Sunday School Lesson 37

Lesson 37: 3 Nephi 8-11

Chapter 8

Verses 1-23: Why might there have been so much destruction in this hemisphere at the time of the crucifixion and so little destruction in the other?

Chapter 9

Verse 2: When the Lord says that his fair ones have been fallen because of their iniquity, is he saying they died because of it, or is he using the word “fallen� in some other sense?

Verses 3-12: Why does he give them this catalogue of destruction?

Verse 13: Of what will he heal those who repent?

Verse 14: What might we make of the fact that the Lord says we must come unto him? Why use that metaphor of travel to describe accepting him? Have we gone somewhere? Compare the Lord’s invitation here to Nephi’s prayer (2 Nephi 4:33). What image is conveyed?

Verse 15: When Christ announces himself, why does he tell them he was with the Father from the beginning? Isn’t that true of all of us? What does he mean, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me�? (For related scriptures, see Luke 10:22; John 14:10, 11, and 31; Mosiah 15:2; 3 Nephi 11:27 and 32, 20:35, 27:13, 28:10; and D&C 35.2, 50.43, and 93.3.)

Verse 16: Though he is willing to receive all who will repent (who will return to him), his own are not willing to receive him. Who are “his own�? Is he referring to those who are of the house of Israel? to Gentiles adopted into the house? to more than them? What is the significance of saying that his own have rejected him? Does it have more than one significance?

Verse 17: We often speak of ourselves as the children of God, but here it says he will give us the power to become his children. What is the point he is making? Doesn’t our spiritual birth in the pre-existence make us already his children? If so, why must we become them again? What does the word “redemption� mean? What are some other circumstances in which we speak about redeeming something? Do those give us insight into the meaning of the word in scripture? What has redemption to do with Christ’s sacrifice?

Verse 20: We usually think of sacrifice of the act of giving something up. What is it that we give up when we offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit? On the other hand, the English word “sacrifice� looks like the noun form of the verb “sacrify,� meaning “to make sacred.� Does that suggest anything about what sacrifice might be? What is made sacred when we offer up our sacrifice?

Verse 22: If we come as little children, we will become the children of God.

Chapter 10

Verse 14: Who is speaking here?

Verses 14-17: Why are the prophets’ testimonies of these events important?

Chapter 11

Verses 3-6: The voice heard pierced the Nephites. Is the use of that word merely a coincidence, or it connected to Christ’s piercing in some way? If, the latter, how? Is it significant that they didn’t understand it the first two times? If so, what might that inability to understand teach us?

Verses 10-11: How is the particular way in which the Lord introduced himself to the Nephites significant? What bitter cup did the Father give him? Why does he describe it in those terms here? Is the metaphor he uses important? How did he glorify the Father by taking the world’s sins on himself? The wording here is interesting, for he says “I [. . .] have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.� The words I have italicized seem to refer back to his taking the sins of the world on himself. If they do, then he seems to be saying something like this: “In taking the sins of the world on myself I have suffered the will of the Father from the beginning.� Another way of reading the phrase is as referring to “I have glorified the Father�: “I have glorified the Father, something I have done by suffering the will of the Father from the beginning. What insights or ideas do you get from these different ways of understanding what Jesus said? Which seems most plausible to you? Can you see another way of understanding what “in the which� refers to? Why does he say “I have suffered the will of the Father� rather than “I have done the will of the Father�? Does that difference have any implications for us?

Verses 14-15: What is the significance of this event? Compare it to Thomas’s experience in John 20:24-29. Is it possible to see this as, among other things, a symbol of their part in the crucifixion? Why does the Book of Mormon use the word “thrust� here? For us the word connotes physical force. The entry for “thrust� in Webster’s 1828 dictionary suggests that it had the same meaning when the Book of Mormon was translated: “a violent push or driving,� “attack, assault.� Do we really believe that people were violently putting their hands into Christ’s wounds? If not, what is the point of this usage? What does it teach us?

Verse 21: Doesn’t Nephi already have power to baptize? If not, why not?

Verses 23 and 25: In verse 23, the Lord tells them to baptize in his name. In verse 25, he tells them to baptize in the names of the members of the Godhead. Is there a discrepancy here? How would you respond to someone who thinks there is? Is the teaching of Colossians 2:9 relevant?

Verse 28: The Lord says “There shall be no disputations among you [. . .]; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine.� Is he forbidding two kinds of disputation? If so, what are they? What does “points of my doctrine� mean? What would be an example of a disputation over a point of his doctrine?

Verses 29-30: Why is this the preface to the part of Christ’s sermon on his doctrine? What does this tell us about how to teach the gospel? Does it teach anything more?

Verses 31-36: Verses 31-35 begin and end with a declaration that what occurs between the declarations is the Lord’s doctrine: repent and believe in him; those who believe in him and are baptized will be saved and inherit the kingdom of God; those who do not believe and are not baptized will be damned. How can this be the summation of the gospel? For example, why isn’t enduring to the end mentioned? What about covenants? We know from latter-day revelation that these things are essential, so why aren’t they mentioned here? In verse 31 and then again in verses 35-36, the Lord tells us that the Father and the Holy Ghost bear record of him. Presumably, the Holy Ghost bears that record through the spiritual witness that he gives. How does the Father bear record of the Son?

Verses 39-40: The doctrine of Christ taught here is to be our spiritual foundation, and teachings that are more or less than that doctrine have an evil origin. What would be an example of a teaching that is more than that doctrine? Less?

Verse 41: This verse begins with the word “therefore,� suggesting that what it says is the logical consequence of what came before. Is that the best way to understand the word “therefore� here, or is there another way? How might the commandment to teach the things that Christ has said here be the logical conclusion to the things he has said? We have one understanding of what this verse requires of us, but what might it have meant to those listening to him speak?