“Even the Wise Men of the Earth Must Follow Divine Direction,” by J. Leo Fairbanks
Both Matthew and Luke emphasize the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ by talking about people who worshipped Him as a small child.
- A group of shepherds visited him as He lay in the manger (Luke 2:8-20).
- Two devout individuals, Simeon and Anna, recognized Him as the Messiah when He was brought to the temple to be circumcised (Luke 2:21-39).
- A group of wise men traveled a great distance to find Him and presented Him with expensive gifts (Matthew 2:1-11).
- When He was twelve years old, some religious teachers in Jerusalem spoke with him and were “astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:41-51).
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from these events, with relevant blog posts:
1. We honor Him by serving as a shepherd serves.
Watching over a flock of sheep is an important responsibility. It requires you to be present and attentive. It requires patience. It requires you to really care for the sheep.
It is also inconspicuous. Shepherds are not likely to occupy the news cycle most days. They generally go about their work without fanfare and without recognition.
Jesus Christ is our Shepherd (see Alma 5:37-41, 57, 59-60), and He wants us to help Him care for His flock. Maybe that’s why the first recorded visitors after His birth were shepherds. Here’s a blog post on the subject:
2. The gospel is a message of joy.
Gospel means “good news.” The angel who appeared to the shepherds said that he brought “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). The angel who appeared to King Benjamin characterized his message in similar terms: “I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy…. that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy” (Mosiah 3:3-4).
In contrast, negative emotions can prevent us from hearing the Spirit of the Lord and can demotivate us, slowing our progress. Before delivering the good news to the shepherds, the angel urged them to manage their emotions with the instruction, “Fear not.”
3. Wise men and women are observant.
How many people noticed the new star? And how many of those recognized its significance? The fact that the wise men traveled a great distance with gifts is impressive, but the journey began with an awareness of their surroundings and a sensitivity to divine guidance. “We have seen his star in the east,” they said when they arrived in Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2).
Another observant character in this story is Mary. She must have been shocked when a group of shepherds found her new baby in the stable, but Luke tells us that she “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:17-20).
Wise people declutter their lives and their minds. They therefore notice things that other people miss because they are preoccupied.
4. We follow the Savior’s example when we study the scriptures.
Jesus studied the scriptures diligently. By the time He was twelve years old, He impressed the scholars at the temple in Jerusalem with his understanding. Here is a recent blog post about how the Savior used the scriptures and how He expects us to use them:
Blog Posts January 9-15
Room in the Inn
In contrast with the inn which turned away Mary and Joseph, the wounded traveler in the parable of the Good Samaritan was welcomed into a place of comfort and healing. The Savior invites us to make His Inn (the Church) a welcoming place for wounded and weary travelers.
Wisdom, Stature, Favor with God and Man
Luke’s description of the growth of young Jesus provides a useful organizing principle for our goals and preparation throughout our lives. At the beginning of a new year, setting goals in these four domains—spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual—can help us find balance in our lives.
There is a serenity in knowing that our work is done, but there is also a calm assurance in the sense that we have more to do and that there will be enough time to do it. Simeon’s confidence that he would see the Messiah and his contentment when that promise was fulfilled illustrate the…
Anna, the Prophetess
Anna received a spiritual witness that Jesus was the Messiah, and she shared that testimony with others. Lamoni’s wife did the same. Those who obtain and share a testimony of Jesus are prophets and prophetesses.
My Father’s Business
We make better decisions when we inherit priorities rather than manufacture them. Jesus exemplified this principle. When He asked His parents at age twelve, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” He clarified that His goals and actions were in support of His Father’s priorities.
Raising children is too hard to do alone and requires more knowledge than any parents have. Like Joseph and Mary or Lehi and Sariah, we can receive revelation from God about how to lead our families “in love and righteousness.”
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