Jesus Christ in Mormonism
Many people have asked, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Jesus Christ has been the center of one of the world’s major religions for two thousand years, and is frequently the center of many philosophical discussions. Some people have suggested different views or ideas about His character. While he is widely accepted as a great teacher, many people still wonder about His professing to be the Savior of the world. The same concern arose during His ministry on earth. “When Jesus came into the coast of Caesaria Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13–16).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly misnamed the Mormon Church) teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. He was chosen of all our Father in Heaven’s children to carry out the Plan of Salvation for God’s children. This plan includes the creation of this earth, to which all of Heavenly Father’s children will come to gain a body and to be tested for their obedience to His commandments. God knew that all of us would fall short of perfection; thus, a Savior was needed to enable each of us to repent and to be cleansed.
Jesus Christ was chosen to be the Savior of the world. A Book of Mormon prophet-king named Benjamin testified to his people of the reality of the authority of Jesus Christ. He said: “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). Ancient and modern prophets have testified that Jesus Christ is the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament; the Great Deliverer, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Holy One of Israel.
Many ancient prophets have prophesied of the coming of the Savior into the world. Isaiah said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The birth of Jesus Christ is the most joyful event in the history of this earth.
When Jesus was born, a new star appeared in heaven signifying that the Messiah and Savior was born. An angel visited the shepherds that tended the sheep that night near where Jesus was born, telling them good tidings of great joy:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is to come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child (Luke 2:13–17).
And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities (Alma 7:10–12).
Jesus Christ grew to maturity and prepared for His ministry among the people. Many believed His teachings but there were some who, for greed, power, popularity, and authority, chose to reject those wonderful teachings. Wicked men sought to take kill Jesus, but had failed. It was not until the time appointed by God that Jesus Christ gave Himself up to be persecuted and then crucified. Jesus Christ suffered for the sins and sufferings of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane. Then He was crucified. These acts together make up what is called the Atonement.
The Atonement is central to the Plan of Salvation for God’s children. Because we cannot be perfect on our own, He has provided the way by which we may become perfect. ”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16–17). Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Articles of Faith, 3).
After His crucifixion, Jesus Christ was buried in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathaea. Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead. He was resurrected, His body and soul reunited for eternity. His victory over death makes it possible for us to return to the presence of the Father someday. Resurrection is a free gift to all the inhabitants of this earth; we will all be resurrected and will return to the presence of God for judgement. Whether we will be saved or not depends upon our actions in this life.
Mormons believe that Jesus is the Christ. Mormons believe that Jesus Christ will come again to the earth, as angels promised He would: ”Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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). The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is an event which has been looked for since His ascension, and for which faithful Latter-day Saints continue to look.
All Mormon doctrine is centered around the fact that Jesus is the Christ. Thus, Jesus Christ’s place in Mormonism is key. There is no Mormonism without Jesus Christ.