Pres. Hinckley: Christmas a result of redeeming Christ

"There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter," President Gordon B. Hinckley said during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Dec. 4.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, added, "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."Tonight as Latter-day Saints wherever we may be we are of one mind, and of one testimony and of one faith concerning Him who is our Redeemer and our Lord."

President Hinckley continued: "What a glorious season is this time of Christmas. Hearts are softened. Voices are raised in worship. Kindness and mercy are re-enthroned as elements in our lives. There is an accelerated reaching out to those in distress. There is an aura of peace that comes into our homes. There is a measure of love that is not felt to the same extent at any other time of the year.

"My heart is subdued when I think of the great love of my Heavenly Father. How grateful I am to know that God loves us. The incomprehensible depth of that love found expression in the gift of His Only Begotten Son to come into the world to bring hope into our hearts, to bring kindness and courtesy into our relationships, and above all to save us from our sins and guide us on the way that leads to eternal life.

"Marvelous is the chronicle that began with the singing of angels at Bethlehem and ended on Golgotha's cruel cross. There is no other life to compare with His life.

"I sense in a measure the meaning of His atonement. I cannot comprehend it all. It is so vast in its reach and yet so intimate in its effect that it defies comprehension.

"When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, there is nothing so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, the prince of His Father's royal household, . . . 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."

President Hinckley then related "something of a parable." He told the story of a one room school house in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them.

Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied. He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk. The first day of school the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. The class came up with 10 rules, which were written on the blackboard. Then the teacher asked, "What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?"

"Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on," came the response.

A day or so later, President Hinckley related, the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen. "The thief was located - a little hungry fellow, about ten years old."

As Little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on. " Take your coat off,' the teacher said.You helped make the rules!' "

The boy took off the coat. He had no shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body. As the teacher hesitated with the rod, Big Tom jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the boy's licking.

" `Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?' " the teacher asked.

After five strokes across Tom's back, the rod broke. The class was sobbing. "Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. `Tom, I'm sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!' "

President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah: "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrow: . . . He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5.)

"This is the wondrous and true story of Christmas," President Hinckley declared. "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 and dishonor 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.)

"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. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth. I thank Him and kneel before His wounded feet and hands and side, amazed at the love He offers me."

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