Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Symbols of Christmas

Last night we spent some time as a family for Family Home Evening discussing the symbols of Christmas as found in the scriptures and how the birth of Jesus illuminate his role as the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Each member of the family opened their scriptures and search for references they could share and the perspectives, even if only to satisfy the requirement, were unique and thoughtful. Here are a few of the examples that we shared.

The Star

Helaman 14:5 - And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.

Matt. 2:2 - 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.



The Star represents light, the path, the way to mark the place of the birth of The Light and The Path. Wise men from the east were guided by the Star to find the child Jesus and worship him.

Gifts of the Magi

Matt. 2:11 - 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.


Each of the wise men from the east represented kings of their own lands who came to find and worship the King of Kings. They brought forth gifts that represented the purpose of the one in which they adored. Gold was to represent the wealth, power and distinction of Jesus' divine royalty. Frankincense, used in priestly sacrifice, symbolized Jesus' ultimate sacrifice for us all in becoming our Savior through the Atonement. Myrrh was used for embalming and was a token of the death, burial and resurrection which Jesus would in turn gift back to all mankind.

Bethlehem

Luke 2:11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Bethlehem is foretold as the birthplace of Jesus in the Messianic prophesy of Micah (Micah 5:2) and holds some interpretive distinctions that I find illustrative in the Christmas Story. The Hebrew meaning of "Bethlehem" (Bethlehem) literally means "House of Bread" (for a more in depth discourse on the Hebrew derivation and Biblical usage see this article). How beautiful the symbolism that the "Bread of Life," a self proclaimed title we see Jesus use in metaphorical language when teaching his disciples, was born in the house of bread. But the symbolism is richer than just this obvious example. Additional symbols of Christmas illustrate how Bethlehem, by name and by place, helped shape the validity of who Jesus was and was to become and is forevermore.

Shepherds

Luke 2:8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.



Obviously, "The Good Shepherd" should be proclaimed to the shepherds that watch over the flocks. Something that may not be understood about these particular shepherds is they were not just keeping any ordinary lambs safe on that glorious night when the angels sang praises unto them. Bethlehem was also the range land for the temple sheep, the ones without blemish which were used for priestly sacrifice. The shepherds tending the flocks were priests, given specific charge over the Paschal Lambs which were symbolic of the Atonement. The Savior of the world was born as the "Lamb of God" and proclaimed to the priestly shepherds keeping watch over the salvation of men via the Mosiac Law. 


Manger

Luke 2:7 - 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.



The manger is a feeding trough for the animals in a stable. As the "Bread of Life" being born in the "House of Bread," how wonderful that the sacrifice for all the world be placed in the place where we could all partake of his blessings just as the animals would be nourished with their food. The humble circumstances of the stable and manger also juxtapose the High Priestly, the Kingship and Godliness of the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.

The symbols of Christmas as found in the scriptures are wonderful to review, ponder and contemplate how they have meaning on our Christmas season. To me, the most significant and central theme in the Christmas story is Jesus Christ himself. He is the fulfillment of all of the prophecies, the Law and the whole Plan that God has for us. He fulfilled all things in Him through the Atonement and Resurrection and through Him and only through Him we can be saved. His Grace is truly sufficient. It is my faith that He was born, died and lives again, that He is literally the Son of God and He is the King of Kings.

These are just a few of the symbols we reviewed last night. What others are significant to you?
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