A little more than 2,000 years ago, the Redeemer of humankind was born in Bethlehem of Judea. While yet an infant He was brought to the temple in Jerusalem. There Mary and Joseph heard the wonderful prophecies spoken by Simeon and Anna about the tiny babe who was destined to become the Savior of the world.
He spent much of His boyhood in Nazareth of Galilee, and when 12 years of age He was brought to the temple again. Mary and Joseph found Him conversing with learned men, "and they were hearing him, and asking him questions" (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46).
Jesus grew into young manhood and "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). He was baptized by John in the river Jordan "to fulfil all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). He fasted for 40 days and nights and endured the temptations of Satan before He began His public ministry. He then went about teaching, healing, and blessing.
The Great Jehovah
Jesus was in very deed the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, who left His Father's royal courts on high and condescended to come to earth as a babe born in the most humble of circumstances. His birth was foretold centuries earlier by Isaiah, who declared prophetically, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Lord who shall come again to reign on earth. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father.
This Jesus Christ of whom we solemnly testify is, as John the Revelator declared, "the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth." He "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Revelation 1:5-6).
The Savior of the World
He was and is the Son of the Almighty. He was the only perfect man to walk the earth. He healed the sick and caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He raised the dead. Yet He suffered His own life to be taken in an act of atonement, the magnitude of which is beyond our comprehension.
Luke records that this anguish was so great that "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44), a physical manifestation confirmed in both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (see Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18). The suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, just a few hundred meters from Gethsemane, included both physical and spiritual "temptations, … pain, … hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer," said King Benjamin, "except it be unto death" (Mosiah 3:7).
After the agony of Gethsemane came His arrest, His trials, His condemnation, then the unspeakable pain of His death on the cross, followed by His burial in Joseph's tomb and the triumphant coming forth in the Resurrection. He, the lowly babe of Bethlehem who two millennia ago walked the dusty roads of the Holy Land, became the Lord Omnipotent, the King of kings, the Giver of salvation to all. None can fully comprehend the splendor of His life, the majesty of His death, the universality of His gift to humankind. We unequivocally declare with the centurion who said at His death, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).
Our Living Lord
Such is the witness of the testament of the Old World, the Holy Bible. And there is another voice, that of the testament of the New World, the Book of Mormon. In it the Father introduced His resurrected Son, declaring, "Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name" (3 Nephi 11:7). This divine introduction opens the account of our Savior's ministry among some of His "other sheep" (John 10:16) after His Ascension from Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon's message throughout its length is of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the eternal blessings that can come to all the sons and daughters of God through His redeeming love. In the words of one Book of Mormon prophet:
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. …
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:23, 26).
He fasted for 40 days and nights and endured the temptations of Satan before He began His public ministry. He then went about teaching, healing, and blessing. None can fully comprehend the splendor of His life, the majesty of His death, the universality of His gift to humankind.
Added to all of this is the declaration of modern prophets: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:22). In the Doctrine and Covenants, He testifies unequivocally of His own divine role: "I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world" (D&C 19:1).
In Him we see not only our Master and Good Shepherd but also our great Exemplar, who bids us, "If thou wilt be perfect, … come and follow me" (Matthew 19:21).
He is the chief cornerstone of the Church that bears His name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved (see Acts 4:12). He is the Author of our salvation, the Giver of eternal life (see Hebrews 5:9). There is none to equal Him. There never has been. There never will be. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Beloved Son, who gave His life that we might live and who is the chief, immovable cornerstone of our faith and His Church.
The Focus of Our Faith
We know not all that lies ahead of us. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the Polar Star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.
In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us.
He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh. He is "risen from the dead, … the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). He is the Lord who shall come again "to reign on the earth over his people" (D&C 76:63; see also Micah 4:7; Revelation 11:15).
None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God.