Simeon, whom Luke described as “just and devout” was the ninth witness. He was able to hold the Christ child. He had been promised of the Lord that he would not die until he had seen the Savior. That day he was moved to go to the temple.
When the parents and the child entered the temple—Mary for the ritual of cleansing and Joseph to pay the tax necessary to redeem the firstborn from priestly service—Simeon took the child in his arms and declared, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29–32.)
Joseph McConkie said Simeon’s declaration “reached far beyond the understanding and hope of those of his nation, for he saw the universal nature of Christ’s ministry. He bore witness that Jesus was Savior to Jew and Gentile alike.” (Joseph F. Mcconkie, Twelve Witnesses of christ’s Birth, Ensign, December 1990)
What has God promised you? Are you sharing what he has given you?
Following the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, “suddenly there was … a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” (Luke 2:13.) The heavenly choir then sang to the humble shepherds of Judaea “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14.) One religion teacher said it was better translated as, “Glory to god in the highest, and on earth peache [among men of] good will.”
The angels were heralding with music the Savior’s birth among the scattered remnants of Israel.
Were you there? Singing and prayer are the two ways we praise God together as a whole, as one. Think about a time when you felt the spirit as you sang a song in a large congregation. I remember knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet while I sang, “Praise to the Man” with two thousand missionaries. It was a powerful moment I’ll always remember.
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. (Like 2: 8-16) These were not ordinary shepherds, for it had been prophesied among the Nephites that angels would declare the glad tidings of the Messiah’s birth to “just and holy men.” (Alma 13:26.) These were probably the priesthood holders acting as shepherds in the temple fields.
Their job that night and other nights was
to witness the birth of the lambs! Many gave birth to two lambs and
they needed to know the first born so they could become sacrifical
lambs. They would mark the first born male with a red cord around the
neck. This special night they got to witness the first born son of God –
the Lamb of God.
Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who leads and watches over his followers. Many prophets compared him to a shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Ps. 23:1) “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd.” (Isa. 40:11) “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:11,14)
The special witnesses borne by these shepherds were to be told to family, friends, and neighbors. They were to be told in the courts of the temple, and from there to be told among all nations of the earth. Luke tells us that after the shepherds had seen the “babe lying in a manger, … they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (Luke 2:16–17.) Such was the declaration of the angel who stood before them that holy night, that these “good tidings of great joy” should “be to all people.” (Luke 2:10.)
Jesus was witnessed and visited by shepherds – symbolic of him becoming our “Good Shepherd” keeping us safe as he leads us back home! ☺️
Joseph was a patriarch of a man. He was the one that had family home evenings with Jesus, he taught him a trade, told him stories, encouraged him to walk, talk, read and sing.
Angel Gabriel helped him whenever he needed it. Gabriel first comforted Joseph, “Fear not to take Mary as thy wife… for she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21) Fulfilling the prophesy, “The Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14.)
The angel giving Joseph the name of the baby was very significant. In that culture when a man names the child he is legally claiming him as his own. Joseph named him “Jesus” which means save his people just as the angel told him. He loved Jesus as his own.
We know that he was righteous and faithful in keeping the law of Moses. He was strickly obedient and rose immediately when warned to flee Bethlehem.
There are no scriptural record of any words spoken by Joseph, yet his righteousness and reactions to Mary’s condition bear testimony to his belief in Christ’s divine sonship.
Jesus was born the son of God to a virgin mother as foretold by Isaiah (Isa. 7:14) and other prophets (1 Nephi 11:13-21; Alma 7:9-10.) Gabriel called her, “highly favoured” and “blessed… among women” (Luke 1:28.)
From the Book of Mormon we learn what the mother of the Savior looked like. Nephi “beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.” (1 Nephi 11:13)
Mary was a perfect mortal witness. Gabriel told her she would conceive “the Son of the Highest.” (Luke 1:32.)
Christ’s mother was very special and the Nephites understood how special she was because her name was announced. It was their culture to not write the name of women except in very special circumstances. There are only 4 women names in the whole Book of Mormon.
“He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” (Mosiah 3:7-8)
Nephi understood the symbolism of the fruit of the tree when he witnessed the love Mary had for Jesus.
“I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirableabove all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and themost joyous to the soul.” (1 Ne. 11:19–23.)
knew the meaning of the tree was love because he could feel their love
for each other. Love is the MOST desirable, the MOST joyous.
How did you feel when your children were born? or when you held a newborn baby? It is that love that God desires us all to feel and have and experience. When is the last time you felt the love of God?
Following that marvelous event, she testified, saying, “He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:49.)
What a marvelous event it must have been when Elisabeth greeted her cousin Mary in the spirit of prophecy and Mary responding by that same spirit, then John leaping for joy. The testimonies of two women—the aged Elisabeth and the young Mary—each bearing a child conceived under miraculous circumstances. They, and the unborn John, all rejoice in the great event about to take place.
Christ was the rightful heir to David’s kingdom and John was rightful heir of the office of Elias. He began his ministry, to “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his [Christ’s] ways,” by leaping for joy while still within his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:41, 76; see also Luke 1:15.)
Elizabeth is a type of Alishiba, the wife of Aaron. Her name means ALL sons are priests. Elizabeth’s line was to bare the priests! She and Zachariah were not able to bare children. He being a Priest was at the prayer alter praying for Salvation (Jesus) and he received salvation for his family!Continue reading
Zacharias was a “just and holy” man (Alma 13:26) and a priest. He and his wife Elisabeth were descendants in the Priest’s line (Luke 1:5) In Hebrew his name meant Lord has Remembered and her name meant consecrated to God.
This noble couple were promised a child who would be the forerunner of the Messiah. Zacharias did not believe this could happen as they were “sticken in years” so Gabriel told him he would “not be able to speak, unto the day that these things shall be performed” (Luke 1:20.)
He remained mute until “Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered.” (Luke 1:57) It was then that Zacharias’s “mouth was opened” (Luke 1:64) and he bore witness of the divine mission of his newborn son, testifying that he would “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:65) News of these miraculous occurrences “were noised abroad throughout Judea.” (Luke 1:76.)Continue reading
Angel Gabriel is the first witness, he was a righteous messenger from the King or God who brought messages and helped prepared for the birth of the Christ. In Hebrew the word “angel” is Malak which means messenger from the King. Gabriel means God is my strong man. He “stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157), and that he holds the keys of the “restoration of all things” (D&C 27:6–7.)
Gabriel made his initial appearance in the temple to Zacharias, a faithful priest, who performed a ritual for his nation—burning incense on the altar within the Holy Place.
In response to his prayer, an “angel of the Lord” appeared before Zacharias, standing on the right side of the altar of incense and identified himself as Gabriel, one who stood “in the presence of God.” (Luke 1:11, 19.) Gabriel tells him of the good news and gives him instructions.
Gabriel also visits Mary and Joseph to help prepare the way for the birth of Christ.