Names are important; Matthew, Sarah, David. It defines who we are; Father, Mother, Son, Daughter; or what we do; firefighter, dentist, homemaker; and identifies our unique role in our Heavenly Father’s plan.
Jesus of Nazareth was known by many names – Son of God, Creator, Jehovah, The Prince of Peace, The Good Shepherd, Redeemer. I will focus today on only five of His roles that bless our lives today. That of Prophet, Priest, King, Savior and Messiah
With all a prophet does, His primary roles are to testify of Jesus, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, and to call everyone to repentance and receive the healing joy of Christ’s atonement. Christ did both. He was bold in claiming that He was the Son of God and that it was only His way that would bring souls back to our Heavenly Father. There is no other way.
Christ also courageously pointed out sin and called out for everyone to repent and be baptized. He correctly responded to wickedness with harsh language such as “hypocrite” and “viper." He also taught the sweet fruit of forgiveness. He forgave many afflicted by sin and gave them hope. He begins the beautiful parable of The Prodigal Son with the words, “…I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” We turn our hearts towards God, we put off the natural man and our Father rejoices.
One of the roles of a Priest is to represent God and minister to those in need. Think of Jesus on the day He raised his beloved Lazurus from the dead. The name Lazarus means “God Has Helped” and he lived in Bethany, which means “The House of the Afflicted.” Jesus set the perfect example and through the priesthood today we have the privilege of walking in “The House of the Afflicted” and raising those “God Has Helped” from temperal and spiritual affliction.
Another role of a Priest is being a proxy; to represent us to God and to represent God to us. It is through the priesthood that we receive all the ordinances necessary for our salvation. It is the priest- in the general sense – that administers those ordinances. The World doesn’t understand this. The World rejects His priesthood because they have their own glory called power and money. Imagine Barabbus - the wicked prisoner. His name means ”Son of Father” who was only set free because the sinless one willingly stood before the mob and accepted His role as the Savior – even for the worst of us. Christ, as The Priest, was so rejected He was tortured and flailed with a whip, crafted to shred His body. Just as, this day, our Priests reverently tear the bread at the sacrament table, Christ’s body - The Bread of Life was torn in initiatory for the Great and Last sacrifice. In this terrible state He was forced to lift the heavy cross, made for Him by The World, and carry it to Calvary. Step after agonizing step He made His way towards the execution of The World’s final judgment. Yes The World rejected Him as it rejects Him today. Conversely today, through the ordinance of the sacrament, we reject The World and covenant to remember Him always for we know that “with His stripes we are healed.” Here’s the thing, though, the miracle of Christ’s atonement is broader and more universal than we, as mortals, could ever imagine. Doesn’t the Book of Mormon describe the atonement as “infinite?” Doesn’t the New Testament command us to “love our enemies?” Why? The sharp and elegant truth is this, as stated in the hymn, O Savior, Thou Who Wearest: “The very foes that slay thee, have access to thy grace.”
“It is finished” were The Son of Man’s final words in mortality. The earth groaned and the sun was dark as God’s own beloved hung limp and lifeless on a cross at Golgotha. While His disciples mourned, their faith shaken, there was also great rejoicing. In the Spirit World Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Esther, Isaiah, Lehi, Nephi, and the millions of other followers of Christ had waited many millennia for this eventful day. Heavenly Father’s plan had always been to provide a Savior for all of his children and while we recognize the horrendous and terrible suffering Christ endured, we understand with all humility that only Jesus could perform that singular, necessary act and with the saints of old we rejoice in Him. As we are hostages to the natural man He broke the bonds of sin. As we are captives to sin He set the prisoners free. As we are slaves to death He paid the ransoms price. We are children of God and He is our Savior.
In ancient Rome the clarion call was “Kaiser Kyrie” - Caesar is Lord and Caesar was, indeed, Lord of the entire known civilized world. And “the world” hated Jesus. They mocked Him for being the rightful King of the Jews. He was nailed and raised before all The World to prove “Kaiser Kyria.” – Caesar IS Lord. But in one last final act of quiet and definitive defiance against The World, Jesus rose on that third day. He overcame all Caesar, with His trappings and power, could conjure against Him. Today we may not say Caesar is Lord, but there is great temptation to claim money, or power, or pleasure is Lord. These are our Caesars and like Paul we must resist and cry “Kaiser Kyria? No! “Jesu Kyria” – Jesus is Lord!
Imagine you are in Jerusalem. There are many people gathered and there is a strange and wonderful energy in the air. A man with a Galilean accent stands up to speak. Everyone is astonished and even foreigners understand him. His words prick the hearts of all who hear. He doesn’t lay out new doctrine or religious tenants. He, instead, testifies of a specific man, Jesus, who is well known because of his miracles and teachings and was humiliated and crucified publicly. The man from Galilee makes the fantastic claim that Jesus is resurrected! As impossible as that seemed something deep within swells and you believe this Galilean, Peter, when he proclaims that with His resurrection, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies as well as completed the Law and therefore became The Christ – Greek for Messiah, or anointed one. You asked Peter what you should do now. With authority he says, “Repent and be baptized.” That day you bury your old life in the waters of baptism and are re-born a Christian.
As we looked back, we also look forward to the day when Christ will return in His Glory. Until that day, when all men will bow and confess of Jesus’ love we will add our testimonies to that of all prophets, living and dead; including the prophet Joseph Smith who was the first in this dispensation to authoritatively proclaim, “…He lives!”