Monday, December 25, 2023

Which Jesus Do You Seek?

(Guest Post by Spencer's Dad)

Which of these four Jesus do you seek?

Sometimes Christmas season gets to busy that we don’t have time for Jesus.  Based on ideas from John Bytheway and Willaim Smart  (see note at the end) I have concluded there are four different Jesus we could seek at Christmas and throughout the years.

1. Santa Claus Jesus

Many in our world see these three wonderful stories as fairy tales.   To Level #1 people Jesus is as good a story as Santa Claus.   Once the world has enjoyed hearing and singing about these classic tales, we are ready for the Boxing Day sales and New Year’s celebration. 

Smart said that with Level #1 Jesus we eat too much, spend too much in the Christmas season.  John Bytheway added “I do all that and love it.”

2. Baby in Bethlehem

Jesus the Son of God being born in a manger is a unique story.   The Angels telling the wise men of the joy Christ will bring is a one sentence summary of the gospel. 

However, if Christians leave Jesus in the stable, we are missing the rest of this life changing story.  Don’t leave Jesus in the manger. Smart stated that “The man who leaves Jesus in the manger will be empty and unfilled.” 

The full effect of that first Christmas are incomplete if we leave Baby Jesus in the manger. We worship the Jesus in the manger for what he was going to do…because in the manger He didn’t do anything (yet) to help us.

Smart and Bytheway describe our need to find the adult Christ.  I have divided this into two distinct ways we could see that adult Jesus.

3. Jesus on the Cross

Jesus on the Cross – and then the empty tomb give us the promise that we will all be resurrected.   This promise keeps us going when we lose a loved one.  The world wants to hope this is true.  Our faith in the risen Christ assures us that families are forever.  

His promise that we will live again after we die does change how the after life will be. That promise is far ahead in our future (we hope).  Knowing I will see my deceased grandson who died in a motor cycle accident, is helpful, but I still have a life here to get through.

The Empty Tomb can have even more power than just hoping to see loved ones again.

4. Jesus in Gethsemane

When we remember Jesus in Gethsemane, there can be practical applications in our personal lives.   In mortality we will have days and seasons in our lives when we need God’s help to get through the day (or hour).  

The Jesus in the manger, at the empty tomb, will seem academic when the storms of life are tearing me apart.  The Jesus from Gethsemane can come to each of us in this stormy chapter of your life; today; this hour.

To the Nephites the resurrected Christ said "O all ye that are spared …will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?" (3 Nephi 9:13)

The Savior who heals us in our trials is the hardest Jesus to find. It takes patience, faith and struggle.  Through him comes healing, peace and inspiration as we meet the challenges of today and the future.

Finding the Jesus who can heal you and me takes a different effort.   It involves patience, faith, listening, serving, asking, healing and more.  After He has helped us through one storm, we know He can help us through the next (different) storm.  

Once we are healed by the Christ in Gethsemane, then the Empty Tomb, the Cross and the Manger come alive to us in ways we could not have imagined.

*These ideas were sparked by two sources

John Bytheway in "Finding Joy this Holiday Season " LDS Living All in Podcast November 25m 2020

John got the ideas from an editorial by William B. Smart “Three Levels of Christmas.”  This and other William Smart editorials were included in a book Messages for a Happy Life 1989.

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