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Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 16, April 10 — 16
Matthew 15–17; Mark 7-9 — “Thou Art the Christ”

Mark 7:1-23 Conflict about Cleanliness (see also Matthew 15:1-20)

Mark 7:1-5 highlights religious nit-picking about things that matter less. Read Jesus’s succinct answer to the Pharisees and scribes in verses 6-7. What did Jesus then teach to “all the people” in verses 14-16? What did He teach to His disciples in verses 17-23? What counsel do you take from these verses for yourself?

Matthew 15:32-38 Jesus Feeds Four Thousand (see also Mark 8:1-9)

In Mark 6:31-44 we saw Jesus miraculously provide food for five thousand. Read Matthew 15:32-38, and note that Jesus prayed to the Father and “gave thanks” (verse 36), even though the seven loaves and the few little fishes were a scant supply. Once again, “they did all eat, and were filled,” with seven full baskets left (verse 37). This time He fed four thousand men, plus women and children (verse 38). Have you experienced the Lord’s multiplying of blessings in your life?

Matthew 16:13-20 “Thou Art Peter” (see also Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21)

We can assume that during His mortal life, Jesus knew all things—as do all members of the Godhead. When Jesus asked the apostles, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13), He was likely not seeking information, but was giving them the opportunity to express their testimonies. The narrative focuses on the response of Peter:

  • Read Matthew 16:14-16. Peter’s reply is the same as we hear from living prophets today. How would you reply to this question from the Savior?
  • What beautiful truth did Jesus declare in verse 17? (Note that this is before the gift of the Holy Ghost was given; but that is not to be taken to mean that there was no influence from the Holy Ghost.)
  • Read verses 18-19. Truths we may deduce from these verses include:
    • Jesus is not saying that His church would be built upon Peter (a mortal man), but rather upon the rock (or solid foundation) of revelation (and of Himself, of course), highlighted by Jesus in verse 17.
    • The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “Jesus in His teaching says, ‘upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ What rock? Revelation” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 274).
    • When Jesus uses the term “my church” (verse 18), we can take it to mean that He has one true church. And the church does not exist without revelation.
    • Jesus said, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (verse 18), interpreted by some to mean that the New Testament church established by Jesus Christ would never fail. However, multiple prophecies in the New Testament affirm the inevitability of the Great Apostasy (for example, see Acts 20:28-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
    • So what does it mean that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”? Some have suggested that the sealing power and other keys—which Jesus promises in verse 19 to give to Peter—cannot be overcome by Satan.
    • As we will consider shortly, Jesus gave priesthood keys to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Matthew 16:21-27 “Get Thee Behind Me” (see also Matthew 17:22; Mark 8:31-38; 9:31-32; Luke 9:22-26, 44-45)

  • Read Matthew 16:21-23. Jesus is trying to prepare His apostles for His impending suffering and death. Jesus’s severe rebuke of Peter gives us a tiny insight into the agony and pressure the Savior must be feeling in anticipation of His atoning mission (see also Luke 12:50; John 12:27; D&C 19:18).
  • Verse 24 speaks of taking up our own “cross, and the Joseph Smith Translation adds to this verse: “And now for a man to take up his cross, it to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.” As you consider carefully, it there any “ungodliness” or “worldly lust” in your life? How can you gain strength to “deny” such things?
  • Read verses 25-27. What does it mean to you to “lose” your life for the Savior? How has He helped you to “find” your life?

Matthew 17:1-13 The Transfiguration (see also Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36)

About a week after Jesus’s promise to bestow the priesthood “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), He ascended a “high mountain apart,” along with Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1). The LDS Bible Dictionary contains this entry:

“On the mount, the Savior, Moses, and Elias (Elijah) gave the promised keys of the priesthood to Peter, James, and John, which enabled these brethren to carry forth the work of the kingdom on the earth after the departure of Jesus. These keys were later given to all of the Twelve. The Transfiguration occurred in about October, some six months before the death of Jesus. The brethren saw the Lord in a glorified and transfigured state. They also saw a vision of the earth as it will appear in its future glorified condition (D&C 63:20–21; HC 1:283); saw and conversed with Moses and Elijah, two translated beings; and heard the voice of the Father bearing witness that Jesus is His beloved Son, in whom the Father is pleased, and commanding the brethren to hear (obey) Him” (p. 740; see also 2 Peter 1:16-18).

Read Matthew 17:1-9, pondering this transcendent event. Remember, in May or June of 1829, Peter, James, and John appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred upon them the Melchizedek priesthood, including the apostleship (D&C 27:12-13). And on April 3, 1836, Moses, Elias, and Elijah appeared to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple and gave them additional priesthood keys (D&C 110:11-16). All these keys and authority are held by those we sustain today as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Consider the ways in which your life is blessed—even on a daily basis—because of the priesthood, its keys, those who hold these keys, and the covenants and ordinances they authorize.

Mark 9:14-29 “Help Thou Mine Unbelief” (see also Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-42)

Do we sometimes feel like we need more faith? How do we increase our faith? Read Mark 9:14-29:

  • Verses 17-24 What do you learn from the father, whose son had a “foul spirit”? What attributes do you see in Jesus?
  • Do you sometimes feel like you believe part-way, but need help with the rest? How can you find that help?
  • Verses 25-27 Jesus can lift up and make alive all things that appear to be dead.
  • Verses 28-29 Apparently, there are differing levels of faith and differing levels of miracles. Prayer is crucial, and sometimes we must add fasting.

Matthew 17:24-27 Tribute Money

In Exodus 30:11-16, the Lord called for all males of the children of Israel, age 20 and older, to pay annually a sum of money which represented a “ransom for his soul” (Exodus 30:12). This “atonement money” was to be used for the expenses related to “the service of the tabernacle” (Exodus 30:16), the tabernacle being the precursor to the temple in Jerusalem.

In Jesus’s day, some of the rabbis and priests claimed exemption from this ransom money, but they demanded it as a “sin tax” of all others, as a levy or tribute to maintain the upkeep of the temple. The amount equaled approximately a half-day’s wages for a typical laborer.

In Capernaum, “they that received tribute money” approached Peter, asking, “Doth not your master pay tribute?” (Matthew 17:24):

  • What was Peter’s answer to the tribute collector, in verse 25?
  • What question did Jesus pose to Peter in verse 25?
  • What was Peter’s reply in verse 26? Then, what was Jesus’s follow-up in verse 26?
  • We may say that Peter’s answer to the tribute official was incorrect—Jesus did not owe a sin tax or atonement ransom, because He was free of sin.
  • But this is not the argument made by Jesus. He simply asked Peter a question, which in essence was, “Do kings tax their own children?” Peter correctly answered, “No.”
  • Thus Jesus is also exempt from the temple tax because He is the Son of the King of Heaven, our Heavenly Father; and because the temple is His house.
  • Verse 27 relates a most notable, albeit quiet miracle, performed by Jesus so as not to “offend” the Jews. Perhaps there are things we do (or don’t do) that may not matter to the Lord, but we want to be careful not to offend others.
  • Within about six months, Jesus Christ will pay the price—the total sin-offering—for all mankind!

Note: The story and teachings found in Mark 9:33-50 will be covered in next week’s lesson.

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