worship Him
Week 03 is scheduled for study Jan. 9-15, 2023. The purpose of this week’s lessons is to demonstrate how we can learn from those who seek out Jesus to worship him. What can we learn from each of those mentioned, and how can we apply those lessons to our own seeking and finding?

Day 1

As you read Matthew 2 and Luke 2, pay attention to any spiritual insights you receive. The study ideas in this outline can help you identify important and relevant principles in these chapters.

Luke 2:1-7 – Jesus Christ was born in humble circumstances.

As we enter into our study of the life of Christ, it is important that we recognize that his mortal life was just one of several phases of his Messiahship as the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. If I may, I would like to explain this statement.

In the premortal realm Jesus was a God in every sense of the word, except that he didn’t yet have a resurrected body that would enable him to receive the glory he was already worthy to possess. As the Messiah, or the “anointed one,” Jesus was tasked with doing for all of God’s children who would come to earth what they could not do for themselves. Jesus came to earth with the responsibility of paying for the sins of all mankind. The final act of responsibility was to die an innocent man and resurrect himself to provide us all with the promise of resurrection. By paying for our sins and providing us with a future resurrection, we all became eternally indebted to him.

So Christ was exalted as a God in the premortal world, has already been glorified by the Father since his death and resurrection, and is now the judge of all mankind, King of kings, and Lord of lords. But what about his time in mortality? Well that is a completely different story. During mortality Jesus came representing our Father in every way. He was born and raised in humble – some might say degrading – circumstances. Jesus was raised in obscurity by a simple carpenter in a backwater place called Nazareth. Joseph and Mary chose Nazareth because they would be unnoticed and hidden from the searching eyes of those who wanted Jesus dead. The scriptures even ask the question, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

We think of Christ as the risen Lord. He is a God, our judge, and not one to be trifled with. But in mortality his purpose was to be submissive and meek, to bend his entire Godly will to the will and bidding of our Father in Heaven. His purpose in mortality was to show us how to live our lives, despite all the hardships mortality has to throw at us, so we can be worthy to return to live with God. In the process of living his mortal life, without even so much as a place to call home during his ministry, he spent all his time serving others and preaching of the love of God. His whole ministry was about demonstrating what it means to be a disciple of the celestial way of living. He not only showed us how, but he was the master of that way of living, demonstrating how any godly person should act in many different situations. His was a life of humble servitude and an example of obedience in all things.

Christ took abuse, suffered from others’ spite, vitriol, hatred and every other kind of insult and misuse during his mortal life. Why? Because his mission was to live like us. He allowed himself to be just as vulnerable to the abuses of others as we are. Not once did he revile those who accused him falsely, spit on him, slapped him, bit him, or otherwise abused him. He submitted to it all, because that was what the Father required of him to set for us the perfect example of how to behave as God wants us to learn to behave.

This submissive attitude ceased to exist once Jesus was resurrected. Now he was glorified and had been exalted by God. After his resurrection we see the Jesus we think of today as our Redeemer and Savior – he who has overcome all. In mortality he was still in the process of overcoming. In mortality we see Jesus as the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, the meekest of the meek. This version of the Christ is what we will be studying this year in the New Testament. How exciting it is to study his life of perfect submission to the Father, and to celebrate his victory over death and sin at the end of his story. Then we get to see how his apostles went through what he went through as they taught his gospel to others and exemplified his humility in all things. We have great things to look forward to this year.

Day 2

As you read Matthew 2 and Luke 2, pay attention to any spiritual insights you receive. The study ideas in this outline can help you identify important and relevant principles in these chapters.

Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-38 – There are many witnesses of the birth of Christ.

Here is an important note that needs to be stated before we move on – No matter what we learn in the New Testament, there is no irrefutable proof of even the existence of Jesus. We have people’s testimonies, and a few historical references to the man who was called Jesus of Nazareth, but no absolute proof of his existence, let alone of his divinity. Even in his own day, those who saw him and witnessed his miracles still had to exercise faith in him in order to gain a testimony of him. In every age faith is the key to our belief and obedience. All scripture must ultimately be accepted on faith, not proof. The witness of the Savior, himself, is no different.

The witnesses of Christ and his birth and mission are many. Have you noticed that with rare exception every single witness of Jesus being the Messiah was not original, but a witness born by someone else to them? The shepherds didn’t know of Jesus’ birth, nor of his mission, until an angel came and told them of these things. Anna and Simeon had witnesses of Jesus given to them by the Holy Ghost. That is the only way they knew who he was and that he was living near them. The wise men, were not kings. They were probably sent by kings to offer homage to the prophesied king of the Jews. Originally the ancient Christians thought there were as many as twelve men who came to find Jesus. These came because they had been studying the ancient texts of a future king who would come and save the people of Israel. When all the signs appeared of his birth, they came seeking him. The lessons we can learn from the wise men are more symbolic and spiritual than physical.

My point here is that faith and belief are required to obtain a witness of Christ. And our witnesses are never original. Each witness of Christ must come by way of the Holy Ghost, for only His witness of Christ’s divinity will be able to sustain us during hard times and times of doubt or uncertainty. A good exercise might be to study each person’s circumstances that led to their testimony of the reality of the Christ’s birth. How do their stories help us in our own life as we come to know the Savior?

Day 3

As you read Matthew 2 and Luke 2, pay attention to any spiritual insights you receive. The study ideas in this outline can help you identify important and relevant principles in these chapters.

Matthew 2:13-23 – Parents can receive revelation to protect their families.

This is a bit unorthodox, but I am going to recommend you watch the following video of a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar. I believe he is speaking to missionaries in this talk, so I don’t know where it was given. The reason I recommend this talk is because the principles of righteous living he discusses in this talk are a beautiful fit with today’s lesson on parents receiving revelation to protect their families.

Now that you have had a chance to listen to his talk, think about how Joseph and Mary were able to care for and protect Jesus as he grew to manhood. They were only given special guidance when there was no physical way for them to know that Jesus was in danger. The rest of the time they were more or less on their own to raise their children in the best way they knew how. This gave Jesus the experience of being raised in a real family, like all of our own. He had younger brothers and sisters, family commitments, duties, and social commitments, just like us.

Jesus also had to navigate the teen years, hormones, and learning how to fit in with others. We have no way of knowing how easy that was or how difficult it might have been. None of us have ever seen a God go through such things. All we know is that he was a good and obedient child. He would have to be, since he committed no sin. Joseph and Mary had to just do their best to raise Jesus in the most righteous way they knew how, and hope it was good enough, just like all other parents of less than perfect children.

Day 4

As you read Matthew 2 and Luke 2, pay attention to any spiritual insights you receive. The study ideas in this outline can help you identify important and relevant principles in these chapters.

Luke 2:40-42 – Even as a youth, Jesus was focused on doing His Father’s will.

The supremacy of Christ’s intellect and spiritual power and abilities is impossible for us to grasp. But the story of Christ in the temple as a twelve year old boy illustrates important principles we can all learn from. As a child develops and grows their brain is still not functioning at complete levels. For example,  very young children have difficulty with the concept of object permanency. If you hide their mother from their eyes, even for just a few seconds, they react as though she has disappeared forever. This is what makes the game of hide and seek with a little child so entertaining. We are able to show them that we can both disappear and appear again at will. At first this isn’t a game for them, but later it becomes immensely entertaining, like a magic show.

As children develop further, they come to see the world as very black and white. Their sense of justice is either all or nothing. It takes a while to learn that sometimes the circumstances or knowledge of the person can change the needed justice meeted out. It isn’t until later that they more fully grasp such things as mercy and compassion. All these things take time to learn, since the brain doesn’t come equipped for us to understand them as young children. That is, except for Jesus. Even at the young and tender age of twelve he had a complete grasp of the meaning and intent behind all the writings of the ancient prophets. This is the hope of many an elderly person, to finally be able to feel comfortable that they have obtained an intimate understanding of God’s doctrine as taught by the prophets down through the ages. Jesus was twelve and already had this mastered. No wonder the sages in the Temple were amazed!

One of the lessons we need to learn from the story of Jesus in the temple as a youth is that teaching young children to be savvy in the principles of the gospel strengthens them and helps them be wise as they come to know more about the world and how it works here in mortality. This story also shows us that even at a very young age, without ready access to a personal copy of the scriptures, Jesus had already studied and digested the teachings of the prophets. I’m pretty confident in my personal belief that he must have had a photographic memory, as well as photographic hearing (otherwise known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) where you remember everything you ever hear, and who said it. This would explain, in part, why no one could teach him anything, for he remembered perfectly everything he had ever seen or heard.

From my own experience I can also state that being comfortable with the writings of the prophets, past or present, gives us comfort and guidance in our daily lives. Jesus was giving perspective to these learned men in the Temple that they had never considered before. That level of understanding requires revelation from the Spirit. Remember that all ability to grasp spiritual things comes as a gift from God through the Spirit. I don’t know if Jesus had to learn the same way or if other things were at play to teach him the plan of salvation at an age when most children would only be grasping stories on a superficial level.

What was so impressive about this encounter, besides all that has already been stated, is that Jesus understood that nothing, even the comfort of his own parents, was as important as for him to be about doing what his Father wanted him to do. How old are most people before God’s will becomes the most important consideration in their life? Some of us never learn this lesson. Others only learn to put God first in our life at a very advanced age when all the distractions of life finally leave us more time to think and feel about the gospel’s teachings and perspectives. Blessed is the person who learns this outlook on life at a very young age!

Day 5

As you read Matthew 2 and Luke 2, pay attention to any spiritual insights you receive. The study ideas in this outline can help you identify important and relevant principles in these chapters.

What is the Joseph Smith Translation?

Be sure to read the explanation of this in the manual. For my contribution today I would like to relate my experience with using the JST (Joseph Smith Translation). There used to be times, when reading in the New Testament, that I thought Jesus talked to people in what appeared to be calloused or somewhat harsh statements. By reading and contemplating the JST references in the footnotes of the scriptures I have come to love the Savior more deeply. The JST changes shows Jesus in a whole new light. He is much more compassionate and loving.

When Joseph Smith fixed the translation of the Bible, the Savior’s gentle and kind sides became far more apparent. The JST shows Jesus to be more considerate, caring, and complete in his comments to his followers than the KJV (King James Version) of the New Testament shows. The JST, for me, makes the New Testament more of a joy to read. Here is an example of a JST passage that gives us greater insight into the life of Jesus.

JST, Matthew 3:24–26

Joseph Smith Translation

24 And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.

25 And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.

26 And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh.

FHE/Personal Study

Matthew 2:1-12 – Wise men

I stated earlier this week that the Wise men talked about in Matthew weren’t kings. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know anything beyond what the scriptures specifically state about those who came seeking Jesus. And that information is extremely limited. We know there was more than just one Wise man. We know that no matter how many there were, only three different gifts were given. We don’t know if multiple people gave the same gift or if those three gifts were given to represent all of them. Anciently it was thought there were as many as 12 men who came to pay respect to the newborn king. And we don’t know if they came from different countries or if they were all from the same kingdom.

We know that they were led by the Spirit to seek Jesus out. The scriptures never specifically state that, but what else would bring them from another country with expensive gifts to honor a two-year-old child of obscure parents, in a backwater village of no reputation?

It is assumed these men were not kings themselves, since at the time it was customary for kings to have a whole contingent of wise men in their employ to give counsel, interpret dreams, etc. It was the job of these men to learn all they could so they could provide their king with the best of advice and guidance when called upon to do so. Evidently these men had studied the prophesies of the Israelites about their future Messiah. When they saw the signs given for his birth, someone thought they should address the matter, and to Jerusalem they were sent.

Does any of this matter to us? It probably should. They were wise because they studied and learned all they could of other cultures and countries. So should we. When moved upon by the Spirit they sought the Christ. So should we. The gifts they brought are heavy with symbolism – gold is a gift for kings, frankincense was one of the most sought after and expensive incents or perfumes of their time, and Myrrh was used in healing and embalming. Each of these three gifts were worth a small ransom.

Some believe (and there is no proof of this) that the magi or wise men were a class of priests that came from the Persian empire. This class of priests had the prophet Daniel as their teacher during his lifetime. He may have taught them of the prophecies of their future Savior, and these advisors to the king had been watching for the signs of this Messiah ever since. No proof, but it sounds reasonable.

Why these three gifts? The myrrh especially seems odd, unless they knew of the prophecies of the Messiah’s death or that the Jewish Messiah was to come with healing in his wings. Either of these points could explain why such an exotic substance would be given to a small child who was born to become the King of all kings.

What do we bring?

The Wise men had studied the scriptures, for in them are the prophecies about Christ. They learned all they could about the workings of the world around them, the planets and stars. They became educated so they could see the signs of the Christ when they appeared. Ignorance rarely produces wisdom. Knowledge more frequently aids in producing wisdom.

The Wise men came to worship and adore, not to exploit or use the Christ child. When we come to the Savior are we there only for what he can give us or do we bring all that we have and are to lay at his feet to do with as he pleases?

When the Wise men had fulfilled their political and social duty to speak to the leader of the Jews, Herod, they defied his direct request when they were warned in a dream that they should leave without telling Herod what he so pointedly asked them to tell him. Are we fulfilling our duties, and doing all that we can to be profitable servants? Are we willing to follow the Spirit when led another direction from what we thought we were going to do? Sometimes the Spirit takes us in surprising directions. Refer back to the Elder Bednar video earlier this week.

The Wise men who came to Jesus had education, fame, access to power, and wealth at their disposal. But for all this they came to praise and adore the Savior of mankind. Most of us are strapped for cash, have little to no influence in society, are at the mercy of others, are unknown in our city or state. Yet too often we are still too proud to bend the knee to the King of kings. What will it take for each of us to become humble enough to seek him out?

The point of today’s lesson is this – Are we being wise in our own life?

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NT03-2023 – We Have Come to Worship Him

Week 03