This is one of a series of reviews from a Christian perspective on the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me (New Testament, 2023) for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To find the index of these reviews, visit here.
Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence in the church’s curriculum is being reviewed.)
June 5-11, 2023
Today we call it the “Last Supper,” but we don’t know if Jesus’s disciples fully realized, when they gathered for the annual Passover feast, that this would be their last meal with their Master before His death. Jesus, however, “knew that his hour was come” (John 13:1). He would soon face the suffering of Gethsemane, the betrayal and denial of His closest friends, and an agonizing death on the cross. Yet even with all of this looming before Him, Jesus’s focus was not on Himself but on His disciples. What would they need to know in the days and years ahead? Jesus’s tender teachings in John 14–17 reveal how He feels about His disciples, then and now. Among the many comforting truths He shared was the reassurance that, in one sense, He will never leave us. “If ye keep my commandments,” He promised, “ye shall abide in my love” (John 15:10).
I accept this paragraph as being accurate. But notice how “commandments” are put in at the end. It’s not the only time Jesus spoke about keeping commandments in this passage.
For instance, He said in 14:23 that “if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” and in verse 24 he said that “he who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” He then says in verse 15 that branches not bearing fruit will be cut off. Neither, He said, can a believer bear fruit unless he or she remains in Him. This is what we call “sanctification.” As Bible-believing Christians, we are saved by grace through faith as a free gift from God. However, we were created to do good works (Eph. 2:10), which is working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
As I like to say, we are saved not by what we do but by who we are (new creations in Christ, Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:17). And who we are has a direct effect on what we do.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
I show my love for Jesus Christ by keeping His commandments.
As you read John 14–15, you might note or mark each use of the word love. You may notice the word commandments repeated frequently in association with the word love in these chapters. What do you learn about the relationship between love and commandments from the Savior’s teachings? What other words and phrases do you find associated with love in these chapters?
Ponder how the Savior’s love has influenced you.
And that’s the key. We keep His commandments as a response to the love that the Savior showed for us. Unfortunately, Mormon leaders have stressed that commands are not just a response but an act of obedience required for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. It is not by grace but by works.
To read more about this, please visit Crash Course Mormonism.
As I abide in Christ, I will bring forth good fruit.
What do you think it means to “abide in [Christ]”? (John 15:4). What is your “fruit” that shows that you are attached to the vine, which represents Jesus Christ?
In Galatians 5, Paul talks about the “fruit of the Spirit,” which includes love, joy, peace and patience. At the end of the list, Paul says “against these things there is no law.” It’s not by keeping these things that earns us the forgiveness of a believer’s sins. Rather, these are the byproduct of someone who has the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ intercedes for His disciples.
Jesus’s words recorded in John 17 are known as the Intercessory Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus prayed for His Apostles and “them also which shall believe on [Him] through their word” (John 17:20). That means He was praying for you. What did Jesus request from His Father in behalf of you and all other believers? What does that teach you about His feelings for you?
Jesus had me in mind when He prayed, which gives me great comfort. He wanted His followers to be one as He is one. This is important for the Christian church. At the same time, this very Jesus warned in the Sermon on the Mount that there would be many false prophets dressing up in sheep’s clothing, adding that we must test the fruit of these false teachers.
John 17:11, 21–23
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are perfectly united.
In His prayer in John 17, Jesus emphasized His unity with the Father. In what ways are the Father and the Son “one”? (John 17:11, 21–23).
Both are fully God, the essence of HIs being.
Note that the Savior prayed that His disciples may be one “even as”—or in the same way that—He and His Father are one (John 17:22). What does that mean for you? Think about your relationships—for example, with your spouse or other family members, with ward members, and with fellow Christians. How can you work toward the kind of unity that Jesus has with the Father?
Christians have differences, but there is a special unity when we meet and gather together for worship because we are worshiping the one true God of the Bible.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Family members may enjoy taking turns leading your family on a walk along a path. How is Jesus “the way”? Where does He lead us?
He is the Good Shepherd who, according to Psalm 23, leads us into paths of righteousness. He is the only way. A false Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4) will not do.
How is Jesus’s peace different from the kind “the world giveth”? Family members could share ways they have found peace and comfort through the Holy Ghost.
The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:7 that we can have a peace that passes all understanding through our faith in Christ. This means that we can have an assurance that God hears my prayers and also that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:28). In fact, we can “know” that we have eternal life no matter what bad things may cross our path.
It might be fun to read these verses outside next to a vine, a tree, or another plant. What happens to a branch when it is removed from the plant? You could talk about how we are like branches and what it means to “abide” in the Savior and “bear fruit.”
I do not believe authentic fruit can come unless one “abides” in Jesus.
How has Jesus Christ overcome the world? How has His Atonement brought us peace and good cheer? (see also Doctrine and Covenants 68:6).
The atonement brings us peace because we can fully trust in what He did on the cross for the forgiveness of all my sins–past, present, and future.
Citing D&C 68:6 is not helpful because these are words supposedly spoken to four LDS leaders in 1835. We have to trust that this really took place. Although the words are similar to what Jesus said, these words are not scripture for Bible-believing Christians.
What would help your family learn how to be more united like Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father? Maybe you could talk about a favorite sports team and how they work together toward a common goal. Or you could listen to a choir or orchestra and discuss how the musicians unite to create beautiful music.
The Christian church can be likened to a sports team, as Christian believers are all on the same team. But this can’t be turned into an ecumenical moment where all people who “believe” in Jesus should hold hands and pretend we all agree. When it comes to Mormonism and Christianity, there are important differences and these should not be overlooked.
These four chapters are wonderful as we get a look at the heart of Jesus. People really mattered to Him. He died for the sins of those who receive Him, even today. Unfortunately, there are too many differences between the Jesus of Mormonism and the Bible to say that a Latter-day Saint should have hope, for the onus is placed square on the back of the Mormon people to keep their covenants that they regularly make, a promise that is too easily broken each week before Sunday rolls around. I so desperately want my LDS friends and family members to know the Jesus who is quoted in these chapters.
For a look at the LDS Jesus, see Crash Course Mormonism.