Christmas Devotional: Joy of Christmas Includes Christ’s Gift of Redemption, Says Elder Christensen
Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor
- The story of Christmas is not fully told without the story of Easter.
“The gift that makes the Christmas season sacred is the gift of [Jesus Christ’s] very life, which He gave that we might have everlasting life.” —Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy
Christmas “is not only a celebration of how Jesus came into the world, but also who He is—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—and why He came to earth,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy on December 4.
“This wonderful time of the year, Christmastime, invites feelings of tenderness, joy, and love,” he said. “And as any parent will attest, similar feelings typically attend the birth of each newborn child. Of course, 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.”
Speaking during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Elder Christensen addressed the topic “The Fulness of the Story of Christmas.”
Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Christensen said: “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.”
Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem is not the beginning of the story, and Calvary is not the end, he said. The scriptures teach that He was “in the beginning … with God” (John 1:1) in the premortal Council in Heaven, he said.
“We learned that He would perform the central role as Creator and Redeemer of the world. We shouted for joy as we embraced our Father’s great plan of happiness. … We willingly accepted the perils of mortality because we had confidence that Jesus would accomplish the will of the Father—that through Him we would be saved.”
Jesus’s birth was a birth like no other, he said. “God’s Firstborn Son in the spirit became His Only Begotten Son in the flesh. This child, born in the humblest of circumstances, would carry on His shoulders the salvation of all of God’s eternal family.”
But the story, of course, does not end with the miraculous birth of the Savior; greater miracles followed, he said. Jesus was—and is—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Ultimately, the fulness of the story of Christmas culminates with the last three days of the Savior’s life, said Elder Christensen.
“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’ (Abraham 3:27), He now said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit’ (Luke 23:46).”
Elder Christensen said soon the time came for the Savior to take up His physical body again and complete His victory over death.
“These are the ‘good tidings of great joy’ (Luke 2:10) we celebrate at Christmas—not only that Christ was born but that He lived among us, gave His life for us, was resurrected. … 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 (see Isaiah 25:8).
“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 great plan of happiness, which Christ made possible. The gift that makes the Christmas season sacred is the gift of His very life, which He gave that we might have everlasting life. May we receive this gift and share His love and His gospel with all the world, particularly during this wonderful season of the year.”