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Jesus Christ our Savior

Catholic Doctrine

Catholic doctrine is beautifully articulate in defining the name of Jesus and his glorified titles as the foundation of who the savior is:

  • The name “Jesus” means “God Saves” as “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) (Catechism 452).

  • The title "Christ" means "Anointed One" or the Messiah (Catechism 453).

  • The title "Son of God" denotes the special relationship and place that Jesus Christ has as being the only begotten son of the Eternal Father. “He is God himself.” (Catechism 454).

  • The title "Lord" connotes the “divine sovereignty” of Jesus. (Catechism 455).

Jesus Christ as the only son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, took on the physical characteristics and nature of a human without losing his divine stature—thus becoming both God and human as the son of God. Although having the physical characteristics of man, including a “human intellect and will,” Jesus is perfectly in tune with God and the Holy Spirit (Catechism 482). In doing so Jesus becomes the perfect and only intermediary between God and mankind.

Jesus Christ in his ministry illuminated the true meaning of the Mosaic law and fulfilled it through his ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of mankind (Mat 5:17-19, John 8:46, Mat 5:33, and Heb 9:15). Jesus taught his disciples in all he did from the smallest of words and actions to his atonement on the cross and glorious Resurrection. Jesus revealed himself to be the “Savior God himself” (John 5:16-18) through his many acts, although many did not recognize his Messiah-ship and wrote him off as a blaspheming man (Catechism 594).

Jesus willingly submitted to the will of the Father and was crucified, fulfilling his mission on earth to “...make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11, Rom 5:19), ultimately manifesting God’s eternal love for us by reconciling ourselves to himself. Jesus suffered death where his soul and his body were separated from one another without corruption (Acts 13:37).
Before his Resurrection, Jesus “...in his human soul united to his divine person...” visited the dead that died before him to “...open heaven’s gates for the just” (Catechism 637).

Jesus was resurrected on the third day as “...the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18), laying the foundation for our own Resurrection at the appointed time through him. Through his atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ assumed his divine position as Lord and Christ. Before his ascension, Jesus imparted the Holy Spirit to his apostles and all of the Church. Upon his ascension Jesus enters into “God’s heavenly domain” where no one can see him (Col 3:3), and from where he constantly mediates for us, pours out the Holy Spirit, and from where he will come again (Catechism 665 and 667).

From his divine existence, Jesus Christ leads his church as the first to enter heaven before us, setting the example and hope of our one day doing the same and being with him forever. Despite his sovereign reign as Lord, not everyone has subjected themselves to Jesus Christ. Such subjection will not happen in its fullness until after a final battle with evil before the judgment day.
Christ will come in glory to facilitate the final judgment where the living and the dead will be given their just grace and rewards according to their works. It is here where the final triumph of good over evil will take place.

See Catechism 452-455, 479-482, 592-561, 594, 620-637, 658-682, 746, 1019.

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

The mission of Jesus Christ and his role in our salvation was established in the spirit world long before he came to the earth. The plan of salvation called for us to leave our heavenly existence and come to the earth where we would need a savior to teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father and redeem us from our sins. The chosen savior was Jesus Christ, who willingly accepted of his mission despite the grief and sorrow that he would suffer (Isaiah 53:3-7).

Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary whereby the Holy Ghost came upon her and the power of the Highest overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). Through this act “God the Father became the literal father of Jesus Christ,” (Gospel Principles, 63), being the only person to ever be born of an immortal father and a mortal mother—thus the “Only Begotten Son.” While his divinity would be inherited from his Father, his mortal characteristics would be inherited from his human mother.

Although little is known about his youth, we know Jesus “...grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40), and at 12 years old he had knowledge of his divine mission (Luke 2:46-49). At about 30 years old, Jesus was baptized “...to fulfill all righteousness” (Mat 3:15). This was followed by a fast and temptation by Satan for 40 days in the desert to prepare Jesus for a public ministry that would change the course of man’s salvation forever.

During the public ministry of Christ, he set the example of service, performed a variety of stirring miracles, demonstrated human love with divine nature, established his church, and taught the gospel to all who would hear. Although declaring himself to be “...the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), Jesus gave glory to God and proclaimed, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38), the will of his father being “…that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).

At the end of his public ministry, Christ fulfilled his ultimate mission on earth by performing the great atonement. Jesus first went into the garden of Gethsemane. There he took upon himself the sins of every human who has ever (and will ever) walk the earth. It was here that Jesus endured what no mortal could ever endure, saying “...my soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34). The pain was so great that “...being in an agony… his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44). While Jesus asked Heavenly Father to relieve him of this pain, he freely submitted to it continuing according to the will of Heavenly Father (Mark 14:36).

From Gethsemane Jesus allowed himself to be taken by the Pharisees and the Romans, physically and verbally abused, and then crucified at Calvary. The sacrifice made by Jesus upon the cross was accepted by God the Father to reconcile all mankind to him—hence the “atonement” (at-one-ment) between God the Father and each one of us. Such was the greatest and “...most important event that has ever occurred in the history of mankind” (Gospel Principles, 71).

Jesus was buried in a tomb and during the three days before his Resurrection, his spirit entered the spirit world to organize and commence the teaching of his gospel to those who had died before him, and for those who would die in the future (1 Peter 3:18–20).

After three days Jesus was resurrected. His spirit and his body were reunited in perfection and glory, demonstrating his power over physical death. Through the fulfillment of his mission, Jesus made it possible for each one of us to be resurrected into immortality, giving every person who accepts the Atonement the gift of being saved from spiritual death.

Following his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to many individuals, including his apostles in Jerusalem and the people of the Americas, to expound upon his teachings and strengthen those in need. Following this brief period on earth Jesus ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus Christ will come again in fulfillment of the scriptural prophecies, will reign in righteousness during the millennium, and will oversee the final judgment.

See chapter 6 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on Jesus Christ our Savior.

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