The Christmas Story Is About Christ
Pure Love of Christ
"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." Mormon
No Greater Love
"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. " Luke 2: 1-5
- Bethlehem, the name means "House of Bread." Words come to mind, words we hear as we partake of the Lords Sacrament each Sunday: "Bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son." Christ, the Bread of Life, was born in the house of bread and placed in a manger. He was the true "Manna" that came down from Heaven, which John referred to when he expressed the council to us of "he that eateth of this bread will live forever."
"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7
- A manger is a box made to hold food for animals, it is a feeding trough. Imagine a manger filled with oats that beasts of burden hungrily devoured. They, like us, would eat and in a few hours want more. No matter how nutritious earthly fare is, it is never enough, the next day, even the next hour, the stomach growls for more. We can almost see the hands brushing away the last few oats, that may have been left in the box. The same hands filled the manger with fresh straw and placed the Babe in the feeding trough. Words come to mind: "He that cometh to me shall never hunger." The heavenly fare offered in the manger was not only eternal but capable of lifting us to God. It is so fitting that Mary should cradle her son, the Bread of Life, in a manger.
No Room At The Inn
- Mary's condition probably required slow travel so that the inns were all filled upon their arrival in Bethlehem. It was the people who were traveling to Bethlehem also, not just the innkeeper or an isolated few persons, who withheld shelter from Joseph and Mary. Though her state was apparent, the other travelers, lacking in courtesy, compassion, and refinement, would not give way so she could be cared for more conveniently and commodiously. This rude rejection was but prelude to the coming day when these same people and their children after them would reject, to their eternal sorrow, the Lord who that night began mortality under the most lowly circumstances.
Mary the Mother of Christ
- Think of Mary, His mother, who was the mother of God's child. We can only imagine the joy and sorrow she bore and wonder what her feelings were as she wrapped the Son of God in swaddling clothes. As Mary beheld Him in the manger, did her heart race with premonitions of a time when she would see Him wrapped in linen and laid in another cave, called a sepulchre? In a stable-cave Mary gave Jesus mortal life, and from a sepulchre-cave Jesus came forth to give Mary and all mankind immortal life. Both caves are mortal reminders of Jesus' condescension, or of His descending "below all things."
Grace To Grace
- His condescension is difficult to understand. He was God "but made himself of no reputatuon, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Philip2:7). The same verse in the Greek New Testament does not mention reputation but instead says that He "emptied himself." He was God, yet He emptied himself of power, to begin anew, growing from grace to grace. He was the Word, and yet He came as a wordless infant. He was the Almighty One, and yet helplessly He took nourishment at Mary's breast. He was King of Kings, and yet He came as the servant of man, He, the great I AM, condescended to be the beast upon which all burdens would fall, born among animals at Passover time.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid." Luke 2:8-9
- Think of the significance of the Passover. As families throughout the land prepared their symbolic meat of lamb, the Lamb of God was being born, and because of His living and His dying, the nullifying effects of death would pass over us. But Passover also meant springtime, the lambing season. A few miles away, shepherds were helping to bring new lambs into the world. Deemed by the upper classes as men of naught, the shepherds were nevertheless saviors to the sheep. Besides assisting in the births, they nourished, gathered, comforted, and protected their flocks, sometimes risking their lives to defend them. There was deep irony in the fact that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would be deemed by the Pharisees and Sadducees as a man of naught while in the very act of giving His life to save them.
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." Luke 2:10-20
- There is more to this symbolism of shepherd and sheep than what has already been noted. One scholar notes that a tower called Migdal Eder, the watchtower of the flock, stood on the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The sheep that were gathered there belonged to the temple flock, from which the sacrificial lambs would be taken. Some Jews believed that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem and revealed at Migdal Eder. "For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." How fitting that the angelic announcement was made to humble men serving the needs of sheep that might die in similitude of the Lamb of God. But that has not changed. It is still to those who are feeding His sheep that He reveals himself. It is to those who serve that the testimony is revealed, the testimony that all who are unclean have a Savior and can come forth from the darkness of their tombs into the Light of Life.
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2
- The Christmas star, piercing the darkness, stood above all nations, far above and untouched by anything worldly. Christ, the Life and Light of the World, is like that star. His light, the light of Christ, still guides wise men and wise women each day, to their promised land, where they can behold for themselves the greatest star, the Son.
"When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also." Matthew 2: 3-8
- The news of the Wise Men's inquiries concerning a king reached Herod, and he sent for them. He was troubled by prophecies that another would rule Israel, after all, wasn't he the king of this land? But, they knew that he was not the king they sought. After they left, they followed the star until they reached Jesus, and there they presented their gifts to Him.
" When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way." Matthew 2: 9-12
What marvelous gifts they brought. We don't really know how many Wise Men came, but tradition claims three because there were three gifts mentioned: gold, the metal of kings and symbol of a celestial world because of its refined purity; frankincense, used in making incense that was burned on the temple alter as a symbol of prayers arising and connecting God and man; and myrrh, a plant with spike-like thorns that produced an aromatic gum used to make incense, perfume, and ointment for embalming. Even at the Christ child's tender age, the gifts given Him bore testimony of who He was and what He would do. They brought gold for the King of Kings, frankincense for the Mediator between God and man, myrrh for the body that would be buried for us.
He did it for us, because He loves us! That is the most important part. If He had not died for us, no light, no sign, no bread would be enough. We would have spent our lives in futility and then perished. But because of Him, we live and will live. Because of Him, all who desire will find light. Because of Him, all who seek with pure intent will find God. This was the charity he showed to us, this was His pure love.
Luke 2- Breath of Heaven
Love One Another
Christ instructed us with the greatest lessons of love. He said to us, "As I have loved you, love one another." If we want to show our love for HIm He has told us we must keep his commandments. He was the greatest example of love, "for no man hath greater love than he lay down his life for his friends." We are his friends.
- FAIR Topical Guide: Atonement
The following are additional topic areas related to Atonement.