Jesus stands at the center of all the stories of these witnesses and is waiting to be the center of our story. When our story centers on finding Christ we are then called to be his special witnesses.
The greatest tragedy is if we never find the King. Jesus said, “He that seeketh me early shall find me…” (D&C 88:83) We fail to find him only when we fail to seek him. The greatest miracle is when we find the Savior. Wise men and women are still seeking Him, are you? “Have you felt his redeeming love? If so, do you feel so now?”
All these witnesses followed God’s divine pattern of sharing. God is ready for us to follow this same pattern: Special witness like you and me are asked to go forth among all the nations and share the restored knowledge of God.
Ponder the pattern. Trust him. He will provide a way for us to accomplish all your dreams.
“There came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.” (Matt. 2:1.) The wise men must have been ignorant of the political situation at the time, for they sought Christ’s whereabouts from Herod: “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.” (Matt. 2:2.) Or they may have thought they should seek a King at a castle. Either way they spoke to Herod about their plans.
Wise men, guided by a new star, came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus sometime after His birth. They were not ordinary men. Magi were “privileged to search out the Son of God and give Him gifts, and were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they were actually prophets on a divine errand.” (Bible Dictionary) They were holy men from a land east of Palestine.
Have you ever asked yourself, “Who from the east would care about the King of Jews?” The logical answer is, “The Jews.” At this time most of the Jews still lived in Babylon and were there until 1000 AD when the Muslims took over Babylon. So the wise men most likely were Jews living in Babylon.
The Magi or wise men bearing gifts from the east are symbolic of Jesus returning from the east bearing eternal gifts!
We also know from the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible that the wise men came seeking “the Messiah of the Jews” (JST, Matt. 3:2) thus following the pattern of witnesses that brought seekers of the Son of God to Judea.
They believe the new star they saw marked the coming of the King and chose to take him the gifts prophesied about in the scriptures (see Isaiah 60:1-6, 9-10, 14, 17). They brought gold for a king, frankincense for a priest and myrrh for the Lamb who must die that we might live.
The wise men gave the gifts to the poor family who received them openly. Both Joseph and the wise men were warned to leave Bethlehem. I’m sure the money the wise men gave them helped finance their trip to Egypt. God always provides a way for his people to accomplish the things he has asked of them.
- How has God provided a way for you to accomplish your dreams?
- What personal signs have you noticed in your life?
(see Matt. 2:1-23)
The twelfth witness is Herod the Great. He is unlike the other righteous witnesses. He massacred priests, cause his brother to be drowned, strangulated his favorite wife, everyone who he became suspicious to him was murdered including three sons.
When the wise men from the east came to him seeking the King of the Jews and bearing testimony of Jesus, the rightful king of Israel Herod listened. First, because they had credentials being from the east that established them as men of great wisdom. Second, because they were seeking someone that would take his place as king and he couldn’t have that.
Herod had his scholars search the scriptures that contained the ancient prophesy. They told him that the child was to be born in Bethlehem. He then invited the wise men to a private meeting and told him where he was to be born and invited them to find the child and let him know where he was so he could honor him to. However, he had no intentions of honoring the child.
When the wise men did not return he responded with “exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem.” (Matt. 2:16.) The glad tidings of heaven brought no joy to Satan, the prince of darkness nor any of his servants. It is fitting that Herod’s anger completes the nativity story.
Another special witness of the birth of Christ in the temple was Anna—the aged widow whose name means “full of grace.” She was a devout and saintly woman who worshipped for many years in the temple, she was undoubtedly well known among the faithful. Just as there are many widow serving and welcoming people to the house of the Lord today.
She approached the holy family and immediately recognized divinity. She then bore testimony to everyone in Jerusalem who “looked for redemption” (Luke 2:38) of the babe, Savior of the World.
Simeon and Anna, probably named after Hannah, Samuel’s mother, are often forgotten in the Christmas story, older people often are today. Such wisdom and friendships are not being shared. But God is aware of them and remembers them. My 80 year old visiting teaching partner, Dori, just went through 2 major artery transplants, it was touch and go whether she would stay in the mortal existence or not. After 10 months she and I got to go out again to visit our sisters again together and we wept. She thanked me for helping her “feel normal” again. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Please, remember the elderly, listen to their stories, how they met their spouse, how they gained their testimony. Invite them into your home as God invites them into his.
Anna is a wonderful example of faith and witnessing. She recognized divinity. When is the last time you saw divinity in someone? or one of God’s creations? I recently watched a video of a mother and her daughter-in-law whose relationship was not ideal. They were put together in an unique situation and ended up healing and strengthening that relationship. As I watched the healing process and the love ooze out of both of them for each other I felt divinity. I believe whenever there is healing and strengthening of relationships God is there.
Simeon must have had a lifelong habit of listening to and following the Spirit for he “happened” to be at the temple the day Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be redeemed (a tax necessary to redeem the firstborn from priestly service).
Luke described Simeon as a “just and devout” man who had been promised he would not die until he had seen the Savior. When he saw the baby his spiritual eyes were opened and he recognized the Savior of the World. He took the child in his arms and declared, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation [Jesus], which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)
This was great news for the Gentiles. Joseph McConkie said Simeon’s declaration “reached far beyond the understanding and hop of those of his nation, for he saw the universal nature of Christ’s ministry. He bore witness that Jesus was Savior to Jew and Gentile alike.” (Joseph F. McConkie, Twelve Witnesses of Christ’s Birth, Ensign, December 1990)
He offered Mary a priesthood blessing perhaps he visualized how difficult and rewarding her future would hold. Eli was an archetype of Simeon in the fact that they both gave blessings to the parents who gave their sons to God. Can you imagine the feeling at that sacred meeting? No wonder Mary pondered these things in her heart. What experience have you had that have caused you to ponder?
See Luke 2.-21-39
Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people. ~ Luke 2: 30-32
Suddenly, following the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, “there was … a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God.” (Luke 2:13) The heavenly choir sang to the humble servants of the temple, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). One scholar said that it would be better translated as, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will.” The angels were heralding with music the Savior’s birth among a few humble shepherds.
Were you there? According to Job and his description and likening of the creation and the birth of the Savior you were there. He said, “who laid the corner stone (Jesus Christ) thereof; when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God Shouted for joy?” We were “all” there! (Job 38:6-7)
You often hear the phrase, “worship together” and I wondered what that exactly meant. We don’t talk together, give lessons together as a congregation. While in the Missionary Training Center I remember singing “Praise to the Man” as a very large group and feeling the spirit and knowing that the words I sang were absolutely true. It was there I discovered true worship. We do “worship together” when we sing together as a whole, the same words. The other time is when we all say amen together after a prayer.