3 Nephi 11:8-10 — The Savior introduces himself to the Nephites
8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
Before Jesus’s birth, when the angel spoke to Mary, he instructed her, “thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus (Luke 1:32).”
“Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua,” which means “Jehovah is salvation” or “Jehovah saves.” Our LDS Bible dictionary adds “Savior” to the meanings. The name was carefully chosen. It was both a given name and a name-title. This was made clear by the angel who spoke to Joseph. He said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
When Jesus introduced himself to the Nephites gathered at the temple, they probably did not register the name Jesus as a given name, but rather heard it as a title: “I am the Joshua Messiah — I am the Savior Anointed.” That is who they were looking for, and that is what they would have understood him to say.
“Christ” is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Messiah.” It means “The Anointed One.” Israelite kings and priests were anointed, and the Savior’s name-title “Messiah” is at least an acknowledgment of Jehovah’s kingship and priesthood as ruler of the Israelite people. But it is much more than that.
The word “Messiah” is only found twice in the Old Testament (Daniel 9:25-26), but the Hebrew word that is translated “Messiah” is found many times. Except in all the other instances it is translated as “anointed” and almost all of those references are about “the Lord’s anointed,” that is the king of Israel (as in Psalm 18:50).
There are two places in the Old Testament that speak of Jehovah’s premortal anointing.
One is Isaiah 61which reads:
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound?
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2).
The Savior cited those verses in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:4, 3 Nephi 12:4), and again at Nazareth, where he said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:17-21).
President Joseph F. Smith, in D&C 138, by quoting the passage differently, makes it clear that the Isaiah reference is to Jehovah and not to Isaiah.
42 And Isaiah, who declared by prophecy that the Redeemer was anointed to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that were bound…(D&C 138:42).
In the gospel of John, Jesus identifies himself to the woman at the well as the promised Messiah (John 4:25). The frequent references to “Jesus Christ” in the Book of Mormon also assert that the Nephites understood that he is the “Anointed One” (Mosiah 3:8, 12 are examples).
The Lord also identified himself as the “Anointed One” (Messiah) to Enoch. He said,
53 And the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith—I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy (Moses 7:53).
It is likely that Jehovah’s anointing was portrayed in the ancient Israelite Feast of Tabernacles temple drama. But the psalm that depicted his anointing is no longer in the collection, or if it is, I cannot identify it. However, there is a psalm that takes place in the Council in Heaven immediately after Jehovah was anointed. I say immediately after because the perfumed anointing oil with which he was anointed is described in that psalm. The following is our discussion of that aromatic anointing oil: Paul quoted verse 7 as a testimony of the Savior’s kingship (Hebrews 1:9).
Then, in the [temple drama], the prince does exactly what protocol would require him to do next. He turns to Jehovah, his most immediate superior, and does obeisance to him.
The prince does obeisance to Jehovah:
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness:
therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee
with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,
out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad
The chain of command was Elohim at the top, then Jehovah, then the king. So our prince (who on the earth will be king) first paid homage to Elohim, then to Jehovah. It is apparent from the words that in an earlier part of this scene, the Father had already anointed Jehovah to be the Eternal King and Protector of Israel. Even though the psalm that tells that story is no longer in the canon (or if it is, it cannot be identified), we can know that Jehovah had just been anointed because his garments were still fragrant with sacred scented anointing oil. We know the king was addressing Jehovah in these verses because of the words, “thy God [Elohim], hath anointed thee [Jehovah].”
The reference to his fragrant smell is very important. Even though the Old Testament editors and writers do not describe the oil with which the kings of Israel were anointed, the record does show an explicit recipe for perfuming the oil with which the High Priests were anointed. The formula is given along with the command that this sacred oil may be used for no other purpose (Exodus ch. 30 & 40).
We see a similar situation in verse 8 of Psalm 45, for the prince acknowledges that Jehovah’s garments still smell of the fragrant perfumes of the anointing oil. In doing so, he also gives us the formula by which the sacred oil was perfumed: “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.” This was a very meaningful formula. The oil was, of course, olive oil, the product of the fruit of the olive tree, which in ancient Israel represented the Tree of Life. Myrrh is a perfume made from the sap of a bush or small tree. Aloes is a perfume made from the heartwood of another tree, and cassia is a perfume made from the bark of still a different tree. So on the stage, one representing Jehovah had just been anointed with a sacred oil whose fragrance were a composite of all the parts of a tree—either an acknowledgment or a declaration that Jehovah is the Tree of Life (Baker and Ricks, Who shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, 2nd edition, 207-208).
We are taught that ordinances that pertain to this world must be performed in this world. Peter tells us that Jesus was also anointed while he was in a mortal body. His testimony is:
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree (Acts 10:37-39).
We also have the testimony in Doctrine and Covenants 132:
7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead (D&C 132:7).