While meditating once again upon this special time of year that is Easter, peaceable thoughts and feelings come to my mind and heart, revealing that the sublime atoning sacrifice, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are intimately related to a principle of the gospel: the family.
Before coming to earth, and as a part of the plan of salvation established by our Heavenly Father and fulfilled by His Son, Jesus Christ Himself was part of our pre-mortal family. His spirit was born of Heavenly Parents. It was during this period that He offered Himself as the Redeemer required by the plan, so that man could have the opportunity to obtain Eternal Life. It was during this time that He offered to be the Redeemer that the plan required, so that man could have eternal life in the same way Heavenly Father did. We raised our voices to welcome this plan of salvation and Jesus Christ as our great mediator.
Jesus Christ is Heavenly Father’s Firstborn and Only Begotten son, which is to say, He is the first of His spirit children to be born and the only one born in the flesh. He inherited divinity, intelligence, and power from the Father. From his mortal mother, Mary, he inherited the capacity to give His life and from his Immortal Father, the capacity to take it back and fulfill one of His mortality’s greatest purposes. As part of his duality on this Earth, He was the only one capable of bringing to pass the required atoning sacrifice. As one of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s greatest expressions of love, Jesus condescended to come to Earth to live as man, to grow from grace to grace, in order to fulfill His earthly ministry and his grand and eternal purposes.
It is because of this that He was born into the family Joseph and Mary would form, both direct descendants of King David and, therefore, both part of the royal lineage of Judah. Temporally, Jesus was supposed to reign over the Kingdom of Judah, and He could have done it, if not for the Romans’ dominion over the Jews at the moment of his birth and during His mortal existence. Neither in the meridian of time nor in the eternities was this supposed to be his principal kingdom.
His Earthly parents were chosen for the monumental task of raising the Son of God from His mother’s womb until His death on the cross. We can only imagine the emotions and thoughts of Joseph and Mary over this divine assignment. We know that Jesus grew in the bosom of a family with parents who were just, worthy, and faithful. Mary is described in the scriptures as “…highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women”, and “thou hast found favour with God.” Her testimony was borne in the passages of Luke 1:46-55, and it demonstrates how firm her conversion and willingness to be the vessel in which the Redeemer of Israel, the promised Messiah, would be born in order to save His people from their sins and restore them on the correct path. Joseph is described thusly, “…being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.” Under the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy, his love for her drove him to choose a private solution that would save the life of his betrothed, instead of the more public alternative that would lead to her death. Joseph’s conduct was rewarded with the visit of an angel from God, Gabriel, who appeared in a dream, revealed to him the origin of the fruit of Mary’s womb, and offered the first instructions in the manner the Son of God should be raised. The angel indicated the proper name the child would have among men, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” In accordance with the prophecy that the Messiah of Israel would be born to a virgin, Joseph “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.” Both earthly parents were obedient to all the instructions concerning Jesus. From childhood to adulthood, we can observe that this was a family that raised Him in the faithful and devoted manner of a Jewish child of the times. He was circumcised when he was eight days old, when his name was first pronounced publicly. At forty days of age he was presented in the temple, at which time Simeon and Anna prophesied of His mission. In summary, “… the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” I wish to point out that we find similar characteristics in the family of Zacharias and Elisabeth, whose child was John, the kinsman and precursor of Jesus Christ as he prepared the people to receive Him. Regarding John we read: “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” I regard this family as another exemplary one in the Holy Scriptures; one in which John was nourished so that he could fulfill the destiny that he was assigned by God.
We are, similarly, spiritual children of the same Heavenly Father as Jesus. As part of the plan of salvation, our birth here is accompanied by forgetfulness of that wonderful period of probation and premortal life in the presence of the Parents of our spirits. We are sent to earth to be born physically of earthly parents. We come to obtain a physical body and to receive instruction in the plan of salvation, ideally in our own family, in order to exercise our faith in and obedience to the commandments and covenants that we enter into with our God. Our spiritual development will be guided, line upon line, precept upon precept, grace upon grace by our obedience, love of Jesus Christ our Savior, our conversion to His gospel, and our faithful service to our fellow human beings so that we may walk along the path that leads to eternal life, and then help others in this pursuit. I testify that this labor is performed in families, as defined in The Guide to the Scriptures, that love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
It is my desire that our gifts to Jesus Christ for Easter and always may be a life that is pleasing to Him, of broken hearts and contrite spirits, as well as love for Him and all of humankind. That we may grow on this Earth as we walk guided by revelation that comes of the Holy Ghost, who testifies of all truth and of the Father and of the Son. In this way, or final gift to Him will be our eternal family, generation through generation, that may return to the presence of our Heavenly Parents together with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In order to achieve this, we must teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. As we teach in His own way, we will facilitate their understanding of His gospel, and help in their true conversion to the gospel of eternal life.