At Christmastime, we believers celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Eternal Father. As part of this First Presidency Christmas Devotional that sets the pattern for our celebration, I will speak of the prophetic announcements of His birth.
No announcement was more significant than the angel’s appearance to Mary.
“The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy 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).
The mortal birth and life and death of the Son of God was essential to our Heavenly Father’s plan “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Before the earth was created, Jesus Christ was chosen to experience mortal life and be the Savior necessary to carry out that plan (see Moses 4:2). Father Adam was commanded to offer sacrifices as “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore [he was taught], thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:7–8).
In the book of Moses we also read God’s explanation of this, His “plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time” (Moses 6:62). God the Father commanded us to repent and be baptized “in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men” (Moses 6:52).
Isaiah, a great prophet of the Old Testament, announced the coming birth of the Messiah. “The Lord himself shall give you a sign,” he declared. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Isaiah also declared:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isaiah 9:6–7).
The birth of Christ was also revealed to Book of Mormon prophets. Six hundred years before the Savior’s birth, Lehi taught that God would raise up among the Jews “a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world” (1 Nephi 10:4).
The prophet Abinadi declared:
“Did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began—have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?
“Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?” (Mosiah 13:33–34).
The prophet Nephi recorded how an angel showed him a virgin in the city of Nazareth, declaring, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:18).
“And it came to pass [Nephi wrote] that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
“And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
We are all familiar with the first announcement after the birth of Jesus. There is great significance in the fact that this heavenly announcement was to a group who, we are told, were the most humble in the social order of that time.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. …
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8–11, 13–14).
The birth of the Savior was followed within a few days by separate announcements to two very holy persons—temple workers as we would call them today:
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
“And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
“And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
“Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:25–30).
The second announcement was to a holy woman, also in the temple. Anna, whom the scripture calls “a prophetess, … was of a great age, …
“And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
“And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36–38).
The prophecies and announcements just quoted tell of the first coming of the Savior. We are now preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, a time eagerly awaited by believers and dreaded or denied by unbelievers. We are commanded to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly” (D&C 87:8). Those “holy places” surely include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept, a home where children are treasured and taught, and our various posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions, temples, and other callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes.
As we prepare for His Second Coming, and as we stand in holy places, we persist in observing Christmas not just as a season of “Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” but as a celebration of the birth of the Son of God and a time to remember His teachings and the eternal significance of His Atonement. I pray that we will be faithful in doing so.
I testify of the truth of these things in the name of Him whose birthday we celebrate, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.