Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Luke 2, Matthew 2




Scripture references have been highlighted in red and are hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window. Please click to read!    Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.


Though most of us are familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, we can all gain new spiritual insights by studying this most important event, even in the history of the world. The accounts in Luke 2 and Matthew 2 are historically the ultimate resource in recounting the happenings of this occasion.

In last weeks lesson, we found that Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ traces His lineage through David, Judah, and Abraham Matthew 1:1–3, demonstrating Jesus’s right to rule and His role as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel; thus making this weeks lesson, the birth of Christ, of significant importance to all who believe and also to those who don't.  It's also important to remember that though a large amount of Matthew’s material is also found in Mark and Luke, about 42 percent of Matthew’s Gospel is unique making his book essential in a proper gospel study.  

Matthew, who was one of the Savior’s Twelve Apostles and an eyewitness to many of the events he described; had first-hand knowledge that was and is important to share.  Some evidence suggests that Matthew used Mark’s Gospel as a source. Matthew may have placed confidence in Mark’s account because Mark had relied heavily on Peter’s eyewitness accounts of the Master’s life. Matthew edited, corrected, reorganized, and added significantly to the material he obtained from Mark; making all we read from Matthew of great importance.  

Matthew appears to have written to a Jewish audience (to both Jews who may have accepted Jesus as the Messiah and those who did not) to show that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecy. Matthew frequently referred to Old Testament prophecies and used the phrase “that it might be fulfilled.” In his Gospel, Matthew employed the term “Son of David” 12 times as testimony that Jesus Christ was the rightful heir to King David’s throne and the fulfillment of messianic expectations.

Luke, the longest of the four Gospels and the longest book in the New Testament,. contains the most unique material of the three synoptic Gospels. Some of the most well-known stories of Christendom are unique to the Gospel of Luke: including the traditional Christmas narrative  Luke 2:1–20 and the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy in the temple, which we will both study this week.  

In recounting the early spread of Christianity, Luke’s Gospel demonstrates the Lord’s interest in all people which we will see today in the story of Christ's birth with the witness and revelation to a group of diverse righteous people.  

And as a side note, because Luke’s Gospel begins and concludes at the temple, it also signals the temple’s importance as a principal location of God’s dealings with mankind  Luke 1:9; 24:53.

The Joseph Smith Translation
In my personal gospel study, I have always included the Joseph Smith Translation and followed the footnotes with the inspired revisions.  Why do I do this? Because “many plain and precious” truths were lost from the Bible over the centuries (1 Nephi 13:28; see also Moses 1:41), thus the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to make an inspired revision of the Bible, known as the Joseph Smith Translation.  When I read the revised text in connection with the original things make much more sense.  

Many revisions made by the Prophet are included in the appendix of the Latter-day Saint edition of the scriptures. The LDS edition of the King James Version of the Bible also contains footnotes with the Prophet’s revisions. Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 24, known as Joseph Smith—Matthew, can be found in the Pearl of Great Price. For more information, see Bible Dictionary, “Joseph Smith Translation”; “Bible, Inerrancy of,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org.

Why did Jesus come to earth 3 Nephi 27:13–16 
 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. 
14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. 

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

Jesus had glory with Heavenly Father “before the world was” John 17:5. He created the heavens and the earth Mosiah 3:8. and as Jehovah, he revealed commandments and gospel truths to the prophets of the Old Testament.  Yet when he came to earth to fulfill all he was predestined to do, the circumstances of Jesus’ birth were not as royalty, he came as we come, and his circumstances were lowly.  Luke 2:7

 Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy identified some lessons we can learn from the Savior’s humble birth: “His birth, like his life, teaches us that there is nothing wrong with humble origins, with poverty, simplicity, and obscurity. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being outcast from society, in being forced to dwell apart from the world, literally or figuratively. Poverty is no disgrace, and a shelter for animals may be a temple of God’s spirit as surely as any more elegant dwelling. … Christ’s birth and simple upbringing are a reminder to us that we must never look down on anyone because of their origins or worldly status. If we scorn the humble, we may unwittingly scorn the chosen of God’s children on the earth” (The King of Kings [2000], 26).

How do you think these circumstances foreshadow his mortal ministry and his atoning sacrifice?  He was hated, he was scorned, he was poor, his circumstances in death were as to life...humble and meek.

No Room At The Inn
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

In what ways do people today refuse to make room for the Savior in their lives? President Thomas S. Monson taught:  “The formula for finding Jesus has always been and ever will be the same—the earnest and sincere prayer of a humble and pure heart. …

“Before we can successfully undertake a personal search for Jesus, we must first prepare time for him in our lives and room for him in our hearts. In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, time for shopping, time for work, time for play—but no time for Christ.

“Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ.

“Do we get a pang of conscience as we recall his own words: ‘The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.’ (Matt. 8:20.) Or do we flush with embarrassment when we remember, ‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.’ (Luke 2:7.) No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been.

“As we undertake our personal search for Jesus, aided and guided by the principle of prayer, it is fundamental that we have a clear concept of him whom we seek. The shepherds of old sought Jesus the child. But we seek Jesus the Christ, our Older Brother, our Mediator with the Father, our Redeemer, the Author of our salvation; he who was in the beginning with the Father; he who took upon himself the sins of the world and so willingly died that we might forever live. This is the Jesus whom we seek”
(“The Search for Jesus,” Ensign, Dec. 1990, 4–5).

What can we do to make room for him in our lives?  


Part 1: Jesus Christ is born

I traveled a great distance to find him, gave him gifts, and worshiped him said a wise man from the east; Matthew 2:1–2, 9–11.

I made no room for him said the person running the inn; Luke 2:7.

Having received a witness from the Holy Ghost, I took the child up in my arms and knew that I could die in peace said Simeon; Luke 2:25–32

I said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  said an angel; Luke 2:13–14

I went quickly to see him said a shepherd; Luke 2:15–16

I was troubled and tried to kill him did King Herod; Matthew 2:3–4, 16

After seeing him in the temple, I expressed gratitude and spread the news of his birth did Anna; Luke 2:36–38.

I pondered the event in my heart did Mary the mother of Christ; Luke 2:19.

These are examples of how some people in the account of the birth of Christ reacted, felt and thought when hearing and seeing of the miracle.  When you read the story, when you think about this event; how do you respond to the account of the Savior’s birth? How do you respond to his life, death, atonement, and resurrection?

The firsthand accounts of worshipers in Luke 2 and Matthew 2 can help us ponder the ways we react to, and show our love for the Savior in his birth, life and mission. Before these witnesses worshiped the Christ child, they sought after Him.  I thought on the following question while reading their accounts and this is what I found in my search to react with and show love for the Savior.   

What do the accounts of the following individuals suggest about some of the ways we can seek Christ as well as understand worshiping and witnessing? 

The Shepherds witness Luke 2:8–20

1. God can and will speak to EVERYONE. Whatever walk of life, whatever profession, wherever you come from, Jew or Gentile if we are righteously seeking to live as He so desires He will speak to us.

2.  God uses messengers to accomplish goals.  He sends his angels to testify, direct and guide that all may be fulfilled as directed by the Father.

3We need not fear but be joyful.  The angel told the shepherds that they should not fear, as the news he brought would bring joy to all people. The Greek phrase, translated in the King James Version as "I bring you good tidings," is literally "I bring you good news." The word gospel means, literally, "good news." The angel announced to the shepherds that the gospel was about to be restored and the Law fulfilled to bring joy to all people. Christ is that joy, and eventually all will be grateful for what He has doneI know I personally am.  

4 God gives us signs, shows and teaches us.  It has been thought, even in the days of ancient Israel that signs and wonders were no longer available.  Yet here these shepherds were seeing it first hand.  This is a reminder that God will show us, he will teach us, he will lead us, even with signs and miracles when it is according to his will. These shepherds are given details that will help them recognize the Christ child when they see Him, we are given the same through the teachings of our Prophets today.

5A heavenly host was seen.  Not only did the shepherds have the great witness and sign of the angel telling them of the miracle and give them direction; but they were also able to see a heavenly host worshiping and praising.  The idea of heaven just became real to these men/boys, and it is a reminder and testament to us that it is real.  It also reminded me of the Kirkland temple dedication.  Again, in our day, a heavenly host was seen above the house of the Lord worshiping and praising.  It's not a fairytale, but a miracle and testament to strengthen our belief.

Whereas one angel had been speaking with the shepherds up to this point, now the angelic hosts join in praising God. They are called a "host," which means, literally, "an army." It is paradoxical that God has an army announce the coming of peace, even the Prince of Peace.

In the King James Version and Joseph Smith Translation the angels say "glory to God," "peace on earth," and "good will toward mankind." The Greek for this verse is slippery enough that commentators and translators have rendered the passage variously and with multiple connotations:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (New International Version)

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors. (New Revised Standard Version)

Glory to God in high heaven, and peace on earth for men whom he favors! (Moffatt Translation)

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased. (Good News Bible)

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor. (Jerusalem Bible)

Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men—good will. (Young's Literal Translation)

Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good will. (New World Translation)

These alternate translations provide at least two insights absent from the King James Version or the Joseph Smith Translation. First, God is frequently spoken of as dwelling in the "highest heaven" rather than simply dwelling "on high" or receiving the "highest" praise. Second, more often than not, translators see "peace" as being something the angels announced as a gift from God to those whom He "favors" or is "pleased" with. In other words, the angels imply that true peace will not be found in the world except in and through Christ. To obey His law and keep His commandments will bring both divine favor and true inner peace. Thus, the event brought peace to the hearts of Simeon and Anna but not to Herod. The offering is of peace but only to those who acknowledge the birth of Christ. (Nativity Alonso Gaskill) 


6. They believed.  There was not a question in their mind that what had just happened was reality.  They believed and went as directed to see and there found the babe lying in the manger.  If we believe, faithfully without doubting, we too will see.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "These were not ordinary shepherds nor ordinary flocks. . . . The shepherds, . . . for whom the veil was then rent . . . were in spiritual stature like Simeon and Anna and Zacharias and Elisabeth and Joseph and the growing group of believing souls who were coming to know, by revelation, that the Lord's Christ was now on earth."

7.  They believed before they saw.   As stated above they believed never doubting that what had just happened was real.  With that belief they acted and went to see the babe finding him lying in a manger.  This increased their faith and testimony.  When we act upon the things we have been taught without doubt but with faith, our testimony too will be increased and we will be filled.

8.  They shared the good news.  Because they believed, acted and then saw, their faith and testimony were increased; and with the glad news of happy tidings they wanted to share it with everyone, so they did, telling of the things they had seen and heard.  The excitement with which they dropped everything and hurriedly sought the Master reminds us of the Lord's dictate: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33; 3 Nephi 13:33). Unlike the wealthy young ruler of Luke 18:18–25, these shepherds were entirely willing to set aside the things of this world for the peace that the angels had offered.  So too should we.

9.  They stuck to what they knew to be true.  In sharing the glad news along with things they had seen and heard, many did not believe or did not know what to think, yet these shepherds stuck to what they knew to be true.

The shepherds were among the first mortals to bear witness of the Messiah's advent. After they had seen Jesus, they declared to others what they had been told from a divine source about Jesus. No doubt they confided to Mary and Joseph that they had seen angels. They likely told others in Bethlehem after they left the "manger." The visit of the shepherds would have been important for Mary, as now she knew there were other witnesses to the divine nature of her Child. Mary's relief finds a parallel in the words of the Prophet Joseph after the Three Witnesses had been shown the plates:

You do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel . . . and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.39

Mary too must have felt a sense of relief upon hearing the testimony of the shepherds. As the fourth-century Ambrose of Milan wrote: "An angel tells Mary, an angel tells Joseph, an angel tells the shepherds. It does not suffice that a messenger is sent once. For every word stands with two or three witnesses."40 All of this left a deep impression upon Mary.
(Nativity Alonso Gaskill)


Simeon's witness Luke 2:25–35

1. Be patient and diligent in waiting upon the Lord. This is the first thing I gleaned from Simeon reminding myself that God's time is not my time and he does know best. I have found that as I look back on my life and when answers came, it was best they came when they did and not when I wanted them.  I gained such the greater understanding and testimony.

2.  Always be in tune with the spirit.  Because Simeon was completely in tune with the spirit he knew Jesus when he saw him.  We are by no means perfect but if we can act in harmony with the gospel to the best of our ability, it will keep our hearts and minds in tune and connected with the spirit.  This will bring the patience we need, the answers we need, the help and understanding we need in all things. And we will know Him when we see and feel Him.

3.  Know the mission and purpose of the life of Christ.  Because Simeon had been valiant in staying in tune with the spirit, when he saw Jesus he knew Him and was able to prophesy about the life and mission of the Savior.  This is not only a great testament to us, but was also to Joseph and Mary as he testified to them.

4.  The light of Christ is sent to ALL.  Simeon speaks of not only the Savior for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.  Christ came for ALL.

5.  Simeon was a witness; we can be like him.  He was a witness to Joseph and Mary of the reality that they were the parents of the Son of God.  Jesus is the Salvation of All people.  He gave Joseph and Mary confirmation of these things that were "marvelous to them"  as I am sure it must have been surreal.  The testimony and prophesy he gave them prepared and taught them of things to come and this could only be of help.  Likewise we knowing the truth, we having had the Lord manifest himself in our lives teaching us of the truths of the gospel, can be like Simeon as we share with others our experiences and what we know; it can only help them...


Anna's witness Luke 2:36–38

1.  God witnesses to the worthy and pure in heart.  Anna shows us that God can and will witness to all who are worthy and ready to accept him.  She had dedicated herself, her life to Him, and was rewarded with his trust in showing her the Savior, his life and mission.

2.  Service is one of the best ways to worship.  With the death of her husband and probably other areas of her life, it seems that Anna may have had great sorrow.  She found her solace in the temple dedicating her time and talents in the service of God.  Likewise we can find the same as we do the same.  Service is the best healer.

3.  Temple attendance.  Not only is temple attendance of great importance for many things, it is a way to worship.  If we love the Lord, if we want to show him how much we love Him, holding a current temple recommend and attending the temple is how we do it.  The temple is our ultimate goal.

4.  Fasting and Prayer is worship.  Not only when we need the Lord but when we want to thank, or show our love fasting and prayer is worship.  It takes great effort on our parts to fast and pray with full intent and purpose.  When we can accomplish this and do this, it shows great faith, dedication and love.  It is accepting and pleasing to God.

5.  We will know the Lord.  Like Simeon Anna teaches us that the pure in heart, those striving to be righteous, those that are believing, will know the Lord when they see him.

6.  Gaining, having and keeping a testimony is a witness and worship of Christ.  


The Wise Men witness' Matthew 2:1–12

1.  Studying the scriptures lead us to Christ.  The wise men had the name of wise men because they were that. Wise learnedly men.  They used the scriptures of the time, the words of prophets, and maps, and studied constellations, they used the tools God gave them to study and with that study came their testimony.  Studying the scriptures with full purpose of heart leads us to a witness of Christ, it gives us the knowledge to know and worship Him.   

2.  The right direction.  As with the wise men, the knowledge we gain from scripture study will lead us into the right direction.

3.  The Spirit witnesses, and guides. As we prayerfully, with full purpose of heart study, the spirit will guide us and witness to us of things that are true and of things to come. Just as it did with the wise men.

4.  Protection.  As we strive to do our best, seeking Christ, living as he would have us live we can be protected even as the wise men were when warned in a dream to not return to Herod.


Part 2 Breaking It Down  Luke 2

The Christmas Story Luke 2
In summary of Luke 2 Heavenly messengers herald the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  Jesus is circumcised, and Simeon and Anna prophesy of His mission.  Then at twelve years of age, He goes about His Father’s business.

Luke 2:8–39
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 
22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) 
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 
36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 
39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 

The Shepherds Part:

What did the angels say to the shepherds as they announced Jesus’ birth?  Luke 2:13–14.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


From this how has Jesus glorified the Father?

How has he brought peace and goodwill to all people and to you personally?

How can we show our gratitude to God for the gift of his Son? 

What did the shepherds do after they saw the newborn Savior? Luke 2:17–18.
 On the plains of Bethlehem, shepherds were "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." (Luke 2:8.) "These were not ordinary shepherds nor ordinary flocks," wrote Elder McConkie. "The sheep there being herded—nay, not herded, but watched over, cared for with love and devotion—were destined for sacrifice on the great altar in the Lord's House, in similitude of the eternal sacrifice of Him who that wondrous night lay in a stable, perhaps among sheep of lesser destiny. And the shepherds—for whom the veil was then rent: surely they were in spiritual stature like Simeon and Anna and Zacharias and Elisabeth and Joseph and the growing group of believing souls who were coming to know, by revelation, that the Lord's Christ was now on earth. As there were many widows in Israel, and only to the one in Zarephath was Elijah sent, so there were many shepherds in Palestine, but only to those who watched over the temple flocks did the herald angel come; only they heard the heavenly choir." 11

An angel appeared and spoke with authority the long-awaited "good tidings of great joy," the singular message that the Lord of Life had been born, that the age of the Anointed One had now burst upon all creation. An angel had appeared to King Benjamin in the Americas over a century earlier and said: "I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy." (Mosiah 3:3, emphasis added.) What were those glad tidings? Simply that "the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles." More specifically: "And 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 3:5, 8.) Likewise Samuel the Lamanite taught that Jesus Christ "surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people. And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul." (Hel. 13:6-7, emphasis added.)

"And this is the way you shall find the babe," the angel continued to the attentive shepherds: "He is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and is lying in a manger." (JST Luke 2:12.) After the preceding directions were given regarding our Lord's place of birth, the heavens resounded with anthems of praise: "Glory to God in the highest heaven! Peace upon earth among men of good will!" (Phillips Translation, Luke 2:14.) Or, as translated in a slightly different manner: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor." (Jerusalem Bible.) Having found the humble dwellings of the holy family, and then no doubt having visited at length with Joseph and Mary and sensed the sacredness of the occasion, the shepherds were among the first mortals to bear Messianic witness, to testify of those "things which they had heard and seen, as they were manifested unto them." (JST Luke 2:20.) Many heard the inspired words of the shepherds and marveled at the implications of what had come to pass. "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), "awaiting the day when she too will bear witness of all that she feels and believes and knows concerning the Son of David, who was born in the city of David, and who came to reign on the throne of David forever." (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet) 


What can we do to follow their example?  We can believe without doubting and then go and do by sharing the gospel.


Mary's Thoughts:

What did Mary do after Jesus’ birth and the visit of the shepherds?  Luke 2:19.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 

What does this reveal about Mary?  I am sure this was surreal to Mary though there was no doubt  in her heart, even still hearing the account of the shepherds must have been a testament to her.  A confirmation of things she had been told.  As well It wasn't time for Mary to share.

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), "awaiting the day when she too will bear witness of all that she feels and believes and knows concerning the Son of David, who was born in the city of David, and who came to reign on the throne of David forever." (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet)


Why is it important to take time to cherish and ponder sacred experiences? They are a gift from Heavenly Father given to us for our benefit.

The Witnesses Part:

How had Simeon and Anna been prepared to see the child, Jesus? Luke 2:25–26, 37.


25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 
37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 

How did they respond when they saw him?  Luke 2:27–35, 38. 
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 
28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 
29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 
31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 
32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 
33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 
34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 
35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 
38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
What can we learn about the Savior from their prophecies? 

Part 3:  Breaking It Down Matthew 2

The Wise Men and Herod 


A summary of Matthew 2. tells us that the wise men are directed by a star to Jesus, after being warned Joseph takes the child to Egypt.  Herod then slays the children in Bethlehem, after Herod's death Jesus is taken to Nazareth to dwell.

Why did the “wise men from the east” seek Jesus? Matthew 2:1–2.
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

About five years before the birth of Christ, Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of "a new star" that would serve as one of the signs of the Savior's birth. (Hel. 14:5.) Elder McConkie wrote: "As to the star, there is nothing mysterious about it. The Magi, if so they are to be designated, were not reading portents in the skies nor divining the destinies of men by the movement of celestial bodies in the sidereal heavens. The new star was simply a new star of the sort we are familiar with. No doubt it exhibited an unusual brilliance, so as to attract special attention and so as to give guidance to those who walked in its light, but it was, nonetheless, a star." 15
There seems to have been in Jewish prophecy or legend the knowledge that the Messiah's coming would be heralded by a special appearance of a star. Alfred Edersheim wrote: "There is . . . testimony which seems to us not only reliable, but embodies most ancient Jewish tradition. It is contained in one of the smaller Midrashim. . . . The so-called Messiah-Haggadah (Aggadoth Mashiach) opens as follows: 'A star shall come out of Jacob. There is a Boraita in the name of the Rabbis: The heptad in which the Son of David cometh—in the first year, there will not be sufficient nourishment; in the second year the arrows of famine are launched; in the third, a great famine; in the fourth, neither famine nor plenty; in the fifth, great abundance and the Star shall shine forth from the East, and this is the Star of the Messiah.'" 1   (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet)

What did they do when they found him?  Matthew 2:11. What gifts can we offer to the Lord? 
Note that when they finally reached Jesus, he was a “young child,” not a newborn baby.
11 ¶ And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


Word of the inquiries by the wise men and the subsequent stir among the people reached Herod the Great. Herod "gathered all the chief priests, and scribes of the people together, [and] demanded of them, saying, Where is the place that is written of by the prophets, in which Christ [i.e., the Messiah] should be born? For he greatly feared, yet he believed not the prophets. And they said unto him, It is written by the prophets, that he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus have they said, The word of the Lord came unto us, saying, And thou Bethlehem, which lieth in the land of Judea, in thee shall be born a prince, which art not the least among all the princes of Judea; for out of thee shall come the Messiah, who shall save my people Israel." (JST Matt. 3:4-6.) 

Herod learned from the wise men when they had first encountered the new star, and he asked them to bring word back to him once they had found the Christ, so that, in his own lying and deceitful words, "I may come and worship him also." (Matt. 2:8.) Having found the house to which the holy family had relocated, the wise men worshiped the Lord and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. That these souls were spiritually sensitive is attested by the fact that they were warned in an inspired dream not to return to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with Herod further. Consequently, "they departed into their own country another way." (Matt. 2:12.) (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet) 

Why did Herod want to find Jesus?  Matthew 2:3–6, 13. He was troubled, and he wanted to kill Jesus.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Perhaps nowhere do we gain greater insight into the depraved disposition of Herod the Great (of whom it was wisely observed by the Emperor Augustus that it was safer to be Herod's pig than his son!) than in the brief episode described by Matthew in which he, in demonic and paranoid frenzy, ordered the death of innocent children. After inquiring of the magi as to the time of the rising of the new star and subsequently finding that the visitors from the East had left the area (that he had been "mocked of the wise men"), this spineless creature ordered the death of all boys (not children, but boys—the plural of pais in Greek) in Bethlehem two years of age or younger. Considering that Bethlehem was a small town with a population of approximately one thousand to two thousand, as well as that there was a high infant mortality rate, with an annual birthrate of about thirty, then the number of boys killed probably did not exceed twenty. 19 "But," wrote Edersheim, "the deed was none the less atrocious; and these infants may justly be regarded as the 'protomartyrs,' the first witnesses of Christ." Continuing, Edersheim remarked: "The slaughter was entirely in accordance with the character and former measure of Herod. Nor do we wonder, that it remained unrecorded by Josephus, since on other occasions also he has omitted events which to us seem important. The murder of a few infants in an insignificant village might appear scarcely worth notice in a reign stained by so much bloodshed." (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet) 


Why did Jesus Christ’s birth trouble the king? Matthew 2:2, 6. According to prophecy, Jesus would rule Israel.

How was Jesus protected from Herod?  Matthew 2:13–15Jesus was delivered from Herod's murderous decree through revelatory instruction to Joseph prior to the carrying out of Herod's order. An angel came to him in a vision, saying: "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and tarry thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." (JST Matt. 3:13.) 

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

How did Joseph know when to return from Egypt?  Matthew 2:19–23.
19 ¶ But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.


Why do you think Joseph was able to receive this guidance from God? 

What can today’s fathers and mothers do to be able to receive revelation concerning their families?  One lesson from Joseph and Mary’s flight into Egypt is that the Lord can give revelation to help parents protect their families from danger.  By staying in tune with the spirit and striving to live righteously we can pray, ask for and receive particular and special revelation concerning our children and families.  

How has God helped you as you have sought his guidance for your family?


Part 4: Jesus prepares in his youth for his ministry Luke 2:40–52

Every year Joseph and Mary and other faithful Jews celebrated the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. As was customary, Jesus accompanied them when he reached the age of 12 (Luke 2:41–42).After celebrating the Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph had begun their journey back to Nazareth when they realized that 12-year-old Jesus was not with them (Luke 2:43–45). 

40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.


Where did they finally find him? Luke 2:46.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  

If your loved ones did not know where you were, could they be confident that you were doing things that would please your Heavenly Father? 

The Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 2:46 says that the men in the temple “were hearing Jesus, and asking him questions.” What does this reveal about Jesus’ youth and training? 

As to the preparation and training—the education—of a Jewish male child in the first century, Alfred Edersheim wrote: 


. . . while the earliest religious teaching would, of necessity, come from the lips of the mother, it was the father who was "bound to teach his son." To impart to the child knowledge of the Torah conferred as great spiritual distinction, as if a man had received the Law itself on Mount Horeb. . . . Directly the child learned to speak, his religious instruction was to begin—no doubt, with such verses of Holy Scripture as composed that part of the Jewish liturgy, which answers to our Creed [the Shema—Deut. 6:4-6]. Then would follow other passages from the Bible, short prayers, and select sayings of the sages. Special attention was given to the culture of the memory, since forgetfulness might prove as fatal in its consequences as ignorance or neglect of the Law. . . . The earliest hymns taught would be the Psalms for the days of the week, or festive Psalms, such as the Hallel [Psalms of praise such as Ps. 113-18, 120-26, 135-36], or those connected with the festive pilgrimages to Zion.

The regular instruction commenced with the fifth or sixth year (according to strength), when every child was sent to school. There can be no reasonable doubt that at that time [the first century] such schools existed throughout the land. . . . From the teaching of the alphabet or of writing, onwards to the farthest limit of instruction in the most advanced Academies of the Rabbis, all is marked by extreme care, wisdom, accuracy, and a moral and religious purpose as the ultimate object. For a long time it was not uncommon to teach in the open air; but this must have been chiefly in connection with theological discussions, and the instruction of youths. But the children were gathered in the Synagogues, or in the School-houses, where at first they either stood, teacher and pupils alike, or else sat on the ground in a semicircle, facing the teacher. . . .

Roughly classifying the subjects of study, it was held, that, up to ten years of age, the Bible exclusively should be the textbook; from ten to fifteen, the . . . traditional law; after that age, the student should enter on those theological discussions which occupied time and attention in the higher Academies of the Rabbis. . . . The study of the Bible commenced with that of the Book of Leviticus. Thence it passed to the other parts of the Pentateuch; then to the Prophets; and, finally, to the Hagiographa [Writings].

Finally, in speaking of the atmosphere and training in the home of Joseph and Mary, Edersheim has suggested: "That [Jesus'] was preeminently a pious home in the highest sense, it seems almost irreverent to say. . . . We know that from earliest childhood [the scriptures] must have formed the meat and drink of the God-Man."
 (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet)

When Mary and Joseph found Jesus, Mary said to him, “Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Luke 2:48). 

To whom did she refer when she said “thy father”? Joseph.

How did Jesus respond to Mary’s concern?  Luke 2:49.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

To whom did Jesus refer when he said “my Father’s business”? Heavenly Father.

What does this tell us about young Jesus’ understanding of his foreordained mission? 

Mary questioned his wisdom and seemed to stress the inconsiderateness of causing such anxiety to his parents: "Son," she asked, "why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing." Jesus responded with mature confidence, his words evidencing both his growing knowledge of his singular ministry and a firm assurance as to his Divine Sonship and relationship to his true Father: "Why is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" The account continues: "And [Jesus] went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. And his mother kept all these sayings in her heart." (JST Luke 2:48-49, 51, emphasis added.) "What marvelous and sacred secrets were treasured in that mother's heart," writes Elder Talmage. "And what new surprises and grave problems were added day after day in the manifestations of unfolding wisdom displayed by her more than mortal Son! . . . At every new evidence of His uniqueness she marveled and pondered anew. He was hers, and yet in a very real sense not wholly hers." (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet)


As a youth, how did Jesus treat Mary and JosephLuke 2:51.  Even though he was the Son of God, he was subject to his mother and to Joseph.  When reading the footnote for the word subject in this verse it states: Honor thy father and thy mother, forsake not the law of thy mother, Hear the instruction of a father, obey your parents in the Lord, obey your parents in all things.  He was the Son of God, yet he honored his earthly father and mother and obeyed.   

What can we learn from this example? 

How can we help the youth achieve their potential?

What opportunities can we give youth to participate in doing “the Father’s business” as Jesus did?

Also as a youth, Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In other words, he developed intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. 

Luke's statement that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52) speaks volumes. He developed in understanding and intellectual powers. He developed physically, such that his body would prove a benefit and blessing to his work. He developed in his relationship with God, line upon line, precept upon precept. Jesus did not receive the fullness of light and power and glory at the first of his life but received "grace for grace"; that is, our Lord was blessed by his Father as he continually gave of himself to others in service. He thereby progressed "from grace to grace," from one level to a higher, from a lesser spiritual endowment to a greater. (See D&C 93:12-20.) Finally, Jesus of Nazareth developed socially, "in favor with man." Jesus loved people, for people were his reason for being: his work and glory were to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)  (Studies in Scripture Vol 5 the Gospels Robert L Millet)

What can we learn from Doctrine and Covenants 93:11–17 about the Savior’s development as a youth? In his preparation to be our Redeemer, Jesus did not receive all the necessary intelligence, power, wisdom, and glory at once. He received these things “grace for grace,” a little at a time.

11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
14 And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
15 And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.


How does this truth apply to us? D&C 93:18–20.
18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

What are some specific things we can do to grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially?

Conclusion
The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew provides us with a temporal link to the formal ministry of our Lord: "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. 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. And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh." (JST Matt. 3:24-26.) What a remarkable manner in which to describe the divine process by which the Son of Man of Holiness made his transition from infancy through boyhood into manhood! Building upon a solid foundation, the time of his ministry was now at hand.


As we testify of the truthfulness of this account, of the truthfulness of  Jesus Christ and His Gospel let us ask ourselves this; how are we increasing in wisdom (intellectually), stature (physically), favor with God (spiritually), and favor with others (socially).  Are we building upon a solid foundation for the time of our ministry?   Let us set goals this year in one or even more of these area's that we may not only bring ourselves closer to God; but our families and loved ones also, as well as witnessing to the world of the good news.  As they all see our example it can be our prayers that they will follow.  

These scriptures have been given to us that we may know of a surety for ourselves that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and this is his Gospel, let us cherish it and use it wisely, that when that day comes we can greet him with a kiss and he will say, well done good and faithful servant...

Next Week's Lesson:  John 1
Preparation:  prepare to discuss John 1 next week by making a note of every place in the chapter where someone bears testimony of Jesus Christ. Record insights and experiences you have as you study individually and with your families.  

Resources 
New Testament Student Manual
Studies in Scripture Vol 5 Robert Millet
Nativity Alonso Gaskill
King of Kings 2000
Ensign
Conference Reports


















The Fall of Adam and Eve

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