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Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 14, March 27 — April 2
Matthew 14; Mark 6; John 5-6 — “Be Not Afraid”

Mark 6:14-29 The Death of John the Baptist (see also Matthew 14:1-12)

Note: The events in Mark 6:1-13 were covered three weeks ago, using or referencing the versions in Matthew 9:35-38; Matthew 10:1-42; Matthew 13:54-58; and Luke 9:1-6. Thus, we begin with the account of John the Baptist, being another prophet who sealed his work and testimony with his own blood:

  • Read Mark 6:14. This is Herod Antipas, son of Herod I (Herod I—also known as Herod the Great—was the one who tried to destroy the young Jesus by putting to death all the males age two and under in Bethlehem). Herod Antipas hears of Jesus’s fame and surmises that He is actually John the Baptist, risen from the dead.
  • Read verses 15-18. Clearly Herod has feelings of regret for his role in killing John the Baptist. Herod was married to Phasaelis, but then fell in love with Herodias, who was his niece and the wife of his half-brother, Philip. So Herod divorced Phasaelis, Herodias divorced Philip, and Herod and Herodias then married. John the Baptist boldly denounced Herod for this, citing it as a violation of Mosaic law.
  • Read verses 19-20. What did Herodias want to do? What was Herod’s attitude about this?
  • Note that the Joseph Smith Translation informs us that while John was in prison, Jesus sent angels to minister unto John (JST, Matthew 4:11).
  • Read Mark 6:21-29. Note that the daughter of Herodias, who danced before Herod, is Herod’s step-daughter. Although Herod admired John (verses 14, 20), why did he give in and have John killed? (verse 26).
  • This tragic story highlights the evil that opposes God’s work, manifesting itself in the forms of pride, envy, lust, deceit, contention, foolishness, and murder.

John 5:1-30 Jesus Heals on the Sabbath and Teaches Hostile Jews

Jesus is in Jerusalem during the Passover feast, and once again He heals someone in a public setting and on the Sabbath:

  • Verses 1-4 What was the superstition relating to the Pool of Bethesda?
  • Verses 5-9 What did Jesus do?
  • Verses 10-16 What was the reaction of the Jews? (Note that Exodus 31:15; 35:2 call for the death penalty against those who violate the Sabbath.)
  • Verses 17-20 What defense would you raise in behalf of Jesus’s actions? What “greater works” (verse 20) was Jesus yet to perform?
  • Verses 21, 25-30 Clearly, resurrection is a great work to be wrought by Christ (verse 21). What additional things did Jesus teach about the spirit world and the resurrection? (verses 25-30).
  • Note that as Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon worked on the Joseph Smith Translation in 1832, John 5:28-29 led to their vision of the degrees of glory, recorded in Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
  • Contrary to the popular doctrine that all mankind will pass either into “heaven” or into “hell,” the vision given to Joseph and Sidney amplifies our understanding of John 5:28-29.
  • How can you adopt Jesus’s declaration in verse 30 as a pattern in your own life?

John 5:32-47 Witnesses of Christ

The Lord has always provided multiple witnesses/testimonies/confirmations of His truths. Find the various witnesses of Jesus Christ in John 5:32-33, 36-37, 39. Which of these witnesses have you experienced? In verses 40-47 the Savior fearlessly scolds His listeners for rejecting Him. What stands out for you in these verses?

Mark 6:30-44 He Feeds the Five Thousand (see also Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14)

Jesus and the apostles gathered to speak of their experiences, and He invites them to go with Him for some rest and “leisure” (Mark 6:30-31):

  • Verses 32-34 What happened when Jesus and the apostles tried to go away privately? (Note that Jesus was subject to fatigue and other mortal experiences, but He chose to sacrifice His time of rest.)
  • Verses 35-44 As you read again this well-known story, what impresses you most about the Savior?
  • Note that after all the people were “filled” (verse 42), they were still able to gather “twelve baskets full of the fragments” (the leftovers; verse 43). All this came from the meager resources of a single “lad” (John 6:9).
  • Note also that Matthew 14:21 says that “they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside[s] women and children.” This means that we can add many thousands more to those Jesus fed, making the scope of this loving miracle even larger.
  • In what ways does the Lord “feed” you?

Matthew 14:22-36 Jesus Walks on Water and Heals Many (see also Mark 6:45-56; John 6:15-21)

Read Matthew 14:22-33:

  • What principles relating to prayer do you see in verse 23?
  • From Matthew 14:23-25 and John 6:19, we can conclude that the apostles fought against the waves and the wind, rowing from “when the evening was come” until they were “in the fourth watch” (about eight to ten hours total), yet their ship had only advanced “about five and twenty or thirty furlongs” (about three or four miles), which was about halfway across the Sea of Galilee. Their circumstance was distressing and possibly life-threatening.
  • Then, what happened in Matthew 14:25-27? (some translations and interpretations of verse 27 have Jesus declaring that He is “I AM,” or Jehovah).
  • What do you learn from Peter’s words and actions in verses 28-31? Is there something you have tried, but failed, from which you have learned and grown?
  • Read Matthew 14:32-33. Note that John 6:21 tells us that as soon as Jesus joined the apostles in the ship, they were “immediately” at the land they were going to; even though moments before they had been “in the midst of the sea.”

Lessons learned:

  • We sometimes find ourselves “tossed” about, but let’s keep rowing.
  • Jesus can come to us in any time, place, or circumstance.
  • Jesus brings cheer, not fear.
  • He bids us to come to Him.
  • We can cry out, “Lord, save me.”
  • Jesus reaches out to us and saves us.
  • Jesus can command and calm all that is dark and tempestuous in our lives (as also evidenced in Matthew 14:34-36).
  • What other lessons can you draw from these accounts?

John 6:22-71 The Bread of Life

Why do you go to church? John 6:22-24 explains that many people who had been with Jesus the day before on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee (where He multiplied the bread and fish to feed them) made their way across the sea to find Jesus. They asked Him how He had crossed the sea at night, when there were no boats to take Him. He didn’t answer that question, but what did He say to them, in verse 26? This sets the stage for Jesus’s powerful teachings that are sometimes called, “The Bread of Life” sermon:

  • Verse 27 The “meat which perisheth” refers to things of little import, as opposed to the lasting spiritual “meat” the Lord gives us.
  • Verses 28-29 What is our “work” that we must do?
  • Verses 30-33 Remarkably, the people asked Jesus to show them a sign, as proof of His Messiahship, such as the miracle of manna given to the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. Had they already forgotten the miracle of the fish and loaves from the day before? Or perhaps they are suggesting that Moses fed millions for forty years, while Jesus only fed 5,000 once.
  • Jesus then taught that He was the One who had provided the manna, and added, “my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (verse 32)—the “true bread” is Jesus Christ.
  • Verses 34-35 The people, perhaps still thinking of the free food from the day before, asked Jesus to “evermore give us this bread.” How would you explain Jesus’s reply in verse 35? (see also verse 40).
  • Verses 41-44 Why did the Jews murmur? How does our Heavenly Father “draw” you unto His Son? (See also 3 Nephi 27:13-15; D&C 45:3-5.)
  • Verses 47-53 Again, Jesus openly declares Himself to be the true Bread of Life (verses 35, 48). According to verses 47-53, what are the differences between the manna in the book of Exodus and the Bread of Life in the book of John?
  • What does it mean to you to “eat the bread” that Jesus gives? (verses 51, 53). Note that ultimately, the bread of life is the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ (verse 51).
  • Verses 60-63, 66 For one reason or other, “many” of Jesus’s disciples (not the apostles) murmured and called these teachings “a hard saying” (verse 60), and they “went back, and walked no more with him” (verse 66). What are some “reasons” in our day that people choose to abandon their faith in Jesus Christ? How would you respond to such issues or arguments?
  • Verses 67-69 Peter’s classic, exemplary response to the Savior’s question is a standard for our lives. Can you say for yourself the same things Peter said in verses 68-69?

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