Sunday School Lesson 4 The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Jenny Hatch

The lesson I get to teach on sunday is perhaps the most important in the manual. I am looking forward to covering the material with the 12 and 13 year olds in my class. We always have a spirit filled discussion.
Jenny Hatch
The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Note to the teacher

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is at the center of the gospel. Through the Atonement, we have the opportunity to repent and gain exaltation. Giving class members an understanding of the Atonement is a challenging assignment that can only be fulfilled with the help of the Spirit. As with all lessons, seek direction from the Spirit as you prepare and teach this lesson (see Teaching—No Greater Call, 13).
Suggested Lesson Development
Jesus Christ Gave His Life for Us

Using your own words, relate the following true story:
On a cold, wintry day in 1982, an airplane crashed into a bridge in Washington, D.C., and landed in the Potomac River. Most of the people on the plane were killed immediately, but six people got out of the plane and hung on to its tail while two men in a helicopter threw them a life preserver. The water was very cold, and it was hard

Jesus Blessing the Children

to hang on to the plane. The rescuers were afraid that the passengers might lose their grip and drown before they could be pulled out and carried to safety. The rescuers noticed that one man seemed to be more alert than the others, so they lowered the life preserver to him. But every time they did this, he passed the life preserver to someone else so the other person could be rescued first. When the other five people were safe, the helicopter went back for the man, but he was gone. (See Roger Rosenblatt, “The Man in the Water,” Time, 25 Jan. 1982, 86; see also Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 1983, 56.)

• What do you think of this man’s actions? What might you have done in this situation? What Christlike qualities did this man demonstrate?
Picture presentation

Display the four pictures of Jesus Christ. Explain that the man in the river did a great thing when he selflessly gave his own life to save the lives of five other people. But Jesus Christ did an even greater thing: he gave his life to save the spiritual lives of everyone on earth. This lesson will discuss Jesus Christ’s role as our Savior.
We Need a Savior


Ask class members to review what they remember about the Fall from the previous lesson.
Remind class members that because Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, both spiritual and physical death came into the world.
• What happens in physical death? (A person’s body is separated from his or her spirit.)
• What happens in spiritual death? (A person is separated from Heavenly Father.)
Explain that without a Savior, both physical death and spiritual death would be permanent. After death our bodies and spirits would be separated forever, and we would be unable to live with Heavenly Father again. But just as the Fall was part of Heavenly Father’s plan, Heavenly Father also planned for us to have a Savior who would overcome both physical and spiritual death.
Jesus Christ Was Chosen to Be Our Savior

Scripture discussion

Have one or more class members read aloud John 1:1–3, 14 and Moses 4:2 (you may need to explain that “the Word” in John 1 is used as a name for Jesus Christ). Remind class members that Jesus Christ was with Heavenly Father before the earth was created and that he was chosen in the premortal world to create the earth and become our Savior.
• How was Jesus’ existence on earth different from everyone else’s? Why are these differences important?
Answers may vary, but bring out that Jesus was the Only Begotten Son of Heavenly Father (Heavenly Father was the father of Jesus’ physical body as well as his spirit) and that he was the only person to lead a sinless life on earth. Explain that these two qualities—his Godhood and his sinlessness—were necessary to enable Christ to atone for our sins and be our Savior.
• What does the word atone mean? (As used in the scriptures, to atone is to “correct or overcome the consequences of sin” and make “at one” people who have been separated [see “Atonement,” Bible Dictionary, 617].)
• How does Jesus Christ’s Atonement help us become “at one” with Heavenly Father?
Refer to the four pictures shown earlier in the lesson. Explain that eternal law, or justice, requires that whoever violates a law must be punished. Through his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and his death on the cross, Jesus Christ took upon himself the punishment for the sins of everyone who ever lived on the earth. Because of this Atonement, we can repent of our sins, be freed from guilt, and be worthy to dwell with Heavenly Father again.
Because of Jesus Christ We Can Be Saved If We Repent
Video presentation

Show the video segment “The Mediator.” If the videocassette is not available, read or tell the story in the fourth enrichment activity. Before you start the video or tell the story, you may need to explain that a debtor is someone who borrows or owes money, and a creditor is someone who lends money.


After you have shown the video or shared the story, explain that this story is a parable symbolizing our relationship with our Savior.
• Who does the debtor represent? (Each of us.)
• What does the creditor represent? (The laws of justice.)
• Who does the debtor’s friend represent? (Jesus Christ.)
Explain that when we agreed to come to earth and receive bodies, we knew that we would sometimes make wrong decisions. Our sins are like the debt of the man in the story. The laws of justice demand that our sins be paid for if we are to return to live with Heavenly Father again. Because Jesus was sinless and the Only Begotten Son of Heavenly Father, he was the only one who could atone for our sins and satisfy justice.
• In the story, the mediator (the debtor’s friend) said he would become the debtor’s new creditor. The debt would be repaid on his terms. What terms has Christ set for us? In other words, what must we do to receive all the blessings of Christ’s Atonement?
Scripture discussion

To help class members find the answer, have three class members each read aloud one of the following scriptures: John 3:16, 2 Nephi 9:21–22, and Doctrine and Covenants 19:16.
Explain that because of Christ’s Atonement for us, we are unconditionally saved from physical death. Everyone will be resurrected. But in order to be saved from spiritual death and be with Heavenly Father again, we must believe in Christ, follow and obey him, and repent of our sins.
• What will happen to us if we do not repent of our sins? (See D&C 19:17–18; we will have to suffer for our own sins.)
• What would have happened to the debtor in the story if his friend had not offered to help him? (He would have gone to prison and had all his possessions taken away.) What would happen to us if Jesus Christ had not atoned for us? (See 2 Nephi 9:7–9; we would not be resurrected, and our sins in this life would keep us out of the presence of Heavenly Father forever.)
• How do you feel, knowing that Jesus Christ has paid the price for your sins? (Invite class members to answer this question to themselves if they do not wish to share their feelings with the class.)

Testify of the Savior’s love for each class member, which he showed by atoning for our sins. Express your gratitude for his Atonement.
Urge class members to follow Jesus Christ and repent of their sins so they may receive the full blessings of Christ’s Atonement.

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