This month we celebrate the birth of a child in a place where the cattle fed, in an ancient world far removed from our own. But that child’s birth would not be an occasion for such universal rejoicing were it not for that child’s miraculous gift to all God’s children. So at Christmas, we are really celebrating the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely His birth. We celebrate His life, His mission, His example, and His victory over sin and death. I bear testimony that He lived and died and lives today, that He stands as King of kings and Lord of lords, and that one day He will again return to rule and reign, that “the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together,” (Isaiah 40:5) that He will “stand to judge the world,” (3 Ne. 27:16) that we “shall see him as he is,” (D&C 130:1).
The scriptures testify of the premortal role, mortal mission, and eternal Godhood of Jesus Christ. From the beginning He was “the Only Begotten of the Father, [and] by him, and through him, and of him the worlds are and were created” (D&C 76:23-24). John testified that He is the light that “shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth [or overcometh] it not… He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:3-5, 11). They teach that when Christ comes again it will be in His glory, “and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). “For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (D&C 45:59).
The scriptures continually urge us to be joyful and to praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy. Joseph Smith, writing from Nauvoo, proclaimed:
“Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel… Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever!” (D&C 128:22-23).
The Lord’s mission was a mission of healing and joy. It was a mission worthy of our greatest praise. As we celebrate His birth, His life, and His victory over death, I echo the words of Ammon: “Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever” (Alma 26:8).
The Lord, while in mortality, walked the dusty roads of Galilee. He ministered to a captive people, healing their sick and bidding them to come unto Him. He taught his people the higher law, the way to return to their heavenly home. He taught them to love one another, to be merciful and pure in heart, to be peacemakers, and to be filled with--and show forth--His light. He beckoned to those who were burdened with sorrow, care, and sin, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my toke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
We live two millennia after the Lord was “lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world” (1 Ne. 11:33). I have not seen Jesus Christ, and yet I proclaim His name and call myself His disciple. I have covenanted to stand as a witness of Him to a world in need of the light of Christ and “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” (Mosiah 18:9, Phillipians 4:7) I count myself among those of whom Christ prophesied when He told His disciple, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
In doing so, I echo the words of President Hinckley:
“I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His Beloved Son who reached out long ago and said to each of us, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’”
(“The Wondrous and True Story of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec. 2000, 2)
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