Talk given by Jennifer Jacobs, 12/10/23
We read in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Prophecies concerning the Messiah appear in the Old Testament and, because the establishment of truth being established in two witnesses is a true gospel principle, The Book of Mormon also records a vision of the birth of Christ which
Elder Boyd K. Packer said “has no equal in the Old Testament.”
“After the people of Lehi [left Jerusalem], Lehi had a vision of the tree of life. His son Nephi prayed to know its meaning. In answer, he was given a remarkable vision of Christ.
“In that vision he saw:
· A virgin bearing a child in her arms,
· One who should prepare the way—John the Baptist,
· The ministry of the Son of God,
· Twelve others following the Messiah,
· The heavens open and angels ministering to them,
· The multitudes blessed and healed,
· The crucifixion of the Christ,
· The wisdom and pride of the world opposing his work.
“That vision is the central message of the Book of Mormon” --
Today, I want to focus on those scriptures within Nephi’s vision that apply specifically on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 1 Nephi 11:20-23:
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.
Here was Jesus—the Firstborn of the Father, the Creator, Jehovah of the Old
Testament—now leaving His divine and holy station; divesting Himself of all that
glory and majesty and entering the body of a tiny infant; helpless, completely
dependent on His mother and earthly father. That He should not come to the finest
of earthly palaces and be treated as royalty, but should come to a lowly stable is
astonishing. And surely demonstrates the absolute love that both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for every soul that has, is, and will dwell upon the earth.
It seems so natural and joyous to celebrate Christmas with others—in television shows, in singing Christmas songs, in the checkout lines at Target, at office parties, in school programs. Even those who do not consider themselves religious understand the main purpose of this holiday is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and no one can get mad at a baby being born. We like babies! Babies are great! We can get behind babies without much commitment!
But the birth of Christ cannot be separated from the reason He came into this world—to teach, to heal, to establish the pattern of his Church, to show by his example how to perfectly live the commandments, and by living a sinless life, qualify himself as the only One capable and willing to atone for our sins and open the way for us.
He say he is alpha and omega—the first and the last, and if any of you need an example of how that works: if you have ever been coming into the church building and opened the door...
-- Elder D. Todd Christofferson said:
“Jesus was the Firstborn among spirits and the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. Although we are not begotten of God in the flesh, we are, just as Jesus, the spirit offspring of God. Thus, our birth into mortality is also something of a condescension (or a willingness to move from a high and exalted station to something inferior), and like Christ’s, it has a noble purpose. Just as Jesus, we came down from heaven to do the will of Him that sent us and to achieve, with the grace of Christ, immortality and eternal life. Might it be important for us, as we seek to “ascend up on high,” also to descend below at least some things that we might comprehend more fully and become more Christlike? If Jesus needed certain experiences, might we also require some challenges and trials, “that [our] bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that [we] may know according to the flesh how to succor [one another] according to [our] infirmities” [Alma 7:12]?”
At this Christmas season, may we all recommit to making room for the Savior in our life. To try a little harder each day to build a personal relationship with Him, that we may be obedient out of love and trust for Him—our mediator, our therapist, our friend—than out of fear or blind repetition.
The festive season of December will soon be filled by what feels like an endless January, dark and cold, but the joy that Nephi experienced in his vision of Christ can be our joy, all year long, if we desire it.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.