What is the role of Jesus Christ?
When we submit to Jesus Christ’s love and influence, we become humble and teachable, and we recognize the divine Light of Christ inside each of us.
We each come to this world with the divine Light of Christ inside us, with the ability to recognize truth about ourselves and about the Savior. Much like little children, Jesus Christ is deeply empathetic, so much so that He was capable of taking on the anguish, regret, and pain of all of our sins. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross under an immeasurable weight to ransom us from our mortal burdens.
After three days Jesus Christ overcame death, emerging from the tomb resurrected and winning for us that same reward; He made possible our own resurrection, the permanent union of our spirit and perfected physical body. Jesus was sent by His Father to offer eternal life to all of His children; His sacrifice empowers the plan of salvation.
Jesus Christ was both divine and mortal, being the Only Begotten Son of God but also having a body of flesh and blood. He and His Father are one in purpose, but They are two separate beings.
The Only Begotten Son was born to the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ fulfilled ancient prophecies and covenants between God and His people. During Christ’s ministry, He endowed priesthood and leadership authority upon many of His worthy followers on the earth and taught divine truths that were recorded in sacred scriptures. He administered saving temporal ordinances such as baptism, which He Himself submitted to though He had never sinned. The Savior did this because He asks us to follow Him in all things. He ministered to the sick and to the sinners with pure love and compassion. That compassion extends to each of us through the Atonement, a gift that satisfies the scales of justice by paying for our transgressions—a gift only Jesus Christ could have given.
By humbling ourselves, exercising faith on His name, repenting, and keeping His commandments, we can receive the blessings of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Before His ministry began, Jesus Christ was a carpenter, and in many ways, He still is. Christ’s skilled, patient hands can transform us if we remain teachable, even as little children. In Matthew 18:4, the Savior taught, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” When we become humble and rely on our Savior, we come to understand a great truth about ourselves: there is an inherent divinity—the Light of Christ—in each of us.
That light witnesses to the truthfulness of His gospel, which contains all of the principles, laws, covenants, ordinances, and doctrine we need to return and live with our Heavenly Father.
The word gospel literally means “good news,” and how could the gospel of Jesus Christ be otherwise? The fundamental gospel elements are these: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Throughout the history of humankind, God’s prophets have preached Christ’s gospel. In 1830 Jesus Christ restored His gospel for our day through a prophet named Joseph Smith. The Lord instructed Joseph Smith to bring forth and translate the ancient scriptural text known as the Book of Mormon. The Savior also restored the keys of the priesthood and the saving ordinances that are required for His Church to accomplish His work again on earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith received revelation from God, as have all his successors, and during their lives they have all taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of their time. The current prophet does so today. From each of these prophets we learn what is required of us to become more like God and to prepare to live with Him again.
There are five fundamentals of Christ’s gospel. The first is faith in Jesus Christ. It isn’t enough to believe in Christ; we also have to believe Him—believe that we can be made whole through His Atonement and that we are worthy of such a gift. Through faith, our minds and hearts are opened, and the words of the gospel find room to settle into our hearts. Such faith and humility bring about the second principle of the gospel: repentance. We want to correlate our actions with our beliefs, to align our behavior with our thoughts, so not only do we seek sincere forgiveness for previous misdeeds, but we also actively turn toward Christ and a new way of living our lives.
This commitment to a “new” way of living is demonstrated through the act of baptism by immersion.
The third fundamental of the doctrine of Christ is baptism by immersion. Baptism is a symbolic ordinance of cleansing that signifies our rebirth as disciples of Christ and followers of His gospel. We join His Church and make sacred covenants to God. We then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the fourth fundamental of Christ’s gospel, and our sins are forgiven. As a member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is one with God and Jesus Christ in character and in purpose. He is the conduit of Their love and knowledge, and He is given to us as a constant companion if we remain worthy. He speaks to us in a still, small voice to communicate to us the will of God and to provide guidance and direction. As the Apostles of Christ did when they were on the earth, priesthood holders today place their hands on the heads of the newly baptized and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them.
While the ordinances of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost may seem almost momentary in their brevity, the process of following the gospel itself is one of enduring commitment, a promise we make to retain the freshness of conversion always and to constantly recommit ourselves. Enduring to the end is the fifth fundamental of the gospel that eventually leads to salvation. Taking the sacrament weekly is an important part of this process, and each time we partake of the bread and water, we remember Jesus Christ and His Atonement and we remember to keep the commandments of the restored gospel.
Jesus Christ leads His restored Church today, which is why the Church bears His name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jesus Christ is assisted by earthly Apostles now as He was during His ministry. The Book of Mormon, which was kept and preserved to be brought forth in our day, is another witness of Jesus Christ. It includes teachings of the Savior and clarifies many aspects of the gospel. It also tells of His visit to the Americas, where He taught the people and called Apostles as He had done in Israel; this is another witness that the Savior’s message is for everyone. Today, around the world, some 80,000 young Mormon missionaries are bringing this testament of Him to all who will receive it, allowing the book’s truth about our Redeemer and about the inherent divinity of each of us to be confirmed by the Light of Christ inside them. That light is in us; it is part of what binds us together as a people—His people.
Why is Christ’s role significant?
Millions of people know about Jesus Christ. Is it enough to know who Jesus is and His role in our Heavenly Father’s plan? That knowledge is really only the beginning.
Understanding and embracing Jesus Christ’s role as Savior is key to every Christian faith. And it requires more than having a theoretical belief that He lived and accomplished great things. It requires having confidence that He was indeed resurrected and that He suffered not only death but also spiritual pain for our sins.
Jesus felt the pain, guilt, and suffering we experience as a consequence of wrong choices. More importantly, He accepted responsibility and paid the price for our wrongdoings on earth—if we in turn sincerely repent and accept His commandments and divine role as Redeemer. When we do so, we are released from our sins. We can be spiritually clean and worthy to enter the presence of God.
That’s a complex concept—one that can be hard to fathom from our limited perspective. But it’s possible. The sublime peace that our Heavenly Father wants us to have is also available to us right now because of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.
How can I come closer to Christ?
How is spiritual and emotional relief possible?
While we cannot come unto Christ physically as the first disciples did, we can come unto Him by searching the scriptures. We can come to know of Him through the testimonies of living prophets and followers. We can be assured of His existence through the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.
“Most of us will not see God, as the prophets have, but the still, small promptings of the Spirit—the thoughts and feelings that the Holy Ghost brings into our minds and hearts—will give us an undeniable knowledge that He lives and that He loves us” (Robert D. Hales, “Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 32).
Jesus Christ knows each of us personally. If we but reach out, we can know Him too.