- Christ’s birth was unlike any other. The precious details—the journey to Bethlehem, an overcrowded inn, a lowly manger, a newfound star, and ministering angels—make His a birth story for the ages. Yet the story of the Savior’s birth represents only a part of why we feel the Spirit during the Christmas season. Christmas is not only a celebration of how Jesus came into the world but also of knowing who He is—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—and of why He came.
- This meaning becomes clearer when we consider the fulness of the Christmas story. As President Gordon B. Hinckley explained: “There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
He reminds us that Christ's mission didn't start at His birth and it didn't end on the cross. His mission was part of God's ultimate plan of happiness.
- Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem is not the beginning of the story, and Calvary is not the end
- Here on earth, the memory of our former life is covered by a veil of forgetfulness. Our purpose in coming to earth was to learn how to “walk by faith, not by sight.”
- To strengthen that faith, God sent prophets who foresaw and foretold of the coming of the promised Messiah.
He reminds us that the birth was a spectacular miracle, but Christ was not finished. Miracles continued throughout His life and into His death.
- As miraculous as the Savior’s birth was, greater miracles were about to follow.
The Saviors final days on earth are where the miracle of the atonement takes place. Christ fulfilled his earthly mission in the garden, on the cross, and ultimately in His death. He was the only one that could do what He did. He was the only one that could save us.
- Ultimately, the fulness of the story of Christmas culminates with the last three days of the Savior’s life. In that pivotal period, the Savior passed from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross of Calvary to the Garden Tomb. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught, the “impact and efficacy” of that moment would “reach back … to the beginning of time, and forward … throughout all eternity.”
- With the fate of every human soul hanging in the balance, Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane virtually alone. There followed interrogation, scourging, and finally an excruciating death on the cross. With the same humility and submissiveness in which He declared from the beginning, “Here am I, send me,” he now said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Elder Christensen summarizes the many accomplishments of the Savior and why we ultimately celebrate His birth. But he reminds us that His mission and accomplishments are ultimately why we celebrate Easter as well.
- These are the “good tidings of great joy” we celebrate at Christmas—not only that Christ was born but that He lived among us, gave His life for us, was resurrected, and ultimately “finished the work which [His Father gave Him] to do.” We rejoice because the confusion and chaos of this world can be hushed by the promise made to us from the very beginning—a promise fulfilled by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For this reason, the story of Christmas is not fully told without the story of Easter. It was the Savior’s atoning sacrifice that made holy the silent night in Bethlehem. It was His gift of redemption that caused us to shout for joy in the premortal world—this gift that heals our sickness, restores our sight, and wipes away all tears.
He concludes reminding us that this sacrifice was part of God's plan of happiness. It was a personal sacrifice for me and you. Christ fulfilled and made possible the great plan that the Father outlined in the pre-mortal world.
- The light we love at Christmas emanates from the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The story we cherish at Christmas tells of our Father’s plan of happiness, which Christ made possible.
What a great message this Christmas season. Christ fulfilled His agreement with the Father and ultimately with you and me. We shouted for joy that this amazing person would take upon Himself the salvation and eternal life of all mankind. He came to do the will of the Father and He did it because He loved the Father, you, and me. This Christmas season, I hope you will take this message personally. He did this for you and was happy to make all this possible.