? How painful that must have been!
It is hard to imagine Peter acting with any inkling of cowardice. In all past circumstances he had moved with courage, even impetuous bravery. He had just lopped off a man’s ear to protect His Jesus! Many scholars have discussed the possibility that the Savior was actually asking Peter to deny Him, that His prophesy of Peter’s denial was more instruction than warning.
In a 1971 address to BYU, Elder Spencer W. Kimball observed that the “Savior’s statement that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed just might have been a request to Peter, not a prediction. Jesus might have been instructing his chief apostle to deny any association with him in order to ensure strong leadership for the church after the Crucifixion.” (retold by Bruce C. Hafen in Believing Hearts, 57-58)
So why then did Matthew write that “[Peter] went out and wept bitterly?”
Can you imagine having to disown someone you loved so desperately? It simply was not in Peter’s constitution to be disloyal or to shy away from anything in fear. It is absolutely understandable that he would weep bitter tears at being powerless to help his dearest and closest friend.
Questions to Discuss: President Nelson recently instructed the Saints of the South Pacific to guard themselves against attacks from the Adversary. How do we do this? What are some of Satan’s tactics? How does obedience protect us?
Doer of the Word Challenge
- Give a Generous Gift — decide on an extravagant or generous gift you can give as an individual or a family. Prayerfully decide who you should give it to if you should give it anonymously or in person.
- Start a Sacrament Journal – find a small notebook to take with you to Sacrament meetings and begin to record your feelings for the Savior — feelings you feel, scriptures you find, words from a favorite sacrament hymn, or any insights you glean from the Holy Ghost.
- Memorize the Sacrament Prayers and study the meaning of each phrase. Read about the Lord instituting the Sacrament in 3 Nephi 18.
- Write down a List of Questions you have about the Atonement. Gather some good resources, use the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide, then pray before you study and try to discover answers your questions. You could also discuss these questions as a family.
- Get Creative — Paint an image from the Savior’s last week. Like an olive tree, the Garden of Gethsemane, a lamp of oil, the cock crowing, Jesus’ face, or the apostles around the table with Jesus in the Upper Room. When we tap into that creative part of our brain, it helps us feel things and internalize truth in deeper ways. You could choose any form of art. Write a poem, compose a song, paint or draw, take a photo. Create something that represents the Savior to you.
- Build Family Trust and Loyalty. Decide on a family activity that will help you develop more trust in each other. This could be a one-time experience or an ongoing activity that repeats regularly.