“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (See Matthew 16:13-16). Peter would later testify that Jesus “was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for [us]” (1 Peter 1:20). And in Doctrine and Covenants 93:21, we are taught that He was “in the beginning with the Father, and [is] the Firstborn.”
When the Father’s plan of salvation and happiness was presented (See Alma 42:5,8), one was required to atone to provide redemption and mercy to all those who accepted the plan. The Father asked, “Whom shall I send?” He who was to be known as Jesus freely and willingly chose to answer, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2).
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.
13 Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.
14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.
And, in Alma 42:14-15 we learn:
14 And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence.
15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.
Salvation could not come to the world except it was through a mediator and that Great Mediator was the Lord Jesus Christ. We are taught in 2 Nephi 2:6: “wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” And in John 3:16-17 we learn that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Who is Jesus Christ? It is He of whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He is the one who bore our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). He was “wounded for our transgressions . . . bruised for our iniquities. . . .And with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He was oppressed and afflicted and was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, He opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7). He who knew no sin became sin’s final sacrifice. He paid a debt that He did not owe – a debt that none of us could ever pay on our own.
This is the Christ! He is the Holy Lamb of God, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Master, and our King.
Nothing can compare to “His Unspeakable Gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15), that the Son of God “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). May His name be forever blessed “for His Great love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4) by His voluntary sacrifice, that we “might have Life through His name” (John 20:31).
If He were to ask me the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” I would echo the words of the Apostle Peter and proclaim “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Of these things I do so testify and bear solemn witness in the sacred name of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.