Chapter 2: The Promised Messiah

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 15–19


Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

Luke’s Preface

  

1:1–4

 

John’s Testimony

   

1:1–18

17:1–5

Interpretive Commentary

(2-1) John 1:1. How Is Jesus the Word of God?

“… the Father operated in the work of creation through the Son, who thus became the executive through whom the will, commandment, or word of the Father was put into effect. It is with incisive appropriateness therefore, that the Son, Jesus Christ, is designated by the apostle John as the Word; or as declared by the Father ‘the word of my power.’ (Moses 1:32.)” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 33.)

(2-2) John 1:9–11. How Did the World Receive the Savior?

“After stating that the mission of the Baptist was to bear witness of the Light, John continues his testimony of Jesus: ‘That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

“‘He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

“‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not.’ (John 1:9–11.)

“Why was it at that time or why is it now that some will not receive him? No doubt they had expected something entirely different. They were looking for a leader in political and social reform and they had little interest in spiritual things. ‘The world was made by him, and the world knew him not.’ There are those today who pass him by without recognizing him.” (Howard W. Hunter in CR, Oct. 1968, p. 141.)

Points to Ponder

What Did Jesus Do in the Premortal World?

(2-3) Jesus Was the First Begotten in the Spirit and the Only Begotten in the Flesh

“The Father of Jesus [in the spirit] 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.” (First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], Messages of the First Presidency, 4:203.)

Christus

(2-4) Jesus: The Creator of This Earth

“Under the direction of his Father, Jesus Christ created this earth. No doubt others helped him, but it was Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, who, under the direction of his Father, came down and organized matter and made this planet, so that it might be inhabited by the children of God.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:74.)

Note the following scriptures and relate them to the role of Christ before he came to earth:

Moses 1:31–33. How much experience as a creator has Jesus had?

3 Nephi 15:2–9. Who is it that spoke to the prophets of old? Who is the God of ancient Israel? (See also 3 Nephi 11:13, 14.)

Jesus Was Chosen to Be the Savior

(2-5) The Savior Was Appointed before the Foundation of the Earth Was Laid

“… we believe that Jesus Christ is our elder brother—that he is actually the Son of our Father and that he is the Savior of the world, and was appointed to this before the foundations of this earth were laid.” (Brigham Young in JD, 13:235–36. Italics added.)

(2-6) We Witnessed and Approved the Selection of Christ

“At the first organization in heaven we were all present, and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 181. Italics added.)

I was there! The Prophet Joseph said I was there on that glorious day when the Father called all of his children into the great council. What a vast throng that must have been. The memory of that day is gone, obscured by the veil. But surely it must have been a time of great rejoicing, of overwhelming emotion. How did I feel, I wonder, when I watched Lucifer, son of the morning, step forward. “Here am I,” he said. “Send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind.” Everyone? Could that be possible? “One soul shall not be lost,” he boasted; then he added the condition for such a feat. “Surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (See Moses 4:1.)

What my reaction was to such terrible audacity I cannot help but wonder. And what thoughts filled my heart when our Eldest Brother stepped forward with marked contrast in attitude and bearing. “Father, thy will be done,” he said. And the condition for this? “The glory be thine forever.” (See Moses 4:2.) I was there and saw it all; and, according to the Prophet, I sanctioned it. I sanctioned the choosing and appointing of Jehovah as our Savior. When the rebellion erupted under Lucifer’s urging, how valiant was I in my stand? Did I sanction the Savior with heart as well as voice? The apostle John says the battle was won by the blood of the Lamb (i.e., the gospel plan which called for the sacrifice of the Son of God) and the word of their (the followers of Christ) testimony. (See Revelation 12:11.) Was my own testimony a weapon of power?

Oh, how I long to remember, to pierce the veil and see myself in those premortal days. But wait. I stand now in the present. What of this day? Do I sanction my Savior here? The war is not yet over but merely moved to mortal battlegrounds. What of the weapon of testimony here? Do I wield it with power in His cause? Of what worth is previous valiance if I falter here? He is God, the Son of God. I sanctioned his appointment then. What of now?

(2-7) The Great Pre-earth Council

In solemn council sat the Gods; …
Silence self-spelled; the hour was one
When thought doth most avail;
Of worlds unborn the destiny
Hung trembling in the scale.
Silence o’er all, and there arose,
Those kings and priests among,
A Power sublime; than whom appeared
None nobler ’mid the throng.
A stature mingling strength with grace,
Of meek though Godlike mien,
The love-revealing countenance
Lustrous as lightning sheen;
Whiter his hair than ocean spray,
Or frost of alpine hill.
He spake;—attention grew more grave,
The stillness e’en more still.
‘Father!’—the voice like music fell,
Clear as the murmuring flow
Of mountain streamlet trickling down
From heights of virgin snow.
‘Father,’ it said, ‘since one must die,
Thy children to redeem,
Whilst earth, as yet unformed and void,
With pulsing life shall teem;
‘And thou, great Michael, foremost fall,
That mortal man may be,
And chosen Saviour ye must send,
Lo, here am I—send me!
I ask, I seek no recompense,
Save that which then were mine;
Mine by the willing sacrifice,
The endless glory, Thine!’ …
Silence once more. Then sudden rose
Aloft a towering form,
Proudly erect as lowering peak
’Lumed by the gathering storm;
A presence bright and beautiful,
With eye of flashing fire,
A lip whose haughty curl bespoke
A sense of inward ire.
‘Give me to go!’ thus boldly cried,
With scarce concealed disdain;
‘And hence shall none, from heaven to earth,
That shall not rise again.
My saving plan exception scorns;
Man’s agency unknown;
As recompense, I claim the right
To sit on yonder throne!’
Ceased Lucifer. The breathless hush
Resumed and denser grew.
All eyes were turned; the general gaze
One common magnet drew.
A moment there was solemn pause;
Then, like the thunder-burst,
Rolled forth from lips omnipotent—
From Him both last and first:
‘Immanuel! thou my Messenger,
Till time’s probation end.
And one shall go thy face before,
While twelve thy steps attend.
And many more, on that far shore,
The pathway shall prepare,
That I, the First, the last may come,
And earth my glory share.’ …
’T was done. From congregation vast
Tumultuous murmurs rose;
Waves of conflicting sound, as when
Two meeting seas oppose.
’T was finished. But the heavens wept;
And still their annals tell
How one was choice of Elohim,
O’er one who fighting fell.

(Orson F. Whitney, “Elect of Elohim,” Elias: An Epic of the Ages, pp. 30–34.)

Study the following scriptures in relationship to the event just described:

Abraham 3:24, 27. What seems to be the key reason why Jesus was selected of the Father?

Moses 4:1–4. What caused the war in heaven?

(2-8) What Is the Meaning of the Titles “Christ,” “Messiah,” and “Jehovah”?

Jesus was the given name of our Savior. As we spell it, the name is of Greek derivation. Its Hebrew equivalent was Yehoshua or Jeshua, or as we render it in English, Joshua. In its original form, the name literally meant “Help of Jehovah,” “Savior-Deliverer,” or “Jehovah Is Salvation.” The name was made known to Joseph by the angel who appeared to him. (See Matthew 1:21.)

Christ is a sacred title, and not an ordinary appellation or common name; it is of Greek derivation, and in meaning is identical with its Hebrew equivalent Messiah or Messias, signifying the Anointed One. Other titles, each possessing a definitive meaning, such as Emmanuel, Savior, Redeemer, Only Begotten Son, Lord, Son of God, Son of Man, and many more, are of scriptural occurrence; the fact of main present importance to us is that these several titles are expressive of our Lord’s divine origin and Godship. As seen, the essential names or titles of Jesus the Christ were made known before His birth, and were revealed to prophets who preceded Him in the mortal state.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 35–36.)

The name Jehovah means the “Self-Existent One” or “The Eternal.” It is written in our Old Testament as Lord in capital letters. According to ancient Jewish practice, the name Jehovah or I Am (the Self-Existent One) was not to be spoken for fear of incurring divine wrath.

“Jesus, when once assailed with question and criticism from certain Jews who regarded their Abrahamic lineage as an assurance of divine preferment, met their abusive words with the declaration: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.’ The true significance of this saying would be more plainly expressed were the sentence punctuated and pointed as follows: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham, was I Am’; which means the same as had He said—Before Abraham, was I, Jehovah. The captious Jews were so offended at hearing Him use a name which, through an erroneous rendering of an earlier scripture, they held was not to be uttered on pain of death, that they immediately took up stones with the intent of killing Him.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 37.)

Who followed ancient Israel in the wilderness? (1 Corinthians 10:4.)

What do we learn from D&C 110:1–4?

(2-9) What Was the Basis for the Messianic Hope?

Jesus is unique on many counts. For example, explicit details of his life were given to the world in public documents centuries before his appearance. One would think that anyone familiar with the scriptures would have recognized him for what he was: the promised Messiah.

Each of the gospel writers in the New Testament, but particularly Matthew, loved to point out how literally Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning himself. The same is true of Book of Mormon prophets.

(2-10) All Things Typify Christ

“And everything that has been given in the gospel and everything that has been in any way connected with it has been designed for the express purpose of bearing record of Christ and certifying as to his divine mission. …

“… In fact, as Jacob says:

“‘… all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.’ (2 Nephi 11:4.)

“Every prophet that there has been in the world has borne record that he is the Son of God, because in its very nature that is the chief calling of a prophet. The testimony of Jesus is synonymous with the spirit of prophecy.” (Bruce R. McConkie in CR, Oct. 1948, p. 24.)

Below are two columns of scripture. The left-hand column contains Old Testament prophecies, and the right-hand column contains the New Testament fulfillment. In addition are some of the more prominent Book of Mormon prophecies concerning the Savior’s life.

Old Testament Messianic Prophecy

  1. 1.

    Zechariah 9:9

  2. 2.

    Zechariah 11:12, 13

  3. 3.

    Micah 5:1; Isaiah 50:6

  4. 4.

    Isaiah 53:9, 12

  5. 5.

    Isaiah 26:19

Read each column and compare the prophecies found there.

What difference does it make to know that Jehovah, God of the Old Testament and Book of Mormon peoples, is Jesus, God of the New Testament? Did it make any difference in the way he was received among the Jews? Although they had a hope in their hearts that he would come as promised, why did they err? We, likewise, have a hope in our hearts that he will come again. Does it make any difference to see him as more than just our Savior—to see him as our Creator and our God? Ponder John 17:3.