“December 16–22. Christmas: ‘Good Tidings of Great Joy’” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“December 16–22. Christmas,” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: 2019
Record Your Impressions
Invite class members to share what they are doing or have done in the past as individuals or families to celebrate the Savior’s birth in ways that bring them closer to Him.
To condescend means to voluntarily descend from a position of rank or dignity (see 1 Nephi 11:14–26). Christmas is a good time to ponder and celebrate the condescension of Christ—His willingness to leave “his Father’s courts on high, with man to live, for man to die” (“Again We Meet around the Board,” Hymns, no. 186). To inspire a discussion on this topic, you could ask class members what they learned in their personal or family study this week about who Jesus Christ was before He was born (see John 17:5; Mosiah 7:27; D&C 76:12–14, 20–24; Moses 4:2). Then you could display the image in this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families as class members read about the Savior’s birth (see Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–38; 2:1–20). What thoughts and feelings do they have as they compare the Savior’s premortal glory with His humble birth?
A question like the one the angel asked Nephi in 1 Nephi 11:16 could be a good way to start a class discussion, though you might word it differently. Maybe you could write on the board What is the condescension of God? and ask class members to ponder this question as they read 1 Nephi 11:17–33. Ask them to share any thoughts about the Savior that these verses inspire. What pictures could you show the class that depict scenes from the Savior’s life described by Nephi? They could also consider the condescension of the Savior as they watch a video about His birth, such as “A Gift to the World,” “The Nativity,” “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly (Music Video)—Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” or “He Is the Gift” (all of these can be found on LDS.org).
Music is a wonderful way to invite the Spirit to your class. Consider playing Christmas hymns performed by the Tabernacle Choir (see mormontabernaclechoir.org), inviting someone to perform a Christmas song, or reading or singing a few hymns together as a class (see Hymns, nos. 201–14). Class members could look for phrases in these hymns and the scriptures listed with the hymns that increase their gratitude for the Savior and His willingness to come to earth.
To help class members discuss the reasons Jesus Christ was born, you could invite them to find and share scriptures that summarize His mission (see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families for some examples). Perhaps class members could look for and read verses in pairs or small groups. What do they learn about Christ’s mission from the verses they found? What do we learn about His mission from some of the titles He is given in the scriptures? (see Bible Dictionary, “Christ, names of”).
Class members could learn about the Savior’s mission by reading “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, inside front cover) and sharing statements they find that explain why He came to earth. Or they could review the message by President Gordon B. Hinckley in “Additional Resources” and discuss what they learn about the Savior. How can we make time this Christmas season for “silent meditation and quiet reflection” on the Savior and His mission?
Give class members time to reflect on their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His mission. Could they share personal experiences or stories from the Savior’s life that have increased their faith in or love for Him? How has studying the New Testament this year contributed to a more meaningful Christmas season? To review some of the New Testament accounts class members have learned about this year, you might show the videos “For God So Loved the World” or “To This End Was I Born” (LDS.org).
Suggest to your class members that studying Revelation 12–22 this week can deepen their appreciation for the Savior’s role in the plan of salvation and add meaning to their observance of Christmas.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
“When all is said and done, … nothing is so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, … He who had condescended to come to earth as a babe born in Bethlehem, gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally. He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves. …
“This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is preface. The three-year ministry of the Master is prologue. The magnificent substance of the story is His sacrifice, the totally selfless act of dying in pain on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of all of us.
“The epilogue is the miracle of the Resurrection, bringing the assurance that ‘as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15:22).
“There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.
“I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal, Living God. None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. …
“For each of you may this be a merry Christmas. But more importantly, I wish for each of you a time, perhaps only an hour, spent in silent meditation and quiet reflection on the wonder and the majesty of this, the Son of God. Our joy at this season is because He came into the world. The peace that comes from Him, His infinite love which each of us may feel, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that which He freely gave us at so great a cost to Himself—these are of the true essence of Christmas” (“The Wondrous and True Story of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec. 2000, 4–5).