On the title page of the Book of Mormon, Moroni says that the purpose of the book is to convince the Jews and the Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ. So just who IS Jesus Christ?
Christ is not Jesus’s last name; it is a title. The word Christ means *messiah, or, anointed. Calling Jesus the Christ means that We acknowledge that He is the savior that was prepared from the foundations of the world to provide the atonement.
Mormons have a very clear belief in Jesus as the messiah, the literal Son of God, the Holy one of Israel, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the one and only path back to where we came from- His father, and our Father, in Heaven. We believe in no uncertain way that Jesus, through the atonement, made it possible for us to be forgiven of all the sins we have made and become clean as little children.
A little back-history…waaaaaaay back.
Jesus was prepared to be the Savior long before He came to earth. Let’s go back before the earth came to be. First, there was Heavenly Father (and Heavenly Mother). Then came their children. Jesus was the eldest, second born was Satan. Then came the rest of us. You, me, everyone around you, are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. That makes Jesus our eldest brother, and every person on earth a relative. It is why we refer to each other as Brother so-and-so, and Sister so-and so. Of course, Satan is in that mix as well, but that is a subject for another day, another post.
So, there we were, one big family in Heaven. The problem was that in order to keep progressing, we needed to get a body. Our spirits are wonderful things, but there are things that we cannot do without a physical body. To get that body, God prepared a way that we could take a journey to earth and be born in the mortal world. Just getting a body isn’t the whole story- there are things we have to learn while we are here, and if we want to continue to progress In the next life and be all that we can be, we have to prove ourselves by the choices we make here.
Now here was the problem. Once we came to earth, we would choose to make some serious mistakes (sins), which meant we would not be able to live with God again because only perfectly clean beings can live there. So, as part of the plan, Heavenly Father prepared a mediator to atone for all of our sins and make it possible for us to go back to our home in Heaven clean. Jesus, the eldest son, volunteered for that role. Satan also volunteered, but while Jesus was backing Heavenly Father’s plan (called the Plan of Happiness), Satan wanted all the power and glory for himself (the original power monger), he wanted us to worship him, and Satan wanted to control our every move so we would not be able to choose good or bad- we would be his puppets doing what he wanted at all times. Suffice to say at this point, Jesus got the job because His desire was to do God’s will, as well as secure our salvation and happiness.
Jesus’s mission was to create the world under the direction of Heavenly Father, and then to provide the atonement to save his brothers and sisters from the spiritual and physical death brought about by Adam and Eve’s Fall.
A few relevant words about Adam and Eve and their choice
There is a lot of misconceptions among Christian denominations about Adam and Eve. When the two of them lived in the Garden of Eden, they were in a state of innocence, not knowing or needing to know good from evil. They also would not be having children there. They had to leave the garden in order that ‘man might be’. God knew perfectly well what would happen- He knew about the serpent, He knew what Eve would choose, He knew that Adam would choose to stay with her and cause ‘the fall’. Everything that happened was accounted for in the plan of Happiness, right from the beginning. Adam and Eve made choices, and they were beguiled by the devil, but the devil cannot frustrate God’s plan- God is a step ahead of the devil, every foot of the way. Adam and Eve sacrificed their own happiness and security in the Garden of Eden so that we could get our turn on earth. Jesus was prepared to give the atonement after the fall so that we can go back to heaven.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ…no one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon” (2).
So, Who is Jesus the Christ?
Jesus is our elder brother. He created this earth for us. He chose to follow God’s will and knows what we need to do to have happiness now and in the eternities. Jesus is part of the Godhead which includes Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost- three distinct personages. Heavenly Father and Jesus have bodies, the holy ghost remains a spirit so he can help us. Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and Messiah of the New Testament. He loves us enough to have paid a terribly high price for us- and all He asks in return is that we follow Him so we can have the happiness we so desired before we came to earth. He asks us to repent of our sins, be baptized for the remission of our sins (so we can take advantage of the atonement), and do our best to follow His example of love, compassion, and service. He Lives! He is aware of each one of us, loves us and more than anything, wants us to return to him.
I testify to you that I know that He lives. I know that He is the Christ, our Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God and He is our elder brother who loves us.
Is there one question about what I have written that you would like to ask me? Leave me a comment and I WILL respond!
(1). *Messiah is a Greek word translated from the Hebrew word messiah, meaning anointed.
(2). The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, Ensign, May 1987, 85).
( 3). The Plan of Happiness < https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/11/the-great-plan-of-happiness.p1?lang=eng >