We have always thought that there was something quite wonderful about the fact that Joseph Smith’s birthday falls just two days before Christmas.
This year, with the 23rd falling on a Sunday, we have a particular opportunity to think about the relationship and connection between the Lord and the Prophet. After all, it was the illuminated mind of the Prophet Joseph and the revelations of the Restoration that gave us so much added insight and understanding about the Savior of the World.
And in this world that he saved, it is remarkable how many different levels there are on which people think of Jesus Christ. Let’s review these widely varying levels and renew our appreciation — perhaps especially on the 23rd — for the insights at level 10 and higher (see below) which we have and know only because of Joseph:
Level One: He did not exist. He is a myth.
Level Two: He was a trickster, a magician, a deceiver.
Level Three: He was a historical figure, but most of what is said about him is fiction or legend rather than history.
Level Four: He was a remarkable and powerful teacher.
Level Five: He was a charismatic leader and teacher who developed the most beautiful philosophy of life ever devised.
Level Six: He was a prophet.
Level Seven: He was the greatest of all the prophets.
Level Eight: He was more than a man, more than a prophet — he was the Son of God.
Level Nine: He was the Son of God and is our Savior. He died and atoned for our sins and was then resurrected.
Level 10: He was the Son of God and is our Savior. He established his church to preserve and spread his gospel.
Level 11: He was the Son of God and is our Savior. He established his church, but because he had given man free agency he knew that parts of his church would be diluted and destroyed.
Level 12: He is the divine Savior. His church was established and then changed through the Dark Ages. In our own time, much truth has been restored and people are, more than ever, seeking the true Christ.
Level 13: The divine Savior is also the God of the Old Testament, the only Begotten of the Father, the Atoning One, the Creator, and our Judge and King.
Level 14: He is also the God who appeared and taught in the New World and who reigns in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Level 15: He is the also the God of the Restoration who, following the great apostasy, restored his church and the fullness of his gospel to the earth.
Not until a person reaches level eight can he be considered a true Christian. Then at level 10 or 11, the Restoration begins to factor in, allowing us to know our Savior from additional perspectives and in additional roles.
How ironic that the world accepts its own Creator, its own Savior, its own Judge on so many different levels. And how grateful we are at Christmastime to know all that we know and to be able to worship and stand in awe of him to whom we owe all.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or at www.valuesparenting.com.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company