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Ideal life to emulate

At this season of the year, we reflect on the many aspects of the life of Jesus Christ. The Christian world celebrates His birth, the wonder of that holy night as the heavenly host proclaimed to shepherds and others that the Son of God is born.

But the life and message of Jesus Christ is not easily contained in a single night nor in a single event. His life is a reflection of much more. He is the young boy discussing the scriptures with the temple scholars. He is the Nazarene, who declared His divinity and was spurned by His own neighbors. He is the Master Teacher, delivering sermons with such power that the multitudes would not leave Him. He is the priesthood leader, calling and ordaining His brethren to take His message to the ends of the earth and serve all mankind.

Undoubtedly most important, He is the Anointed One who took upon Himself the sins of the world, was humiliated, scourged, crucified and voluntarily gave up His life so that all could be redeemed from the Fall.

President Joseph Fielding Smith declared, "We believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent, and that there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can become inheritors of eternal glory in the kingdoms which are ahead." (August 1971 Ensign.)

This Jesus of Nazareth, we declare, did not enter the world a mere babe. He came from a throne on high and He returned to glory after His mortal ministry. What He left is an example for each of us to follow, an ideal life to emulate and His teachings to review, digest, absorb and take into our lives.

The message He taught by His example and then sealed with His blood has rung throughout the eternities: God lives and loves us. The gospel is here that we might obtain eternal life with Him. His reminder to us is to obey His commandments, receive the ordinances of eternity and endure to the end.

"But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. This is eternal lives — to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law." (D&C 132:23-24).

The prophets of the Old Testament and Book of Mormon looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. They foretold His journey, pointed the way to others; invited their listeners to emulate Him. When Jesus walked on the earth, He gave powerful insight into things eternal. He cut through many of the obscurities in the scriptures and got right to the heart of the message, as only an author of divine law can do. His message to the world at that time was simple: Come, follow me.

Many responded. Many more held back or did not yield to the enticing of the Spirit.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "After any portion of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God, . . . the extent of their knowledge respecting His character and glory will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after Him. . . ." (Lectures on Faith, p. 23.)

Today, our leaders repeat the Master's words: Follow Him. His teachings and His sacrifice on our behalf are as relevant to today's world as they were two millennia ago.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "There is nothing more relevant to the cold, stark fact of death than the assurance of eternal life. . . . This is the promise of the risen Lord. This is the relevance of Jesus to a world in which all must die. But there is further and more immediate relevance. As He is the conqueror of death so, also is He the master of life. His way is the answer to the troubles of the world in which we live." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 272)

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught others. What He taught them was that the divine spark in all of us can grow from a tiny glow to the brightness of a sun as we come to know Him and the Father. As we strive to live His commandments, may we remember the teachings by His example.

"And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God." (D&C 14:7.)

At this holy season, as in all seasons, we testify: He lives. He will return to lead His kingdom in righteousness. This, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is His Church and contains the fullness of the gospel He taught in His day and is for our day. Jesus Christ is at its head. He remains the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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