The online copy of this lesson includes 2 videos, the first is a portion of ETB’s talk, “Be Valiant”, from a speech he did and the other video is a collection of testimonies of Jesus Christ. Both are just over 2 minutes and worth watching as you prepare for this lesson.
This will be a tricky lesson, given the abundance of resources available. With 5 sections and an opening, the discussion will have to be kept moving, however, there should be plenty of time to discuss the major points outlined in the lesson. This lesson is different as well in its organisation, 3 of the sections are built around lists.
I like the suggestion for the opening as found on http://www.leadinglds.com, where the challenge is made to have the class members come up with unique names that refer to Jesus in the Book of Mormon. I do not plan to open with this however, but I will incorporate this question into the opening section.
My opening will come from a book ETB published in 1983, “Come unto Christ”. ETB starts this book with the story found in Matthew 22:36-42, where Jesus had just answered the Sadducee’s claim that there was no resurrection and now was being tempted by the lawyer representing the Pharisees who asked him “which is the great commandment in the law?”. We know the response quite well as Jesus responded with the two great commandments:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
While the Pharisees tried to think of a rebuttal or follow up question, Jesus seized the moment to ask them:
“What think ye of Christ??
If Christ himself were to ask us this very question today, how would we answer?
We will discuss the various answers and I will try to make sure that we get the some of the main points included as part of this discussion. (Redeemer, Creator, Teacher, Example, etc)
Just a few weeks away from Easter, this lesson is very timely.
From the Life of Ezra Taft Benson
“We declare the divinity of Jesus Christ. We look to Him as the only source of our salvation. We strive to live His teachings, and we look forward to the time that He shall come again on this earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the words of a Book of Mormon prophet, we say … , ‘There [is] no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent’ (Mosiah 3:17).”
President Benson’s declarations of the divinity of Jesus Christ were often linked to the Book of Mormon.3 “Through the Book of Mormon God has provided for our day tangible evidence that Jesus is the Christ,” he said.4 He taught that the Book of Mormon’s “major mission” is to convince people of this truth.5 “Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord,” he noted. “He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature.
I will ask at this point for the class to come up with a few of these unique names before continuing with the lesson.
ETB’s testimony of the Savior is at the conclusion of this section, however, I will come back to it at the conclusion of the lesson and have it read then.
1 Because of His infinite love for us, Jesus Christ redeemed us from physical and spiritual death.
To have any measure of appreciation and gratitude for what [Jesus Christ] accomplished in our behalf, we must remember these vital truths:
Jesus came to earth to do our Father’s will.
He came with a foreknowledge that He would bear the burden of the sins of us all.
He knew he would be lifted up on the cross.
He was born to be the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.
He was able to accomplish His mission because He was the Son of God and He possessed the power of God.
He was willing to accomplish His mission because He loves us.
I think it is interesting in any relationship, that what we think are our best traits, aren’t often what our partners love about us or in looking at the same person, different people love them for different reasons. For all the ways I love my wife, my kids will always love her differently for reasons that sometimes align with mine, and in some ways are vastly different. This is true of the Savior as well. We will should love him for some of the same reasons, but there will be other reasons we love the Lord that are unique to each of us. I will ask after reading this list in what ways do the members of the class see evidence of Jesus’s love for us and we’ll discuss this for a few minutes.
I will conclude this section by paraphrasing how Christ bore our sins and was crucified for us but ending with ETB’s words:
We may never understand nor comprehend in mortality how He accomplished what He did, but we must not fail to understand why He did what He did.
Everything He did was prompted by His unselfish, infinite love for us.
2 Jesus Christ came forth from the tomb, and He lives today as a resurrected being.
(Truth be told, I am not one that is inclined to try to get the Priesthood quorum to sing a Hymn as part of a lesson, but this section literally screams for “I know that my Redeemer Lives” to be sung. Depending on the quality of the voices in the room at the time of the lesson, I could very well give this a try, however it is much more likely that I will be content to read the words to open this section. Better yet, I will strongly encourage this hymn to be used during Priesthood’s opening exercise. This is Hymn 136 and the words were composed by Samuel Medley who was an English (Watford and Liverpool) Preacher, which will give this lesson an English connection:) ).
The greatest events of history are those that affect the greatest number of people for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master.
The scriptural record tells us that on the third day following Jesus’ crucifixion, there was a great earthquake. The stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb. Some of the women, among the most devoted of His followers, came to the place with spices “and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”
Angels appeared and said simply, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.” (Luke 24:3–6.) Nothing in history equals that dramatic announcement: “He is not here, but is risen.”
The fact of our Lord’s resurrection is based on the testimonies of many credible witnesses. The risen Lord appeared to several women, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to Peter, to the Apostles; and “after that,” as Paul reported, “he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. … And last of all he was seen of [Paul] also.” (1 Cor. 15:6, 8.) …
As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected Being. He is our Savior, our Lord, the very Son of God. I testify that He will come again as our glorified, resurrected Lord. That day is not far distant. To all who accept Him as Savior and Lord, His literal resurrection means that life does not end at death, for He promised: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19.)
He alone had the power of resurrection. And so on the third day following His burial, He came forth from the tomb alive and showed Himself to many. … As one of [His] special witnesses so called in this day, I testify to you that He lives. He lives with a resurrected body. There is no truth or fact of which I am more assured or more confident than the truth of the literal resurrection of our Lord.
3 We must be valiant in our testimony of Jesus Christ.
A most priceless blessing available to every member of the Church is a testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His church. A testimony is one of the few possessions we may take with us when we leave this life.
To have a testimony of Jesus is to possess knowledge through the Holy Ghost of the divine mission of Jesus Christ.
A testimony of Jesus is to know the divine nature of our Lord’s birth—that He is indeed the Only Begotten Son in the flesh.
A testimony of Jesus is to know that He was the promised Messiah and that while He sojourned among men He accomplished many mighty miracles.
A testimony of Jesus is to know that the laws which He prescribed as His doctrine are true and then to abide by these laws and ordinances.
To possess a testimony of Jesus is to know that He voluntarily took upon Himself the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, which caused Him to suffer in both body and spirit and to bleed from every pore. All this He did so that we would not have to suffer if we would repent. (See D&C 19:16, 18.)
To possess a testimony of Jesus is to know that He came forth triumphantly from the grave with a physical, resurrected body. And because He lives, so shall all mankind.
To possess a testimony of Jesus is to know that God the Father and Jesus Christ did indeed appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith to establish a new dispensation of His gospel so that salvation may be preached to all nations before He comes.
To possess a testimony of Jesus is to know that the Church, which He established in the meridian of time and restored in modern times is, as the Lord has declared, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30.)
Having such a testimony is vital. But of even greater importance is being valiant in our testimony.
What does it mean to be valiant? (possessing or showing courage or determination)
ETB has identified those who are valiant in their testimonies of Christ as those who magnify their callings, pay their tithing, live morally clean lives, sustain their church leaders, keep the Sabbath day holy, obey all the commandments of God. To these people, there are great promises (All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.- D&C 121:29)
Those that will miss out do the opposite. As ETB noted, some of these people even hold temple recommends, however they are critical of the leaders, fail to magnify their callings, etc.
4 Faith in Jesus Christ consists of relying completely on Him and following His teachings.
I will tie this lesson back to last weeks lesson here by reminding the group of the 4th Article of Faith and the first principal in it, even if it feels like we are going out of order here. 🙂
ETB asks the following questions, which we will discuss before going any further.
Why is it expedient that we center our confidence, our hope, and our trust in one solitary figure? Why is faith in Him so necessary to peace of mind in this life and hope in the world to come?
After this short discussion we’ll go back to the manual.
Our answers to these questions determine whether we face the future with courage, hope, and optimism or with apprehension, anxiety, and pessimism.
My message and testimony is this: Only Jesus Christ is uniquely qualified to provide that hope, that confidence, and that strength we need to overcome the world and rise above our human failings. To do so, we must place our faith in Him and live by His laws and teachings. …
Faith in Him is more than mere acknowledgment that He lives. It is more than professing belief.
Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him. As God, He has infinite power, intelligence, and love. There is no human problem beyond His capacity to solve. Because He descended below all things (see D&C 122:8), He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties.
Faith in Him means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. We, therefore, must look to Him “in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36.)
Faith in Him means trusting that He has all power over all men and all nations. There is no evil which He cannot arrest. All things are in His hands. This earth is His rightful dominion. Yet He permits evil so that we can make choices between good and evil.
His gospel is the perfect prescription for all human problems and social ills.
But His gospel is only effective as it is applied in our lives. Therefore, we must “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3.)
Unless we do His teachings, we do not demonstrate faith in Him.
Think what a different world this would be if all mankind would do as He said: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
This will be a good place to discuss exactly how the world would be different if people lived these two commandments. However, depending on the time available, we could just as easily move on.
5 We are most blessed and joyful when we strive to be like Jesus Christ.
One of the purposes of this life is for us to be tested to see whether we “will do all things whatsoever the Lord” our God shall command us. (Abr. 3:25.) In short, we are to learn the will of the Lord and do it. We are to follow the model of Jesus Christ and be like Him.
The essential question of life should be the same one posed by Paul: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.) …
We need more men and women of Christ who will always remember Him, who will keep His commandments which He has given them. The greatest yardstick of success is to see how closely we can walk each moment in His steps.18
Some … are willing to die for their faith, but they are not willing to fully live for it. Christ both lived and died for us.
This is an interesting concept, there is a certain glory/pride that goes with doing the great things for the Lord and many of us are willing to do the big things, but the every day things are easily overlooked. If someone in the Ward needs a blessing, there are usually many volunteers to perform this blessing, but of those volunteers, do you think they all read their scriptures daily? pray daily? magnify their other callings including Home Teaching? It has been my experience that there will almost always be more volunteers for the bigger tasks than there are that actually do the routine, daily things. People often forget that the big things are nice, but the truly amazing things happen when a lot of little things happen. A few trillion drops of water and we have the Grand Canyon. Do you think that the spirituality of a ward or a family would increase more by a powerful blessing or would a consistent, steady stream of obedience to all the commandments be more effective? (Ok, technically both would be really the best answer, but overall, I think that the point ETB is making here is that we need to be willing to do all the little things in order to fully live the faith.)
Through His atonement and by walking in His steps, we can gain the greatest gift of all—eternal life, which is that kind of life of the great Eternal One—our Father in Heaven.
Christ asked the question, “What manner of men ought [we] to be?” He then answered by saying we ought to be even as He is. (3 Ne. 27:27.)
That [person] is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life.
The next section will either be read or paraphrased depending on time available, up until ETB’s testimony, which will be read.
The constant and most recurring question in our minds, touching every thought and deed of our lives, should be, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.) The answer to that question comes only through the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. Fortunate are those who so live that their being is filled with both. …
Considering all that [Jesus Christ] has done and is doing for us, there is something that we might give Him in return.
Christ’s great gift to us was His life and sacrifice. Should that not then be our small gift to Him—our lives and sacrifices, not only now but in the future?
[Those who are] captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. … Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.) They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.) Not only would they die for the Lord, but, more important, they want to live for Him.
Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians. They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.) They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought. (See D&C 6:36.) They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever. (See Alma 37:36.)
Almost every week they partake of the sacrament and witness anew to their Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. (See Moro. 4:3.)
In Book of Mormon language, they “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:3), “talk of Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26), “rejoice in Christ” (2 Ne. 25:26), “are made alive in Christ” (2 Ne. 25:25), and “glory in [their] Jesus” (see 2 Ne. 33:6). In short, they lose themselves in the Lord and find eternal life. (See Luke 17:33.)
(and as promised, a return to the opening section to end this lesson)
President Benson’s testimony of the Savior revealed the personal closeness he felt with Him:
“With all my soul, I love Him.
“I humbly testify that He is the same loving, compassionate Lord today as when He walked the dusty roads of Palestine. He is close to His servants on this earth. He cares about and loves each of us today. Of that you can be assured.
“He lives today as our Lord, our Master, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our God.
“God bless us all to believe in Him, to accept Him, to worship Him, to fully trust in Him, and to follow Him.
The exercise regarding the unique names of Jesus can be found here.
As always, from the most recent conference, there are 13 talks that have been tagged as being at least in part, about Jesus. My favorite is “The Reason for our Hope” by Boyd K Packer. However, Elder Hale’s talk, “Eternal Life—to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ” is equally relevant and can be used quite effectively to teach that these lessons are still being preached.
More often than not, it has been my experience that the Relief Society is better prepared for lessons than the Priesthood. This website seems to be no exception. I particularly like the possible goals a teacher could have in preparing this lesson. This list can be found here.
For a much more in depth look at this lesson, this blog is a fascinating read.