This entry consists of twelve articles:
These titles are self-explanatory and each emphasizes a major feature about Jesus Christ. The long list of topics illustrates his importance in the doctrines of the Church, and the large amount of information available through the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets. ]
Jesus Christ: Overview
Author: MILLET, ROBERT L.
Jesus Christ is the central figure in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it" (TPJS, p. 121). Latter-day Saints believe that complete salvation is possible only through the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and ordinances of Jesus Christ and in no other way.
Christ's relationship to mankind is defined in terms of his divine roles in the three phases of existence-premortal, mortal, and postmortal.
PREMORTAL JESUS. In the premortal life, Jesus Christ, whose main title was Jehovah, was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the eldest brother and preeminent above all other spirit children of God. In that first estate, he came to be more intelligent than all other spirits, one "like unto God" (Abr. 3:19, 24), and served as the representative of the Father in the creation of "worlds without number" (Heb. 1:1-3; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33;7:30). LDS leaders have declared that all revelation since the Fall of Adam has been by, and through, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) and that whenever the Father has appeared unto man, it has been to introduce and bear record of the Son (JST John 1:19; DS 1:27). He was known to Adam, and the Patriarchs from Adam to Noah worshiped him in humble reverence. He was the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God-Lawgiver on Sinai, the Holy One of Israel. Scriptural records affirm that all the prophets from the beginning spoke or wrote of the time when Jehovah would come to earth in the form of man, in the role of a messiah. Peter said, "to him give all the prophets witness" (Acts 2:25-31;10:43). Jacob taught that "none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ" (Jacob 7:11; cf. Mosiah 3:5-10;13:33; 3 Ne. 20:24).
MORTAL JESUS. Jehovah was born into this life in Bethlehem of Judea and grew up as Jesus of Nazareth. He came in condescension-leaving his station as the Lord Omnipotent to undertake a mission of pain and humiliation, having everlasting consequences for mankind (see 1 Ne. 11; Mosiah 3:5-10; see also Condescension of God). His life was one of moral perfection-he was sinless and completely submissive to the will of the Father (John 5:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; Mosiah 15:2). Jesus is the model and exemplar of all who seek to acquire the divine nature. As taught by Joseph Smith, the Savior "suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be." Through all of this, "he kept the law of God, and remained without sin" (Lectures on Faith, Lecture 5, paragraph 2). The risen Lord asked the Nephites, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Ne. 27:27; cf. 12:48).
Jesus was more, however, than sinlessness, goodness, and love. He was more than a model and teacher, more than the embodiment of compassion. He was able to accomplish his unique ministry-a ministry of reconciliation and salvation-because of who and what he was. President Ezra Taft Benson stated, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was fathered by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father!" (Benson, p. 4). From mary, a mortal woman, Jesus inherited mortality, including the capacity to die. From his exalted Father he inherited immortality, the capacity to live forever. The Savior's dual nature-man and God-enabled him to make an infinite Atonement, an accomplishment that no other person, no matter how capable or gifted, could do (cf. Alma 34:9-12). First, he was able, in Gethsemane, in some majestic but incomprehensible manner, to assume the burdens and effects of the sins of all mankind and, in doing so, to engage suffering and anguish beyond what a mere mortal could endure (2 Ne. 9:21; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 18:11;19:16; Taylor, p. 148). Second, he was able to submit to physical death, to willingly lay down his life and then take up his body again in the resurrection (John 5:26;10:17, 18; 2 Ne. 2:8).
POSTMORTAL JESUS. Latter-day Saints believe that between his death on the cross at Calvary and his resurrection, Jesus' spirit entered the spirit world, a postmortal place of the disembodied, those awaiting and preparing for the reunion of their bodies and spirits. Peter taught that Christ went into this realm to preach to the spirits in prison (1 Pet. 3:18-20;4:6). A modern revelation explains that Jesus did not go himself among the wicked and disobedient who had rejected the truth. Rather, he ministered to the righteous in paradise and organized and empowered them to teach those spirits who remained in darkness under the bondage of sin and ignorance (see D&C 138:29-32). Thus, the Messiah's mission to "preach good tidings unto the meek," to "bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18-19) extended after death into the life beyond (see Salvation of the Dead; Spirit Prison).
Jesus "broke the bands of death"; he was the "first fruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20; Alma 11:40-41). He rose from the tomb with an immortal, glorified body and initiated the first resurrection or the resurrection of the just, the raising of the righteous dead who had lived from the days of Adam to the time of Christ (Matt. 27:52-53; Mosiah 15:21-25; Hel. 14:25-26; 3 Ne. 23:7-13). Jesus Christ will come again to earth in power and glory. The first resurrection, begun at the time of Christ's resurrection, will resume as the righteous dead from the meridian of time to his second coming return with him in resurrected and immortal glory. This second advent will also signal the beginning of the Millennium, a thousand years of earthly peace during which Satan will be bound and have no power over the hearts of those who remain on earth (Rev. 20:1-2; 1 Ne. 22:26). Joseph Smith taught that "Christ and the resurrected Saints will reign over the earth during the thousand years. They will not probably dwell upon the earth [constantly], but will visit it when they please, or when it is necessary to govern it" (TPJS, p. 268). During this era, Jesus will reveal himself, and, in the words of Isaiah, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9; Heb. 2:14).
Jesus Christ is the God of the whole earth and invites all nations and people to come unto him. His mortal ministry, as described in the New Testament, was primarily among the Jews. Following his death and resurrection he appeared to his "other sheep," groups of scattered Israelites. First, as described in the Book of Mormon, he ministered to the Nephites in America. He taught them his gospel and authorized them to officiate in his name. He then visited the lost tribes, the ten northern tribes of Israel, which were scattered at the time of the Assyrian captivity in 721 B.C. (John 10:16; 3 Ne. 15:12-16;17:4). In addition to the appearances recorded in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, which are ancient scriptural witnesses of the Redeemer, Joseph Smith testified that Jesus Christ, in company with his Eternal Father, appeared to him near Palmyra, New York, in the spring of 1820 to open the dispensation of the fulness of times (JS-H 1:1-20; see First Vision). On subsequent occasions the risen Savior has visited and revealed himself to his latter-day prophets and continues to direct his latter-day Church and kingdom (see Jesus Christ: Latter-Day Appearances of Jesus Christ).
Latter-day Saints center their worship in, and direct their prayers to, God the Eternal Father. This, as with all things-sermons, testimonies, prayers, and sacraments or ordinances-they do in the name of Jesus Christ (2 Ne. 25:16; Jacob 4:4-5; 3 Ne. 18:19; D&C 20:29; Moses 5:8). The Saints also worship Christ the Son as they acknowledge him as the source of truth and redemption, as the light and life of the world, as the way to the Father (John 14:6; 2 Ne. 25:29; 3 Ne. 11:11). They look to him for deliverance and seek to be like him (see D&C 93:12-20; McConkie, 1978, pp. 568-69). In emphasizing the transforming power of Christ's example, President David O. McKay observed that "no man can sincerely resolve to apply to his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature" (IE 65 [June 1962]:405).
Jesus Christ brought to pass the bodily resurrection of all who have lived or who will yet live upon the earth (1 Cor. 15:21-22; Alma 11:40-42). Because he overcame the world, all men and women may-by exercising faith in him, trusting in his merits, and receiving his grace-repent of their sins and know the peace of personal purity and spiritual wholeness (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7; 2 Ne. 2:8;25:23; Enos 1:1-8; Mosiah 4:1-3). Those who have learned to rely on the Lord and lean upon his tender mercies "sing the song of redeeming love" (Alma 5:26). Nephi 1, the Book of Mormon prophet-leader, exulted, "I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell" (2 Ne. 33:6). "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Ne. 25:26). A latter-day apostle has written:
I believe in Christ; He stands supreme!
From him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: Ye shall obtain.
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I'll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.
[Bruce R. McConkie, "I Believe in Christ," no. 134, Hymns, 1985]
Benson, Ezra Taft. Come Unto Christ. Salt Lake City, 1983.
Dahl, Larry E., and Charles D. Tate, eds. The Lecture on Faith in Historical Perspective. Provo, Utah, 1990.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Promised Messiah. Salt Lake City, 1978.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. Salt Lake City, 1979-1981.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah. Salt Lake City, 1972.
Talmage, James E. Jesus the Christ. Salt Lake City, 1972.
Taylor, John. The Mediation and Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Salt Lake City, 1882.
Jesus Christ: Prophecies About Jesus Christ
Author: WALKER, GARY LEE
Prophecies concerning the birth, mortal ministry, and post-Resurrection ministry of Jesus Christ permeate the Bible. Moreover, the latter-day scriptures used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-the Book of Mormon, which bears the modern subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price-contain numerous prophetic utterances about the messiah that in general are clearer than those in the Bible. For Latter-day Saints, these four volumes of scripture constitute the principal sources for the prophecies about Jesus' life and mission. This article reviews the prophecies concerning Jesus most often referred to by Latter-day Saints.
The New Testament teaches that the divinity of Jesus Christ was recognized by some during his own lifetime, as well as by God's ancient prophets. For example, Andrew announced to his brother Simon Peter that he had found the Messiah (John 1:41). The Book of Mormon prophets Abinadi and Nephi 2, son of Helaman 2, taught that all of God's prophets, including Moses and Abraham, "have testified of the coming of Christ" (Mosiah 13:33; Hel. 8:16-22; cf. Jacob 4:4).
The scriptures are rich in prophetic detail concerning the birth of Jesus. Isaiah declared, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14), a passage that Matthew cited as having reference to Jesus (Matt. 1:22-23). Micah poetically pronounced, "Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). Among Book of Mormon people, Nephi 1 foretold that "even six hundred years from the time that my father [Lehi] left Jerusalem," the Savior would be raised up (1 Ne. 10:4; 19:8). Samuel the Lamanite (c. 6 B.C.) told a doubting generation of the signs to be given in the Western Hemisphere that would accompany the birth of Christ (Hel. 14:2-8). These included the appearance of a new star and two days and one night without darkness (Hel. 14:4-5).
Some prophecies of the Messiah's birth were fulfilled when the angel of the Lord announced to shepherds near Bethlehem: "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). On the other side of the world, the day before his birth, the Lord announced to his prophet Nephi 3 that he should 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, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets" (3 Ne. 1:13).
Latter-day Saints believe that the mission of Jesus Christ has been known since earliest times. The angel of the Lord declared to Adam that the Son was "the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning," and that Adam would "be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will," if they "repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore" (Moses 5:8-9). The message that Jesus Christ is the Advocate, the Redeemer, and the Intercessor, and that "There is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ" (Hel. 5:9), has been repeated by God's representatives in all ages (see Moses 5:14-15; Isa. 53:4-5; Acts 4:12; 2 Ne. 2:9-10;9:6-7; Mosiah 4:8;5:8; Alma 11:40; D&C 45:3).
Events of Jesus' mortal life and ministry are found in numerous prophecies. In the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST), an insightful passage states "that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come [and] needed not that any man should teach him" (JST Matt. 3:24-25). Nephi 1 saw in a vision, and King Benjamin learned from an angel, that the Savior would perform healings, cast out devils, and raise the dead (1 Ne. 11:31; Mosiah 3:5-6). According to New Testament writers, Jesus' triumphal ride into Jerusalem on a beast of burden was foreknown by Zechariah (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5; John 12:14-15), as was his betrayal for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13; Matt. 27:9-10). From the angel, King Benjamin learned that blood would come "from every pore, so great shall be his [Jesus'] anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people" (Mosiah 3:7). Christ's rejection by his own people was prophesied both by himself and by others (e.g., Ps. 69:8; Mosiah 15:5; 3 Ne. 9:16; John 1:11).
Many years before the event, prophets such as Enoch and Nephi 1 saw the Lord lifted up on the cross (Moses 7:47, 55; 1 Ne. 11:33). Isaiah prophesied that the suffering servant would make "his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (Isa. 53:9). The Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi (c. 150 B.C.) associated that passage in Isaiah with Jesus (Mosiah 15), and its fulfillment was recorded by Luke (23:32-33). Matthew tells of the physical disturbances that occurred at the moment Jesus gave up his life (Matt. 27:50-54), events that Zenos saw in a vision hundreds of years earlier (1 Ne. 19:10-12).
Christ foretold his own death and resurrection when he answered a demand for a sign: "Destroy this temple [physical body], and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). Jesus' eventual victory over death was known by the ancients, for God told Enoch that "righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men" (Moses 7:62). Later, inspired men in the Americas learned of this event. Nephi 1, Jacob, Benjamin, and Samuel proclaimed the time when Christ "layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise" (2 Ne. 2:8; cf. 1 Ne. 10:11; Mosiah 3:10; Hel. 14:15-17).
Jesus Christ's ministry to the spirit prison (1 Pet. 3:18-19) was anticipated by Isaiah when he recorded that "after many days shall [the prisoners gathered in the pit] be visited" (Isa. 24:22). Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants records a vision of this event, received by a modern prophet, President Joseph F. Smith, when he saw "the hosts of the dead, both small and great awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death" (D&C 138:11, 16).
The righteous of earlier ages have looked forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples to "watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 25:13; cf. D&C 49:6-7), and indicated that he would come "as a thief" in the night (1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3;16:15). He revealed to Joseph Smith that a universal revelation would be given so that "all flesh shall see me together" (D&C 101:23; cf. Isa. 40:5). Isaiah foresaw events of the second coming (Isa. 63-66), as did Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi (Dan. 7:13; Micah 1:3; Zech. 12:10;13:6; Mal. 3:12). When the resurrected Lord appeared among the Nephites, he spoke about his eventual triumphant return to earth, quoting Malachi, chapters 3 and 4 (3 Ne. 24-25).
The Prophet Joseph Smith clarified and added to prophecies of the events surrounding Jesus' second coming, including the restoration of the gospel (D&C 133:36-37), the resurrection of the dead (D&C 88:95-102), the beginning of the Millennium (D&C 43:30-31), and the binding of Satan for a thousand years (D&C 45:55). Both ancient and modern prophets foretold that, at the end of a thousand years of peace, Satan would be loosed and the final battle between good and evil would be waged (Rev. 20:7-8; D&C 43:31). John the Revelator and the ancient prophet ether, who both saw in vision all of these events, beheld the renewal of the earth and the establishment of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21; Ether 13:1-10). This city will have "no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:23).
Jackson, Kent P. "The Beginnings of Christianity in the Book of Mormon." In The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, ed. P. Chessman. Provo, Utah, 1988.
Matthews, Robert J. "The Doctrine of the Atonement-The Revelation of the Gospel to Adam." In Studies in Scripture, ed. R. Millet and K. Jackson, Vol. 2, pp. 111-29. Salt Lake City, 1985.
Matthews, Robert J. A Bible! A Bible! Salt Lake City, 1990.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Promised Messiah. Salt Lake City, 1978.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah. Salt Lake City, 1982.
GARY LEE WALKER
Jesus Christ: Firstborn in the Spirit
Author: GILES, JERRY C.
Fundamental to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the concept that all human beings were born as spirit sons and daughters of heavenly parents before any were born as mortals to earthly parents. Latter-day Saints believe that the eldest and firstborn spirit child of God is Jehovah and that it was he who was later born with a physical body to mary as Jesus Christ. That is, Jehovah of the Old Testament became Jesus Christ of the New Testament when he was born into mortality. The Psalmist refers to the Messiah as the firstborn (Ps. 89:27), and the apostle Paul speaks of Jesus as the "firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29; cf. Heb. 2:17) and as the "firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15). Perhaps the most authoritative statement on the subject is from the Savior himself, who declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn" (D&C 93:21; see also Church of the Firstborn). In 1909 the First Presidency of the Church declared: The Father of Jesus is our Father also. Jesus Himself taught this truth, when He instructed His disciples how to pray: "Our Father which art in heaven," etc. Jesus, however, is the firstborn among all the sons of God-the first begotten in the spirit, and the only begotten in the flesh. He is our elder brother, and we, like Him, are in the image of God. All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity [MFP 4:203]. [See also "Origin of Man," included in Doctrinal Expositions of the First Presidency in Appendix.]
Jesus Christ: Only Begotten in the Flesh
Author: HANSEN, GERALD, JR.
Ancient and modern scriptures use the title Only Begotten to emphasize the divine nature of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints recognize Jesus as literally the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh (John 3:16; D&C 93:11; Moses 6:52). This title signifies that Jesus' physical body was the offspring of a mortal mother and of the eternal Father (Luke 1:35, 1Ne. 11:18). It is LDS doctrine that Jesus Christ is the child of mary and God the Father, "not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof" (JC, p. 81).
The fact of Jesus' being the literal Son of God in the flesh is crucial to the Atonement, which could not have been accomplished by an ordinary man. Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind are subject to physical death and are shut out from the presence of God. The human family is unable to save itself. Divine law required the sacrifice of a sinless, infinite, and eternal being-a God-someone not dominated by the Fall, to redeem mankind from their lost and fallen condition (Alma 34:9-14; cf. 42:15). This price of redemption was more than any mortal person could pay, and included the spiritual sufferings and physical agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18). To complete the Atonement by physical death and resurrection, it was necessary that Jesus be able to lay down his physical body and also be able to take it up again. He could do this only because he had life in himself, which he inherited from God his Father (John 5:26;10:17-18). Christ inherited the ability to die from his mortal mother and the power to resurrect himself from his immortal Father. Dying was for him a voluntary, deliberate act for mankind, made possible only because he was the Only Begotten of the Father (D&C 20:18-26).
McConkie, Bruce R. The Promised Messiah, pp. 467-73. Salt Lake City, 1978.
GERALD HANSEN, JR.
Jesus Christ: Birth of Jesus Christ
Author: SKINNER, ANDREW C.
Latter-day Saint scripture affirms unequivocally that the birth of Jesus Christ was the mortal advent on earth of an actual God, a second and distinct member of the Godhead. Adam was assured redemption through the Only Begotten of the Father, and every true prophet had a hope of Christ's glory (Moses 5:6-10; Jacob 4:4).
Biblical prophecies and accounts of Jesus' birth are confirmed and enlarged in latter-day scripture. While Matthew's birth narrative emphasizes Christ's kingship (drawing attention to the magi, King Herod, and Bethlehem, the city of King David) and Luke's account accents Jesus' humility and holiness (mentioning the lowly manger, the shepherds, and the heavenly choirs), the Book of Mormon focuses on his coming as a fulfillment of a loving God's plan that was established from before the foundation of the world.
The time of Jesus' birth, along with the purposes of his mortal ministry, were established in the premortal life (see Council in Heaven; Moses 4:1-4; 1 Ne. 10:2-4; Mosiah 3:5-10). A detailed vision of the anticipated Savior's birth was recorded by Nephi 1, a Book of Mormon prophet, shortly after 600 B.C. (1 Ne. 11:7-24). He foresaw a virgin in the city of Nazareth who was carried away in the spirit, and then saw the virgin again with a child in her arms, whom an angel identified as the Son of God. Nephi described Christ's coming as the condescension of God, which may be understood in two respects: first, in that God the Father, a perfected and glorified personage of flesh and bones, condescended to become the father of a mortal offspring, born of Mary; and second, in that Jesus (Jehovah), the God who created worlds without number (Moses 1:32-33; John 1:1-4, 14; Heb. 1:1-2), willingly submitted himself to all the trials and pains of mortality (Mosiah 3:5-8; MD, p. 155).
For Latter-day Saints, the paternity of Jesus is not obscure. He was the literal, biological son of an immortal, tangible Father and Mary, a mortal woman (see Virgin Birth). Jesus is the only person born who deserves the title "the Only Begotten Son of God" (John 3:16; Benson, p. 3; see Jesus Christ: Only Begotten in the Flesh). He was not the son of the Holy Ghost; it was only through the Holy Ghost that the power of the Highest overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35; 1 Ne. 11:19).
The place where the nativity should occur was a point of public controversy in Jesus' day (John 7:40-43). The Book of Mormon prophet Alma 2, about 83 B.C., foretold that Christ's birthplace would be "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" (Alma 7:10), referring to the region surrounding the city itself: "Christ was born in a village some six miles from the city of Jerusalem in what we now know the ancients themselves designated as "the land of Jerusalem"' (CWHN 6:102).
The Bible and the Book of Mormon report the appearance of great signs in the Western Hemisphere at the time of the birth of the Messiah for the benefit of the faithful. For example, about 6 B.C. Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that lights would appear in heaven and that there would be no darkness during the night when Christ was born (Hel. 14:3-7). On the day when Samuel's five-year prophecy was about to expire and the unbelievers were accordingly about to execute those who had believed his words, Samuel's prophecies of the Savior's birth were fulfilled (3 Ne. 1:4-23). In the New World, as in the Old, "angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy" (Hel. 16:14). [See also April 6; Book of Mormon Chronology; Christmas.]
Benson, Ezra Taft. Come Unto Christ. Salt Lake City, 1983.
Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. Garden City, N.Y., 1977.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, pp. 313-66. Salt Lake City, 1981.
ANDREW C. SKINNER
Jesus Christ: Baptism of Jesus Christ
Author: SCHAELLING, J. PHILIP
At the commencement of his public ministry, Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan, where he was baptized by John the Baptist. He did thereby "humble himself before the Father" and witness to him "that he would be obedient to him" (2 Ne. 31:7). For Latter-day Saints this event shows that Jesus by his own example taught that all people must be baptized by immersion by one having authority. All persons must also receive the Holy Ghost in order to obtain the testimony of Jesus (see John 1:32-34; Rev. 1:2;19:10) and enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus was baptized by immersion by John, who was ordained when eight days old by an angel of God to "make straight the way of the Lord" (D&C 84:28). As Jesus came up out of the water, John saw the heavens open and the spirit of God descending upon Jesus (see Dove, Sign of the), and the voice of God the Father declared to John, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). Thereafter John bore record that Jesus was the Son of God (John 1:33-34; D&C 93:15-17). At the baptism of Jesus all three members of the Godhead were manifest, thus revealing the separate identities of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Many have wondered why Jesus needed baptism, since he was without sin. Some have seen this as "an act of simple submissive obedience on the part of the Perfect One" (A. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah [reprinted, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1971], p. 280); others have suggested that Jesus still faced "a possibility of a subtle sin: the sin of shrinking from what might lie ahead" and thus was baptized to fortify himself with "utter consecration" and to express to his nation "the urgency of commitment" (Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8, p. 78).
However, Latter-day Saints understand from the Bible and the Book of Mormon that Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness," which means that Jesus humbled himself before the Father, witnessed to the Father that he would obey him, and thereby showed mankind the narrowness of the gate leading to eternal life (2 Ne. 31:6-9). In submitting to baptism Jesus "set the example" for all mankind, for if Jesus, being holy, was baptized "to fulfil all righteousness how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized?" (2 Ne. 31:5; see also AF, chap. 6). Those who follow his example and his gospel with full purpose of heart, with honesty before God, and "with real intent, repenting of [their] sins," are promised that they will receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and be able to "speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises" to God (2 Ne. 31:13).
Farley, S. Brent. "The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus." In Studies in Scripture, ed. K. Jackson and R. Millett, Vol. 5, pp. 175-87. Salt Lake City, 1986.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, pp. 399-404. Salt Lake City, 1979.
J. PHILIP SCHAELLING
Jesus Christ: Ministry of Jesus Christ
Author: PETERSON, DANIEL C.
The central role played by Jesus' mortal ministry in Latter-day Saint doctrine and belief is well expressed in Joseph Smith's statement that "the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it" (TPJS, p. 121; HC 3:30).
Latter-day Saints share with many other Christians the acceptance of the four New Testament gospels and Acts 1:1-11as essentially accurate historical accounts of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. While not biblical inerrantists, their confidence in the biblical record is strengthened in two unique ways: First, they believe specific elements of Christ's earthly ministry to have been revealed beforehand to pre-Christian prophets. These revelations agree with subsequent accounts in the gospels. Second, they believe that the risen Jesus himself has affirmed many details of that biblical account. Thus, the Book of Mormon and other texts of the specifically Latter-day Saint canon are regarded as "proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true" (D&C 20:11; cf. 1 Ne. 13:39).
That God's Son would come to earth and take upon himself a physical body, for example, was foreknown by many prophets (1 Ne. 13:42; Enos 1:8; Mosiah 3:5; Hel. 8:13-22; Ether 3:15-17). The approximate date of his coming was also known (1 Ne. 10:4;19:8; 2 Ne. 25:19; Hel. 14:2). Several ancient believers were privileged to see him before his mortal advent (2 Ne. 2:4;11:2; Alma 19:13; Ether 3:14;9:22; D&C 107:49, 54; Moses 1:2;7:4; Abr. 2:6-11; cf. Isa. 6:1-3). His name-title, Jesus Christ, (i.e., "Savior Anointed") was known long beforehand, as were the name and virginity of his mother and the place of his birth (1 Ne. 11:13-14, 18-20; 2 Ne. 25:19; Mosiah 3:8; Alma 7:10; Ether 3:14; Moses 6:52, 57;7:50; cf. Micah 5:2). Ancient prophets foresaw his baptism, predicting even its location and specific details of the mission of John the Baptist (1 Ne. 10:8-10). Nephi 1 knew that the Savior would call twelve apostles to assist in his ministry (1 Ne. 11:34-36;12:9;13:26, 40-41;14:20, 24, 27), and King Benjamin prophesied of his many miracles (Mosiah 3:5-6). Jesus' atoning death by crucifixion was well known to pre-Christian prophets, who understood that it would be accompanied by three days of darkness preceding his resurrection (1 Ne. 10:11;11:33;19:10; 2 Ne. 25:14; Mosiah 3:9-10; Alma 7:11; Hel. 14:14, 20, 27; Moses 7:55). Indeed, sacrificial practices from Adam onward, including the rituals of the Law of Moses, prefigured Christ and, furthermore, were recognized as doing so by many who performed them (Jacob 4:5; Moses 5:5-7).
Later LDS scriptures, including the words of the risen Jesus himself, confirm such details of the New Testament record as the unity of the Sermon on the Mount (3 Ne. 12-14) and the authenticity of some of his separate sayings (3 Ne. 15:12-24). His pain in the garden of Gethsemane is attested (D&C 19:18; cf. Mosiah 3:7), as are his crucifixion (D&C 20:23;21:9;35:2;45:52;46:13;53:2), his resurrection on the third day (Morm. 7:5; D&C 18:12;20:23), and his identity as the long-awaited suffering Savior (3 Ne. 11:10-11). His earthly agonies are said to qualify him as an intercessor between God and man (D&C 45:4; cf. Isa. 53:12). In such texts as Doctrine and Covenants section 7 and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST), Latter-day Saints believe that they have been granted more complete information on Jesus' Palestinian ministry. (Interestingly, the JST anticipates modern scholarly emphasis on the individual character of the New Testament gospels by labeling each one as the "testimony" of its respective author. This same view seems to underlie Doctrine and Covenants 88:141.)
Gospel accounts inform and underscore LDS understanding of the earthly ministry of Jesus, in whom Latter-day Saints see God physically present among his people. Not only did Jesus perform miracles, expressing thereby his power over both demons and natural elements, but he explicitly affirmed his unity of purpose with the Father (John 14:8-10;17:21) and his identity as the Jehovah of the Old Testament (John 8:56-59). While Moses ascended the mountain to receive the old law, Jesus ascended a mount to proclaim a new one (cf. 3 Ne. 15:4-5). Moses himself was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8). LDS scriptures further affirm the New Testament gospels' warm portrait of Jesus' compassion for sinners, his concern for the poor, and his love for children. They portray him as a popular teacher who taught with parables, preached in synagogues, confronted hypocrisy, and won the love and admiration of many of his hearers.
Latter-day Saints recall, too, the reaction of Jesus' hearers to the Sermon on the Mount: "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:29). Just as he did not call upon the power of others to perform miracles, Jesus needed no precedents to justify his teachings. In himself he had power over death-both over the death of others (as in the healing of Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain) and his own death (John 5:26;10:17-18). Thus, Latter-day Saints join with other Christians in an acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as their redeemer from death. But he is also the source of priesthood authority, who called and empowered ordinary, untrained men to serve him in a newly organized church and, acting for him in his capacity as "the good Shepherd," to "feed his sheep" (John 21:15-17) through both teaching and priesthood ordinances. They reject claims of a dichotomy between the priestly and the prophetic in his ministry. They note that he taught the necessity of baptism and submitted to that requirement himself (John 3:1-5; Matt. 3:15). They recall that he reverenced the temple of his day and expected others to do likewise (Luke 2:41-50; John 2:13-17).
LDS understanding of the role of faith and works in salvation is grounded in the insistence of Jesus that love for him will express itself in obedience to his commandments (John 14:15; cf. John 15:14; Matt. 5-7). His call for his followers to be perfect (Matt. 5:48) is rendered plausible by the fact that he overcame the same temptations that beset them (Heb. 4:15-16; Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) and that he suffered for their transgressions (Mosiah 3:7; Isa. 53:3-12). Indeed, Latter-day Saints are informed by their scriptures that it is at least partially because of the experience gained and the empathy achieved during his earthly sojourn that Jesus knows how to minister to the needs of those who trust in him (Alma 7:12; D&C 62:1;88:6).
Jesus Christ: Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Author: OAKS, MERRILL C.
Crucifixion was the form of execution suffered by Jesus Christ on Calvary as the necessary conclusion to his voluntary infinite atoning sacrifice begun in Gethsemane (see Atonement of Jesus Christ). Many people supported and followed Jesus, but a small group of influential Judaean leaders, who disagreed with his doctrines and felt threatened by his popularity, succeeded in having the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, condemn him to death.
LDS scriptures give prophetic witness that crucifixion would be the method of the Savior's death (e.g., 1 Ne. 19:10-13; 2 Ne. 10:3-5; Mosiah 3:9;15:7; Moses 7:55). Israelites did not crucify. They did hang executed bodies ignominiously "on a tree" for part of a day (Deut. 21:22-23; cf. Acts 5:30), but for crucifixion it was necessary to invoke Roman law and practice.
Crucifixion was a form of execution probably begun by the Persians and used in Egypt and Carthage. The Romans perfected it as a torture designed to produce maximum pain and a slow death. Reserved for the vilest of criminals and rarely administered to Roman citizens, crucifixion was customarily preceded by flogging the back, buttocks, and legs with a short whip consisting of leather thongs with small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bone attached. The weakened victim was then made to carry at least a portion of the cross to the site of crucifixion. Romans commonly used large nails to fix the wrists and palms to the cross bar and the feet to the vertical portion of the cross. The nails inflicted terrible pain but caused no immediate life-threatening injury. A person could live in agony for hours or even days. The body's position made breathing difficult since hanging by the arms kept the chest expanded so that exhaling required the active use of the diaphragm. If the sufferer pushed with his feet, he elevated his body, placing the chest in a more natural position and making it easier to breathe. Soldiers sometimes hastened death by breaking the legs of the victim, making it almost impossible to push the body high enough to breathe.
After Jesus had hung on the cross for several hours, he forgave the soldiers who had crucified him (Luke 23:34; JST Luke 23:35) and voluntarily gave up his life (cf. John 10:18), commending his spirit into his Father's hands. The Romans broke the legs of the two who were crucified with Jesus, but believing that he was already dead, they merely thrust a spear into his side (John 19:33-34).
Jesus Christ: Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Author: CALLISTER, TAD R.
Latter-day Saints view the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the most glorious event of all time. Having the power to lay down his body and to "take it again" (John 10:18), the Savior conquered death for himself and all mankind (1 Cor. 15:22). LDS faith in the literal and physical resurrection of Jesus is greatly strengthened by ancient and modern testimonies of many witnesses.
The Book of Mormon contains prophecies of the resurrection of Jesus years before the actual event. The prophet Nephi 1 declared, "Behold, they will crucify him; and he shall rise from the dead" (2 Ne. 25:13; also 1 Ne. 19:10). In the Bible Jesus himself prophesied that on "the third day he shall be raised again" (Matt. 17:23).
The third day did come, and Jesus became the "firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20), his spirit permanently reuniting with his body in a glorified, immortal state. His resurrected body was not subject to pain, disease, or death. It could pass through walls; it could defy the earthly laws of gravity; but it was a tangible "glorious body" (Phil. 3:21) composed of flesh and bones. Jesus said to his disciples, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). He then ate broiled fish and honeycomb in their presence as a further witness of his corporeal nature.
Latter-day Saints firmly distinguish themselves from those who deny the physical resurrection of Jesus or claim that his divine nature is solely spiritual, with his postmortal appearances being merely temporary physical or mystical manifestations (Nibley, pp. 156-59). They find such doctrine inconsistent with the words of Paul, who taught that the resurrected Christ "dieth no more" (Rom. 6:9), meaning that his resurrected body would never again be separated from his spirit (James 2:26; Alma 11:45).
In his resurrected state, Jesus retained the prints of nails in his hands and feet as a special manifestation to the world. Such marks, however, are only temporary. After all have confessed that he is the Christ, his resurrected body will, like those of all mankind, be restored to its "proper and perfect frame" (Alma 40:23).
Once resurrected, Jesus "gained the keys to open the graves for all men" (DS 1:128), and with those keys he opened the gates of the resurrection: The "graves were opened" and "many saints did arise and appear unto many" (Matt. 27:52; 3 Ne. 23:11).
Christ's resurrection was not hidden. Witnesses of this event were both legion and varied: the women at the tomb (Luke 24:1-10); Mary in the garden (John 20:11-18); ten apostles together (Luke 24:36-43); eleven apostles, including doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29); two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-24); "above five hundred brethren at once" (1 Cor. 15:6); and Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9). Of all these records, none is more profound than that of his appearance to the Nephites, where, one by one, 2,500 men, women, and children "did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety that it was he" (3 Ne. 11:15). To these accounts, Latter-day Saints add modern appearances of the resurrected Lord to Joseph Smith and others (e.g., JS-H 1:17; D&C 76:22-23).
Jesus Christ will yet appear in the latter days and testify, "These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (D&C 45:52; cf. Zech. 13:6), visiting all kingdoms over which he is creator (D&C 88:51-61). Honest and credible witnesses of all ages have testified, and will yet testify, as did the angelic messengers of old, "He is risen" (Matt. 28:6).
Jackson, Kent P. Review of The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence That Could Change History, by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino. BYU Studies 46:1 (2007):151-160.
Jesus Christ: Forty-Day Ministry and Other Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ
Author: GEE, JOHN
Forty-Day Ministry and Other Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ
After his resurrection, Jesus spent much of the next forty days with his disciples, "speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3) and opening "their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures," namely, what is "in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning [him]" (Luke 24:44-45). As part of Jesus' ministry, these forty days are important to Latter-day Saints. In addition, a major section of the Book of Mormon is devoted to his post-resurrection ministry in the Western Hemisphere.
The New Testament mentions the forty-day ministry but provides only limited detail. For example, during this time Jesus appeared to the Twelve with Thomas present (John 20:26-29), spoke of "things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3), "and many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book" (John 20:30). Paul mentions that on one occasion Jesus "was seen of above five hundred brethren at once" (1 Cor. 15:6). Finally, before his ascension Jesus commanded the apostles to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15-16; cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47-48; John 21:15-17; Acts 1:4-5).
Over forty accounts outside scripture claim to tell what Jesus said and did during his forty-day ministry. Latter-day Saints believe that some of these accounts, like the apocrypha, contain things "therein that are true," but in addition contain "many things that are not true" (D&C 91).
These accounts report the following: Jesus teaches the apostles the gospel they should preach to the world. He tells of a premortal life and the creation of the world, adding that this life is a probationary state of choosing between good and evil, and that those who choose good might return to the glory of God. He foretells events of the last days, including the return of Elijah. He also tells the disciples that the primitive church will be perverted after one generation, and teaches them to prepare for tribulation. These apocryphal accounts state that Christ's resurrection gives his followers hope for their own resurrection in glory. Besides salvation for the living, salvation of the dead is a major theme, as are the ordinances: baptism, the Sacrament or eucharist, ordination of the apostles to authority, their being blessed one by one, and an initiation or Endowment (cf. Luke 24:49; usually called "mysteries"), with an emphasis on garments, marriage, and prayer circles. These accounts, usually called secret (Greek, apokryphon; Coptic, hep ), are often connected somehow to the temple, or compared to the Mount of Transfiguration. Sometimes the apostles are said to ascend to heaven where they see marvelous things. Whether everything in such accounts is true or not, the actions of the apostles after the post-resurrection visits of Jesus contrast sharply with those before.
Many people dismiss accounts outside the New Testament with the labels apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, fiction, or myth. Some ascribe them to psychological hallucinations that the trauma of Jesus' death brought on the disciples. Others discard such traditions because sects later branded as "heresies" championed them. Most ignore them. Latter-day Saints generally tend to give thoughtful consideration to them, primarily because of the long, detailed account in the Book of Mormon of Christ's post-resurrection ministry among the Nephites and Lamanites "who had been spared" (3 Ne. 11-28).
Many elements found in the Old World forty-day literature also appear in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. This account tells how Jesus was announced by his Father to some of the surviving Nephites and Lamanites, and how he descended from heaven to the temple at Bountiful to minister to the multitude there for three days. The people "did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record" that Jesus had risen from the dead (3 Ne. 11:13-17). Jesus chose twelve disciples, gave them authority to perform ordinances, and commanded them to teach all the people (3 Ne. 11:18-41;18:36-39;19:4-13; Moro. 2). He declared his doctrine, forbidding disputation about it: "The Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved" (3 Ne. 11:32-33). Jesus' teachings, including a version of the Sermon on the Mount very similar to the one contained in the New Testament, comprise "the law and the commandments" for the people (3 Ne. 12:19). Jesus healed their sick, blessed their children, and prayed for the multitude (3 Ne. 17:2-25;19:5-36). Many were transfigured when angels descended to minister to them (3 Ne. 17:22-25;19:14-16). Jesus instituted the ordinances of baptism and the Sacrament of bread and wine (3 Ne. 11:22-29;18:1-14, 26-35;19:10-13;20:3-9), and taught the multitude how to live their lives free from sin (3 Ne. 18:12-25). He also taught that sin prevents participation in the ordinances, but no one is forbidden to attend the synagogue or to repent and come to him (3 Ne. 18:25-33). He described the future in terms of covenants made with the house of Israel, quoting Old Testament prophecies of Moses (Deut. 18:15-19= 3 Ne. 20:36-38; Gen. 12:3;22:18= 3 Ne. 20:25, 27), isaiah (Isa. 52:1-3, 6-8, 9-10, 11-15= 3 Ne. 20:36-40, 32, 34-35, 41-45; Isa. 52:8-10= 3 Ne. 16:18-20; Isa. 52:12, 15= 3 Ne. 21:29, 8; Isa. 54 = 3 Ne. 22), Micah (Micah 4:12-13;5:8-15= 3 Ne. 20:18-19, 16-17;21:12-18), and Habakkuk (Hab. 1:5= 3 Ne. 21:9), that the remnants of Israel will be gathered when the prophecies of Isaiah begin to be fulfilled and when the remnants begin to believe in Christ, the Book of Mormon itself being a sign of the beginning of these events (3 Ne. 16:4-20;20:10-23:6; 26:3-5). After inspecting their records, Jesus gave them additional prophecies that they had not had (Mal. 3-4 = 3 Ne. 24-25), and "did expound all things" to their understanding (3 Ne. 20:10-26:11).
Even more sacred things said and done by Jesus during his three-day visit to the Western Hemisphere were not included in the present record (3 Ne. 26:6-12). His post-resurrection ministries to the people of Nephi and to the Old World disciples were only two of several he performed and of which records were made (3 Ne. 15:11-16:3; cf. D&C 88:51-61; TPJS, p. 191). Latter-day Saints hope to prepare themselves to receive the fuller accounts that are yet to come (2 Ne. 29:11-14; D&C 25:9;101:32-35;121:26-33; A of F 9).
Jesus Christ: Latter-Day Appearances of Jesus Christ
Author: FLAKE, JOEL A.
Latter-Day Appearances of Jesus Christ
As shown in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, after his resurrection, Jesus Christ can, and also does, appear to people in this latter-day dispensation of the gospel. When these sacred manifestations are for personal instruction, they are not spoken of openly. However, when it is appropriate, the divine communication is made public. It is a principle of the gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ can, and will, manifest himself to his people, including individual members, "in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will" (D&C 88:68).
The most important appearance of the Savior in this dispensation occurred when he and the Father came to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. This theophany, commonly called the first vision, revealed the separate nature of these two members of the Godhead and ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times and the restoration of all things.
In 1832, Jesus Christ again appeared in a vision to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Both men saw and conversed with him (D&C 76:14) and also witnessed a vision of the kingdoms to which mankind will be assigned in the life hereafter. The Lord also appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in April 1836 in the Kirtland Temple shortly after its dedication and manifested his acceptance of this first latter-day temple (D&C 110:1-10).
A revelation pertaining to the salvation of the dead was given to Joseph Smith in an earlier appearance of Jesus Christ and the Father in the Kirtland Temple on January 21, 1836: "The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son" (D&C 137:1, 3). Joseph Smith said that visions were given to many in the meeting and that "some of them saw the face of the Savior" (HC 2:382).
Joseph Smith also recorded other occasions when Church members beheld the Savior. On March 18, 1833, he wrote of a significant meeting of the School of the Prophets: "Many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the Savior, and concourses of angels, and many other things, of which each one has a record of what he saw" (HC 1:335). He wrote of a similar experience of Zebedee Coltrin (HC 2:387), and on another occasion he reported that "the Savior made His appearance unto some" at a meeting the week after the dedication of the Kirtland Temple (HC 2:432).
Appearances of Jesus Christ have not been restricted to the early days of the Church. In 1898 the Savior appeared to Lorenzo Snow, the fifth President of the Church, and gave him important instructions regarding the Church (My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth, pp. 68-70, Salt Lake City, 1980). The sixth President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, saw the Savior in a vision in 1918, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 138.This vision showed the Savior's visit to the spirits of the dead while his body was in the tomb between the time of his crucifixion and resurrection. In 1985, Ezra Taft Benson, the thirteenth President of the Church, said, "Today in Christ's restored church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, He is revealing Himself and His will-from the first prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, to the present" (p. 4).
It is a teaching of latter-day revelation that individual members can have a personal visit from the Savior, and see his face, and receive instruction from him, when they are prepared, and when the Lord chooses to grant such an experience (D&C 93:1; see Jesus Christ, Second Comforter).
Jesus Christ: Second Coming of Jesus Christ
Author: LUND, GERALD N.
In Jewish and Christian thought there are two basic ways of viewing the coming of the messiah. Some consider promises of a Messiah and a millennial era symbolic of a time when men will finally learn to live in peace and harmony and the world will enter a new age of enlightenment and progress; no one individual nor any one specific event will usher in this age. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes this view and agrees with the many other Jewish and Christian groups who affirm that there is an actual Messiah, that he will come at some future time to the earth, and that only through his coming and the events associated therewith will a millennial age of peace, harmony, and joy begin. Jews look for the first coming of the Messiah; Latter-day Saints and other Christians for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The scriptures, both biblical and modern, abundantly testify that the era just preceding the second advent of the Savior will be "perilous" (2 Tim. 3:1) and filled with "tribulation" (Matt. 24:29). At that time "the devil shall have power over his own dominion" (D&C 1:35). The resulting judgments upon the wicked are part of the preparations for the Millennium.
The righteous as well as the unenlightened will experience these times of tribulation. LDS sources teach that the Lord will gather the righteous together in "holy places" (D&C 101:22), which include Zion and her stakes (D&C 115:6). These places are described in terms of "peace," "refuge," and "safety for the saints of the Most High God" (D&C 45:66). The promise is that God "will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous. Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power Wherefore, the righteous need not fear" (1 Ne. 22:16-17).
Attempts to predict the time of the coming of the Messiah are legion in both Jewish and Christian traditions. Latter-day Saints consider the second coming "near, even at the doors" (D&C 110:16). But they also accept the decree of scripture that "the hour and the day [of Christ's coming] no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes" (D&C 49:7[italics added]; cf. Matt. 24:36).
With many other Christians, Mormons believe the second coming will be preceded by the battle of Armageddon and by Christ's appearance on the Mount of Olives (see Last Days). Of this event the Doctrine and Covenants says: And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king [D&C 45:51-53; cf. Zech. 13:6].
"From that day forward," it has been proclaimed, "the Jews as a nation become holy and their city and sanctuary become holy. There also the Messiah establishes his throne and seat of government" (Clark, p. 258).
Before Christ's coming in glory, "there shall be silence in the heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled" (D&C 88:95). This apparently is the time when "all flesh shall see me together" (D&C 101:23; Rev. 1:7).
The Doctrine and Covenants declares that "the earth shall pass away so as by fire" (D&C 43:32). Some have conjectured that this could occur through a nuclear holocaust. Though certain apocalyptic passages may seem to describe the effects of nuclear warfare (e.g., Isa. 34:1-10), a modern revelation teaches that the "fire" of the Second Coming is the actual presence of the Savior, a celestial glory comparable to the glory of the sun (D&C 76:70) or a "consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29; cf. Mal. 3:2;4:1). "So great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame" (D&C 133:49). "The presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil" (D&C 133:41; cf. Isa. 64:2; JS-H 1:37). "Element shall melt with fervent heat" (D&C 101:25) and "the mountains shall flow down at thy presence" (D&C 133:44). The Doctrine and Covenants repeats Isaiah's declaration that "the Lord shall be red in his apparel, and his garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat" (D&C 133:48; cf. Isa. 63:2).
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Saints that those living on the earth at the time of Christ's appearing would be caught up to meet him (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The Doctrine and Covenants, using similar language, adds that these righteous saints will be "quickened" and will join those "who have slept in their graves," who will also "be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven" (D&C 88:96-97; see Resurrection). Christ will descend to earth "in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
With the coming of Christ, the millennial era of peace, harmony, and righteousness will begin. Satan will then have "no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth" (1 Ne. 22:26; see also Millennium).
Clark, James R., comp. "Proclamation of the Twelve." In Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. l, p. 258. Salt Lake City, 1965.
Lund, Gerald N. The Coming of the Lord. Salt Lake City, 1971.
McConkie, Bruce R. The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man. Salt Lake City, 1982.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. The Signs of the Times. Salt Lake City, 1964.
GERALD N. LUND