“Lessons from the New Testament: Thou Art the Christ,” Ensign, Jan. 2007, 36–39
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). So stated the Apostle Peter in response to the Lord’s question “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). And so testify all writers of that sacred text known as the New Testament.
The New Testament is full of firsthand accounts of mortals and declarations of angels proclaiming the birth, life, ministry, death, and Resurrection of the Only Begotten Son of God. From thence comes its majesty.
At the Savior’s birth an angel declared, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). On the morning of the Savior’s Resurrection, an angel spoke again, saying, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6). Angels prophesied of His Second Coming with these words: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
The New Testament also tells of events that transpired “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet” (Matthew 12:17) and other Old Testament prophets. A stunning example of this prophecy fulfilled is found early in the ministry of the Savior:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
“And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Jesus then closed the book and startled the congregation in the synagogue with these words: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Everyone there would have been familiar with that messianic prophecy. But never before had anyone declared that he was the literal fulfillment of that prophecy, let alone someone whom they had watched grow up in their small community. Jesus was telling them that He was the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.
This is just one of many occasions recorded in the New Testament when Jesus of Nazareth bore His personal witness that He was the literal Son of God the Father, foreordained to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). To the Twelve Apostles He said,
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
“And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Matthew 20:18–19).
To the Jews Jesus said, speaking of Himself:
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
“And hath given him authority to execute judgment” (John 5:25–27).
He concluded His admonition to them by saying, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
To the people in general—many of whom followed Him to Capernaum after being among the 5,000 whom He had miraculously fed—Jesus taught:
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. …
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:51, 54).
Many were troubled by this statement. Could the man whom they knew truly be the Son of God? Jesus responded, “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” (John 6:61–62).
To Martha, whose brother Lazarus had been dead for four days, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). To His Apostles, as they ate the Last Supper with their Lord, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
In answer to Pilate’s question “Art thou a king then?” Jesus responded, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).
To God the Father, in the great Intercessory Prayer, He said: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:3–4).
What was the Savior’s work? First, it was to overcome physical death. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4–5).
Through His mortal mother He had power to die. Through His immortal Father He had power to resurrect. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
“No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17–18).
After enduring the agony of the cross, Jesus voluntarily died, saying, “It is finished” (John 19:30). “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).
The second part of His work or mission was to overcome spiritual death. To Mary’s husband, Joseph, the angel said that Jesus “shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Fallen man was to be redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19–20). In the Garden of Gethsemane the Savior made “his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10). He told His three chief Apostles, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Then “he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:38–39). “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 22:44).
Through the agony and anguish of His very soul, He voluntarily suffered and paid for the sins of all men. “In all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), He was the only one qualified to pay that ransom. Because of His infinite Atonement, we can inherit eternal life through exercising faith in His name, repenting, and keeping the covenants associated with the authorized ordinances of the priesthood.
The ultimate testimony of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth is that borne by God the Father. At the baptism of Jesus and again on the Mount of Transfiguration, Heavenly Father spoke from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).
In our dispensation Heavenly Father gave the same witness to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove when He said, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
Near the end of the book that bears his name, the Apostle John made the following summary statement: “And many … signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30–31).
What a blessing it is to have these firsthand testimonies of the Savior and His ministry so readily available to us. As we study the New Testament this year, let our hearts be open to the grand message contained in this sacred book. Let us allow the Savior’s words to transform our very lives as we seek to become more like Him.