The Search for Jesus


Thomas S. Monson
From an article printed in the December 1990 Ensign.
How do we follow Him if we haven’t found Him? And how shall we find Him if we don’t seek Him?

The Search for Jesus

For generations, enlightened people in the Old and New Worlds eagerly sought the fulfillment of prophecies spoken by righteous men inspired of Almighty God. Then came that night of nights when the angel of the Lord came upon shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock, with the pronouncement, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Thus, personally invited to search for the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, did these shepherds worry about the security of their possessions? Did they procrastinate their search for Jesus? The record affirms that “the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem. … And they came with haste” (Luke 2:15–16).

Wise men journeyed 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. …

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:2, 10–11).

With the birth of the babe of Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment—a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to be the King of kings and Lord of lords, the promised Messiah, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life.

What was the reaction to His message of mercy, His words of wisdom, His lessons of life? There were a precious few who appreciated Him. They bathed His feet. They learned His word. They followed His example.

Formula for Finding Him

Down through the generations of time, the message from Jesus has been the same. To Peter by the shores of beautiful Galilee, He said, “Follow me.” To Philip of old came the call, “Follow me.” To Matthew came the instructions, “Follow me.” And to you and to me, if we but listen, shall come that same beckoning invitation, “Follow me.”

But how do we follow Him if first we don’t find Him? And how shall we find Him if first we don’t seek Him? Where and how should we begin this search for Jesus?

The formula for finding Jesus has always been and ever will be the same—the earnest and sincere prayer of a humble and pure heart. The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

Before we can successfully undertake a personal search for Jesus, we must first prepare time for Him in our lives and room for Him in our hearts. In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, shopping, work, or play—but no time for Christ.

Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ.

“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” (Luke 2:7). No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been.

As we undertake our personal search for Jesus, aided and guided by the principle of prayer, we must have a clear concept of Him whom we seek. The shepherds of old sought Jesus the child. But we seek Jesus the Christ, our Older Brother, our Mediator with the Father, our Redeemer, the Author of our salvation; He who was in the beginning with the Father; He who took upon Himself the sins of the world and so willingly died that we might forever live. This is the Jesus whom we seek.

When We Find Him

And when we find Him, will we be prepared as were the wise men of old to provide gifts from our many treasures? They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves: “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34).

In this marvelous dispensation of the fullness of times, our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17), we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’s immortal A Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he, “Not to know that any Christian spirit, working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused. Yet such was I. Oh, such was I.”

Marley added, “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raised them to that blessed star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?”

In a vain effort to comfort Marley, Scrooge offered: “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” Lamented Marley: “Mankind was my business!”

Fortunately, the privilege to serve others can come to each of us. If we but look, we too will see a bright, particular star that will guide us to our opportunity.

Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the waters of baptism, has covenanted to stand as a witness of God “at all times and in all things, and in all places” and has expressed a willingness to “bear one another’s burdens, that they might be light” (Mosiah 18:8–9).

By fulfilling this covenant in our lives, we will become acquainted with Him who declared, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Ne. 11:10). This is the Jesus whom we seek. This is our brother whom we love. This is Christ the Lord, whom we serve. I testify that He lives, for I speak as one who has found Him.

[illustration] Three Wise Men, by Minerva K. Teichert

[illustration] Shepherds Told of Jesus’ Birth, by Arthur A. Dixon

[photo] Photography by John Luke

[illustration] Shepherd at Nativity, by Robert T. Barrett