The other day in WalMart, the lady at the cash register said, “Happy Holidays”.
I returned with a, “And you too.”
The lady who was bagging my purchase then looked at me with a pleasant smile and said, “Merry Christmas.”
Her smile and Christmas wish caused a warmth to come over me, and I returned to her and said with all sincerity, “And a Merry Christmas to you too.”
I was watching a special on the History Channel about the birth of Jesus Christ. It was interesting that through the study of the planets and stars, they came up with a date of April 17th, AD 6 (if memory serves me right) as to when Jesus Christ was really born.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have believed since April 6th, 1830, that the birth of Christ took place on April 6th. It seems scientific and historical research is leaning more towards our belief as the years go by.
Jesus, the Greek form of the Latin name, Iesus. Most likely, Jesus would have been called Yahshua in Hebrew (or more commonly Joshua in English.) Christ wasn’t his family name, but a title meaning Messiah. Hence, Jesus the Christ seems a little more fitting in our language.
No matter the name – whether it be the Messiah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Yahshua, I AM, Alpha and Omega, the Light of the World, Saviour, Redeemer – he is the promised Savior. And, as I have stated in the past, I reverence this period when we traditionally celebrate his birth even though I belive we’re off by a few months.
Although I find the end of his life more significant to us than his birth, his birth was a fulfilment of prophecy by many prophets. He had to be born of a virgin. He had to be born in humble circumstances. His birth, by no means insignificant, was announced by angels and “heavenly hosts” who sang to shepherds. Nowhere in recorded history to we have widely accepted texts that talk about angles and heavenly hosts coming to announce the birth of anyone else.
Tonight, as you gather your family around, read the account in Luke, chapter 2. Imagine what it must have been like to be a Jewish shepherd tending your flocks. Imagine the fear as men dressed in illuminating white descended from heaven and told you to “fear not”, and that they brought “good tidings of great joy”. Imagine what it would have been like to be told the long-awaited Messiah (Christ) is born – someone your people had waited for centuries to come. Imagine running to the place the angels told you about, and finding a mother holding an infant boy and thinking to yourself, “This is Him. This is the Promised Messiah”. Imagine hearing, and seeing heavenly hosts who came with the angels to announce his birth.
He was born. He did live. He lived, and was crucified in a most cruel manner, but before he died, he suffered for the sins of the world. Thinking they might put an end to the movement he created, they took him, scourged him, spat upon him, mocked him by renting his clothing and placing a crown of thorns upon his head, and then they took him to Golgotha where they nailed him to a cross and lifted it up for him to further suffer and die.
Removing his body from the cross as the Hebrew sabbath approached, they placed him in a borrowed tomb, placed guards in fear that his body would be stolen, and rolled a large stone in front of the door.
The sabbath came and went. It was the day we know as Sunday, and Mary came to visit the tomb. She found the stone had been rolled away from the door of the tomb. She entered in and found the tomb empty and the clothes he had been buried in folded and laid where Jesus’ body laid only a couple of days before.
Fearing his body had been taken by the Romans, she left the tomb, saddened and weeping. A man, she think he was the gardener, asked, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?”
As he called her by name, she recognized him as her resurrected Lord and said, “Rabboni” (master).
Others witnessed angels rolling the stone away men in “shining raiment”, angles. Others witnessed the angels announcing the Savior’s resurrection from the dead. Many hundreds, if not thousands witnessed him before his ascension in to heaven.
It is Jesus’ the Christ gift to all of us that we will be resurrected after we die. It is his gift to all those who accept him and keep his Father’s commandments that will be able to return to live in his presence. And, it is those gifts to us that make his birth, his life, his suffering, his death and resurrection so important to each of us.
Over the years, my own personal hardships and trials have led me to know my Savior lives. His life is not a fantasy to me, nor is it a passing belief. It is much more. I’ve come to know the importance of his birth, as well as his teachings, his suffering, his death and resurrection.
So, at this Christmas season, when we celebrate his birth, I wish you a very, Merry Christmas. (And, comes April, don’t be surprised if I wish you a Merry Christmas again.)