Last October, President Russell M. Nelson invited the women in the Church to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. He said, “I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends” (“Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” General Conference, October 2018).
There are many references to the Savior in the Book of Mormon. The word “Christ” appears 394 times. “Jesus” appears 186 times. And the phrase “Son of God” appears 51 times. Today, I decided to review a few of my favorite passages about the Savior and consider the significance of the names and titles which appear in each of them.
“A Messiah, or in Other Words, a Savior of the World”
Lehi taught his family that the Messiah would come. “Messiah” means “the Anointed One,” and refers to a king who was expected to deliver Israel from captivity (“Messiah,” Bible Dictionary). Lehi speaks of Him as a powerful rescuer, but doesn’t limit His mission to the children of Israel. He calls Him the “Savior of the world” and the “Redeemer of the world.” He says that everyone in the world is “in a lost and in a fallen state” and will be forever unless “they rely on this Redeemer.”
Lehi also emphasizes the Savior’s humility, saying that He will be baptized and calling him “the Lamb of God” (1 Nephi 10:4-10).
“The God of Nature Suffers”
Nephi emphasizes the irony of the atonement: that the Creator of the earth, the God who led Israel out of Egypt and performed so many miracles on their behalf, would come to earth, live a mortal life, and willingly suffer and die. He used titles like “the very God of Israel,” “the God of our fathers,” and “the God of nature” to emphasize the voluntary nature of His sacrifice (1 Nephi 19:7-12).
“The Angel Spake Unto Me That This Should Be His Name”
After teaching his people that they could be delivered from physical and spiritual death by “the Holy One of Israel,” Jacob told them that he would finish his sermon the following day. That night, an angel told him that the name of this deliverer was “Christ” (2 Nephi 10:2-3). Like “Messiah”, the word “Christ” means “the Anointed One” (“Christ,” Bible Dictionary).
“He Shall Be Called Jesus Christ, the Son of God”
King Benjamin was also taught by an angel, who told him that he had good news for Benjamin and for his people. ” He said that the “Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity,” would come to earth and “dwell in a tabernacle of clay,” that He would work miracles, that He would suffer for our sins, and that He would die and rise from the dead three days later. All this “that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name.” The angel said that His name would be “Jesus Christ,” and also identified Him as “the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3:5-10). The name “Jesus” means “God is help” or “Savior” (“Jesus,” Bible Dictionary).
“God Himself Shall Come Down”
The prophet Abinadi taught the wicked priests of King Noah, who believed that salvation came by obedience to the law. Abinadi corrected that misconception, explaining that without divine intervention, none of us can be saved. He emphasized the Savior’s divinity, referring to Him three times as “God himself.” He also pointed out that, because He is the literal Son of God, and because He is the Creator of heaven and earth, the titles “Father” and “Son” can both be used to describe Him (Mosiah 13:28-35, Mosiah 15:1-9).
“According to the Flesh”
When Alma taught the members of the church in the city of Gideon about the life and mission of Jesus Christ, he focused on the Savior’s mortality. Referring to Him exclusively as “the Son of God,” Alma taught that He would be “born of Mary,” that He would suffer “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,” that He would “take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people,” and that He would “take upon him their infirmities,” so that His “bowels may be filled with mercy,” so that He would know how to “succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:9-13).
“That Ye Might Believe on His Name”
Five years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Samuel the Lamanite foretold the signs of His birth and His death which would be visible on the American continent. He referred to Him using the same name and titles which the angel had revealed to King Benjamin: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Helaman 14:12).
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ”
After the destruction which coincided with the death of the Savior, the people heard His voice. He identified Himself using the name which they knew. “I am Jesus Christ the Son of God,” He said. “I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.” He also referred to Himself as “the light and the life of the world,” and as “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (3 Nephi 9:15,18).
Some time later, when He visited the people at the temple in Bountiful, He announced Himself in the same way: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10).
Today, I’m grateful for the many names we use to refer to the Savior. I’m grateful to know that He is “God himself,” “the very God of Israel,” who created the earth and has performed countless miracles. I’m grateful to know that He is the literal Son of God, who willingly endured the challenges of mortality, and who suffered and died on our behalf. I am grateful to know that He was chosen and anointed to be our deliverer—the Messiah and the Christ—and that He is both willing and able to save us from our lost and fallen state, which is why Joseph and Mary named Him “God is help”—”Jesus.”