This time of year is a celebration for people throughout the world. In the English-speaking world it is known as the “Christmas Season,” when many remember the birth of a baby in Bethlehem who would come to be viewed by Christian’s as the Messiah.
There is little doubt that December 25th was a date selected for remembering his birth, and not the date of the Messiah’s actual birth. If one were to dig into pagan influences they would quickly see why this date is viewed by many Christians and Messianic Jews as insulting. Nonetheless, remembering Jesus birth at any time of year draws us into the scriptures to reflect upon the circumstances surrounding his birth as recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
For instance, over 2000 years ago Bethlehem was the area where the lambs for the temple sacrifices were born. The “perfect” lambs were commonly wrapped in swaddling (strips of cloth made from the priest’s old clothes) to protect them from becoming unclean (blemished) and therefore unsuitable for sacrifice. Given Joseph and Mary’s location at the time of Jesus’ birth, is it any wonder that the shepherds were first on the scene to acknowledge the Messiah’s birth?
While many traditionally place three wise men in their manger scenes and skits of Jesus’ birth, these travelers did not appear at Joseph and Mary’s door till a couple of years later. In Volume 12, Issue 1 of our magazine The Latter Day Saints’ Beacon, Mildred Smith shares her thoughts on these visitors with gifts for Jesus (see pages 20-21), and their possible ties to the Book of Mormon.
Additionally, as we study the “appointed times” of the Jews mentioned in Leviticus 23, we see how the spring feasts served as types (examples) for the life, death and resurrection of our Messiah. Sister Jan Fountain’s book, “Where is the Promise of His Coming? The Feast Days of Israel,” touches on this in detail, as do other books, and compels us to examine the autumn feasts as the pattern which we can look to see unfold in the Messiah’s latter-day appearance and subsequent labors among us.
Doubtless, there are many reasons to celebrate the Messiah who has come, and to honor the work to which he was called and calls us still. As we gather with strangers, family, and friends during this holiday season of hope, let us remember our King, and the great Yehovah who sent him into our midst with thanksgiving and praise.