1 Nephi 11:26-27 — LeGrand Baker — Jesus’s baptism and coronation

1 Nephi 11:26-27  

26 And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God!
27 And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.

Matthew gives the most complete account of Jesus’s baptism. It reads:

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-17).

John the Beloved’s description of the Savior’s baptismcontains additional information:

32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him,{1} the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God (John 1:32-34).{2}

The Savior’s baptism was strikingly like his coronation on the Mount of Transfiguration.{3}

Psalm 2 gives the royal new name as “son” (“The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee [Psalm 2:7]).”.{4}
The title, “My Beloved Son,” is discussed in that book on pages 633-34. It begins with the Father introducing his Son to the Nephites:

7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name–hear ye him (3 Nephi 11:1-7).

This introduction is the same as that spoken many times by Heavenly Father.{5} It is also the same as Jehovah spoke in the second psalm, sung at the coronation services of the festival drama, when he declared that the king is a son of God.{6} Here, in 3 Nephi, the royal name-title “Son” is used in precisely the same way—as part of the coronation service in which Christ is enthroned as Eternal King. Consequently, the words spoken by the Father, “this is my Beloved Son,” would have been understood by the people to be an announcement that Christ is God, but it also would also have been understood as the ceremonial announcement that he is Jehovah, the King of kings. A whole series of psalms had predicted his coming, as Mowinckel has outlined:

Yahweh’s enthronement day is that day when he ‘comes’ (Psalm 96. 13; 98. 9) and ‘Makes himself known’ (98.2), reveals himself and his ‘salvation’ and his will (93.5; 99. 7), when he repeats the theophany of Mount Sinai (97.3ff.; 99.7f), and renews the election (47.5) of Israel, and the covenant with his people (95.6ff.; 99. 6ff.). The mighty‘ deed of salvation’ upon which his kingdom is founded is the Creation, which is alluded to in a rather mythic guise (93.3f.).{7}

Thus the people in America heard the voice of the Father declaring that Jesus is his rightful Heir—Eternal Priest and King—“my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name.”

The early kings of Israel, Saul, David, and Solomon, were first anointed to become kings then anointed to be kings. Just as we see evidence of the first in Jesus’s baptism, so we see evidence of the second in the Mount of Transfiguration. {8}

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FOOTNOTES

{1} The Prophet Joseph clarified the meaning of the dove: “He was trusted & it was required at his hands to baptize the son of Man. Who ever did that? who had so great a privilege & glory?—son of God into the waters of baptism & beholding the Holy Ghost—in the sign the form of a dove—with the sign of the dove. instituted before the creation Devil could not come in sign of a dove.—Holy Ghost is a personage in the form of a personage—does not confine itself to form of a dove—but in sign of a dove.” (Diary of Willard Richards, quoted in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, [Provo, Utah, BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 160). It should be observed that these notes were taken at the time Joseph spoke. The version in the History of the Church, 5:60-61 (and subsequently in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 375) has been made into full sentences by editor B. H. Roberts.
It is instructive to note that the word the Prophet Joseph chose here is “personage,” just as in lecture 5 of Lectures on Faith.

{2} For additional insights into the Savior’s baptism see Acts 10:34-42, 2 Nephi 31:5-12, D&C 93:15-17.

{3} Matthew 17:2-8, Mark 9:4-9, JST Mark 9:3-41. Luke 9: 28 -36, 2 Peter 1:12-19.

{4} For a discussion of that new covenant name see see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, First edition, p. 495-517; Second edition, p. 358-73.

{5} Matthew 17:5; Mark 1:11, 9:7; Luke 3:22, 9:35, 20:13; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17; 2 Nephi 31:11; D&C 93:15; Moses 4:2; Joseph Smith—History 1:17.

{6} See the chapters beginning, “Act 2, Scene 9: The Coronation Ceremony in Isaiah 61,” 457-516.

{7} Mowinckel, Psalms in Israel’s Worship, 1:118. He defines “election,” as he uses it here, as “of the deliverance from Egypt, of the miracle at the Reed Lake and of the Covenant of Kadesh-Sinai and the victory over the natives after the settlement, in short the election.” Psalms in Israel’s Worship, 1:140. Each of the citations in this quote refers to the psalms.

{8} Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-10, 2 Peter 1:16-19. See the chapter, “Act 2, Scene 2: Anointed to Become King” in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, First edition, p. 353-359; Second edition, p. 253-258.
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