Gentle Shepherd, by Youngsung Kim
Jesus loves every one of God’s children and wants us to find joy. That message is expressed in at least three ways in this week’s reading: through parables, through miracles, and through His increasingly specific prophecies of His Atonement.
Parables: Riches and foolishness
A number of the parables we are studying this week are directed toward people who are either rich or who aspire to be:
- The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21): Don’t be so obsessed with your earthly possessions that you fail to prepare for the next life.
- The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Luke 14:7-14): Don’t seek to be favored above other people. Likewise, don’t prioritize the wealthy and the famous over the poor and unrecognized. (See also Jacob 2:13, Alma 5:53-55.)
- The Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24): When you are successful, you may be tempted to reject invitations from God.
- The Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-12): Be as conscientious and proactive in spiritual things as you are in your worldly stewardships.
- The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31): Be kind to those who are in need.
- The Parable of the Unprofitable Servant (Luke 17:7-10): Don’t expect special privileges or recognition for simply doing that which you are expected to do. (See also Mosiah 2:21.)
The overarching message of these parables is this: God loves all of His children equally. There are things in this world, notably wealth, which make some people seem more important than others. Don’t be deceived by that. And if you are blessed with material wealth, remember this teaching of the Savior: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48).
Here are some blog posts relating to these parables:
Parables: Lost sheep, coins, and sons
Jesus shared three parables about people searching desperately for something valuable which they had lost:
- In the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7), He explains that a shepherd who loses one sheep will leave the others to find it, and when he finds it, he rejoices with his friends and neighbors.
- In the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10), He describes a woman working into the night, searching her house carefully to find a single missing coin. Again, she rejoices with her friends and neighbors.
- The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) tells the story of an overjoyed father whose wayward son had come home again. It also relates his patient correction to another son who was jealous of the attention given to his brother.
People have infinite value. Jesus made clear that each of these lost things represent us: “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7, 10; see also Alma 29:9-10, Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-13).
Here are a few blog posts about these parables:
Miracles: Lepers and Lazarus
Ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. Luke makes it a point to tell us that this one was a Samaritan. Jesus pointed out that only he had “returned to give glory to God,” and said to him, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:11-19). We can emulate the kindness of the Savior who noticed and praised the goodness of this man.
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, both of his sisters, Martha and Mary, made the same mournful statement when they saw Him: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21, 32). What was Jesus’ response to this sorrow? The shortest verse in all the scriptures expresses poignantly the Savior’s compassion for each of us. John says simply, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Shortly after, He healed Lazarus, but not before taking time to “mourn with those that mourn.” (See Mosiah 18:9.) Here is a blog post about the Savior’s empathy:
“I am the resurrection.”
Throughout this week’s reading, we find statements indicating the Savior’s central role as our Redeemer. “I have a baptism to be baptized with,” He said; “and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:50). “The third day I shall be perfected,” He told the Pharisees (Luke 13:32). And to Martha, who misunderstood His promise that her brother would live again, He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
The final words about the Savior’s mission in this week’s reading come from the high priest, Caiaphas: “it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).
Here are a couple of blog posts about the Savior’s mission which reference these passages:
Blog Posts: May 2-7
“When He Was Yet a Great Way Off”
The father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son waited patiently for his son’s return and never gave up on him. This poem by Mary Lyman Henrie beautifully conveys the patient, hopeful love of this father while his son was lost.
As They Went
Jesus didn’t immediately heal the ten lepers. He instructed them to go to the priest, who could assess their health. “As they went, they were cleansed.” Miracles often happen only after we demonstrate our faith through action.
Sermonettes on the Mount
Jesus taught principles from the Sermon on the Mount in multiple settings. Here are some principles He taught as the moral of a parable, in response to questions, or to counter criticism. We too can share His teachings in a variety of circumstances.
Rich Toward God
The Parable of the Rich Fool teaches us the importance of investing time and energy in eternal things, like our relationship with God and our relationships with our families, instead of being obsessed with accumulating worldly wealth.
Jesus warned us not to become servants to “mammon” (an Aramaic word meaning money). But He also counseled us to use mammon to bless other people and to build enduring relationships. Temporary possessions can be used to accomplish eternal things.
The Savior’s instruction to Lazarus as he lay in the tomb—”Come forth!” applies to us as well. We can come forth by spending time with other people, stepping out of our comfort zones, and doing challenging things even if they are highly visible.
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