3 Nephi 11:11 – LeGrand Baker – relationship of the Father and the Son
3 Nephi 11:10-11
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
Here the Savior places the atonement in the context of his being the ‘light and life of the world.’
Last week we read scriptures that showed that the Savior is the personification of light, life, truth, and love. In these verses, it is in that context that he places his atonement. Sometimes we oversimplify the Savior’s greatness by saying that he was kind enough that he volenteered to perform the Atonement. What I believe he is saying here is that because he created all things and gave life to all things, only he could recreate (resurrect) and give new life (redeem) to all things.
In describing the Atonement, the resurrected Christ also teaches us about he relationship with his Heavenly Father. He says:
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world;
and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me,
and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world,
in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things
from the beginning.
In his conclusion of the Book of Mormon, Moroni emphasizes the role of the Father in the Saviors Atonement. He writes:
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:32-33).
The Savior is the substance, the evidence, the validity, and the fulfillment of the Father’s covenant, and, according to the Savior’s own words, has been such “in all things from the beginning.”
Paul reached back to the beginning when he reminded us:
11 In whom [the Father] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated [foreordained] according to the purpose of him [the Father] who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his [the Father’s] glory, who [the Father] first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom [the Savior] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom [the Savior] also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his [the Father’s] glory (Ephesians 1:11-14).
If we can use modern technology to discover the meaning of the scriptures, then powerful telescopes are only beginning to teach us the meaning of this one:
31 And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten (Moses 1:31-33).
Of all the worlds in the universe, this little earth on which we live was chosen to be the altar on which the sacrifice of the Savior’s Atonement was performed. But the Father’s trust in his Only Begotten Son extended far beyond the limits of this earth and its population. The power of the Savior’s Atonement was not limited to the inhabitants of this world. Just as it could reach back in time to save Adam and Abraham in our world, so did it reach back in the eons of time to save the inhabitants of other worlds. The Prophet Joseph taught that in poem called The Vision:
Hosanna, for ever! They open’d anon,
And the glory of God shone around where I was;
And there was the Son at the Father’s right hand,
In a fulness of glory and holy applause.
I beheld round the throne holy angels and hosts,
And sanctified beings from worlds that have been,
In holiness worshipping God and the Lamb,
For ever and ever. Amen and amen.
And now after all of the proofs made of him,
By witnesses truly, by whom he was known,
This is mine, last of all, that he lives; yea, he lives!
And sits at the right hand of God on his throne.
And I heard a great voice bearing record from heav’n,
He’s the Saviour and only begotten of God;
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that careen in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons
By the very same truths and the very same powers.
The Prophet Joseph Smith, “A Vision,”Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843. Italics added.)
Apostle John Taylor was then in New York assisting immigrant Mormons get off the ships and on to trains that would take them part way to Utah. While there, he published a newspaper, called The Mormon. This is one of his last editorials in the newspaper.
Lady-whence comest thou? Thine origin? What art thou doing here? Whither art thou going, and what is thy destiny? Declare unto me if thou hast understanding? Knowest thou not, that thou art a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of his eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burning?
Knowest thou not that eternities ago, thy spirit, pure and holy, dwelt in thy Heavenly Father’s bosom, and in his presence, and with thy mother, one of the Queens of heaven, surrounded by thy brother and sister spirts in the spirit world, among the Gods. That as thy spirit beheld the scenes transpiring there, and thou growing in intelligence, thou sawest worlds upon worlds organized and peopled with thy kindred spirits, took upon them tabernacles, died, were resurrected, and received their exaltation on the redeemed worlds they once dwelt upon. (John Taylor, “Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women,” an editorial published in The Mormon, New York, New York, August 29, 1857. The full editorial can be found on my website under “favorite quotes.”)
Alma explained that the Savior’s Atonement is “infinite and eternal”(Alma 34:10). The Savior’s Atonement that was performed on this little earth reached back through the eons of time to exalt other peoples on other worlds. This gives a whole new meaning to other statements in the Doctrine and Covenants:
1 Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior.
2 Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out.
3 His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.
4 From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.
5 For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the en (D&C 76:1-5) d.
17 By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them (D&C 20:17).
The relationship between the Savior and his Father is a theme that runs throughout the scriptures. The conversation between the Savior, his Father, and Nephi is a splendid example. Here is just a bit of that conversation:
10 And he [Jesus] said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do (2 Nephi 31:10-12).
During Jesus life on earth he repeatedly gave credit to his Father. He taught what his Father told him to teach (John 15:14-17).
He gave credit for the success of the Atonement to his Father’s support. He said: \
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (D&C 19:18-19).
We learn more details about from Luke. In the Garden Jesus prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:42-44).
If the Atonement were for this earth only, then I suppose that angel might have been Adam or one of the Prophets. But, given the infinite and eternal reach of what the Savior was suffering, it is my considered opinion that the “angel” could have been none other than his Father to whom he was praying for sustenance.
The Savior’s prayer in our behalf also focuses on the final authority of his Father. He says:
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life (D&C 45:3-5).
The relationship of the Savior and his Father is so intimate that he frequently said he and his Father are One. That oneness is complicated in our minds because one of the name-titles of Jehovah is “the Father (as in Mosiah 15:1-7. see analysis in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition, 708-09; second edition, 500-01.)
In D&C 93:2-5 there is a clear differentiation between “the Father” (Jehovah) and “my Father” (Elohim), but after that the distinction has to be understood by the context.
1 Verily, thus saith the Lord:…
3 And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—
4 The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.
5 I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest. …
11 And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us. …
16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
21 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn (D&C 93:1-21).
That oneness might best be understood as hased (unfailing love based on a prior covenant). The reason I suggest that is because the Savior invites us to join them in that same covenant based love/friendship. He said:
2 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one (D&C 35:2).
He says it more explicitly in the magnificent prayer in John 17:
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. …
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. …
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:1-22).