By J. Kenneth Doty
The mission of Jesus Christ was to become our Savior and Redeemer. He is the key to the gospel plan to provide a means of redemption, immortality, and eternal life for all mankind. He was, and is, “the sacrificial lamb prepared from before the creation of the earth.”
As spirit children, we were there in the Pre-mortal conference when the choices were debated and decided upon and the selection of Jesus Christ as the foreordained Savior was made. In that process He became the pivotal individual in the whole gospel plan. Thus we know Him in five different roles.
1. CREATOR AND FATHER OF OUR WORLD
As directed by our Heavenly Father, Elohim, Christ became the creator and father of this world. We know him as the Jehovah of the Old Testament, He who inspired and instructed the prophets and patriarchs from the time of the creation. He was intimately connected with Adam and Eve, with Enoch and Noah. He was a friend of Abraham. He it was who, face to face, trained and taught Moses, who led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and inscribed the laws of God on the stone tablets at Mount Sinai. He spoke to and inspired the other prophets of the Old Testament. Their prophecies were all about the future coming of the Savior, the Messiah, into this world. On this, the American Continent, one such prophet, pleading for assurances of that coming, poured out a sorrowful, heartfelt prayer unto God and was given this answer: “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world.”
2. THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM
Most significantly, we remember Him as the Babe of Bethlehem. When God needs a great work done in this world, He sends a baby into it. Every great man throughout the history of the world was once a baby as was Jesus. (Another baby was born at a similar time of year, December 23, 1805, whom we know as Joseph Smith.) But this baby Jesus, His work was of such magnitude and importance that His birth was announced and heralded by angels singing to the shepherds; by a new star in the heavens that brought wise men from the east to travel vast distances to bring Him gifts and worship him. From LDS Hymns #209: “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the new born King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Joyful all ye nations rise; join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
3. TEACHER & MINISTER
Next, we know Him as a teacher. In His ministry, he taught faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Healing the sick, giving sight unto the blind, causing the lame to walk and the deaf to hear, He even raised some who were dead. He organized His Church and marked the path and led the way that He would have us go, always teaching love and forgiveness. From LDS Hymns #308: “As I have loved you, love one another. This new commandment: love one another. By this shall all men know you are my disciples – if ye have love one to another.”
4. THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB
Then we see him in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then to be scourged, scorned, beaten, and spit upon. Unjustly he was tried before questionable tribunals composed of the people he was dying to save. Then we see him nailed to a cross between two common criminals, paying the price of atonement for the sins of all the people who ever had or ever will live in this world. From LDS Hymns #185: “Reverently and meekly now, let thy head most humbly bow. Think of me, thou ransomed one; think what I for thee have done. With my blood that dripped like rain, sweat in agony of pain, with my body on the tree, I have ransomed even thee.”
5. RESURRECTED LORD
Finally, we know Him as the Risen Lord. After three days in the tomb, He rose to become the first fruits of them that slept. The first resurrected individual of this world, opening the graves of deceased men and women who had lain in their tombs for as long as four thousand years, bringing fulfillment of the prophecies from the time of Adam that resurrection would come to all mankind. From LDS Hymns #136: “I know that my Redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, He lives who once was dead. He lives, my ever-living head. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives!”
Because He lives, we too shall live!