Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life of Christ

                Do you study the life of Jesus Christ?  Do you know why you should study the life of Jesus Christ?  Do you have any idea why you should follow Him and keep His commandments?  The answer to all of these questions is because you and I need to develop a personal relationship with Him.  You and I and all mankind depend on Jesus Christ to fulfill His pre-mortal promise to be our Savior.  Heavenly Father’s entire plan of salvation revolves around Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

                All of the prophets from Adam to Jesus Christ testified that He would come to earth, and all of the prophets since Jesus Christ have testified that He did come.  Adam knew the Savior’s name would be Jesus Christ because an angel gave him that information (see Moses 6:51-52).  Enoch saw in vision that Jesus would die on the cross and then be resurrected (see Moses 7:55-56).  Noah and Moses testified of Him (see Moses 8:23-24).  Isaiah lived about 800 years before Christ, and he foresaw the life of Christ.  He witnessed the sorrow, grief and suffering the Savior would endure in order to pay the price for the sins of mankind.  “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…. he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:  he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:3-7).

                The ancient American prophet Nephi saw the Savior in vision 600 years before the birth of Christ.  He saw Mary, the beautiful virgin mother of the Son of God.  He heard an angel exclaim, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 11:18).  Nephi then saw the virgin holding a child in her arms.  The angel declared:  “Behold the lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:21).

                King Benjamin, a prophet king on the American continent, foresaw the Savior’s life about 124 years before He was born to Mary.  “For behold, the time cometh and is not far distant, that with power the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
                “And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
                “And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
                “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 3:5-8).

                We can read the story of the birth and life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  In the accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we can read that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary.  We can read the story of the engagement of Joseph and Mary and the appearance of an angel to Mary.  The angel told Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God.  When she asked how that would be possible (see Luke 1:34), the angel explained “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:  therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).  

                Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, and He was born of a mortal woman named Mary.  With an immortal father Jesus had the power to lay down His life and to take it up once again (see John 10:17-18); no one could take His life from Him.  With a mortal mother he inherited mortality and became subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death.

                The Savior lived a perfect life and obeyed all the commandments of Heavenly Father.  He was subject to Mary and Joseph, and He grew much as other children grow.  “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).  Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem when He was twelve years old.  His mother and stepfather found Him in the temple with the doctors “hearing them, and asking them questions.”  All that heard Him were “astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). 

                Mary and Joseph were relieved to find Jesus, but they were no happy with His behavior.  “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?  Behold, thy father [meaning Joseph] and I have sought thee sorrowing.”  Jesus gently reminded her that Joseph was His stepfather by saying, “Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49).  He knew even at the young age of twelve years that He had a mission to perform.

                There is not much about Jesus in the scriptures until He was thirty years old and went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River (see Matthew 3:13-17).   John recognized his cousin right away as the Savior and was reluctant to baptize Him, knowing He had never committed any sins.  Jesus told John that He needed to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.”  John did baptize Jesus by immersing Him in the Jordan River.  After the baptism of Jesus, Heavenly Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  The Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus in the “sign of the dove.”

                Soon after His baptism the Savior went into the wilderness to fast and to commune with His Father.  After He had been fasting for forty days, Satan came to Him to tempt Him, but the Savior resisted the temptations and commanded Satan to leave.  After Satan departed, angels came to minister to Jesus (see Matthew 4:1-11).  Jesus then began His mortal ministry.

                Jesus Christ came to earth to die for our sins, but He also came to teach us how to live.  He taught the two “great commandments”:  (1) We are to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength, and (2) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39).  He then showed by His example how we are to leave those two commandments.  Jesus loved His fellowmen and spent His life serving them.  He loved those who sinned against Him and even prayed for the soldiers who crucified Him and His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

                The Savior knew that He would be put to death and chose twelve apostles to testify of Him.  He gave them authority to act in His name and to call others to help with the work.  They continued His work after His death.  After Jesus Christ had done all that He could do for mankind, He prepared for His great and last sacrifice.  He met with His apostles for dinner and then went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He carried the weight of the world on His shoulders.  In a modern revelation, the Savior described His great suffering:  “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18).

                Jesus Christ suffered the punishment for every sin committed by mankind.  No mere mortal could have withstood such pain and suffering nor truly comprehend what He did for us.  In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ suffered so greatly that blood came from His pores as He overcame all the horrors that Satan could inflict on mankind.  He suffered more the next day as He was beaten, humiliated, spit upon, and forced to carry His own cross up the hill.  Then He was nailed to the cross and suffered further for nine hours, His greatest suffering came when Heavenly Father withdrew from Him and allowed Him to complete His mission by Himself.  When the Savior knew that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, He cried in a loud voice:  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).  He then bowed His head and died.

                The body of Jesus Christ lay in the tomb for three days, but His spirit went to preach His gospel to other spirits (see 1 Peter 3:18-20).  He returned on the third day and took up His body, becoming the first to overcome death.

                God loved us so much that He sent His beloved and Only Begotten Son to earth, knowing that His Son would have to suffer great pain.  Jesus Christ loved us so much that He gave His life that we might have eternal life.  His only requirement is for us to repent of our sins and keep His commandments.

                “And this is the gospel which I have given unto you – that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.  And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me… that they may be judged according to their works … for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do….  Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily, verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:13-27).

                The Father and the Son each made great sacrifices for our benefit.  We should love them and study about them that we can come to be like them and be with them for all eternity.

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