Come Follow Me - New Testament
We Have Come to Worship Him
- There are many witnesses of the birth of Christ.
- Parents can receive revelation to protect their families.
- Even as a youth, Jesus was focused on doing His Father’s
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the Scriptures at LDS.org.
Lesson Handout (PDF)
There Are Many Witnesses of the Birth of Christ
Jesus Christ Is Born
"And it came to pass in those days, that there
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed."
Caesar Augustus was the first Roman emperor. He began his reign in 31 B.C.
and ruled Rome until his death at the age of 76, in 14 A.D.
Also called Octavius.
Educated by his great uncle Julius Caesar.
As you may recall, Julius Caesar served as one of the magistrates of Rome
along with Antony and Lepidus. During a period of dissension, Octavius
overcame Antony and gained supreme power at the battle of Actium in 31
Rome ruled much of the Mediterranean world at this time, including Palestine.
was a capable and energetic ruler, and he spent his reign establishing
a certain tradition of lawfulness and honesty in the Roman bureaucracy,
reorganizing the provincial governments and wording at financial reform.
His reign was marked by a degree of order." (Life & Teachings
of Jesus & His Apostles, p21)
The taxing referred to in this verse was more of a census. Based upon this
census, taxes would then be determined for the various peoples of the empire.
This census was the second of three registrations that took place over
twenty year intervals.
"And all went to be taxed, every one into his
own city." (Luke 2:3)
The Roman method for conducting the census was to do it by city of residence,
much as we do a census in the United States.
The Jewish custom required registration in the ancestral home of one's
family. Roman law honored the Jewish tradition.
"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of
the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called
Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed
with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child." (Luke
In order to fulfill the requirements of the census or registration, Joseph
and Mary had to travel eighty miles, from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem
Eighty miles doesn't seem like much to us in our day. We can drive that distance
in under two hours. Consider walking that distance. Scouts that have done
fifty milers over several days. Consider doing it when you are only a few days
away from delivering a baby.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "We cannot suppose that
a considerate and loving husband, having a wife big with child, would cause
her to walk, or ride a slow stepping donkey, or traverse in any manner
the dusty roads of Palestine, camping out overnight as they traveled—all
as the hour of her confinement approached—unless there was a reason. Joseph
and Mary were going to Bethlehem for a purpose. It was the one and only
place where the Messiah could be born, and we cannot but suppose that they
knew it and acted wittingly." (Mortal Messiah, 1:341)
Elder Russell M. Nelson: "The scriptural story of
Jesus Christ is indeed a two-hemisphere story. While Mary and Joseph in the East
were making preparations for the holy child's birth in Bethlehem, Nephi in the
West was being taught by the premortal Messiah. To Nephi the Lord said, 'Be of
good cheer; … on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I
will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy
prophets'." (General Conference, October 2007)
"And so it was, that, while they were there, the
days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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." (Luke
Elder James E. Talmage: "The little town was crowded
at the time, most likely by the multitude that had come in obedience to
the same summons; and, in consequence, Joseph and Mary failed to find the
most desirable accommodations and had to be content with the conditions
of an improvised camp, as travelers unnumbered had done before, and as
uncounted others have done since, in that region and elsewhere. We cannot
reasonably regard this circumstance as evidence of extreme destitution;
doubtless it entailed inconvenience, but it gives us no assurance of great
distress or suffering." (Jesus the Christ, p92)
Joseph and Mary were unable to find normal accommodations after arriving
in Bethlehem. One can imagine Joseph frantically looking for a place, knowing
that Mary was about to deliver her child. We know only a scant part of
what must have really happened, but we can imagine Joseph pleading with
the innkeepers for a place.
IN WHAT WAYS DO PEOPLE TODAY REFUSE TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE SAVIOR IN THEIR
As we look at much of the world today, we see that many people have closed
their hearts to the Savior. They are busy pursuing
their personal interests and do not make time for considering the importance
of the Savior and his teachings.
ARE WE EVER GUILTY OF THIS? WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM IN OUR
I am moved by the fact that the King of Kings, the Creator of this world
and worlds without number, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, was
born under the most humble of circumstances. It is humbling to ponder the
thought that this great and marvelous event, the beginning of the mortal
life that would forever change the history of the universe, began in the
quiet, austere circumstances of a Judean village.
Historical Note: Interesting articles on the date of the Savior's birth.
LUKE 2:8-14. The angelic announcement to the shepherds.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "In the fields of Bethlehem,
not far from Jerusalem and the Temple of Jehovah, there were shepherds
watching their flocks by night. These were not ordinary shepherds nor ordinary
flocks. The sheep there being herded—nay, not herded, but watched over,
cared for with love and devotion—were destined for sacrifice on the great
altar in the Lord's House, in similitude of the eternal sacrifice of Him
who that wondrous night lay in a stable, perhaps among sheep of lesser
destiny.... As there were many widows in Israel, and only to the one in
Zarephath was Elijah sent, so there were many shepherds in Palestine, but
only to those who watched over the temple flocks did the herald angel come;
only they heard the heavenly choir." (Mortal Messiah, 1:347)
The angels praised God and then said, "on earth peace, good will toward
HOW IS IT THAT SINCE THE TIME OF CHRIST, THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE PEACE
ON EARTH? OR WHAT IS IT THAT THE ANGELS ARE REALLY SAYING?
In speaking to his apostles, Jesus said, "Peace
I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give
I unto you" (John 14:27). The Savior explains to his disciples
that the "peace" he brings is not defined in worldly terms. Following World
War I, President Woodrow Wilson worked with other world leaders to establish
an international body of nations that would work together to maintain peace
in the world, the League of Nations. This league was to work to preserve
the peace that had been agreed to at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
This "peace of the world" did not change the hearts of men and within two
decades the nations of the world were engaged in the greatest, most brutal
war in the history of the world.
What is the peace that Christ brings? President John Taylor spoke of this
peace: "Wherever this peace exists, it leaves
an influence that is comforting and refreshing to the souls of those who
partake of it. It is like the morning dew to the thirsty plant. This peace
is the gift of God alone, and it can be received only from him through
obedience to his laws. If any man wishes to introduce peace into his family
or among his friends, let him cultivate it in his own bosom; for sterling
peace can only be had according to the legitimate rule and authority of
heaven, and obedience to its laws." (The Gospel Kingdom, p319)
Elder Russell M. Nelson, "Peace can prevail only when that
natural inclination to fight is superseded by self-determination to live on a
loftier level. Coming unto Jesus Christ as the 'Prince of Peace' is the pathway
to peace on earth and goodwill among men." (General Conference, October
- HOW HAS CHRIST BROUGHT PEACE INTO YOUR LIFE?
- Hopefully, we live our lives in such a manner that this peace is a part
of our daily existence. But there are times when it is stronger than others.
My grandmother was a wonderful woman. All through my growing up years she
spoke of the missionary work. She often reminded me to practice dignity
and proper manners, for missionaries were to set an example before the
world. Grandma did not just give lip service to missionary work, she served
on two missions after Grandpa passed away.
She was thrilled to see me go on my mission. She was
supportive and wrote letters encouraging me in the work. I was saddened
in the 23rd month of my mission when my folks called and reported the passing
of my grandmother. I had been looking forward to seeing her again and reporting
on my mission. Such would not be, not in this life, and I was grieved.
As I knelt in prayer that evening, the most powerful and wonderful feeling
of peace came over me. I knew that Grandma was where she should be. I was
comforted and felt the most remarkable feeling of peace.
- This is the peace the Lord brings. We cannot find this peace in the world.
It does not come from economic security or other sources. It comes only through
Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit.
After this glorious manifestation, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see
the new born Jesus.
LUKE 2:17-18. The shepherds report the birth
of the Savior.
WHAT DID THE SHEPHERDS DO AFTER THEY SAW THE NEWBORN SAVIOR?
They bore witness of that which they had seen and heard.
- ARE WE AS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE MESSAGE OF PEACE AS THE SHEPHERDS? HOW ARE
WE DOING WITH MAKING "KNOWN ABROAD" THE MESSAGE OF PEACE THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED?
- We have been blessed with the wonderful gospel
message. It is the same message given to the ancient shepherds. It is a
message that can change lives and determine eternal destiny. Why are we not more
diligent in sharing the good news we have received?
- We should consider someone with whom we can share our testimony. What kind
of commitment are we willing to make to ourselves and the Lord about sharing
this message with that someone?
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered
them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)
Elder James E. Talmage: "There is meaning as deep
as the pathos that all must feel in the seemingly parenthetical remark
by Luke. 'But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.'
It is apparent that the great truth as to the personality and mission of
her divine Son had not yet unfolded itself in its fulness to her mind.
The whole course of events, from the salutation of Gabriel to the reverent
testimony of the shepherds concerning the announcing angel and the heavenly
hosts, was largely a mystery to that stainless mother and wife."
(Jesus the Christ, p95)
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TAKE TIME TO CHERISH AND PONDER SACRED EXPERIENCES?
"And when eight days were accomplished for the
circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named
of the angel before he was conceived in the womb." (Luke 2:21)
Elder James E. Talmage: "The requirements of the
law were carried out with exactitude in all matters pertaining to the Child.
When eight days old He was circumcised, as was required of every male born
in Israel; and at the same time He received as an earthly bestowal the
name that had been prescribed at the annunciation. He was called JESUS,
which, being interpreted is Savior; the name was rightfully His for He
came to save the people from their sins." (Jesus The Christ,
Sometime after the days of Mary's purification were completed the Holy
family went to the temple in Jerusalem.
As part of the law of Moses, a woman would remain in retirement for 40
days after the birth of her child.
WHY DID THEY GO TO THE TEMPLE AT THIS TIME?
The child Jesus, as the firstborn son, had to be redeemed.
At the time the firstborn of Israel were saved in Egypt, it was required
that the firstborn of every family in Israel would become ministers to
the Lord. Later, the Levites were rewarded for their special devotion and
they were chosen to serve in the place of the firstborn from all Israelite
The children from the other tribes had to be redeemed from that obligation
of life by the payment of five shekels of the sanctuary.
The purification of Mary.
After the birth of a child the law required a woman to become ceremonially
As part of the ceremonial cleansing, the law required the offering of a
lamb for the burnt offering (a sacrifice of service and devotion) and the
offering of a turtledove or young pigeon as a sin offering (a sacrifice
for the remission of personal sins committed through ignorance). Those
too poor to pay for a lamb - as in the case of Mary - could substitute
another turtledove or young pigeon.
LUKE 2:25-35. Simeon testifies of the Messiah.
LUKE 2:36-38. Anna testifies.
It was important for the Lord to have numerous witnesses to
testify of the coming of the Messiah into the world.
In “Be It unto Me according to Thy Word” (previous
lesson) we discussed the special witness given to Mary, Joseph, Elisabeth,
and Zacharias. The Lord has now added additional witnesses: the shepherds,
Simeon, and Anna. And others would be added.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The duty to witness and testify of
Christ at all times and in all places applies to every member of the Church who
has received the testimony of the Holy Ghost.
"The book of Luke records two examples of this. In
obedience to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought the infant Jesus to the
temple at Jerusalem after forty days, to present him to the Lord. There, two
aged and spiritual temple workers received a witness of his identity and
testified of him. Simeon, who had known by revelation from the Holy Ghost that
he should not taste of death until he had seen the Messiah, took the infant in
his arms and testified to his divine mission. Anna, whom the scripture called 'a
prophetess' recognized the Messiah 'and spake of him to all them that looked for
redemption in Jerusalem'." (General Conference, October 1990)
MATTHEW 2:1-2. The wise men from the east.
WHY DID THE "WISE MEN FROM THE EAST" SEEK JESUS?
"We...are come to worship him."
WHAT DID THEY DO WHEN THEY FOUND HIM?
"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." (Matthew 2:11)
More witnesses are added to the growing list.
- WE ARE ALSO WITNESSES OF THE CHRIST. WHAT GIFTS CAN WE OFFER TO THE LORD?
"Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy
God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit"
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his
commandments" (John 5:3).
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love
one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another"
Parents Can Receive Revelation to Protect Their Families
MATTHEW 2:13-18. Jesus goes to Egypt.
WHY DID HEROD WANT TO FIND JESUS?
After the wise men came seeking Jesus, the scripture says that Herod "was
troubled" (Matthew 2:3).
The chief priests and scribes reported to Herod that it had been prophesied
that a Messiah, one who would rule over all Israel, would be born in Bethlehem.
Like so many political leaders, Herod was concerned about his position
and power. He knew of the belief of his Jewish subjects in the ancient
prophets. If they found the one who had been prophesied, Herod was
sure that they would turn their allegiance to this Messiah.
MATTHEW 2:19-23. The return to Israel.
Revelation is essential to guide and protect our families.
- Joseph and Mary received heavenly guidance as they took on the
responsibility of raising the young Jesus. As we seek to protect ourselves and
our families from the challenges and hazards of modern life, we should
consider the recent counsel of President Russell M. Nelson,
"Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble
yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him
for answers and for comfort.
"Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns,
your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then
listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and
follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this
process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will 'grow into
the principle of revelation'....
"If we are to have any hope of sifting through the
myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn
to receive revelation." (General Conference, April 2018)
- President Dallin H. Oaks counseled the women of the Church (this counsel
applies to all of us), "Today, … we need women who know
how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous
defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are
devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward
exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand
the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon
the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women
who teach fearlessly." (General Conference - Women's Session, October
Even As a Youth, Jesus Was Focused on Doing His Father’s Will
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LIFE OF JESUS PRIOR TO HIS MINISTRY?
2:41-45. Joseph and Mary return to Jerusalem to find the boy Jesus.
- "And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his
brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his
ministry to come. And he served under his father, and he spake
not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any
man should teach him. And after many
years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh." (JST Matthew 3:24-26)
- "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and
in favour with God and man." (Luke 2:52)
- President Monson taught, "The sacred scriptures
provide for you and me a model to follow when they declare, 'Jesus
increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man'."
(General Conference, October 2004)
- President Ezra Taft Benson said that this verse
"encompasses four main areas for goals: spiritual, mental, physical, and
social. 'Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?' asked the Master,
and he answered, 'Verily I say unto you, even as I am.' Now there is a
lifetime goal—to walk in his steps, to perfect ourselves in every virtue
as he has done, to seek his face, and to work to make our calling and
election sure." (General Conference, October 1974)
- "And I, John, saw that he received not of the
fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of
the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received
a fulness." (D&C 93:12-13)
- As we examine these verses, we discover a few things about the
- He grew up in a family.
- He worked alongside his father, Joseph.
- Like all of us, he was born mortal and progressed through life
learning incrementally, though it appears that he had unique teachers
and he was a great student.
2:46-51. Jesus found in the temple.
- This incident tells us more about the boy Jesus. His parents
were so trusting in their boy, that they simply believed he was with their
company returning to Nazareth. Their concerns did surface until a day
after their departure. Joseph and Mary then returned in search of this
- Have you ever been left behind? What did you do? As parents, have
you ever left your children behind? What did you do? How did you feel?
Several years ago, my younger brother and I went on a vacation with
my parents to southern California. As we were returning to our home in
Utah valley, my dad stopped for gas in St. George, Utah. My brother and
I were traveling in the camper behind the truck cab. When we stopped for
gas, the two of us jumped out and headed for the bathroom. When we
returned, the truck and camper were gone. We decided that mom and dad
did not realize that we had left the camper and we were confident that
they would soon return. Fortunately, my folks did return a few minutes
later. They had gone on to the St. George Temple and when they found
their boys missing they became concerned and returned to their last
- Like my brother and I, the boy Jesus must have been confident that
his parents would return for him. Rather than venture out into the
country on his own, which would have been dangerous, he spent his time
in the temple, learning and teaching.
- After finding the boy Jesus, Joseph and Mary expressed great concern, "Son,
why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought
thee sorrowing" (v48).
- In a gentle way, Jesus reminded his earthly parents of his unique
mission, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not
that I must be about my Father's business?" (v49).
- Elder Robert D. Hales, "Throughout His life our
Savior showed us how to use our agency. As a boy in Jerusalem, He
deliberately chose to 'be about [His] Father’s business.' In His ministry,
He obediently chose 'to do the will of [His] Father.' In Gethsemane, He
chose to suffer all things, saying, 'Not my will, but thine, be done'."
(General Conference, October 2010)
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Truly converted
disciples, though still imperfect, will pursue 'the life of the soul' on
any day, in any decade, amid any decadence and destruction. This process
constitutes being about our “Father’s business.” (General
Conference, April 2003)
- Elder Thomas S. Monson, "Our example in the race
of life could well be our elder brother, even the Lord. As a small boy, he
provided a watchword: 'Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s
business?' As a grown man he taught by example compassion, love,
obedience, sacrifice, and devotion. To you and to me his summons is still
the same: 'Come, follow me'." (General Conference, October 1976)
- The boy Jesus also knew that he was still subject to his earthly
parents and he honored them, "And he went down with
them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (v51).
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
What a magnificent pattern and example Jesus Christ has set for us. Our
goal is to become perfect, even as our "Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Jesus has laid out the plan and set the example. He came down to earth,
was born in the humblest of circumstances, and learned and continued from
"grace to grace." We often become frustrated because we feel that there
is so much that we need to do to comply with the gospel and all of the
commandments. We need to follow the example of the child Jesus by becoming
meek and submissive and continue from grace to grace. We are not required
to run, before we learn to walk. "For he will
give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept, and I will
try you and prove you herewith" (D&C 98:12).
Record your thoughts on the remarkable events of the Savior's birth. How
might we be better witnesses of Jesus Christ and His gospel plan?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Life & Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles
The Gospel Kingdom by John Taylor.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
1, by Bruce R. McConkie
This outline is provided as supplementary material and is not
intended to replace the official lesson manual. It is not endorsed by The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am wholly responsible for the content.
I do my best to see that the content is in
harmony with the teachings and doctrine of the Church.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
17 December 2018