A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Jesus Christ
JESUS CHRIST. Prophecies regarding his advent, life ministry, and death. One of the most remarkable things connected with the history of the Nephites is the great plainness and details with which the coming of the Redeemer and the events of His life in Judea were revealed to their prophets, who lived before the time of His advent. Among other things connected with His mortal existence it was declared of Him that:
God Himself should come down from heaven among the children of men and should redeem His people.
He should take upon Him flesh and blood.
He should be born in the land of Jerusalem, the name given by the Nephites to the land of their whence they came.
His mother's name should be Mary.
She should be a virgin of the city of Nazareth; very fair and beautiful, a precious and chosen vessel.
She should be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost.
He should be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
At His birth a new star should appear in the heavens.
He should be baptized by John at Bethabara, beyond Jordan.
John should testify that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world.
After His baptism, the Holy Ghost should come down upon Him out of heaven, and abide upon Him in the form of a dove.
He should call twelve men as His special witnesses, to minister in His name.
He should go forth among the people, ministering in power and great glory, casting out devils, healing the sick, raising the dead, and performing many mighty miracles.
He should take upon Him the infirmities of His people.
He should suffer temptation, pain of body, hunger, thirst and fatigue; blood should come from every pore of His body by reason of His anguish because of the abominations of His people.
He should be cast out and rejected by the Jews; be taken and scourged, and be judged of the world.
He should be lifted upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.
He should be buried in a sepulchre, where He should remain three days.
After He was slain He should rise from the dead and should make Himself manifest by the Holy Ghost unto the Gentiles.
He should lay down His life according to the flesh and take it up again by the power of the Spirit, that he might bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
At His resurrection many graves should be opened and should yield up their dead and many of the saints, who had beforetime passed away, should appear unto the living.
He should redeem all mankind who would believe on His name.
Visits of Jesus before his advent. On this continent, as on the eastern, Jesus manifested Himself from time to time to His faithful servants, before His coming in the flesh. He was the guide of His people, the guardian of the church, and the revealer of the mind and will of the Godhead. He went before the people of Jared in their journey, instructing them and covenanting with them. Few events recorded in the Book of Mormon are more widely known than His appearance in the body of His spirit to the brother of Jared. His statements with regard to himself then were: "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, * * and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit, will I appear unto my people in the flesh.”
In later centuries, when making known the Divine will to the elder Alma regarding the discipline of His church, He declares: "It is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end, a place at my right hand."
Not only were the Nephites very familiar with the details of the earthly life of the Redeemer, but they also were made acquainted by their prophets, from Lehi to Samuel the Lamanite, with the fact that after his resurrection He would visit them. This was shown in a vision to Nephi (I Nephi, 12:6), and he taught it to his people; (II Nephi, 26:1, 9). And it so continued to be taught by the priesthood throughout all their generations. (Alma, 16:20.)
The time of his birth at Bethlehem was also declared by the prophets with great exactness. Nephi states that it should be 600 years from the time his father, Lehi, left Jerusalem, and this prophecy was known to all his descendants See I Nephi, 10:4; 19:8; II Nephi, 25:19. We quote the last: For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God His name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In the year B. C. 6, Samuel, the Lamanite, prophesied that on this continent, at the time of the Savior's birth, there should appear great lights in the heavens, so that there should be a day, a night and another day without darkness; a new star should arise, and many signs and wonders should be seen in the heavens. Again, at the time of the Redeemer's death, the sun should be darkened and refuse to give his light and also the moon and stars; and there should be no light upon the face of this land, from the time He died to the time that he arose again from the dead. At His death there should be mighty thunderings and lightnings for many hours, and the earth should shake and tremble, and the rocks which are upon its face should be broken up; and there should be great tempests, and many mountains should be laid low, and valleys should become mountains of great height, and many cities should become desolate. And many graves should yield up their dead; and many saints should appear unto the living.
Signs of His Birth. When six hundred years had passed from the time Lehi left Jerusalem, the time arrived of which Samuel, the Lamanite, and other prophets had borne testimony, when the phenomena should appear to bear witness of the birth of the Son of God. As the day drew near, signs and miracles increased among the people. But the hardened in heart began to circulate the idea that the time had passed and the prophecies had failed. They even went so far as to appoint a day when all who believed in the coming of the Savior should be slain, except the sign be first given.
This gross wickedness caused Nephi, the high priest, great sorrow. Before God, in mighty prayer, he bowed all the day long. At last the comforting word of the Anointed One came unto him, saying: 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouths of my holy prophets. As was thus declared, so was it fulfilled. At the going down of the sun it was as light as day, and so continued until the morning, when the sun again rose in its usual course. A new star had also appeared in the heavens. Then the faithful rejoiced. They knew that their Redeemer was born, and that the great plan of Salvation had entered its most glorious phase; but the wicked quaked with awful dread, they realized the extent of their iniquity, they knew that they were murderers at heart, for they had plotted to take the lives of the righteous, and in the terror that this overwhelming sense of their piteous condition wrought, they sank to the earth as though they were dead.
Many now believed who, previously, had scorned the divine messages that the prophets bore; but others, inspired of Satan, as soon as they recovered from the fright which the appearance of the promised signs had produced, began to explain them away, and, by various lying rumors, endeavored to nullify the good that had been done in the hearts of many. Others again commenced to teach that it was no longer expedient to observe the law of Moses, or to offer sacrifices, not comprehending that the infinite sacrifice had not yet been made.
Signs of the Death of Christ. On the fourth day of the thirty-fourth Nephite year after Christ's birth, the promised signs of the Savior's crucifixion began. A terrible and devastating tempest burst upon the land. The earth quivered and groaned and opened in wide, unfathomable chasms. Mountains were riven and swallowed up in yawning gulfs, or were scattered into fragments and dispersed like hail before the tearing wind. Towers, temples, houses, were torn up, scattered in fragments or crushed by falling rocks, and, together with their inmates, were ground to dust in the convulsion. Blue and yellow flames burst from the edges of sinking rocks, blazed for a moment and then all was the deepest darkness. Rain poured down in torrents; cloud-bursts, like floods, washed away all with which they came in contact, and pillars of steaming vapor seemed to unite the earth and sky. This unparalleled storm raged throughout the land for three hours only, but during its short continuance the whole face of Nature was changed. Mountains sank, valleys rose, the sea swept over the plains, large stagnant lakes usurped the place of flourishing cities, great chasms, rents and precipices disfigured the face of the earth.
Three days of unnatural and impenetrable darkness followed the horrors of the tempest, and from the heavens the voice of the Lord was heard by the affrighted people, proclaiming in their terrified ears the destruction that had taken place.
Terrible was the catalogue of woes which that heavenly voice rehearsed. Nearly all their cities, great and small, were destroyed by flood or fire, by earthquake or hurricane. The desolation was complete, the face of the land was changed, tens of thousands, probably millions, of souls had been suddenly called to meet the reward of their sinful lives; for this destruction came upon them that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from the face of heaven, and that the blood of the prophets and saints might not come up any more in appeal unto God against them.
When the heavenly voice had finished the recital of the calamities that had befallen the land and its inhabitants, the Speaker appealed to those who yet lived to repent of their sins and return unto Him, and they should have eternal life, and revealed to them who He was. He declared unto them:
I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified His name.
I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the Scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.
And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God, and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
After the people had heard this glad message they ceased their mourning for their dead relatives, and there was silence in the land for the space of many hours. Then again was the voice of Jesus heard, recounting how often He had sought to gather His Israel, but they would not, and promising in the future that He would again gather them, if they would listen unto Him. But if they would not heed Him, the places of their dwellings should become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of God's covenant with their fathers. When the people heard this awful prophecy they began to weep and howl again, because of the loss of their kindred and friends.
As on the eastern continent, so on this; at the time of Christ's resurrection, numbers of the saints who were dead arose from their graves and were seen and known by many of the living.
Three days had passed in darkness, in terror and in woe, when the thick mist rolled off the face of the land, revealing to the astonished eyes of the survivors how great had been the convulsions that had shaken the earth. As the darkness passed away the earth ceased to tremble, the rocks were no longer rent, and the tumultuous noises ended. Nature was again at peace, and peace filled the hearts of the living; their mourning was turned to praise, and their joy was in Christ their Deliverer.
Christ Ministers to the Nephites. Some time after these terrible events, exactly how long we know not, a multitude assembled near the temple, which was in the land Bountiful. Possibly many of the high priesthood had assembled there to call upon the Lord, and to officiate in the duties of their calling. The multitude spake one to another with regard to the Savior, of whose death the three days of unexampled, impenetrable darkness had been a sign.
While thus engaged, a strange, sweet voice fell upon their ears, yet it pierced them to the centre, go that their whole frames trembled. At first they knew not what it said or whence it came; nor even when the words were again repeated did they understand. But when they came a third time they understood their glorious import, and knew that it was the voice of God. He said unto them: Behold, my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name: hear ye Him, Obedient to this heavenly voice they cast their eyes upward, and to their joyous astonishment beheld the Messiah, clothed in a white robe, coming out of heaven.
Even yet they did not comprehend who He was, but thought Him an angel. As He descended to the earth and stood in their midst, their wondering eyes were all turned towards Him, but for awe not a mouth was opened or a limb moved. Then the Redeemer stretched forth His hand and said unto the multitude: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified should come into the world; and behold, I am the life and light of the world; and I have drunk out of the bitter cup which the Father hath given to me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
Then the whole multitude fell to the earth, they remembered the sayings of the prophets; they realized that their God stood in the midst of them.
Again the risen Redeemer spake: Arise, said He, and come forth unto me, that you may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
Now they who heard Him from the first to the last went forth and assured themselves that it was He of whom the prophets had spoken. Then with shouts of praise they cried: Hosanna! blessed be the name of the Most High God. And they fell down at His feet and worshiped Him.
Jesus next called Nephi to Him, then eleven others, and gave them authority to baptize the people, at the same time strictly charging them as to the manner in which they should perform this ordinance, that all disputes on this point might cease among the believers. (See Twelve Disciples.)
After Jesus had chosen the Twelve, he commenced to teach the people the principles of the fulness of the Gospel. Step by step He led them over the same precious ground of universal truth as He had done his followers in Galilee, Judea and Samaria. Sometimes, through the difference of the inspired translation of the Book of Mormon and the worldly-wise one of the Bible, a slight difference is noticeable in the wording of the instructions, but as a rule these differences are trivial, the advantage being with the Nephites, whose greater faith drew from the Savior deeper truths than Judah had received, or caused Him to display greater manifestations of His omnipotence and boundless love. From the believers He would turn to the Twelve, and give them special instructions as His ministers; then again He would shed forth His words of mercy, truth and divine wisdom upon the multitude; and by and by again address the disciples. So He continued day by day until all was revealed, either to the multitude or to the Twelve, that was necessary for the eternal salvation of the obedient. Then He left them to the care and ministry of the chosen Disciples.
Some have wondered why Jesus should have given so many of the same teachings to the Nephites as He did to the Jews. The reason is that those teachings were perfect, and could not be improved. They were universal, that is, they were adapted to the wants of all peoples, whether of Israel or of the Gentiles, whether of Judah or Joseph. Among the teachings that He gave the Nephites which do not appear in the Bible account of His ministrations to the Jews, are His references to the "Lost Ten Tribes." His explanations of the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi, His statements regarding the then future history of the peoples on this continent, particularly drawing attention to those events that would concern and be connected with the remnants of the house of Lehi; and His declarations regarding the name by which His Church should be known.
The miracles that attended His ministry on this land were, many of them, of the same character as the wondrous works He performed among the Jews; only frequently more marvelous and more glorious, on account of the greater faith of the Nephites. He healed the sick, cast out devils, raised the dead in Bountiful as he did in Judea and Galilee. But there were other manifestations that were somewhat different. In the land of Jerusalem Jesus miraculously fed five thousand by increasing the store of loaves and fishes that had been provided; in Bountiful he administered the emblems of His body and blood when neither the disciples nor the multitude had brought either bread or wine. Angels ministered to men during His labors among the Jews; they did so more abundantly during his visits to the Nephites. Again, though we are told in the Bible of the Holy Redeemer blessing little children, we nowhere read therein of the glorious manifestations, the outpourings of the Spirit, the ministry of the angels, the baptism of fire that took place when the risen Redeemer condescended to bless the little ones of the Nephites. Names and Titles given to Jesus Christ. Among the names and titles given to Christ in the Book of Mormon are: Mediator, Messiah, Redeemer, Shepherd, Great and True Shepherd, Lamb, Lamb of God, Son of Righteousness, Son of the Eternal Father, Only Begotten of the Father, Creator, The Eternal Father of Heaven and Earth, King, King of Heaven, Heavenly King, King of all the Earth, God of Israel, God of the whole Earth, Most High God, Lord Omnipotent, Lord God Omnipotent, Mighty God, Holy One, Holy One of Israel, Mighty One of Jacob, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, and several others.