5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
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Elder Soares focuses directly on Christ for General Conference. He opens his talk by reminding us how central the Savior is to our lives. Even though it is well past Easter, this is a timeless message for all of us saints.
My dear brothers and sisters, on this radiant Easter morning my heart rejoices upon remembering the most marvelous, the most majestic, the most immeasurable act that has occurred in all of human history—the atoning sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
His complete talk can be found here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions which resonate the most with you and which you feel will make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All quotes by Ulisses Soares and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (sacrifice)
Jesus pushed Himself through something so difficult, that it gave Him pause. Elder Soares quotes some extraordinary words from Isaiah:
The eminent words of the prophet Isaiah magnify the greatness and selflessness of the Savior’s condescension and sacrifice in behalf of all the children of God:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
By voluntarily taking upon Himself the sins of all mankind, being cruelly nailed to the cross, and victoriously conquering death on the third day, Jesus gave a more sacred significance to the Passover ordinance that had been bestowed upon Israel in ancient times. In fulfillment of prophecy, He offered His own body and precious blood as the great and last sacrifice, validating the traditional symbols used in the celebration of the Lord’s Passover. In so doing, Christ experienced physical and spiritual suffering that is incomprehensible to the human mind.
What is the Passover ordinance Elder Soares is referring to? It’s an ordinance to remember the magnificent deliverance of Israel from Egypt and the plagues.
The Passover was an annual festival and memorial that helped the people remember how God had conquered and humiliated the idol gods of Egypt. It helped people to remember not only how God had judged Egypt, but also how God had saved His people from Egypt, and how He had saved His people from the tenth plague. It was only through the proper application of blood from a lamb (without blemish) that the firstborn sons, both man and beast, were saved when the death angel passed through Egypt.
8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.
10 Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. (Exodus 13:8-10)
Possible questions: What symbolic ordinance do we have today that helps us remember we are rescued and a sacrifice of blood saves us? (The Sacrament ordinance every Sunday) How is the Sacrament like the Passover? Why is the Atonement important to remember every Sacrament? What does the Sacrament mean to you?
Quote #2 (bitter cup)
Contemplating what the Savior did for us sometimes takes my breath away. Especially when I deeply internalize how he really, really did not want to do it; He tried to see if he could get out of it. In times past, I would reason, “of course He atoned for us – He’s the Savior, it’s just his nature and he is always super charitable.” Now I realize He was a man…a man who stood at the edge of the most rugged cliff existing, took a look at what torment and anguish He would fall towards, and hesitated. There was no automation or natural response that brought about the Atonement – He had to make the conscientious choice against His desire – and will Himself to intervene for us. The Atonement would not have been a true sacrifice unless it was impossibly hard to choose it.
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, …
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” (Doctrine & Covenants 19:16-19)
Possible questions: How do you feel about the Savior’s act of Atonement? Elder Soares quotes Isaiah who describes the atonement of the Savior. Isaiah uses words like grief, sorrows, stricken, smitten, wounded, and bruised. Has His sacrifice for you ever felt especially significant in your life? What impresses you about Jesus Christ when you think about what he did for you? In what ways can we thank Him?
Quote #3 (repentance)
Super important lesson point here. We can never talk about repentance enough; however, talking about it effectively and making an impression is even more important.
While through His sacrifice the Savior unconditionally removed the effects of physical death, He did not eliminate our personal responsibility to repent for the sins we commit. Rather, He extended to us a loving invitation to be reconciled to our Eternal Father. Through Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, we can experience a mighty change of mind and heart, bringing a fresh attitude, both toward God and toward life in general. When we sincerely repent of our sins and turn our hearts and will to God and His commandments, we can receive His forgiveness and feel the influence of His Holy Spirit in greater abundance. Mercifully, we avoid having to experience the depth of suffering the Savior endured.
President Russell M. Nelson, our beloved prophet, referred to this gift as “the key to happiness and peace of mind.”
Possible questions: Who should repent and how often? (Everyone, usually several times a day.) Why do they sometimes call repentance a gift? How can we take advantage of the Atonement? (Taking the Sacrament each week literally puts the Atonement in our laps.) Elder Soares said, “we can experience a mighty change of mind and heart, bringing a fresh attitude.” (I have found the peace and resolve which comes from repentance – soul-empowering!) Who can describe their feelings after you’ve gone through meaningful repentance? Why is repentance essentially a gift of love?
Quote #4 (comfort)
Jesus Christ is our true friend!
“…the Savior offers us relief and comfort as we face our afflictions, temptations, and weaknesses of mortal life, including the circumstances we have experienced recently in the current pandemic. I can assure you that Christ is ever aware of the adversities we experience in mortality. He understands all of the bitterness, agony, and physical pain as well as the emotional and spiritual challenges we face. The Savior’s bowels are filled with mercy, and He is always ready to succor us. This is possible because He personally experienced and took upon Himself in the flesh the pain of our weakness and infirmities.
With meekness and humility of heart, He descended below all things and accepted being despised, rejected, and humiliated by men, having been wounded for our transgressions and iniquities. He suffered these things for all, taking upon Himself the sins of the world, thus becoming our ultimate spiritual caregiver.
Possible questions: What does Elder Soares mean when he says Christ is our “ultimate spiritual caregiver.” Why was it important for Jesus to suffer all things? (So he knows what we’re going through and how to support us.) Have you ever been comforted in a difficult situation? Who wouldn’t mind sharing their experience?
Quote #5 (death)
Even the death of those we love can bring us to the Savior. We can feel peace, experience tender mercies, and even witness miracles. Elder Soares shares a touching story:
Near the end of last year, I learned of the passing of a dear couple, Mario and Regina Emerick, who were very faithful to the Lord and passed away four days apart from one another due to complications from COVID-19.
One of their sons, who is currently serving as a bishop in Brazil, related the following to me: “It was so difficult to see my parents depart from this world in that condition, but I could clearly feel the hand of the Lord in my life amidst that tragedy, because I received strength and peace that transcended my understanding. Through my faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, I received divine help to strengthen and comfort my family members and all those who helped us during this trying experience. Even though the miracle that everyone hoped for did not occur, personally I am a witness of many other miracles that have occurred in my own life and in the lives of my family members. I felt an inexplicable peace that penetrated the depths of my heart, giving me hope and confidence in the love of the Savior for me and in the plan of happiness of God for His children. I learned that on the very most grief-filled days, the loving arms of the Savior are always extended when we seek Him with all our heart, power, mind, and strength.”
Possible questions: Does anyone have an experience they wouldn’t mind sharing – when someone they loved passed on? What did you experience and how did you feel? What kinds of comfort can we give to others when someone they love dies? What were the best things others said to you in this difficult circumstance? Why does death bring people closer to God? Have you ever been to a funeral that uplifted you in some way? What happened?
You were asked to teach this lesson for a reason. Trust that the Spirit wants to connect with you and fave faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Jesus Christ and His Atonement are at the core of all our gospel teachings. Your group of saints will greatly bless each other by talking about Him to each other.