When the parents and the child entered the temple—Mary for the ritual of cleansing and Joseph to pay the tax necessary to redeem the firstborn from priestly service—Simeon took the child in his arms and declared, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29–32.)
Joseph McConkie said Simeon's declaration "reached far beyond the understanding and hope of those of his nation, for he saw the universal nature of Christ’s ministry. He bore witness that Jesus was Savior to Jew and Gentile alike." (Joseph F. Mcconkie, Twelve Witnesses of christ's Birth, Ensign, December 1990)
What has God promised you? Are you sharing what he has given you?
The angels were heralding with music the Savior’s birth among the scattered remnants of Israel.
Were you there? Singing and prayer are the two ways we praise God together as a whole, as one. Think about a time when you felt the spirit as you sang a song in a large congregation. I remember knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet while I sang, "Praise to the Man" with two thousand missionaries. It was a powerful moment I'll always remember.
Their job that night and other nights was to witness the birth of the lambs! Many gave birth to two lambs and they needed to know the first born so they could become sacrifical lambs. They would mark the first born male with a red cord around the neck. This special night they got to witness the first born son of God - the Lamb of God.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who leads and watches over his followers. Many prophets compared him to a shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Ps. 23:1) “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd.” (Isa. 40:11) “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:11,14)
The special witnesses borne by these shepherds were to be told to family, friends, and neighbors. They were to be told in the courts of the temple, and from there to be told among all nations of the earth. Luke tells us that after the shepherds had seen the “babe lying in a manger, … they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (Luke 2:16–17.) Such was the declaration of the angel who stood before them that holy night, that these “good tidings of great joy” should “be to all people.” (Luke 2:10.)
Jesus was witnessed and visited by shepherds - symbolic of him becoming our “Good Shepherd” keeping us safe as he leads us back home! ☺️
The angel giving Joseph the name of the baby was very significant. In that culture when a man names the child he is legally claiming him as his own. Joseph named him “Jesus” which means save his people just as the angel told him. He loved Jesus as his own.
We know that he was righteous and faithful in keeping the law of Moses. He was strickly obedient and rose immediately when warned to flee Bethlehem.
There are no scriptural record of any words spoken by Joseph, yet his righteousness and reactions to Mary’s condition bear testimony to his belief in Christ’s divine sonship.
Christ’s mother was very special and the Nephites understood how special she was because her name was announced. It was their culture to not write the name of women except in very special circumstances. There are only 4 women names in the whole Book of Mormon.
"He shall 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 3:7-8)
Nephi understood the symbolism of the fruit of the tree when he witnessed the love Mary had for Jesus.
"I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Ne. 11:19–23.)
Nephi knew the meaning of the tree was love because he could feel their love for each other. Love is the MOST desirable, the MOST joyous.
How did you feel when your children were born? or when you held a newborn baby? It is that love that God desires us all to feel and have and experience. When is the last time you felt the love of God?
Following that marvelous event, she testified, saying, “He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49.)
He remained mute until “Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered.” (Luke 1:57) It was then that Zacharias’s “mouth was opened” (Luke 1:64) and he bore witness of the divine mission of his newborn son, testifying that he would “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:65) News of these miraculous occurrences “were noised abroad throughout Judea.” (Luke 1:76.)
In response to his prayer, an "angel of the Lord" appeared before Zacharias, standing on the right side of the altar of incense and identified himself as Gabriel, one who stood “in the presence of God.” (Luke 1:11, 19.) Gabriel tells him of the good news and gives him instructions.
Gabriel also visits Mary and Joseph to help prepare the way for the birth of Christ.
Tresta Neil is a homeschool mother of eight. She was born with curiosity and increases that curiosity through symbology!