When we think of the greatest events in history, and we categorize them based on attendance and/or statistical viewing and ratings that are monitored by people with computers and calculators and stuff like that – we get an idea of how many people across the world tune in their TV’s for certain events. The following table represents one report of the 10 most watched television broadcasts on earth: 1
Keep in mind the population of the world today is estimated to be over 7.2 billion, 2 so if 2 billion people watched a single event, that’s pretty good – in fact, that’s nearly 30% of the entire world. That’s a lot of people watching the same thing. For reference, approximately 111 million people have tuned in for the Super Bowl the past 5 years.3 Of those millions, there is likely a high percentage of those viewers that recorded the events for repeated viewing or sharing via DVR or other similar devices, not to mention the recordings that have been made and are available online or in packages of various types. This allows these events to live on in history, in a very real and visual way – extending their viewership even further than what is listed above.
Whether or not you think the 10 most watched events as reported above are great or not, they provide us with some statistical data to review, especially when we reference and contrast them with one of the absolutely greatest events4 in this world’s history; the birth of Jesus Christ. 5
The birth of our savior was witnessed by only a few privileged enough to see it with their mortal eyes, along with some humble, yet very lucky animals.
There was not a single recording of this birth event made, and thus made available on DVR, DVD, or online6 that we as mortals can view – no matter how much we’d like to. But, I would suggest that there were more people watching this great event – and watching with more rapt attention – than any statistical group would ever be able to measure. I like to think of the “heavenly host” which appeared suddenly to the shepherds [with the angel] that said “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” as referenced in Luke chapter 2 (vs. 13-14) as part of the witnessing party to that first great event. I like to think of my pre-mortal self as part of that ‘host’ and I like to think that the ‘heavenly host’ was indeed immeasurable, innumerable, or without number.
This viewing demographic just wasn’t of the mortal type. The host without number was not a group of mortal beings with mortal eyes seen by other mortal beings, but it was a group every bit as real as the viewers who watched any super bowl, sporting event, or political event here on this earth. In fact, the number of viewers watching the truly great events that are recorded in the list above is probably an accurate number, since the immortal world likely has little to no interest in most of the events documented there. However, the inverse of that trend would continue in the things that really matter, as immortals tend to view (in higher and higher numbers) the events that are truly great, but are not thought to be so, and thus not recorded as such, by the world. Therefore, the seemingly unimportant or unheralded events, are in fact those witnessed by the most viewers, they just aren’t mortal viewers that can be tracked online or through a TV viewing poll.
This illustrates the skewed way in which we often think of ‘great events’ or at least in how they are measured by worldly standards. We cannot and should not think if ‘great events’ as determined by the number of mortals that are aware of the event, or how many ‘views’ it has on real TV, YouTube or any other social media site. We can liken this to ourselves and can rest assured that our ‘greatest events’ are the ones that are witnessed by few mortal eyes, if any at all. We can also rest assured that our ‘greatest events’ are inversely the ones that are witnessed by hosts of immortal eyes that are immeasurable, innumerable, and potentially without number. These ‘great events’ are very often the most basic and simple everyday activities that have power to change a heart, save a life, and therefore change the world. These are also the very events that turn the tide for our families and us in the great battle between good and evil. This is our blessing and our challenge every day here on the earth.
We can also be very confident, that this great birth scene (and many of our great events) indeed have been and are recorded in the book of life, and can be viewed by those who are privileged enough to be shown the vision(s). 7 Someday whether in life or death or with our mortal or immortal eyes – and if it suits the needs of the Lord to further his purposes – we can be blessed with the privilege of viewing the actual birth of our Savior; the very first Christmas or any number of other ‘great events’ as it furthers the impact of the spirit on each of us, and motivates us to do the most good in his kingdom, and to become more like him.
Let us remember that we do the most good at home where nobody sees us, and where there is no fanfare, no press coverage, no interviews, and little acclaim. We are doing the most good when it appears as if nobody is even paying attention, just like the Savior did.
4 This may sound like my opinion, but whether or not you or I or anyone else believes it or feels differently about the ranking of the greatest events in history, the truth is what it is, and it will not change based on anyone’s opinion. Thus, I have left it as an absolute since inspired men and scriptures call these events the greatest. In addition, whether you believe in the atonement, or choose to apply its healing and enabling powers or not, that does not diminish or change that fact that Jesus Christ did in fact come to earth, and that the events that took place as mentioned above made every other event on the earth possible, including the joy, pleasure, pain, and love that we feel when we experience any other type of event.
5 This gift, the birth of Jesus Christ, and his subsequent atonement in its truest sense also encompasses the crucifixion, and the following resurrection. And really, encompasses the entire life and mission of Jesus Christ since his coming to earth was in order to complete the atonement and make salvation possible through repentance and obedience to his gospel.
6 There has obviously been several videos, movies, clips, etc. made to depict the birth of Christ, but my point here is the actual (live) event was not recorded and is not available to be viewed in the way we think when we ‘watch movies’.
7 Several prophets were shown the birth in vision in order to prophesy of his coming/birth. There are too many to mention by name – so I will not make an attempt. For a complete list and explanation of all of them, see “The Promised Messiah” by Bruce R. McConkie.