Scheduled for study Dec. 21-27, 2020. As the Christmas Come, Follow Me commentary for the last lesson of the Book of Mormon, I have completely departed from my usual practice. This is my tribute to Christ and the book we have just studied this year.
Ever since I first started writing for my website I have stumbled and stalled each Christmas season. Writing about Christ has always been difficult for me. I fear that my own lack of understanding of his greatness and power causes me to be at a loss for words. I am unable to paint the verbal pictures that are in my heart, and am not even sure if what I see in my mind and soul are the complete picture of him.
When I think of Christ in a church setting, I see him standing on a hillside teaching throngs of people, passing down a crowded alleyway with pressing masses wanting to see him or touch him. I see the triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before his crucifixion. He slept on ships in stormy seas and calmed the billows with a simple rebuke. The lame walked with a word or touch. The dead rose with his matter-of-fact command. And on the cross he seemed more concerned for his mother’s welfare than for his own, and was forgiving of those who had just cruelly nailed his hands and feet to the cross.
How do I comprehend such a man? Where do I start? He is larger than life, bigger than any hero of mythology or the silver screen. He was the very creator of the universe itself. How does one wrap one’s comprehension around someone who personally created trillions of galaxies and the millions of stars and planets in each one of them? What do we use to understand the light that emanates from him, giving light to the universe itself, and causing our very understanding to comprehend goodness as a product or creator of light?
Where can we go to feel the proper gratitude owed to such a being as Jesus of Nazareth, who knows each of us by name, who has seen all our faults, paid for our sins to God, Himself, and who still loves us more than we can ever repay or appreciate here in mortality? What mortal is great enough to teach us to have the audacity to believe we can actually be like him, benevolent, kind, patient, longsuffering, faithful in all things, and forgiving of all?
My perception of Christ is so big, so all encompassing, that I find it difficult to feel close to him. For years I fought God’s teaching that Jesus, the Christ, is the only path, the only way back to God. Like a petulant and stubborn child, I wanted to do it all on my own. I didn’t want to believe that I was so weak that I couldn’t change if I needed to change, that I couldn’t repent if I chose to repent, all on my own power. I didn’t need, nor want, Christ’s help. I could do it on my own.
It has been difficult for me to concede that I am not enough. I do, in fact, need Jesus to help me. I need his atoning sacrifice, for I cannot sustain my changes. The power is not in me to be able to change the nature of my heart so the changes I try to make in my life become permanent. Someone else has to help me change the disposition of my heart. Someone else needs to teach me how to live differently and appreciate how much better life can be with the help Jesus offers each of us. I cannot survive without the sustaining influence and guidance of his Spirit.
Each of us must come to terms with who Jesus is to us. We must each, eventually recognize his power, might, majesty, dominion, and exalted status. To do this we must also recognize that life does not revolve around us, does not put us on a pedestal from which we are supposed to pass judgment on others whom we don’t think of as our equal. In order to truly put Jesus where he belongs in our thinking, we must first be willing to abase ourselves as petitioners, unworthy, and incapable of being able to do what is required to satisfy the demands of God’s eternal justice. Only Christ was able to do that, and our very salvation is dependant on our recognizing his supremacy over each of us. We must be willing to worship at the throne of God and thank Him daily for giving us a Redeemer, someone who was willing and capable of ransoming our souls from death and hell, and permanent separation from God, our Father.
At this season of the year it is easy to think of a little baby lying in a manger. What a sweet picture that makes. As I watched the movie the church made of the birth of Christ, the most moving part was watching the face of the wiseman who presented their gifts to the Christ child. As I watched his expressions – for he said not a word – I seemed to feel the overwhelming joy, gratitude, and reverence of being in the presence of the prophesied Messiah, the Savior of the world. Such a privilege to kneel in his presence and offer him the finest gifts on earth, though they still fell short of being worthy of his majesty, would have been overwhelming.
There is only one way I have been able to deal with the grandeur that is my Savior, and that is to focus on his personal love for me. The creator of the universe, the giver of light to the cosmos, the Redeemer of the entire family of God, and my only source of hope in a world torn by evil and strife, suffered for not just all of us, but for me personally. I would like to believe that in the course of Gethsemane’s trial he saw each of us, acknowledged that what he did was for each person he saw, and if I was the only one who needed him to go through that awful ordeal, he would not have hesitated one moment, and gone through it just for me. And furthermore, I believe that God, my Heavenly Father would have made the same sacrifice for me and me alone, if only He had the ability to do so. But the universe does not allow for anyone to enter mortality more than once. And God has already had his time on an earth. Hence the need for someone else to do what our Father couldn’t do. And our brother Jesus stepped up and answered the call to sacrifice himself for each and every one of us.
I hope no one feels I am trivializing Christ’s grand role as the center of the entire plan of salvation by thinking of his sacrifice for me and me alone. My finite brain just can’t handle more than that. But for me, his sacrifice made for all is enough that I believe I am included in that payment of sin. That I have a part of his love for all of God’s children is more than I feel I deserve. I am filled with gratitude, for I know that even though I feel loved in the depths of my soul, even that pales in comparison to his love for me.
The titles for this week’s lessons need to be taken one at a time and pondered. I don’t feel that I can give you a commentary on what you should think about or how you should feel about the subject matter. This week you need to face God and search your feelings about each of the following topics.
Jesus Christ came to earth to be my Savior.
Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of all mankind. (I would add, and of me)
The Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ
This is the last lesson of the year. Next week we begin studying the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History. As you close this year’s chapter on the Book of Mormon, what have you learned about Christ in its pages? The Book of Mormon is, after all, another Testament of Christ. As you look at and ponder about each of the topics of study this week, think about what you have learned about that subject. More importantly, think about what you have felt about the subjects. The Book of Mormon was written to bring us to Christ, to teach us to be like him, and to love him. How much progress toward those goals have you made this year?
Enjoy this week of Christmas. Think about your family and their needs. How can you be a better example of Christ among the members of your family, your neighborhood, and your ward or branch? Are you speaking with God multiple times a day? Are you seeking for His Spirit to teach you to see with an eternal perspective? God and Christ love you. All they have done is for the sole purpose of giving each of us the best opportunity to be exalted. Christ took more than a thousand years to write the Book of Mormon, let’s not take it for granted. The words of salvation are contained in this book, and so many examples of Christ’s love and concern for each of us. Rejoice in this season, and be happy in Christ.
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Just beautiful! Well thought out, well written, and honest. Thank you!!!
Thank you for putting into words what my heart feels about our Savior.Thank you Thank you you are wonderful!
Your writing help me understand the Gospel of Christ, for sure I will continue reading each week. This coming 2021, we will have Doctrine and Covenants, my favourite and I can’t wait to read your writing. Thank you so much Brother Kelly, God bless you always. Merry Christmas to you and your whole family.
Dear Brother Kelly, I am so grateful & appreciative of having had the opportunity to enjoy this past year of sharing in with your uplifting & inspiring study of the Book of Mormon. It has been such a blessing to me and wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your caring & sharing. Look forward to going into New Year 2021 study journey together with you. Loving wishes to yourself & Family.
Thank you Lynette. It is a privilege to be able to write on what I love so much. Happy New Year to you and yours!