Matthew begins his gospel by telling of the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary and her acceptance of her divine calling to be the mother of the Son of God. Matthew also tells of Gabriel’s visit to Joseph, the marriage of Mary and Joseph, and a brief mention of the birth of Jesus Christ. (For more information I encourage you to turn to the book of Luke.) The next chapter in Matthew tells of the visit of the wise men.
1 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,
2. 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 wise men travel far to see the newborn King. We do not know how many wise men were in the group, but we do know that they were guided to Bethlehem by a new star and they came to worship the new King. The Bible Dictionary describes them:
… Who these men were we are not told, but it is certain they were not ordinary men. That they were privileged to search out the Son of God and give Him gifts, and that they were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they were actually prophets on a divine errand. The customary identification of them as astrologers is a gross misrepresentation. They evidently were holy men from a land east of Palestine.
We do not know who the wise men were, but we do know that they were seeking the newborn King of the Jews. We also know that they traveled a long distance and that they brought much needed gifts to the Baby. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh came just prior to the quick escape into Egypt and undoubtedly helped to finance the family while there.
President Ezra Taft Benson prepared the December 1993 First Presidency Message with the title of “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” His message was based on a talk given in the First Presidency Christmas devotional given on December 1, 1985. He begins his talk by saying, “Without Christ there would be no Christmas, and without Christ there can be no fulness of joy. After quoting many scriptures about Jesus Christ, President Benson says the following.
And now, my beloved brothers and sisters, what must we do this Christmas season – and always? Why, we must do the same as the Wise Men of old. They sought out the Christ and found Him. And so must we. Those who are wise still seek Him today.
The message continues through the years. For the First Presidency Message for December 2017, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, also spoke on the topic of seeking Christ. He begins his message with these words.
To all who wish to understand who we are as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would like to offer a starting point defined by these three words: We seek Christ.
We seek to learn of Him. To follow Him. To become more like Him.
Every day throughout the year, we seek Him. But especially at this time of the year – Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of our beloved Savior – our hearts are ever more inclined to Him.
President Uchtdorf discusses the various people who sought Jesus – the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna in the temple, and the believers among the Nephites and Lamanites. Towards the end of his message, President Uchtdorf suggests that we all ask ourselves the question: “How am I seeking Christ?” This is a good question!
I would answer the question by saying that I seek Christ when I pray and try to discover what He would have me do. I seek Christ when I study the scriptures and listen to the words of modern-day prophets and apostles? I seek Christ as I strengthen family relationships.
I seek Jesus at this time of year by trying to make Christmas about Him. I decorate with Nativity sets. I send Christmas cards with appropriate pictures of His birth. I play Christmas music that reminds me of Him. My family enacts the Nativity on Christmas Eve, and we celebrate His birthday by singing “Happy Birthday” to Him and serving angel food cake. Every single thing that we do on Christmas Eve points to Christ.
How do you seek Christ?