Thursday, December 14, 2017

President Russell M. Nelson on the beautiful symbolism of the Savior's birth

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015.
"Yes, after millennia of preparation, the long awaited event occurred. Christ was born among men. No wonder angelic choirs sang as they knew that extended centuries of death and darkness were to be relieved by the Atonement, which was finally to come through this Babe of Bethlehem.
"Why Bethlehem? Is there symbolic significance in the meaning of the name Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means 'house of bread'? The Great Provider declared Himself to be the 'bread of life.' (See John 6:48.) How appropriate it was that He, the 'bread of life,' was to come from the 'house of bread.'
"But why among the animals? He, whom John declared to be the 'Lamb of God' (John 1:29), was born during the season of Passover amongst the animals, as were other lambs being prepared for Paschal sacrifice.
"At the birth of Him who is called the 'good shepherd' (John 10:14), shepherds were the first to receive the announcement of His holy birth (see Luke 2:8–16).
"At the birth of Him who once identified Himself as the 'bright and morning star' (Rev. 22:16), a new star appeared in the heavens (see Matt. 2:2; 3 Ne. 1:21). Shining brightly over Bethlehem, that star had been placed in orbit far in advance of the foretold event in order that its light could coincide in time and place with His blessed birth.
"At the arrival of Him who is called 'the light of the world' (John 8:12), darkness was banished as a sign of His holy birth (see 3 Ne. 1:15, 19). He was born the Son of God and the son of a virgin mother, as foretold by Isaiah (see Isa. 7:14) and other prophets. (See 1 Ne. 11:13–21; Alma 7:9–10.)"
- Russell M. Nelson, "Why This Holy Land?," Ensign, December 1989, p. 14
Click here to read the full article

In this very interesting article, President Nelson (then a relatively new member of the Twelve) considered many aspects of symbolism and meaning related to the Christmas season, the Holy Land, and the life of the Savior. He answers the question, "Have you ever wondered why the Lord chose to accomplish His mortal ministry in the exact location that He did?"

There is beautiful symbolism in so many aspects of the Savior's birth, that we sometimes forget in the onslaught of the modern Christmas season. This is a good summary to help draw our attention back to the sacred events, and would be appropriate to review in a quiet family setting. The rest of the article draws further attention to additional aspects of the Savior's life, and is highly recommended for personal or family study!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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