Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but he was later identified as Jesus of Nazareth, the site of his early home. He was brought up in Nazareth, a small village in a hollow among the hills of the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth was a poor town void of wealth, without respected leadership, and without many residents. As young Jesus grew up and taught, people “were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power” (Luke 4:32).
Those who saw and heard Him were not only astonished, but frightened, bewildered, and amazed as well in his life and performances. They were inclined to talk among themselves about His unusual skills, conduct, and background.
Nathaniel, one of His disciples “said unto [Philip], Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see” (John 1:46). The answer in those days and the answer today is, If you would know Jesus, come and see.
The word come means to move to, to draw near, or to approach. To see is to perceive with the eyes or to gain knowledge or awareness of.
From Luke we read:
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“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 this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
“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.
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us” (Luke 2:7–15).
The shepherds were invited to come and see. They saw. They trembled. They testified. They rejoiced. They saw Him wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, the Prince of Peace.
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
“Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1–2).
To the world we humbly declare, “He is here. Come and see.”
At this Christmas season I extend to you the gift of determination to come and see.
Some will be inclined to say, “I am lost.” “My circumstances are impossible.” “Nobody cares.”
A young man in deep trouble and despair said to me recently, “It’s all right for others to have a merry Christmas, but not me. It’s no use. It’s too late.”
We can stay away and complain. We can stay away and nurse our sorrows. We can stay away and pity ourselves. We can stay away and find fault. We can stay away and become bitter.
Or we can come and see! We can come and see and know!
May I make a few suggestions for you to consider at this Christmas season and in all the days ahead?
Avoid the very appearance of being smug, self-righteous, hypocritical, or “better than thou.” Through some unfortunate conduct on the part of many of us, associates and nonmembers are inclined to ask: “Can any good come out of this school or that school? Can any good come out of this town? Can any good come out of that neighborhood? Can any good come out of that ward? Can any good come out of that home?”
Our answer should be: Come and see. Come and get to know us. We should not answer, as we read too often in letters to the editor, “If you don’t like it here, go somewhere else. We didn’t ask you to come. We were here first.” How sad the situation of a beautiful teenage girl rejected by her peers in high school because she wasn’t a Mormon.
Sometimes we forget the truth, “We believe in doing good to all men.” How friendly are we to our neighbors? How friendly are we to nonmembers?
Acceptance of others is fulfilled by the principle of love. Who is my neighbor? Jesus tells us in the well-known story of the good Samaritan (see Luke 10:29–37). The good Samaritan today can be the person who will be a friend to the loner, the shy, the minority, and those who silently plead for good associates.
Let us enlarge our circle. Through love and courtesy, let us disarm those who dislike or do not understand us. Avoid contention. Invite others to know us better. Let our lives and example be better, so that they might “come and see.”
I pray our Heavenly Father will help you and me in receiving the gift of “come and see.” May He help us to have the determination to know, to believe, and to declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, our Savior born in Bethlehem in humble surroundings and circumstances. Where and what the circumstances were at His birth were totally insignificant compared to what He was.
We need the continuing faith to declare to the world that Jesus lives today, that He is our Savior, our friend, the Son of God, and that His church and kingdom are available to all today. God does live. Jesus is one with the Father. It takes self-discipline not only to know but also to declare these truths. With God’s love and help all of these things are possible, and they will bring peace and joy to each of us as we know and understand the real meaning of Christmas. An attitude of “come and see” makes it possible for cherished memories and mountains to overshadow losses and valleys in our quest for the joyous.
If you would love Him, come and see. If you would know Him, come and see.
Jesus of Bethlehem and Nazareth is the Only Begotten of the Father—our Redeemer, our Savior, Christ the Lord. This truth I solemnly declare and leave my special witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.