Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Light of the World

"Have you ever wondered why the Lord chose to accomplish His mortal ministry in the exact location that He did? He created the earth. In His divine role, He could have selected any portion of this bounteous planet to accomplish His mission. He could have selected the beautiful islands of the sea with their lush vegetation and breathtaking beauty. He could have chosen the scenery of Switzerland or Scandinavia, or He could have preferred to walk upon the acres of Africa or Australia.

Instead, He selected the land with places stark and arid, but made holy by His presence there. He did so for many reasons, including His desire to teach with geographical visual aids, and to fulfill scripture.

After millennia of preparation, the long awaited event occurred. Christ was born among men. No wonder angelic choirs sang as they knew that extended centuries of death and darkness were to be relieved by the Atonement, which was finally to come through this Babe of Bethlehem.

Why Bethlehem? Is there symbolic significance in the meaning of the name Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “house of bread”? The Great Provider declared Himself to be the “bread of life.” (See John 6:48.) How appropriate it was that He, the “bread of life,” was to come from the “house of bread.”

But why among the animals? He, whom John declared to be the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29), was born during the season of Passover amongst the animals, as were other lambs being prepared for Paschal sacrifice.

At the birth of Him who is called the “good shepherd” (John 10:14), shepherds were the first to receive the announcement of His holy birth (see Luke 2:8–16).

At the birth of Him who once identified Himself as the “bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16), a new star appeared in the heavens (see Matt. 2:2; 3 Ne. 1:21). Shining brightly over Bethlehem, that star had been placed in orbit far in advance of the foretold event in order that its light could coincide in time and place with His blessed birth.

At the arrival of Him who is called “the light of the world” (John 8:12), darkness was banished as a sign of His holy birth (see 3 Ne. 1:15, 19). He was born the Son of God and the son of a virgin mother, as foretold by Isaiah (see Isa. 7:14) and other prophets." (See 1 Ne. 11:13–21; Alma 7:9–10.)

To read this full article, go to Russell M. Nelson, “Why This Holy Land?,” Ensign, Dec 1989, 13