NEW TESTAMENT - LESSON 3
Luke 2; Matthew 2
- Jesus Christ is born.
- Angels and many others rejoice at Jesus' birth.
- Wise men come to worship the child Jesus. Herod seeks to kill him.
- Guided by the Father, Jesus prepares in his youth for his ministry.
A study of this lesson should encourage us to rejoice in the birth of
Jesus Christ and follow the example he set in his youth, "[increasing]
in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
Jesus Christ Is Born
- Luke 2:1: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went
out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed."
Luke 2:3: "And all went to be taxed, every one into his own
- 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.
- He was also called Octavius.
- He was 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. "Augustus, 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 of the people of the empire, taxes on the different peoples
would then be determined.
- This census was the second of three registrations that took place over
twenty year intervals.
Luke 2:4-5: "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."
- The Roman method for doing the census was to do it by the city of residence,
much as we do the census in the United States.
- The Jewish custom required registration in the ancestral home of one's
family. Roman law honored the Jewish tradition.
Luke 2:6-7: "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."
- In order to fulfill the requirements of the census or registration,
Joseph and Mary had to travel 80 miles, from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem
- 80 miles doesn't seem like much to us in our day. We can drive that
distance in an hour and a half (or less if you live in Montana). But consider
walking that distance. You Scouters that have done 50 milers, you know
that you don't do it in a day, or even two. Consider doing it with a your
wife when she is only a few days from delivering a baby.
- 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, p341)
View video from the New Testament Video Presentations, #2: Luke II.
- 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 accomodations 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
- As we look at much of the world today, we see that many people have
closed their hearts tight to the Savior and his teachings. They are busy
pursuing their personal interests and do not make time for considering
the important of the Savior and his teachings.
- ARE WE EVER GUILTY OF THIS? WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM IN
- 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 Bethlehem.
Angels & Many Others Rejoice At Jesus' Birth
- READ LUKE 2:8-14. The angelic annoucement to the
Luke 2:19: "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them
in her heart."
- 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, p347)
- The angels praised God and then said, "on earth peace, good
will toward men." 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
- 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 in 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).
- 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 the missionary work, but
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 would be, I was comforted, and felt the most remarkable feeling of
This is the peace the Lord brings. We cannot
find this peace in the world. It does not come from economic security or
a variety of other sources. It comes only through Christ and the Holy Spirit.
- After this glorious manifestation, the shepherds went to Bethlehem
to see the new born Jesus.
- READ 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 a wonderful gospel
message. It is the same message given to the ancient shepherds. It is a
message that can change lives and affect eternity. 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?
Luke 2:21: "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 wasconceived in the womb."
- 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
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TAKE TIME TO CHERISH AND PONDER SACRED EXPERIENCES?
Sometime after the days of Mary's purification were completed the Holy
family went to the temple in Jerusalem.
- 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, p95)
READ MATTHEW 2:1-2. The wise men from the east.
- 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 cermonial cleansing, the law required the offering of
a lamb for the burnt offering (a sacrifice of service and devotion) and
the offering of a turledove or young pidgeon 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 pidgeon.
- READ LUKE 2:25-35. Simeon testifies of the Messiah.
- READ LUKE 2:36-38. Anna testifies.
- It seems that it was important for the Lord to have numerous witness
to testify of the coming of the Messiah into the world.
- Last week we talked about the special witness given to Mary, Joseph,
Elisabeth, and Zacharias. The Lord has now added additional witnesses:
the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. And still others would be added.
READ MATTHEW 2:13-18. Jesus goes to Egypt.
- WHY DID THE "WISE MEN FROM THE EAST" SEEK JESUS?
- "we...are come to worship him"
- WHAT DID THEY DO WHEN THEY FOUND HIM?
- Matthew 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."
- More witnesses are added to the growing list.
- WE ARE ALSO WITNESSES OF THE CHRIST. WHAT GIFTS CAN WE OFFER TO THE
- "Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness,
even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (D&C 59:8).
- "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
and 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" (John 13:34).
READ MATTHEW 2:19-23. The return to Israel.
- 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 and that if they found the one who had been prophesied, he was
sure that they would turn their allegiance to this Messiah.
Jesus Prepares In His Youth For His Ministry
- WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LIFE OF JESUS PRIOR TO HIS MINISTRY?
READ LUKE 2:43-45. Joseph and Mary return to Jerusalem
to find the boy Jesus.
- JST Matthew 3:24-26: "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."
- Luke 2:52. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and
in favour with God and man."
- D&C 93:12-13: "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."
- As we examine these verses, we can discover a few things about his
- 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.
READ LUKE 2:46-51. Jesus found in the temple.
- This incident tells us more about the boy Jesus. These holy parents
were so trusting in their boy, that they simply believed he was with the
company returning to Nazareth. Their concerns did surface until a day after
their departure. They then returned in search of this remarkable lad.
- 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.
We were traveling in a truck and camper. My brother and I were in the camper.
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 gotten out 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 their boys did not jump
out of the camper, they became concerned and returned to their last stopping
- 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 their boy, 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).
- But 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).
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 humlest 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).
Lesson 4: Matthew 3-4; John 1:35-51
Additional Reading: Mark 1:1-13; Luke 3:1-22; 4:1-14; John 1:19-34;
2:1-25; 2 Nephi 31; Bible Dictionary, "Baptism," 618-619; "John
the Baptist," 714-15; "Repentance," 760-761.
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