Christmas
Scheduled for study December 16-22, 2019. This week, the week of Christmas, we will be focusing on the why behind Christmas. What makes the birth of that celebrated baby special? What difference did that one particular life, not just his birth, make in my life – our lives? This is an abbreviated lesson, but with much to think about.

Day 1

Matthew 1:18–25; 2:1-12; Luke 1:26–38; 2:1-20 – Jesus Christ condescended to be born among us on earth.

For some, Christmas can be a hectic time. consider how your study of the New Testament can help bring a spirit of peace and sacredness into your life. Ponder the influence of the Savior’s birth and mission on your life, and record any spiritual impressions that come.

The concept of Christ condescending to come to earth has always fascinated me. Okay, to be truthful, it bugged me. In my generation to condescend or to be condescending is an insult, not a compliment. I was always taught that if someone had a condescending attitude they “thought” they were better than you were, but lowered themselves to “your level” to deal with the common folk. There was always a lot of social bitterness attached to having a condescending attitude. So yes, I had a problem with the notion that Christ condescended to walk amongst us.

What I didn’t know is that the word condescend has more than one meaning, and I was only given one way to look at one meaning. At dictionary.com here is the meaning we need to focus on.

to put aside one’s dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior

What I was missing is the notion that there are two ways you can approach being condescending.

1 – You can lower yourself against your will to deal with someone you consider unpleasant and beneath you. The experience is distasteful and repugnant to your sensibilities, because these people are beneath you and not worth what you are having to do for them. If you have ever seen the movies where a very wealthy person suddenly has no money and has to deal with life like the rest of us, and feels him/herself ill used because of the change of position then you have seen this definition in action.

2 – The second approach to this definition is to genuinely know you are superior to those whom you serve, but to willingly put aside your position in life in order to better serve those who are struggling. This approach is done out of love and respect, preserving the dignity of all people involved, not considering yourself too good to get into the trenches to do the dirty work.

It took me awhile before I realized that Jesus falls into this second category, not the first. Both categories use the same definition, but it is how the person approaches their condescension that makes all the difference. The scriptures teach us that whenever you place two spirits next to each other (Abraham 3) one of them will be higher or greater than the other. It goes on to say that Jesus is greater than all the spirit children of God put together. He was able to achieve godhood while still a spirit. He has created everything in the known universe, and probably much, much more. His capabilities exceed anything we can even comprehend. Yet for all his greatness and stature in the eternal world, he was willing to submit himself in all humility to come to earth and fulfill his Father’s will in all things.

Jesus subjected himself to ridicule, shame, the vitriol of mob mentality, the rejection of those who thought themselves his better, and every other indignation people are capable of heaping on each other. His forgiveness and kindness were greater than any justified reasons for revenge or judgment. He was not here to judge, but to save. He walked among the lowliest of us, loving, caring, lifting up, and demonstrating all the love our Father in Heaven would have shown us were He the one to be here in person. This is the condescension of God. There was no resentment, no hesitation, just loving service. He never considered himself above anything he had to experience or accomplish just because of his eternal status as a God. His love overrode all other considerations, for love was, and is, his driving force.

As you consider the verses you read for today’s lesson, think about our privilege to have one so great and powerful as Jesus among us. He loves us as his friends. His work and glory is to bring us back into the presence of our Father in Heaven. Nothing has been too menial or too low for him. He has always been willing to do whatever was necessary to save our soul from being lost. This is the true spirit of ministering, to provide whatever is needed for the health and welfare of another person’s wellbeing. How fortunate we are to have someone of Christ’s stature be condescending toward us!

Day 2

1 Corinthians 15:21–26; Colossians 1:12–22; 1 Peter 2:21–25 – Jesus Christ fulfilled His mission and made it possible for me to inherit eternal life.

For some, Christmas can be a hectic time. consider how your study of the New Testament can help bring a spirit of peace and sacredness into your life. Ponder the influence of the Savior’s birth and mission on your life, and record any spiritual impressions that come.

Life can be so confusing sometimes. We celebrate the birth of Jesus and all the events that attended his birth. Every year we focus on his entry into mortality. The problem is that after his birth there is a silence that lasts for 30 years before we hear anything about him again. Suddenly we jump from a babe in a manger to his ministry. No sooner does he get his ministry going and the Church beginning to build up than he is crucified, resurrected and off to see the Nephites and others around the world.

Because of our disjointed view of Christ’s life sometimes we don’t see it in its entirety. And it is as a whole that we need to see it in order for us to appreciate what his life means for all of us. His life wasn’t just about the garden of Gethsemane, the cross, or the resurrection. It wasn’t just about his birth or his visits to other people. What is important is that everything Christ did was done for our welfare. Every part of his life, death, and resurrection was to fulfill his assignment from the Father to open the door and provide the way back for the rest of God’s children to return home. The story of Jesus of Nazareth is the ultimate story of self sacrifice.

Our sometimes tritely stated phrases about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life are actually absolutely, and profoundly true. There is no way back home to our Father in Heaven without the work Jesus performed for us, under the direction of our Father in Heaven. Jesus lived his life as a role model to show and demonstrate for us in every detail the extent of God’s love for us, and just how far He is willing to go to offer us as much happiness in the eternities as we are able to accept. It is so easy for us to minimize the life Jesus lead as being just the life of a good and kind individual trying to set an example for others. It was, in fact, the only perfectly lived life to ever occur on this planet. It was the life lived by a celestial man made mortal to show us what can be accomplished and achieved if we put others before ourselves. And just as importantly, that it can be done by mortals!

The life Jesus lead demonstrates that what the world teaches us is false, untrue, and will lead to anywhere but lasting happiness. In the world happiness is only available in periods of peace and calm. But in the life Jesus teaches us to lead peace and joy can be ours even in the worst times of trial and suffering, for he shows us that what happens to us in mortality is temporary. Since we live in a temporary world, our focus needs to be on eternity. When we learn to see beyond the boundaries of this life and into eternity, we live for the blessings God has in store for us, not just what we can achieve in the few short years we are living here. This is what allows us to be happy even when life is hard. It is the perspective Christ brings that changes everything.

This holiday season, I encourage you to be happy for our Savior’s birth, but remember that his birth was but the beginning of the most extraordinary life ever to be lived. Remember why he came. It was to open the doors and provide the opportunities we need to repent and return to God. Remember his death, for in his death he brought us the gift of resurrection. It is the resurrection that provides us an immortal body of glory for all eternity. His life was a package deal. There was no part of his life, death, and resurrection that is insignificant or disposable. All of his life is crucial to our salvation and eternal happiness.

So as you sit sipping your cider or eggnog, listening to the carols, and looking at the lights and packages under the tree, remember that it was Jesus that gave anything we hold dear in our lives meaning. Without him our very existence on this planet would have no meaning at all, no purpose at all. We owe him everything! Merry Christmas to you and all those you hold dear.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 51