The Christmas season is a time for us to reflect on and express gratitude for the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas to commemorate His birth because He was more than an ordinary Baby. We learn from His story in Luke that Heavenly Father is His Father, and His mother is Mary, a young woman who found favor with God.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in that womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:30-33).
Mary asked some questions and received some answers. When she was satisfied, she said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38). An angel also visited Joseph and told him to fear not to marry Mary (Matthew 1:20). Luke 2 tells how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to “be taxed” with the lineage of David. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem. There, shepherds became witnesses of His birth, and wise men came bearing gifts to visit the family after they had moved to a house. (See John 2: 8-17; Matthew 2:11.)
The traditional story of the Savior’s birth is often read at Christmas. However, the Book of Mormon has several prophecies about the birth of Christ. Nephi saw Mary in vision as “a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white” and heard an angel testify to him that “the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:13, 18). Nephi later saw the virgin carrying a Baby and heard the angel testify that the baby was “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” (1 Nephi 11:20-21).
King Benjamin taught his people that “the Lord Omnipotent” would come to earth and “be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 3:5, 8).
Samuel, a Lamanite, visited the Nephite community and prophesied that the Son of God would be born in five years. There would be “great lights in heaven” and “no darkness” in that “there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night” (Helaman 14:3-4). “There shall a new star arise… [and] “many signs and wonders in heaven” (Helaman 14:5-6). Samuel told the Nephites that God sent him “that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name” (Helaman 14:12). Another prophet named Nephi heard the voice of the Lord, and the signs given by Samuel began to be fulfilled:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son, -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given (3 Nephi 1:13-14).
As explained by President Thomas S. Monson, the world would have us believe that Christmas is a time to give and receive “extravagant gifts, expensively packaged and professionally wrapped, reach their zenith in the famed commercial catalogs carrying the headline ‘For the person who has everything.’ …
For a few moments, may we set aside the catalogs of Christmas, with their gifts of exotic description. Let’s even turn from the flowers for Mother, the special tie for Father, the cute doll, the train that whistles, the long-awaited bicycle … and direct our thoughts to those God-given gifts that endure. I have chosen from a long list just four: …
First, the gift of birth. It has been universally bestowed on each of us. Ours was the divine privilege to depart our heavenly home to tabernacle in the flesh and to demonstrate by our lives our worthiness and qualifications to one day return to Him, precious loved ones, and a kingdom called celestial…. Ours is the responsibility to show our gratitude by the actions of our lives….
Second, the gift of peace. In the raucous world in which we live, the din of traffic, the blaring commercials of the media, and the sheer demands placed on our time – to say nothing of the problems of the world – cause headache, inflict pain, and sap our strength to cope….
He who was burdened with sorrow and acquainted with grief speaks to every troubled heart and bestows the gift of peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27) ….
Third, the gift of love. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” queried the lawyer who spoke to Jesus. Came the prompt reply: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-39) ….
Fourth, the gift of life – even immortality. Our Heavenly Father’s plan contains the ultimate expressions of true love. All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge, our testimonies, would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). (“Gifts,” Ensign, May 1993, 59-62).
There are people who celebrate Christmas and then put Christmas away until next December. The people, who believe in Jesus and in His power to bring immortality and eternal life, put the Christmas decorations away but remember to keep the Christmas Spirit with them. They understand the importance of the Babe that was born in Bethlehem, and they remember that He grew to be a Man who died that mankind might live for eternity.