Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was chosen before the world began to be the Savior of the world. He is the second member of the Godhead, which consists of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God. We lived with God before we were born, and when God presented the great Plan of Salvation to us, He volunteered to come to earth to atone for our sins. It was impossible for us to live a sinless life and impossible, therefore, for us to atone for our own sins. However, the laws of justice and mercy allowed someone else to fulfill that role. Jesus Christ was the only One who could do so. If He had refused, or if He had backed out when it got difficult, we would never have been able to be saved from our sins. For this reason, Christians love and revere Him.
Jesus came to earth through a divine miracle. His mother was a mortal woman chosen for her righteousness. His Father was God. Mary was engaged to be married and learned of her pregnancy from an angel. Joseph, whom she was to marry, also learned of it through an angel after he had first decided not to humiliate her with a public denouncement. Mary remained a virgin until Jesus’ birth.
Jesus was born in a stable because his mother and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem to be taxed and the inns were full. An angel sent shepherds to witness the newborn child and to receive testimony of His divinity.
Jesus lived thirty-three years. Three years before His death, He began His mission. He was baptized, despite having no sins to be forgiven. However, it was a commandment and a time to make covenants (promises) to God, and so He insisted on being baptized.
During His ministry, He taught the gospel to anyone who would listen. He performed a variety of miracles and spent time serving others. He set an example for everyone to follow. Some people were offended because he associated with sinners or people considered outside the center of society, but Jesus explained that He didn’t come to save perfect people—He came to teach the gospel to sinners. He knew that children of God were all loved by their Heavenly Father regardless of wealth or status and He was comfortable in the company of those not always respected by others with shorter sight.
The culminating event of His ministry, however, came at the very end. He knew His life was coming to an end at the hands of those who did not want God’s word to get out to the world or who did not believe He was the Savior. He went into the Garden of Gethsemane and atoned for our sins. He suffered for each individual sin and the pain was so great He bled from the pores.
“Upon Him was the burden of all human transgression, all human guilt. And hanging in the balance was the Atonement. Through His willing act, mercy and justice could be reconciled, eternal law sustained, and that mediation achieved without which mortal man could not be redeemed.
He by choice accepted the penalty in behalf of all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality, immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror—for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth. In so choosing He faced the awesome power of the evil one, who was not confined to flesh nor subject to mortal pain. That was Gethsemane!” (Boyd K. Packer, Who is Jesus Christ?, Liahona, March, 2008).
The atonement in Gethsemane continued on to the cross, where Jesus Christ was hung to die by His enemies. He was placed there by others, but only because He allowed it. Then, three days later, He rose from the dead, breaking the bonds of death. Because of His death and resurrection, we can all live again after death, forever. If we become worthy of God’s presence, we can live with God for all eternity.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.