It is ironic that we believe in an all-powerful Being called “the Son of God.”
Book of Mormon prophets repeatedly emphasize this irony as they discuss the birth of Jesus Christ.
Just before describing an expansive vision he experienced, Nephi introduces the term “the Son of God” for the first time, explaining that the term refers to the Messiah whom his father had prophesied would come (1 Nephi 10:17). At the beginning of the vision, the Spirit rejoices because of Nephi’s belief in “the Son of the most high God” (1 Nephi 11:6).
Early in the vision, Nephi sees a virgin in the city of Nazareth. An angel identifies her as “the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:18). In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, she was called “the mother of God,” but Joseph Smith corrected the text in the second edition, inserting the words “the Son of.” (See Book of Mormon, 1830, page 25. printer’s manuscript, page 16, Book of Mormon, 1837, page 27.)
Many years later, an angel foretells the Savior’s birth to King Benjamin, referring to Him as as “the Lord Omnipotent, who reignetb, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” (Mosiah 3:5). After describing the Savior’s mortal ministry and atonement, the angel identifies Him as “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3:8).
The prophet Abinadi introduces the Savior as “God himself.” Speaking to the priests of the wicked king Noah, Abinadi says, “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.” He then goes on to say, “Because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God” (Mosiah 15:1-2). Like King Benjamin, Abinadi immediately follows this title with an emphasis on the supremacy of the Savior, calling Him “the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth” (Mosiah 5:4).
The lawyer Zeezrom would later attempt to exploit this irony to argue that the teachings of Alma and Amulek are inconsistent. “Is there more than one God?” he asked. Amulek answered, “No.” “Who is he that shall come?” he asked. “Is it the Son of God?” Amulek answered “Yea.” And then, as the intended final blow: “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?”
Amulek’s bold response caused Zeezrom to tremble and began the process of his conversion to the gospel. “Yea,” said Amulek, “he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Because of Him, we will all be resurrected and will one day stand “before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God” (Alma 11:28-44).
For a human being to be called “the Son of God” sounds presumptuous, even blasphemous. Jesus was repeatedly criticized during His mortal ministry for accepting this title. (See John 10:31-36, John 19:7, Matthew 27:39-43.) But for God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, to accept this title and submit His will to the will of His own Father is the ultimate manifestation of meekness. (See John 5:30, John 6:38.)
After the destruction which coincided with the death of Jesus Christ, the people on the American continent who had experienced this devastation heard a voice which said:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. 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.3 Nephi 9:15
And then, He made a declaration which made His title as “Son of God” particularly relevant to us:
And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name,3 Nephi 9:17
It is one thing for a teacher to give instructions, to explain what the student ought to do. It’s another for the teacher to come down to the student’s level, to make it clear that he or she fully understands the student, and to demonstrate what must be done in a way that the student can relate to.
The apostle Paul spoke of the followers of Christ being “joint-heirs” with Him, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17). John testified, “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The glorious irony is that the Lord Omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth, did come to earth, did live a mortal life, did subject Himself to the will of His Father, and in so doing, did make it possible for us to become heirs of eternal life. He, who is so much more than we could have hoped to be, wants to make us peers, joint-heirs. He wants to lift us up and share His divinity with us.
Today, I will be grateful for a Savior who is called “the Son of God.” I will remember His willingness to live a mortal life. I will remember His total submission to the will of His Father. I will remember that He wants to lift us up, to help us become as He is, so that we can also be called the sons and daughters of God.