There are varying opinions of who and what Jesus of Nazareth was. With nearly half of the world’s population declaring him as the divine son of God, many others suggest he is merely a prophet or great teacher. It is impossible to deny Jesus Christ’s place in history as a leader and a unique personage of tremendous influence. Jesus Christ is translated in Greek to mean ‘The anointed’ or in Hebrew to mean ‘the Messiah’. Jesus, who is called Christ, is the firstborn of our Heavenly Father in the spirit and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He was born of Mary at Bethlehem, lived a sinless life, and wrought out a perfect sacrifice for all mankind by the shedding of His blood and His death on the cross. He rose from the grave and brought to pass the bodily resurrection of every living thing and the salvation and exaltation of the faithful. He is the greatest Being to be born on this earth—the perfect example—and all religious things should be done in His name. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, the Creator, the Savior, the God of the whole earth, the Captain of our salvation, the Bright and Morning Star.
He is in all things, above all things, through all things, and round about all things; He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; His name is above every name and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved. He will come again in power and glory to dwell on the earth and will stand as Judge of all mankind at the last day. In the great intercessory prayer, Christ prays “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” As we come to know our Father in Heaven, and His Son, Jesus Christ, we want to become more like them. We experience a change of heart that leads us to commit to being baptized in a show of our desire and dedication to His gospel. We are drawn to Him by the Magnitude of His great sacrifice that frees us from sin and death.
As important as it is to know our enemy, it is most important that we know He who cast Satan out of Heaven, has power over Satan, and is our hope and strength to overcome his influence in this probationary state we live in. John 17:3 reads, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” He has given us several ways in which we can get to know him.
- The Scriptures. First, we have His words and teachings, and the teachings of His prophets and apostles in the Bible. As we read of His teachings of love, forgiveness, peace, and charity, it stirs a desire in our hearts to be better, to emulate the life that Jesus lived and to go about doing good. The scriptures, the words of life, are designed to point the children of God in every generation to Jesus Christ for deliverance from sin and death and all our earthly problems.
- Prayer. As we study His words, we begin to see that He prayed to the Father and taught us to pray to Him also. This is the second way in which we can come to know God the Father, and Jesus Christ, His only begotten. God hears our genuine and sincere prayers and answers them. Prayer is a two-way communication and God will speak to us through a still, small voice. A voice that speaks to the hearts and mind of the pure and sincere, meek and humble seekers of truth and direction in their lives. Our prayers should be to the Father in the name of our advocate with Him, Jesus Christ. He has been through trials and tribulations beyond our own and understands us. Through our scripture study, we will have come to know God as an all-powerful, all-knowing being, full of love, compassion, and understanding. He will comfort and heal us through our trials, hardships, aches, and pains. Both God the Father and Jesus Christ love us and want us to have joy and eternal happiness. They also know that joy and true happiness only comes by obedience to their commandments, and that we must choose wisely in all of our choices knowing that we can get all of the guidance and direction we seek, however he cannot and will not control the actions of man according to the liberty and free-agency granted to man during this mortal probationary period which affords us all an equal opportunity to prove our worthiness to Him.
- Keep the Commandments and Serve Others. A genuine and sincere studying of the words of God, accompanied by humble prayer, cannot result in anything other than a love for Him. The pure love of Christ means that we love God and others as he did and want to do those things that will please Him. The things that please Him most are to keep His commandments (John 14:15), and to serve others. The Savior charged us with feeding his sheep. (See John 21:15–17.) In serving the needs of others, we are mindful of the words of the Savior: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.) Remember that we are all children of our father in heaven, all have divine origin, nature, and potential and WE MUST BE our brothers keepers – to lift, inspire, comfort, and serve them as He may only inspire and direct us to do.
‘It is a matter of history that, at or near the beginning of what has since come to be known as the Christian era, the Man Jesus, surnamed the Christ, was born in Bethlehem of Judea. The principal data as to His birth, life, and death are so well attested as to be reasonably indisputable; they are facts of record, and are accepted as essentially authentic by the civilized world at large. True, there are diversities of deduction based on alleged discrepancies in the records of the past as to circumstantial details; but such differences are of strictly minor importance, for none of them nor all taken together cast a shadow of rational doubt upon the historicity of the earthly existence of the Man known in literature as Jesus of Nazareth’.1 All things testify of Him who was born to bring life to the world, and Christ was appropriately born during the spring – the season when life begins. His birth was during the season of Passover when the Jews were remembering their deliverance from Egypt, and symbolically Jesus was born into the world as the Deliverer of all from death and sin. Also significant is that He, the ‘Bread of Life’ would come from Bethlehem which means ‘House of bread’ in Hebrew. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life; He came down to earth from heaven to bring us life every day of our mortal journey. As we gather His words every day, we will experience the sweetness and vitality available through Him throughout our mortal journey.
Bethlehem was also known as the City of David and Jeremiah prophesied that the Messiah would be of the lineage of David. Matthew gives us Christ’s genealogy, showing how the Lord is descended from that king of long ago: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. … So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:1, 17).
The ‘Lamb of God’ was humbly born in a manger among animals during Passover season when other lambs were being prepared for Paschal sacrifice. Our familiarity with European nativity scenes have led us to think that the stable as a wooden building, however it is commonly believed that the stable was actually a cave where animals were held. In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr stated that Jesus had been born in a cave outside the town, while the Protoevangelium of James described a legendary birth in a cave nearby. The Church of the Nativity inside the town, built by St. Helena, contains the cave-manger site traditionally venerated as the birthplace of Jesus. In Contra Celsum 1.51, Origen, who from around 215 traveled throughout Palestine, wrote of the manger of Jesus, “…there is shown at Bethlehem the cave where He was born and the manger in the cave where He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes. And this sight is greatly talked of in surrounding places, even among the enemies of the faith, it being said that in this cave was born that Jesus who is worshipped and reverenced by the Christians.” This ‘manger’ was also a symbol of death and burial in the tomb, which was also a cave. Interestingly, “Had Judah been a free and independent nation, ruled by her rightful sovereign and not under Roman rule, Joseph the carpenter would have been her crowned king; and his lawful successor to the throne would have been Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’ (Jesus the Christ, Talmage, p. 87).” More than 2,000 years ago an angel told Joseph and Mary that her forthcoming Holy Child was to be named Jesus. Joseph and Mary knew the significance of the name, whose Hebrew root, Jehoshua, literally means “Jehovah is salvation.” It is symbolic that the good Shepherd of us all was born amidst shepherds, yet was the humble Lamb of God.
Christian and unbeliever alike acknowledge His supremacy as a Man, and respect the epoch-making significance of His birth. Christ was born in the meridian of time; and His life on earth marked at once the culmination of the past and the inauguration of an era distinctive in human hope, endeavor, and achievement. His advent determined a new order in the reckoning of the years; and by common consent the centuries antedating His birth have been counted backward from the pivotal event and are designated accordingly. The rise and fall of dynasties, the birth and dissolution of nations, all the cycles of history as to war and peace, as to prosperity and adversity, as to health and pestilence, seasons of plenty and of famine, the awful happenings of earthquake and storm, the triumphs of invention and discovery, the epochs of man’s development in godliness and the long periods of his dwindling in unbelief — all the occurrences that make history — are chronicled throughout Christendom by reference to the year before or after the birth of Jesus Christ.
‘His earthly life covered a period of thirty-three years; and of these but three were spent by Him as an acknowledged Teacher openly engaged in the activities of public ministry. A brief account of some of His words and works has been preserved to us; and this record, fragmentary and incomplete though it be, is rightly esteemed as the world’s greatest treasure. The earliest and most extended history of His mortal existence is embodied within the compilation of Scriptures known as the New Testament; indeed but little is said of Him by secular historians of His time. As an individual He was personally known to but few; and His fame as a world character became general only after His death’.1 His exemplary life truly constituted His mortal ministry. It included His teachings, parables, and sermons. He was baptized, not because he needed to be, but because He wanted to show us the way to eternal salvation. Was it happenstance that He, the Living Water giving life and hope to all, chose to be baptized near the waters called dead (The Dead Sea), at the lowest point of the earth (it’s 1200 feet below sea level), descending thus even physically below all things?
As the children of Israel thirsted for water in the wilderness, Moses turned to the Lord. Moses was instructed to smite a certain rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai) with the rod given him by the Lord. When he did, water gushed forth from the rock to sustain life for the millions of journeying Israelites. Jesus Christ is the Rock of Israel; when He was smitten at Calvary, blood issued forth from His body. The blood of Christ brings us life! We can access the life found in the atoning blood of Christ as we follow His teachings which bring forth living water from Him.
His earthly life encompassed His miracles, loving-kindness, and long-suffering toward the children of men. It embraced His compassionate use of divine authority. It included His righteous indignation when He condemned sin (see Romans 8:3) and when He overthrew the tables of the money changers (see Matthew 21:12). It also included His heartaches. He was mocked, scourged, and disowned by His own people —even betrayed by one disciple and denied by another (see John 18:2–3, 25–27).
Wonderful as His ministerial acts were, they were not and are still not unique to Him. There is no limit to the number of people who may follow the example of Jesus. Similar acts have been done by His prophets and apostles and others among His authorized servants. Many have endured persecution for His sake (see Matthew 5:10). The Lord asked us to follow His example. His appeals are crystal clear: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Fishing requires energy and effort, tactics and strategy, patience and perseverance, and faith and optimism. Avid fishermen exercise great patience, care, and perseverance in their efforts to find and catch that next big fish, with the faith and optimism that gets them out of bed before the crack of dawn, out all day, and back the next. We should be as meticulous in our efforts to fish for the souls of men. “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done” (John 13:15; see also John 14:6). These and other similar scriptures were not written as suggestions. They are divine imperatives! We are to follow His example!’ (Russell M Nelson, Ministry of Christ).
Death and Atonement
‘Pontias Pilate, seeing no fault in the falsely accused Christ, reluctantly surrendered to the demands of the Jews to see him executed in the most lingering and painful form of execution. A sentence of crucifixion caused for the condemned to carry their own cross to the place of crucifixion, which happened to be Calvary, then spikes would be driven through his hands and feet, and the cross raised until He had suffered death. ‘Born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father, He was the only one who could voluntarily lay down His life and take it up again (see John 10:14–18). The glorious consequences of His sacrifice for mankind were infinite and eternal. He took the sting out of death and made temporary the grief of the grave (see 1 Corinthians 15:54–55). His responsibility for the Atonement was known even before the Creation and the Fall. Not only was it to provide for the resurrection and immortality of all humankind, but it was also to enable us to be forgiven of our sins—upon conditions established by Him. Thus His Atonement opened the way by which we could be united with Him and with our families eternally. No one else could provide an Atonement; only the begotten, chosen and ordained Son of God. No other person, even with the greatest wealth and power, could ever save one soul—not even his own (see Matthew 19:24–26). And no other individual will be required or permitted to shed blood for the eternal salvation of another human being. Jesus did it “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Adam, Eve, and generations to follow learned that whenever they shed blood from an animal, its life was terminated. For their sacrificial rite, not just any animal would do. It was to be a firstling of the flock and one without blemish (see, for example, Exodus 12:5).
Let us also consider the symbolism of the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God. For He was “the Lamb that was slain.” (Rev. 5:12.)Because of His perfect life, He is The Life: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6).
And Rev 5:6
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
In Revelations 5:5, one of the elders spoke of Christ as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, a symbol of power and majesty. However this is not the Christ that John sees. John sees a lamb, not a lion.
- In midst of throne – nearest the throne of God, perhaps sharing the central place symbolizing the Lambs being the center of all things, and his preeminence over all of His creations.
- Had been slain – Greek verb sphazo (slain) refers to the act of sacrificing. The seer’s metaphor emphasizes both the high value of those he purchased, costing Him his blood and life, and the universality of the Lord’s action in redeeming all the faithful from death & hell. He gave Himself a sacrifice to appease the demands of justice and allowed the twin powers of mercy & grace to flow. Victory grew out of death, redemption out of blood. This allowed the will of the father to operate. The Passover feast centered on the paschal lamb, which was a sacrificial lamb, a male without blemish and with no broken bone, even after death. (See Ex. 12:5, 46.) Likewise, Jesus was the “Passover,” the “Lamb of God” (1 Cor. 5:7; John 1:29), a male without blemish and with no broken bone, even after death (John 19:36). He was the Firstborn of God in the premortal existence, sanctified in the flesh as were the firstborn of Israel (Ex. 12:23–24), and slain even as were the firstborn of Egypt (Ex. 12:29).
- Seven Horns – symbolizes Christ’s fullness of power. And the Lamb has power (Fullness of power represented by 7 horns) over the dragon (Partial power represented by 10 horns) The HORN is the Old Testament symbol for power (Num 23:22; Deut. 33:17; 1 Sam 2:1; 1 Kings 22: 11; Ps. 75:4; 89:17). Thus it was the mark of kingly dignity (Ps. 112:9; 148:14; Zech 1:18; Dan. 7:7, 20, 8:3)
- Seven Eyes – Eyes depict knowledge. The number seven represents fullness, thus the Lambs fullness of knowledge. (Zach 4:10)
- 7 Spirits of God – represent the Lamb’s fullness of administrative authority; giving him omnipresence
The difficulties of their journey caused the children of Israel to complain, murmuring against the prophet and the Lord. As a result, the Lord allowed poisonous serpents to bite them, bringing death to many. Moses prayed to the Lord to take away the serpents; instead, the Lord provided a way for the people to escape death when they had been bitten. The action required for them to be healed was to look upon a brass serpent that was affixed to a pole. Jesus Christ was nailed to a pole—the cross—so that we might look to Him in our sufferings and not be overcome by them. Jesus Christ does not always take away our trials, but as our Healer, He can take the poison out of them through the blessings of His Atonement.
As Jesus Christ ascended into heaven at the completion of His mortal ministry, two angels declared to His Apostles, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Since that time, believers have looked forward to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
When the Savior comes again, He will come in power and glory to claim the earth as His kingdom. His Second Coming will mark the beginning of the Millennium. The Second Coming will be a fearful, mournful time for the wicked, but it will be a day of peace for the righteous. The Lord declared:
“They that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.
“And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.
The Lord has not revealed exactly when He will come again, but He has revealed to His prophets the events and signs that will precede His Second Coming. Among the prophesied events and signs are:
- Apostasy from gospel truth (see Matthew 24:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
- The Restoration of the gospel, including the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ (see Acts 3:19-21; Revelation 14:6-7)
- The restoration of priesthood keys (see Malachi 4:5-6).
- The coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4-18).
- The preaching of the gospel throughout the world (see Matthew 24:14).
- A time of wickedness, war, and turmoil (see Matthew 24:6-7; 2 Timothy 3:1-7).
- Signs in heaven and on the earth (see Joel 2:30-31; Matthew 24:29-30).
The righteous need not fear the Second Coming or the signs that precede it. The Savior’s words to His Apostles apply to all who prepare for His coming and who look forward to it with joy.
Jesus Words of Comfort
- Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28
- Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. John 15:9
- I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
- These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. John 15:11
- Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27
- These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.John 14:1
- And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.John 14:3
- Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me”. John 14:1
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Matt.5:3
- Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Matt. 5:4
- Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Matt. 5:5
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.Matt. 5:6
- Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.Matt. 5:7
- Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matt. 5:8
- Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Matt. 5:9
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heavenMatt. 5:10
- “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Matt. 5:11
- ‘Jesus the Christ‘ by James Talmage