In the Father’s “gift of his Son” (Ether 12:11)—a gift that keeps on giving—we observe the great “condescension of God” (1 Nephi 11:26) that underlies his plan of salvation and exaltation. Born in the flesh as a babe in Bethlehem (beit lehem, “the House of Bread”), Jehovah, God of the Old Testament, manifests himself to all who “come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption,” more especially to those who offer their “whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26).
Isn’t it in giving back that we learn to drink freely of the Waters of Life and partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life, which represent his love for us (1 Nephi 11:25)? He needs our love. If not, can we possibly conceive of the disappointment we impose upon him who “bore our sufferings and endured our griefs” (Isaiah 53:4) to the last drop of his blood to save our souls? Shall we to whom so much is given—even the fulness of his gospel and restoration of his church, as at this day—not receive the whole gift of his love but only a part?
Wasn’t everything about his birth and life on earth a living template of what we might grow into as we keep the laws he kept? And wouldn’t falling short of that be a depreciation of his gift to us? His descent into mortality and further descent phase into sorrows and suffering constitute a pattern of how we may attain salvation and exaltation and bring others to the same. The promise of an ascent phase typified by his resurrection and coming in glory to reign on the earth points the way for those who will reign with him when he comes.
Isaiah’s theology of creation—of God’s re-creation of individuals, his people as a nation, and the heavens and the earth—traces their rebirth on ascending spiritual levels. A hierarchy of father–son relationships that operates under the terms of the Davidic Covenant reveals the pattern of how Jesus and the prophets ascended. Falling short of being reborn as “saviors of men” under its terms isn’t an option for those so blessed as we are if we would not end up “trodden underfoot” as “salt that has lost its savor” (Doctrine & Covenants 103:10).
In other words, being “born of God” and becoming “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Alma 38:6) is followed by additional rebirths or re-creations from a saved or terrestrial state to an exalted or celestial state to that of seraphs—Isaiah’s equivalent of translated beings. If celebrating Jesus’ birth doesn’t also portend the birth of other sons and daughters and, through them, of the nation of his people that is “born in a day” (Isaiah 66:8)—God’s end-time Day of Judgment—then our thanks to him may sound hollow indeed.
Knowing that 144,000 “firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Revelation 14:3–4) will be re-created to a translated state (Doctrine & Covenants 77:11), become “as the angels of God” (3 Nephi 28:30), and “gather his elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:31) gives hope that in some among us Jesus’ joy might be full as it was in others who came before us and that in him we too might find a fulness of joy (cf. 3 Nephi 17:20; 27:30; 28:10). Doesn’t his birth embody these incalculable glad tidings? What could make a soul more glad?