Relief Society Lesson 3: Jesus Christ, the Divine Redeemer of the World

by Caroline

This lesson is often focused on J.S.’s testimony of Christ’s reality and his existence as our redeemer. There is not as much here about Jesus’ earthly ministry or about him as our examplar, so I made a conscious effort to play up that angle in this lesson plan.

First section: Joseph (and Oliver) saw Jesus“the veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us;…His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth; I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” p. 47

What are your feelings when you hear testimonies like this from the prophets – that they saw and heard Jesus? Are they compelling to you? Do they influence the way you look or feel about Jesus? Why or why not?

(Personally these sorts of testimonies are less compelling to me. I am far more inspired by JC’s moral teachings and his example of unconditional mercy and love. I might be unusual on that front, but I do think it might be interesting to discuss why certain people are inspired by accounts like the one above and why others are more inspired by his earthly ministry.

One possible direction the discussion could take – Could this be related to gifts of the spirit? D&C 46 :13-14 “1To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful. “ Are accounts like these meant to appeal to those whose gift is to believe others’ testimony of Christ?)

Second Section: Jesus as a sacrifice for all humans

This section talks quite a bit about animal sacrifices. “Certainly the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself – and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins… ” p.48

The above quote emphasizes this idea that ancient people sacrificed animals as a symbolic gesture to point to Jesus’ sacrifice. This is no longer part of our practice (Thank goodness!), but in your life today, what has similar symbolic power to remind you of Jesus and the great gift of his atonement. Why?

(Expect the usual responses of the sacrament and baptism. Encourage the class to go beyond Church ritual and think of things like a sunrise. A new baby. A new beginning. As an example, you could talk about Mother Teresa and tell this story, a story of how she found Jesus in unexpected places.

“Would you like to see Jesus?“ asks Mother Teresa, to a visiting Bishop.

Mother Teresa takes Bishop Curlin around a few walls to a man lying on a black leather pallet who has clearly visible things crawling on his body. As the bishop stands there in shock, Mother Teresa kneels down and wraps her arms around him, holding him like a baby in one’s arms.

“Here he is.” She says.

The bishop asks “Who?”

“Jesus. Didn’t he say you’d ‘find me in the least person on earth?’ Isn’t this Jesus challenging us to reach out and love?”

This would be a great time to invite someone in advance to prepare a few words about seeing Jesus in her life. Is there a social worker in your RS who sees Jesus in troubled people she serves? A beleaguered mom who sees Jesus in the women who help her? Is there a woman who went through a painful divorce, and came to know the comfort and unconditional love of Jesus through her trials? A single career woman who feels she doesn’t fit in, but feels the acceptance of a Jesus who spent his life reaching out to and loving those who didn’t fit in?)

Section Three: All will be resurrected (I’d skip this part.)

Section Four: We can be joint heirs with Jesus

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and if children, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that we suffer with him in the flesh that we may be glorified together.” p.52

Most LDS have a special understanding of this idea of being “joint heirs” with Christ. We often take it to mean that we have the potential to eternally progress towards divinity. What role does the concept of eternal progression play in your life? Has it affected any major life decisions? Does it give you peace to know that all of us imperfect humans, LDS or not, will have an eternity to grow in our humanity, compassion, and charity?

Section Five: Jesus is perfect

“ When we reflect upon the holiness and perfections of our great Master, who has opened a way whereby we may come unto him, even by the sacrifice of himself, our hearts melt within us for his condescension.” P. 54-55

The term condescension often connotes patronizing behavior, but a secondary meaning lacks this pejorative idea. The dictionary defines it as “a voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior.” I think this is an interesting way to think about it. A voluntary assumption of equality. A total respect and love for a being still working on getting better. I love that, and I love the idea of our hearts melting because of this.

Conclude with a story of a person’s heart melting because of the atonement. One of my personal favorite stories of a person’s heart melting because of Jesus Christ is that of sea captain John Newton, who spent many years captaining slave ships. Later, as he lay wracked with guilt over the thousands of human souls whose lives he had helped to destroy, he was overcome with despair. The only way he could live with himself was to focus on God’s amazing gift of the Christ’s atonement – that grace that allows even the most guilt-wracked human the opportunity to become whole again. Devoting his live to Jesus and going blind, he became a clergyman and wrote the timeless words to the hymn Amazing Grace

End with singing the first couple verses of Amazing Grace. You might want to photocopy a couple of verses and pass them around, since the hymn isn’t in our book.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Songs: I stand all amazed. (opening)
Songs: Amazing grace (closing)

Additional quotes on Jesus by women:
Chieko Okazaki in Sanctuary p. 14. “The Savior is with us, ready to shelter us under his own wings and to lift us, soaring with him, on the wings of eagles. May we seek his face, hear his voice, be grateful for the shelter of his wings, and praise the power that sends us soaring.”

Chieko Okazaki in Aloha p. 134. The message of the Atonement is that Jesus suffered and died for us while we were still sinners. He is willing to meet us where we are. Christ’s redemptive sacrifice was for all humankind, but it was also for each of us individually.”

 

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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8 Responses

  1. Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner says:

    Thank you for this great outline! I’m teaching this class on Sunday and I like your ideas. This is a timely lesson since so many people around the country are currently debating whether Mormons are Christians. You give some good ways to explore our unique view of Christ.

  2. Tigersue says:

    I will be teaching this lesson in over a week. (our Stake conference is this weekend.)

    I am going to start with names and titles of the Savior, hymns about the Savior, and then to how can we make sacrifice in our lives remind us of the Savior. Beyond that, I am not sure where I am going with the lesson.

  3. Catherine O. says:

    Thank you for your inciteful post. Because of a physical disability, I am unable to attend regular R.S. meetings, so I really appreciate the online discussions of the lessons. I especially like the second quote you give (…He is willing to meet us where we are.) and your use of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. I enjoyed all of President Hinckley’s funeral last Saturday, but the Spirit touched me most deeply at the graveside service, when that sweet melody was so beautifully played by the bagpiper.

  4. --"Christie"-- says:

    I want to THANK YOU tons for this memo and great lesson plan. I have been stewing over this for some time and finding this was the answer to my prayers! I am totally using this on this Sunday and have added my own thoughts. THANK YOU!!!!!! I am book marking your site!

  5. Anonymous says:

    i wish you talked about the general conference lessons too, i am sometimes stuck when i give that lesson. fortunately i am giving a lesson out of the manuel for once! thanks this was great.

  6. The Pikes says:

    Thank you , thank you – I love some of your insights. You have rally got me pondering on a deeper level this weeks lesson.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Annonymous–because the General conference talks are chosen by your bishop and, therefore, are different in every ward, it would be impossible to post those on any website or blog. Of course, at every conference,there are obvious choices, like Pres. Eyring’s, Elder Holland’s, or Elder Oaks’ from last October, but they won’t come in the same order in every ward, so you and me–I teach GC lessons too and love it–are on our own.

  8. Southern girl says:

    I just love this blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!is the first time I’m interested in reading the lessons before Sunday.
    Besides, when this lesson was given in my RS, the teacher focused mostly in Joseph Smith instead of the Savior, as in other lessons the topic rolled down to another and comments are from some other books but now the manual. Last July because of 4 of July, the same teacher talked all the time about the flag, and the central reading was a letter written for somebody that served in the army long ago, and really, nothing about Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ or the gospel. I think that is why I stop preparing myself to hear the lesson, it would be even more disappointing. I think you all are doing a great job!!!

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