Christmas is that time of year when the air is permeated with the sounds of Christmas carols. Songs such as “Away in the Manger,” “What Child is This?” “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains,” “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Mary Did You Know?” are all based on scriptural accounts of the birth of the Savior of all mankind.
The name of His birthplace, Bethlehem, literally translates to “House of Bread,” and during His earthly ministry, He Himself would proclaim that He is the Bread of Life. It is in Him that “all the hopes and fears of all the years” subside because “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). And so, He is the not only the Bread of Life, but He is also the Light of the World.
The prophet of old exhorted, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). It should be carefully noted that a child was born, yet He was no ordinary child. A son was given. Who was this Son? He is the Son of God, the Eternal Father, sent to the world to be the Savior of the world. The beloved apostle, John, taught in his gospel account:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17).
The prophet of old continues his exhortation by revealing to us that “the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Throughout Christendom, and even among the secular and areligious populace, Luke’s account of the wondrous birth of the Savior of mankind as recorded in the Bible in the second chapter of that account is recognized as the familiar “Christmas Story.” It is read by families in the home, used as the subject of sermons in church services, and used as the theme for Christmas presentations.
The avid student of the scriptures will also find that Matthew not only records the glorious birth of the Savior and the events surrounding it, but he also reveals the lineage of the Savior. That lineage is recorded in the first chapter of his gospel account.
John, the beloved disciple of Christ, begins his gospel account by revealing that the tiny babe born in Bethlehem Judea, in the City of David, on that blessed night, was not an ordinary baby. He tells us that the baby about whom the story of the first Christmas is focused, is the Eternal Son of God. The narrative of John 1:1-5 reads:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
And then in John 1:14 we are told, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Rebecca Holt Stay, Instructor of Biblical Studies – BYU Continuing Education, brings to life the true story of Christmas through commentary on various well-known scripture passages. Her insightful explanations of Biblical customs and history help to put the events surrounding the birth of the Savior into proper perspective.
The video playlist below contains a few of the interviews with Professor Stay. It is hoped that as you watch these videos, you will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for the wondrous story of Christmas.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.