Jesus Christ in the Scriptures
This entry consists of four articles:
Jesus Christ in the Bible
Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon
Jesus Christ in the Doctrine and Covenants
Jesus Christ in the Pearl of Great Price
Jesus Christ is the central focus in all scriptures accepted by Latter-day Saints. Jesus Christ in the Bible details how Jesus is seen as the central figure—both in prophecy and in its fulfillment—in the Old and New Testaments. The article Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon treats the pivotal prophetic interest in Christ manifested in the Book of Mormon, including his post-resurrection appearance to people in the Western Hemisphere. Jesus Christ in the Doctrine and Covenants illuminates the fundamental dominance of the person of Jesus in latter-day revelation. The article Jesus Christ in the Pearl of Great Price summarizes Jesus' place both in ancient prophetic expectation and in its latter-day fruition.
Jesus Christ in the Bible
by Robert J. Matthews
Latter-day Saints view Jesus Christ as the central figure of the entire Bible. The Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired records that reveal the mission of Jesus as Creator, God of Israel, Messiah, Son of God, Redeemer, and eternal King. The Bible contains history, doctrinal teachings, and prophecy of future events, with Jesus Christ as the main subject in every category.
The Old Testament contains an account of the Creation, and of the dealings of God with the human family from Adam to about 400 B.C. The promise of a messiah is a generally pervading theme. The New Testament chronicles principal events in the earth life of Jesus the Messiah from his birth through death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, with a promise that he will return to earth to judge the world and then reign as king. Latter-day Saints identify Jesus as Jehovah, the Creator, the God of Adam, of Abraham, of Moses, and of Israel. Jesus is Jehovah come to earth as the promised Messiah (see Jehovah, Jesus Christ). Hence, the dealings of God with the human family throughout the Old Testament and New Testament periods form a record of the premortal and the mortal Jesus Christ.
THE HISTORICAL JESUS. Latter-day Saints take the biblical message about Jesus literally (see Jesus Christ: Ministry of). The historical Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible: the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, born of the Virgin mary in Bethlehem, baptized by John the Baptist. He performed a variety of miracles, was a teacher of the gospel who occasionally spoke in parables, and "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). He chose twelve apostles, organized a church, gathered many followers, and was rejected by the Jewish rulers. His attitudes toward Samaritans, women, political leaders (e.g., Herod, Caesar), ritual law, and prayer were rather revolutionary for his day. He suffered at Gethsemane, bled at every pore, was crucified, died, was resurrected from the dead, and subsequently ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. Latter-day Saints consider both the historical portion of the record of the life of Jesus, and the prophetic portion, to be accurate. The promises that this same Jesus will come again in glory, in person to judge the world, then reign on the earth as King of Kings, are future realities that are taken literally.
PORTRAYAL OF JESUS THROUGH CEREMONY. Throughout the Bible, the mission of Jesus Christ is portrayed in ceremonies that are types and symbols of actual events. To the Old Testament prophets, animal sacrifices prefigured and typified the coming of Jesus to shed his blood and sacrifice his life for the sins of mankind. Because lambs were frequently offered, Jesus is spoken of in the New Testament as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; cf. 1 Ne. 11:21).
For the animal sacrifice to symbolize Jesus' sacrifice, it had to be from among the firstlings of the flock (meaning the first male born to its mother) without blemish, offered without a bone being broken, and its blood had to be shed. Each of these points had a counterpart in Jesus' life on earth. Even details of the Passover service, requiring the blood of the lamb to be placed on the door post so that the angel of death might pass over that house (Ex. 12:3-24, 46), prefigured the mission and saving power of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was crucified at the time of the annual Passover celebration. Paul, understanding this symbolism, exclaims, "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).
The Law of Moses is identified by Paul as "our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). To do that, it foreshadowed and typified Christ. When he worked out the Atonement, Christ fulfilled all the law; therefore the law had an end in him, and was replaced by the fulness of the gospel (3 Ne. 9:17; cf. Matt. 5:17-18; Heb. 10:1). LDS understanding of the role of the Law of Moses and of other Old Testament ordinances is clearly spoken by the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi about 600 B.C.:
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the Law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him [2 Ne. 11:4; cf. Jacob 4:5].
When Jesus ate the Passover meal with the Twelve at the Last Supper, he gave them bread representing his flesh, which would be broken, and wine representing his blood, which would be shed. Believers were commanded to partake of this symbolic ceremony often: "This do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:17-20; cf. 3 Ne. 18:3-13; 20:8-9).
OLD TESTAMENT FORESHADOWINGS. The writers of the four Gospels saw things in the Old Testament that foreshadowed the actual events in Jesus' life. Matthew (1:23) cites Isaiah 7:14: "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," a name meaning "God with us." He likewise cites Hosea 11:1, "I…called my son out of Egypt" (Matt. 2:15).
John (13:8-11) notes that the betrayal of Jesus by a friend was spoken of in earlier scripture (Ps. 41:9). John (19:24) also cites the dealing of the soldiers for Jesus' robe as a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, and the sponge with vinegar pressed to Jesus' lips (John 19:28-30) as having been alluded to in Psalm 69:21. John (19:33-36) also notes that Jesus' legs were not broken on the cross, in harmony with Exodus 12:46.
Isaiah prophesied that in Israel a son would be born of the lineage of David, who would be called the "mighty God," the "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6-7). The Messiah's mission as redeemer, suffering for the sins of mankind, is portrayed in Isaiah 53 and 61.
THE GOD OF ISRAEL IS JESUS OF NAZARETH. Revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith shows that, beginning with Adam, there have been several gospel dispensations on the earth. The prophets in each of these dispensations knew of Christ, taught his gospel (including the ceremonies and ordinances), and held the holy priesthood, which was called "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God" (D&C 107:3; cf. Alma 13:1-16). These ancient prophets not only knew of the future coming of Jesus as the Messiah, but they also knew that the God whom they worshiped, Jehovah, would come to earth and become that Messiah (cf. Mosiah 13:33-35). As noted earlier, in Isaiah 7:14 the name Immanuel identifies Jesus as God. New Testament passages illustrate this concept.
Jesus directed his listeners to search the scriptures, for "they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). He told the Jewish rulers that Moses "wrote of me" (John 5:45-46; cf. John 1:45; 1 Cor. 10:1-4). Later he informed them that "Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (John 8:56). When asked how he and Abraham could have known each other when their lives on earth were separated by so much time, Jesus replied, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). The Greek term here translated "I am" is identical with the Septuagint phrase in Exodus 3:14 that identifies Jehovah as "I AM."
That Jesus' audience understood that he had plainly told them he was none other than Jehovah, also known as I AM, the God of Abraham and of Moses, is evident, for "then took they up stones to cast at him" (John 8:59) because they supposed that he had blasphemed. A further demonstration that they understood Jesus' assertion that he was God come to earth is shown later when they "took up stones again to stone him," and Jesus asked: "For which of [my] works do ye stone me?" Their reply was "for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (John 10:31-33).
After his resurrection Jesus went through the passages of the Old Testament with his disciples, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets," expounded to them "in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27), and showed them "in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms" the prophecies pertaining to his mission (Luke 24:44; see Jesus Christ: Prophecies About).
Peter wrote that the ancient prophets "searched diligently" and had the "Spirit of Christ," which "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ," and that these prophets did "minister [in their day] the things, which are now reported" about Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-12). And Paul declared that in all his teachings about Jesus, he had said "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come" (Acts 26:22).
Extensive prophecies that Jesus will come again to the earth as Judge and King are recorded in Matthew (16:27; 24:1-51) and Joseph Smith—Matthew (1:1-55) (see Jesus Christ: Second Coming of Jesus Christ). Latter-day Saints believe that just as Old Testament foreshadowing and prophecies of Christ were fulfilled in his first coming, so will prophecies of his second coming be literally fulfilled.
CLARIFICATIONS FROM LATTER-DAY REVELATION. The foregoing items from the Bible, coupled with confirmatory and illuminating statements in latter-day revelation, lead members of the Church to see both the Old and the New Testaments as reliable records about the premortal, mortal, postmortal, and future millennial mission of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints fully accept the biblical message about Jesus Christ, and, in addition, because of other sacred scriptures that strengthen and supplement the biblical report (see Standard Works), they appreciate the mission of Jesus in a wider sense than is possible from the Bible alone. For example, Jesus spoke to Jewish hearers about "other sheep," not of the Jews, whom he would visit and who would "hear my voice" (John 10:16). Many have supposed that these were the Gentiles. However, in the Book of Mormon the resurrected Jesus specifically identifies these other sheep as a branch of the house of Israel on the American continent whom he was visiting, personally showing them his body and vocally teaching them his gospel (3 Ne. 15:13-24). The Book of Mormon thus explains a passage about the Savior beyond what the Bible offers, and also enlarges the concept of Jesus' ministry.
Latter-day revelation also provides a deeper appreciation for events that occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration than is available in the Bible alone. That which the New Testament offers is accepted as historically correct, but incomplete. One learns from latter-day revelation that on the mount, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah gave the keys of the priesthood to Peter, James, and John in fulfillment of the Savior's promise in Matthew 16:19 (TPJS, p. 158). The three apostles also saw a vision of the future glorification of the earth (D&C 63:2-21). These points are lacking in the biblical account. Moses and Elijah (called Elias) "appeared in glory, and spake of [Jesus'] decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:30-31), which shows that they knew him and knew of his mission.
Jesus' ministry is also clarified in other instances in latter-day revelation. John 3:23 suggests that Jesus personally performed baptisms in water, but this is largely negated by John 4:2, which states that it was in fact not Jesus, but his disciples, who performed the baptisms. Through the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, the text of John 4:2-3 is clarified to assert that Jesus did indeed perform water baptisms, but not as many as did his disciples. (For other clarifications relating to Jesus' earthly ministry, see Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible [JST].) Topics discussed in the latter work include Jesus at the temple at age twelve; his precocious childhood; his temptations in the wilderness; his parables; his ability to redeem little children; and his compassion for people.
(See The Holy Bible home page)
McConkie, Bruce R. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. Salt Lake City, 1965, 1970, 1973.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Promised Messiah; The Mortal Messiah; The Millennial Messiah, 6 vols. Salt Lake City, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982.
Matthews, Robert J. "A Greater Portrayal of the Master." Ensign 13 (Mar. 1983):6-13.
Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ. Salt Lake City, 1963.
Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon
by John W. Welch
The main purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people "that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (title page). Through the spiritual experiences of its writers, many of whom were prophets and eyewitnesses of Christ's glory, the Book of Mormon communicates clear, personal knowledge that Jesus Christ lives. It explains his mission from the Creation to the Final Judgment, and expresses his pure and atoning love for all mankind.
The Book of Mormon is an intimate scripture. It exhorts each reader "to come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift," mindful that "every good gift cometh of Christ" (Moro. 10:18, 30).
The book is singularly focused. In the words of Nephi1, "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ" (2 Ne. 25:26). Only by Jesus' sacrifice can the repentant "answer the ends of the law" (2 Ne. 2:7). "There is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh" (Mosiah 5:8).
All Book of Mormon prophets proclaimed the same word of Jesus Christ (Jacob 4:5). In visions, public speeches, and personal statements they typically declared (1) that Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator, the Lord God Omnipotent, the Father of heaven and earth, and the Holy One of Israel, (2) who would come and did come down to earth to live as a mortal born of mary, a virgin, (3) to heal the sick, cast out devils, and suffer temptation, (4) to take upon himself the sins of the world and redeem his people, (5) to be put to death by crucifixion and rise from the dead, (6) to bring to pass the resurrection of all mankind, and (7) to judge all people in the last day according to their works (1 Ne. 11-14; Mosiah 3:5-27; Alma 33:22; see Christology).
The personality and attributes of Jesus are expressed in the Book of Mormon (see Black, pp. 49-64). He is a person who invites, comforts, answers, exhorts, loves, cries, is troubled over the sins of mankind, and is filled with joy. He welcomes all who will come unto him. He patiently pleads with the Father on behalf of all who have become saints through his atoning blood. He is a true and merciful friend. He visits those who believe in him. He heals those who weep at the thought of being separated from him. With hands still bearing the wounds of his death, he touches, is touched, and gives power. He remembers all his covenants and keeps all his promises. He is all-powerful, judging the world and vanquishing the wicked. He is "the light, and the life, and the truth of the world" (Ether 4:12).
Book of Mormon prophets who taught extensively of Christ before his birth include the brother of jared (Ether 3); Lehi (1 Ne. 10; 2 Ne. 2); Nephi1 (1 Ne. 11, 19; 2 Ne. 25, 31- 33); Jacob (2 Ne. 9); Abinadi (Mosiah 13-16); Benjamin (Mosiah 3-5); Alma2 (Alma 5, 7, 12-13, 33, 36, 42); amulek (Alma 34); Samuel the Lamanite (Hel. 14); and Nephi3 (3 Ne. 1). The apex of the Nephite record is the appearance of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to a congregation of 2,500 men, women, and children who had gathered at their temple in the land Bountiful. For three days, Jesus personally ministered among them (3 Ne. 11-28; see Book of Mormon: Third Nephi). The Book of Mormon ends with testimonies of Jesus by Mormon (Morm. 7; Moro. 7) and his son Moroni2 (Ether 4; Moro. 10). Some 101 appellations for Jesus are found in the 3,925 references to Christ in the Book of Mormon's 6,607 verses (Black, pp. 16-30).
In addition to his visitations in 3 Nephi, Jesus appeared to Lehi (1 Ne. 1:9), Nephi1, Jacob (2 Ne. 11:2-3), King Lamoni (Alma 19:13), Mormon (Morm. 1:15), Moroni2 (Ether 12:39), and the brother of Jared (Ether 3:14). Each bore personal testimony of Jesus Christ. Many others heard his voice.
From visions and revelations received before he left Jerusalem about 600 B.C., Lehi knew the tender mercies of the promised Messiah. To him the Messiah would be the Redeemer who would restore the fallen, lost, and displaced. In one vision, Lehi read a heavenly book that "manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world" (1 Ne. 1:19). This knowledge focused all subsequent Nephite preaching and interpretation on the mission of the Savior. It was also revealed to Lehi that in six hundred years "a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world" (1 Ne. 10:4), the same pleading and merciful servant of whom other prophets had written, including Zenos in his allegory of the Lord's olive tree representing Israel (Jacob 5). Being "grafted in" to that tree was interpreted by Lehi as "com[ing] to the knowledge of the true Messiah" (1 Ne. 10:14).
From the prophecies of isaiah as well as from his own visions, Lehi knew that a prophet would prepare the way of the Lord before his coming (1 Ne. 10:8; cf. Isa. 40:3) and that "after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world" (1 Ne. 10:10; see John the Baptist). Furthermore, Isaiah spoke of the Lord's servant being "despised and rejected,…wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,…brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa. 53:3-7); and Lehi prophesied that the Jews would slay the Messiah, adding that the Redeemer would rise from the dead (1 Ne. 10:11).
Nephi1 asked the Lord for a greater understanding of his father's visions, especially for a clearer understanding of the tree of life. He acquired a love for the condescension of God that would bring the Son of God down to dwell in the flesh, born of a beautiful virgin. Christ's goodness stands in sharp contrast with his rejection and crucifixion (1 Ne. 11:13-33; 19:10; cf. Deut. 21:22). Nephi1 (who himself knew what it meant to be persecuted for righteousness' sake) referred more than sixty times to the divine offering of this sacrificial Lamb of God (1 Ne. 11:21). As ruler and teacher of his people, Nephi emphasized that they should follow the rule of Christ, the only true Savior who would ever come, the sole source of their life and law, and the only one in whom all things would be fulfilled (2 Ne. 25:16-18, 25-27).
In connection with his calling as a priest and teacher, Jacob, the brother of Nephi1, expounded on the Atonement of Christ. He told how Christ would suffer and die for all mankind so that they might become subject to him through his "infinite Atonement," which overcomes the Fall and brings resurrection and incorruptibility (2 Ne. 9:5-14).
Certain terms such as "Messiah" (anointed) and "Lamb of God" were used often by Lehi, Nephi1 and Jacob as designations for Christ before it was revealed by an angel that the Messiah's "name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (2 Ne. 25:19; cf. 2 Ne. 10:3; Mosiah 3:8). The name Jesus, like Joshua, derives from the Hebrew root yasha', meaning "to deliver, rescue, or save"; and christos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew mashiyach, meaning "anointed" or "Messiah" (see Jesus Christ, Names and Titles of). Thus, the Nephites used the intimate yet freely spoken name of the mortal Jesus as their name for God, while the ineffable YHWH (see Jehovah, Jesus Christ) appears only twice in the book (2 Ne. 22:2; Moro. 10:34).
Some, such as Sherem, whose cultural roots lay in the monotheistic world of Jerusalem, resisted the worship of the Messiah, alleging that this violated the Law of Moses (Ex. 20:3; Jacob 7:7; see Antichrists). Nephi had previously declared that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were "one God" (2 Ne. 31:21), but Nephite challengers continued to attack the proposition that Jesus was God, to deny that his Atonement could be efficacious in advance of its occurrence, and to argue that there could not be many Gods who were still one God (e.g., Mosiah 17:8; Alma 11:28). Abinadi and others gave inspired explanations (Mosiah 14-16; see Jesus Christ: Fatherhood and Sonship), but until the resurrected Jesus appeared, announced by and praying to the Father, such issues were not firmly put to rest.
About 124 B.C., King Benjamin received from an angel a succinct declaration of the atoning mission of Christ (Mosiah 3:2-27). It places central attention on the atoning blood of Christ and corroborates that Jesus would sweat blood from every pore in anguish for his people (Mosiah 3:7; see also Luke 22:43-44; D&C 19:18; Irenaeus, Against Heresies 22.2; see Gethsemane). Christ's blood will atone for the sins of all those who repent or have ignorantly sinned (see Mosiah 3:11, 15, 16, 18). When Benjamin's people passionately cried out in unison for God to "apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins" (Mosiah 4:2), Benjamin gave them the name of Christ by covenant, the only name "whereby salvation cometh" (Mosiah 5:7-8).
Alma2, the judicial and religious defender of the freedom of belief (c. 100-73 B.C.), taught faith in Jesus Christ as the master of personal conversion. Alma had tasted the transforming joy that came when he called upon the name of Jesus Christ for mercy (Alma 36:18), and in his subsequent sermons he described how the "image of God" might be "engraven upon your countenances" (Alma 5:19), and how the word of God is to be planted in each convert's soul, where, if nourished, it will spring up as an everlasting tree of life (Alma 32:40; 33:22-23; for a similar image, see the early Christian Odes of Solomon 11:18).
About 30 B.C. a group of Lamanites were converted to Christ when God's light shone and his voice spoke out of an enveloping cloud of darkness (Hel. 5:33-43). Twenty-five years later, a prophet named Samuel the Lamanite foretold that more significant signs of light would appear at the time of Jesus' birth and that massive destruction and darkness would be seen at his death (Hel. 14:2-27). Five years after Samuel, Nephi3 heard the voice of Jesus declaring that he would come into the world "on the morrow," and the signs of Jesus' birth were seen; thirty-three years and four days after that, all the land heard the voice of Christ speaking through the thick darkness on the Western Hemisphere that accompanied his crucifixion and death (3 Ne. 9).
Within that same year, they saw the resurrected Jesus Christ come down out of heaven (3 Ne. 11:8). The resurrected Christ appeared to a congregation of righteous Nephites at their temple and allowed them to feel the wounds in his hands and feet, and thrust their hands into his side (3 Ne. 11:15). They heard the voice of the Father saying, "Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him" (3 Ne. 11:7).
For three days, Jesus was with these people. He called and ordained twelve disciples, and taught his gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As the one who had given and fulfilled the Law of Moses, he gave the people commandments of obedience, sacrifice of a broken heart, brotherly love and reconciliation, faithfulness to one's spouse, chastity, integrity, charity, and consecration (see Endowment). He taught them to fast and pray, in secret and in their families. He healed their sick, and in the presence of angels and witnesses he blessed the parents and their children. They entered into a sacred covenant with him, and he promised that if they would do his will and keep his commandments they would always have his spirit to be with them (see Sacrament), would personally know the Lord and would be welcomed into his presence at the last day (3 Ne. 14:21-23; see Welch, pp. 34-83).
As revealed in the Book of Mormon, Jesus wants all people to become like him and their Father in Heaven. Jesus said, "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Ne. 27:27). He invited all, saying, "I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (3 Ne. 12:48). His constant and loving purpose was to make that possible.
(See The Book of Mormon home page)
Black, Susan E. Finding Christ Through the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, 1987.
Charlesworth, James H. "Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the Book of Mormon." In Reflections on Mormonism, ed. T. Madsen, pp. 99-137. Provo, Utah, 1978.
Roberts, B. H. "Christ in the Book of Mormon." IE 27 (1924):188-92.
Scharffs, Stephen. "Unique Insights on Christ from the Book of Mormon." Ensign 18 (Dec. 1988):8-13.
Welch, John W. The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount. Salt Lake City, 1990.
Jesus Christ in the Doctrine and Covenants
by Clark V. Johnson
The Doctrine and Covenants is a unique collection of revelations and inspired writings bearing witness to the modern world that Jesus Christ lives. Unlike the other standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in modern times by latter-day prophets and therefore are not translations of ancient documents. The central figure of the Doctrine and Covenants is indeed Jesus Christ. He identifies himself repeatedly throughout its pages with various titles expressing his Godhood and his redeeming power.
The Doctrine and Covenants presents more than sixty names or titles for Jesus. When referring to himself or his work, the Lord uses at least eighteen descriptive titles, including "Lord" (more than 300 times); "Jesus Christ" (81 times); "Redeemer" (24 times); "Savior" and "Jesus" (19 times each); "Alpha and Omega" and "Only Begotten" (13 times each); "the Beginning and the End" (12 times); "Eternal" (11 times); "Jehovah" (6 times); "Advocate," "Endless," and "Bridegroom" (5 times each); "Lawgiver" and "I Am" (3 times each). These titles invoke special respect for Jesus Christ. "Behold, I am from above…I am over all, and in all, and through all…and the day cometh that all things shall be subject unto me. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ" (D&C 63:59-60; see also Jesus Christ, Names and Titles of).
Jesus affirms his role as the Creator. "Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity,…before the world was made…I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me" (D&C 38:1-3).
A unique reference is made to Jesus as the Son ahman. "Ahman" could be an expression in the adamic language (D&C 78:20; 95:17; see also JD 2:342). Another unique passage identifies Christ as the Lord of Sabaoth, Hebrew for "hosts"—both of heaven and earth; therefore he is "creator of the first day, the beginning and the end" (D&C 95:7).
In one memorable passage Jesus describes his suffering as the Redeemer of mankind. The autobiographical details expressed here are found nowhere else in scripture: "Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink" (D&C 19:18). He "suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent" (19:16). True to his character, the Savior gives glory and honor to his Father in Heaven: "Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men" (D&C 19:19; cf. 78:4). Because he made the sacrifice, Christ can intercede with the Father for the penitent: "I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them" (D&C 38:4; cf. 45:1-4).
Jesus refers to himself as the Bridegroom, drawing attention to his parable of the virgins recorded in Matthew 25, when he prophesied of his second coming: "Be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom" (D&C 33:17).
In modern revelation the Lord also gives comfort: "Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you" (D&C 68:6); and "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers (D&C 112:10). Jesus also warns mankind of the necessity to be humble, stating that "although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him" (D&C 3:4).
In several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord testifies that he is the one who gives scripture through inspiration, and he commands that his words be studied (D&C 1:29; 3:16-20; 11:22; 20:8-9; 84:57). In summary he says, "Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled" (D&C 1:37).
The Lord explains perplexing scriptural passages and concepts in the Gospel of John, 1 Corinthians, Revelation, and Isaiah (D&C 7; 77; 86; 113). Scriptural concepts concerning sacred history, priesthood, and patriarchal lineage are emphasized by him in other revelations (D&C 84:6-28; 107:1-14, 40-57). He also restored fragments of lost scriptures (e.g., D&C 7; 93:7-17).
The Lord tells why he gives these revelations to mankind: "I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness" (D&C 93:19).
The voice of Jesus Christ in the Doctrine and Covenants is the word of the Lord comforting and encouraging his Saints; testifying of his own divinity and sacred mission; warning the world of judgments to come; declaring his majesty and power; and promising forgiveness and mercy to the penitent. Latter-day Saints accept these revelations as latter-day proclamations of the mind and will of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(See The Doctrine and Covenants home page)
Maxwell, Neal A. "The Doctrine and Covenants: The Voice of the Lord." Ensign 8 (Dec. 1978):4-7.
Jesus Christ in the Pearl of Great Price
by James R. Harris
The standard work of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price contains selected materials ranging from the time of Adam to the present, including words of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith. It presents some 300 references to Jesus Christ, including such names and titles as Beginning and the End, Beloved Son, Creator, God, Jehovah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, King of Zion, Lord, Lord God, Messiah, Only Begotten, Rock of Heaven, Savior, Son, and Son of Man. A particular contribution is the fact that Jesus Christ has been the focus of every dispensation from Adam to Joseph Smith.
JESUS THE CREATOR. Jesus is identified as the Creator under the aegis of God the Father in Moses, chapters 2 and 3. The book of Abraham adds the clarification that Jesus did not act alone but with a council of intelligent spirits, among whom was Abraham (Abr. 3:23).
SATAN'S REBELLION. In the premortal estate the Father chose Jesus to become the Only Begotten and Redeemer. Satan rebelled against the Father's choice and became the archenemy of Jesus and of all who follow him (Moses 4:1-4; also see First Estate; War in Heaven).
ADAM AND EVE AND THE PLAN OF SALVATION. Adam and Eve (Moses 1:34; 4:26; 5:5-9) were the first to be taught and to accept the Father's Plan of Salvation on this earth. Adam was commanded by God to make an offering of the firstlings of his flocks. After many days, an angel of the Lord asked why he offered sacrifices. When Adam confessed his lack of understanding, the angelic visitor explained, "This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth…. In that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will" (Moses 5:7-9).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ has applied to mankind from the beginning. Adam believed in the coming of Christ, was baptized in his name, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost and the priesthood keys of a dispensation (Moses 6:51-68; D&C 107:41-42; see also Adam: LDS Sources).
ENOCH, A WITNESS OF THE SON OF MAN. Enoch preached faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, growing in the knowledge of God, justification, and sanctification, all to be achieved through the atoning blood of Christ (Moses 6:46-62).
Enoch was a prophetic witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and knew that Jesus was the God of the ancient prophets, the Redeemer and Savior, the Son of the "Man of Holiness" who is God the Father. He saw, in vision, the coming of the Savior in the meridian of time, his crucifixion, and his triumphal ascension unto the Father (Moses 7:47, 53, 55). Enoch the seer (Moses 6:36) saw also the coming of the "Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years" (Moses 7:65).
NOAH, PREACHER OF DELIVERANCE THROUGH CHRIST. Noah pleaded with the people saying, "Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you" (Moses 8:24).
ABRAHAM. Abraham was visited by Jehovah (Abr. 1:16) and knew him as the one "like unto God," the Creator, the Son of Man, and the opponent of Satan (Abr. 3:24-28).
MOSES, DELIVERER, AND TYPE OF CHRIST. After Moses had been tried by a confrontation with the devil and had twice stood in the presence of God (Moses 1:2-39), he was told, "And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak" (Moses 1:40). Moses was also told that he was in the "similitude" of the Only Begotten, the Savior, who was full of grace and truth (Moses 1:6). When Moses was confronted by the powers of darkness, he called upon God for strength and in the name of the Only Begotten commanded Satan to depart (Moses 1:20-22). Moses served the God of Israel, whom he knew was the Messiah, the Only Begotten, the Savior, and the Creator of "worlds without number" (Moses 1:32-33).
MATTHEW, RECORDER OF THE LORD'S MINISTRY. In a discourse to his disciples three days before his crucifixion, Jesus counseled them on how to survive the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem and how future disciples should survive a similar devastation to come in the latter days as a prelude to his second coming (Matt. 24). Joseph Smith's translation of that discourse is presented as Joseph Smith—Matthew.
JOSEPH SMITH. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned by divine experience that there are both a Savior, who is Son, and a God who is Father. This he learned in his first vision when a pillar of light appeared "above the brightness of the sun" and fell upon him. In that light he saw "two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above [him] in the air. One of them spake unto [him], calling [him] by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" In this vision, Joseph Smith talked to the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ (JS—H 1:15-17). The Prophet later wrote, "I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true (JS—H 1:25). (See Joseph Smith: A Modern Witness for Christ)
In the Articles of Faith, Joseph Smith declared Jesus' position as a member of the Godhead, outlined the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and affirmed that Christ will come again to reign personally upon the earth.
(See Pearl of Great Price home page)
Peterson, H. Donl. The Pearl of Great Price: A History and Commentary, pp. 20, 74-75. Salt Lake City, 1987.