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Mosiah 3: 18

The angel declares unequivocally that Christ “judges.” Not men, not authorities. Christ “judges.” Men who fancy themselves empowered to judge others deceive themselves. Judgment of others is not permitted. (Matt. 7: 1.) Even the Lord’s twelve disciples were told they were not to judge others, but would be trusted to announce Christ’s judgment. (3 Ne. 27: 27.) Christ is the only judge. He is the only keeper of the gate. (2 Ne. 9: 41.) When men substitute their own judgment for Christ’s, they condemn themselves and do nothing to alter the one they judge before Christ. (Matt. 7: 2.) When men act as if they are Christ, substituting their own judgment for His, they govern others by their own light and not the Lord’s. These things are condemned. (2 Ne. 26: 29.)

The Lord alone is judge. Hence the angel saying to King Benjamin: “For behold he judgeth,” and adding quickly “and his judgement is just.” (Mosiah 3: 18.) You don’t need to fear an unjust judge, nor a partial and imperious man who is looking to magnify his ego or vain ambition (D&C 121: 37.) Their judgments can never displace Christ “For behold He judgeth,” according to the words of the angel to King Benjamin.

Because He alone can judge, those who condemn little children who He has redeemed are substituting their own judgment for His. They are calling His great work of redemption incomplete and inadequate to accomplish the redemption of children. Such men “drink damnation to their own souls” because they will be judged by the standard they have established. (Matt. 7: 2.) They must not only retract their unjust judgment, but must also become like those whom they condemn. “Except they humble themselves and become as little children” they will be lost. (Mosiah 3: 18.)

The angel reminds King Benjamin (and us) there is only one source for salvation. It “was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Id.) If you lack salvation, it is because you looked elsewhere to find it, and if you receive it, then you necessarily have come to Christ.

All the judgments of men, all the plans and schemes of men, all the pretenses and arrogance of men will not secure salvation for any soul. Salvation comes from Christ alone.

If you or I were ever to judge another man, the standard to apply is singular: It is Christ’s standard. Either He reveals His judgment to you, and you announce what His judgment, or He does not. If He does not, then the choice is to either refrain from judging (which is safe), or to show mercy and forgiveness (which is safer still), but never condemn. The Lord alone has the right to condemn. For us to condemn anyone the Lord has forgiven is a mockery of His atonement, no less than condemning little children whom the Lord also has forgiven.

This lecture by the angel to King Benjamin is filled with wisdom and light. We are so much the better for having it available for us to study.

Mosiah 3: 16-17

Half a millennium following the angel’s visit to King Benjamin, Mormon wrote a letter to his son Moroni addressing the topic of child baptism. The angel condemned it (Mosiah 3: 16). Mormon condemned it (Moroni 8: 11-14). If anything, Mormon’s statements are more emphatic, and condemn those who believe in such rites for children. Mormon explains that little children “cannot repent” (Moroni 8: 19), and the angel explains it is not possible for children to sin (Mosiah 3: 16). Little children are not accountable before God, and therefore their mistakes, offenses and errors are covered by their innocence, and the atonement of Christ on the other. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand God (Moroni 8: 17-20).

Mankind are all subject to sin. Over a lifetime we are all corroded by this environment. To preserve this creation, death has been introduced so that no matter how far men may fall from God’s grace, their lives will end. In their place, children who are innocent before God come into this world. It is by and through children that hope returns, innocence is renewed and creation continues. Little children are where God’s great renewal of mankind takes place. If not for them, this world would have ripened in iniquity long ago.

The angel draws a parallel between Adam’s fall and Christ’s atonement. (Mosiah 3: 16.) The one brought death to all, the other brings life to all. Even those who will squander their opportunity for more are still redeemed from death through Christ.

Then the angel declares where salvation (something more than rising from the grave) is obtained. It is completely in Christ. “[T]here shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3: 17.) It is not a church. It is not an ordinance. It is not an organization, initiation, family, relationship with, or promise from a man or men, nor any other means. It will be Christ, or it will not happen.

What, then, does it mean to be saved “in and through the name of Christ?”

What is His name? Or, more correctly, what are His names? How does one become saved through His name?

King Benjamin will later have his people take upon them the actual name of Christ. (Mosiah 5: 6-7.) How are you “called by the name of Christ?” Do you, literally need to become “Christ?” That is, do you literally need to become a “Messiah” or a “Christ” or an “anointed one?” Because the name “Christ” is akin to the word “christened” or “christening,” meaning you have become anointed.

How do you become anointed? Is it through application of physical oil to the physical skin? Is that an anointing in the sense that Christ was anointed? Or, is the physical anointing a symbol of another kind of anointing, another kind of christening? If so, what does that entail?

When the angel marks a man “in the forehead” (Rev. 7: 3; D&C 77: 9) is that literal? What kind of anointing, or christening, or seal is involved?

Did Christ set the pattern? Does it mean to “take upon you His name” that you, in like manner, are christened, anointed or sealed? Can you be His without this? Can you take His name upon you without conforming to the same pattern as Christ, who is the “prototype of the saved man.” (Lectures on Faith, 7: 15-16.)

“It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they, in like manner, offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. …But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for …where doubt and uncertainty are there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; …and where faith is weak the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.” (Lecture 6: 8, 12.)
How does one lay hold on the salvation that comes through the name of Christ spoken of to King Benjamin by the angel in Mosiah 3: 17?

Mosiah 3: 14-15

When the Lord’s people wanted religion, but were unwilling to accept the fullness, He accommodated their desire and gave to them the “law of Moses” to keep them busy. (Mosiah 3: 14.) It is the nature of “stiffnecked” people that they prefer religious ceremonies, and endless repetition of rituals to coming into the Lord’s presence. (Id.)

King Benjamin is reminded by the angel that the purpose of the “law of Moses” was not to redeem anyone. It was merely a way to keep the people busy.

In addition to the law of Moses, the Lord gave “signs and wonders” and also many “types and shadows” to acquaint the people with the fact of “his coming.” (Mosiah 3: 15.) These were not ends. They were all means.

Why give the law of Moses?

Why give “signs” and “wonders?”

The people confused the symbols with the real thing. They thought through the symbols they were chosen, elect, and holy. They thought they were a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood. Instead, what they should have thought was that they were poor because the Lord was not dwelling among them, they considered themselves rich because they had “types and shadows.” They preferred the symbol to the reality. The true religion was only symbolized by the rites. By worshiping the symbols and not recognizing the truths which were their foundation, they became mere idolaters. It is one of the constant risks faced by God’s people, because the devil is always looking to convert the holy church of God into something perverted and evil. (See Mormon 8: 33-38.)

They could rejoice in their laws, rites, ordinances and rituals. They could consider themselves better than the nations around them because they had God’s program for salvation. All the program did was “harden their hearts” because they were proud rather than humble.

These religious and proud people did not understand that all their endless rites “availeth nothing” because it was the Lord alone who could redeem them. (Mosiah 3: 15.) They took their eyes off the Lord, and put them on the religion. They did not understand the religion was nothing, if it failed to point them to the Lord.

How oft might the Lord have gathered them, indeed! It is astonishing that men would prefer religion to God; prefer pride which alienates them from God to humility which could bring them into His presence.

Signs, wonders, types, shadows are nothing if they fail to get you to look at the underlying reasons for them. They are not the real thing. They merely point to the real thing; for that, it is left between you and the Lord.

Some few will see it as it really is. They will not be limited by the failures of the generation they live in. They can be saved in any generation because they see beyond the Lord in His types, shadows, signs and wonders. (Alma 12: 10.)

Salvation is and always has been individual. This is why there are prophets. Some will lay hold on the promises which others refuse to see.

Mosiah 3: 11-13

The angel informed King Benjamin that Christ’s blood is intended to atone for the sins of those who sinned ignorantly, or those who died without knowing God’s will. (Mosiah 3: 11) However, there is a two-fold wo pronounced on those who know they rebel against God. They are cast down, and for them there will be no hope, no salvation, “except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Mosiah 3: 12.) That of course, must happen before they die.

The angel explained the Lord has sent “his holy prophets among all the children of men.” (Mosiah 2: 13.) When the Lord sends someone with a message, they are by definition “holy” because they bear the message of God. Having been entrusted with His word, they are derivatively holy. (See Acts 9: 15) It does not mean they are better than other men because everyone sins. The content of what God has given them makes them “holy” before God. Since King Benjamin has just been entrusted with God’s message for his people, King Benjamin has become “holy” also. 

The messages have been sent, at one time or another, “among all the children of men.” All nations have had some portion of the word of God given to them. This does not mean they have been given a fullness, for that is rarely given. It does mean the Lord has concern over all of us and will call and send prophets to everyone.

How people react to what they are offered determines how much a prophet is able to teach them. If they will not give heed, then the audience receives only a portion of what they might have received. (Alma 12: 9.) Sometimes people can be offered a “fullness” and reject it, and then have it taken from them. (D&C 124: 28.)

The purpose of the message is for all to have “exceedingly great joy.” (Mosiah 3: 13.)

This joy comes from knowing the Lord. Knowing Him comes from obeying the words given to them through the “holy prophets.”

One of the greatest laments of the Lord arises from how the world reacts to His holy prophets. He makes the same offer every time, whenever He calls someone as His spokesman. The offer is by His word, to gather His people into one and be their shelter. (D&C 43: 24; see also 3 Ne. 10: 4-6.) Despite the many times when this might have happened, there have been fewer than four occasions we have a record of the Lord actually gathering His people.

The purpose of giving His word to His people is to lead them to Him. If they will actually come to Him, He will come and dwell with them. We were once given that opportunity. (D&C 104: 59.)

We are promised the Lord will return again (10th Article of Faith), and there will be people prepared to meet Him. It will happen, and will be on this land. (Ether 13: 5-6.) Any gentiles who are going to survive the coming calamities will need to flee there. (D&C 133: 12; 42: 9.)

Mosiah 3: 10

The angel’s message in Mosiah 3: 10 is the same as Zenos’ message. Zenos prophesied more than a century before Lehi left Jerusalem. His record was on the brass plates obtained from Laban. During the three days in the tomb, Zenos added the detail that the isles of the sea (which included the Americas/2 Ne. 10: 20) would be given the sign of three days of darkness. (1 Ne. 19: 10.) King Benjamin knew this information from existing scripture. Once the angel declared it, however, rather than having belief in the account based on study, he would have faith of the event because the angel told it from heaven. The Book of Mormon regularly moves one from belief, to faith, to knowledge. This is an example of moving from belief based on study of scripture, to faith based on the testimony of an angel.

Not only would the Lord rise from the dead, but He would also “stand to judge the world.” That is an important reference. It identifies the Lord’s status as judge, and it clarifies He would “stand” to judge the world. The word “stand” is symbolic. It implies, among many other things:
-He will endure.
-He will be in control.
-He will triumph.
-He will rise up.
-He will command respect and obedience.

However, the strongest implication is that after death He will return to life to “stand” to judge the world. He who passed through the grave, and triumphed over it, will live again as the triumphant judge of the living and dead –  for He has been both.

He gains capacity as He passes through these states. He does all these things “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” Or, the judge will necessarily experience all He will go through so He can understand all things required for a proper judgment. (See D&C 88: 41.)

God’s mercy is extended to all who have “fallen by the transgression of Adam” or, the death that comes upon mankind will be defeated. (D&C 88: 14-17.) Christ’s death, or His “blood atoneth” for mankind’s death. Through the infinite sacrifice of an innocent life, death is satisfied. It would be unjust to ask for more than an everlasting life, for by definition that life is infinite. Christ deserved everlasting life. Instead He submitted to death.

“The sins” of Adam’s descendants are paid, also. He will blot them out. However, those who refuse to repent, or turn away from their sins will remain “filthy still.” (D&C 88: 35.) They may have the power to return from the grave through Christ’s grace. However, if they refuse to abandon their sins, forgiving them will accomplish nothing. Because they love their sins, they remain as if there were no redemption made.

All those who died without knowing the will of God are also benefited by His atonement. For them it will be “tolerable” in the day of resurrection. (D&C 45: 54.) Though they may not have received a fullness because they failed to qualify (D&C 130: 20-21), they may still be “added upon.” (Abr. 3: 26.) Joseph explained it this way: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.” (King Follett Discourse, TPJS, p.348.)

No one can arrive at the throne of God in any other way than all have taken to arrive there. Everyone develops the same way, through the successive stages of Jacob’s Ladder.

Christ’s atonement makes it possible for all of us to attempt that trek.

Mosiah 3: 9

In Mosiah 3:9 the angel foretells how Christ will “come unto His own” because it will be His own people who were promised He would come. (Gen. 49: 10.) Therefore, to perform on the promise, the Lord must be sent, but it will be His own who reject Him. Indeed, only His own people would consider rejecting and killing Him, because no other people would be hard-hearted enough to kill their God. (2 Ne. 10: 3.) Only those who are given the truth, and harden their hearts against it, can be blinded enough by the devil to pervert the truth. It takes exposure to and rejection of the light for men to sink into rejecting the Lord.

This is the pattern throughout God’s dealing with His own. Whenever He sent a true messenger, the established order was offended at them. They always behave in this manner. (Matt. 5: 10-12.)

This is how salvation comes. There is always authentic tension between good and evil, between the true and the false. The stage is always set with conflict between established tradition that has strayed and inspired messages to clarify. We always see the temporary defeat of truth followed by persistent success of error so the Lord can try the souls of men. Truth returns, within a sea of error, and the humble followers of Christ recognize it. Therefore, through this means “salvation comes unto the children of men” (Mosiah 3: 9).

This stage is where the participants must choose between the two “through faith.” Tradition and community error will not bring you to Christ. In every generation we are required recognize Him, and accept “His name” or, more correctly, His names; for they are many. The angel has been giving some of them. Isaiah gave others. Joseph Smith gave yet more. Those who come to know Him come to know His names, for they are know by His friends.

Even after all the truth represented by our Lord, men will say about Him that He is “a man, and say that he hath a devil.” (Mosiah 3: 9.) They call what is good, bad. They insist that what has been sent from heaven is in fact of the devil. By calling God’s offering something of the devil, they clarify whose side they are on, and become the servant of the one who leads them. As servants and children of the devil, they earn their condemnation by condemning the things of God. Hence the condemnation of suffering described in D&C 76: 99-105, because they have followed the devil while claiming to have followed prophets and apostles. They worship men, and traditions of men, but have not received a testimony of Jesus.

To establish the truth and the authority of His commission, the Lord left His suffering as a mark of His authenticity. It would be required for Him to endure both verbal and physical persecution for the sake of His ministry. That will operate as a seal upon His testimony, because only through enduring the opposition of this world can we know for certain the message is not from this world. Only by this world’s rejection can we have the certification that the message came from above.

Ultimately, as the angel foretells, the Lord will be “crucified.” This clarifies that the Lord in His death would be ceremonially cursed and unclean. (Deut. 21: 22.) King Benjamin knew the Lord God omnipotent would condescend not only to come and live here among men, but to become cursed and slain for their sake.

What manner of love does our Lord have that He should suffer so? How long suffering and patient is He that He would live a life in this manner? How great a God is it who will forsake this world’s success, endure this world’s curses in order to remain true and faithful to His great commission?

It would have been interesting to observe the angel as He explained, and King Benjamin as he heard this promise of the Lord’s future life and ministry. Who would believe such a report, even though given by an angel? (Isa. 53: 1.) Even today, who can believe the Lord’s dealings with men?

Mosiah 3: 8

The angel identifies the Lord by name and title: “Jesus Christ” which is the English version of the Greek form of the name Joshua, or Yesheva, the Anointed or the Messiah. In other words Joshua the Messiah, or Yesheva the Messiah. In our English language equivalent, Jesus Christ.

The name “Christ” is derived from christening, or anointing. Meaning that Christ came to us designated, foretold, sent and anointed with the calling of redeeming mankind. He was God’s chosen sacrifice. He came into the world to be offered as the sacrifice that would fulfill all righteousness.

He is also “the Son of God.” His entry into this world came as a consequence of the Father having been directly involved in introducing Him here. He is God’s own Son. He came with godly parentage, and is capable of offering a godly sacrifice.

He is also “the Father of heaven and earth,” meaning He did not come here as a novice. He has been through this, and knows and presides over it all. His is the power and glory of the Father. He laid that aside to condescend to be here, but He is in reality and truth, “the Father of heaven and earth.”

He is also “the Creator of all things from the beginning.” Notwithstanding anything you may have been told to the contrary, the angel knows what he is saying to King Benjamin in this chapter of Mosiah. After all, the angel lives with the very person he is describing. These are not just titles, but hard won identities belonging to the One you call your “Brother.” In truth, He is much more than that. He earned His exaltation before this world was begun. Therefore, He had the power to create and organize this world as the “Father of heaven and earth.”

The angel adds “and his mother shall be called Mary.” The mother of Christ was not selected to become the one who bore Him carelessly. She, too, was known from the foundation of the world, chosen for the role, and trusted by God the Father to bring His Son into the world. Her name is given by this angel to King Benjamin more than a century before He would be born. Consider how important her calling was for a moment, and you will have some idea of how carefully she would have been prepared, even before birth, for this role.

From verses 7 and 8 we have some idea of how significant the Lord’s role, titles, power, significance and responsibilities were even before His birth here. We can also contrast the humble, obscure circumstances He came into this world with what great glory was His before birth. The only ones who recognized His birth were His parents, the family of a cousin, a handful of shepherds, and an elderly prophet and prophetess at the Temple of Jerusalem. He came into a family of limited means. He grew up without power, wealth, social standing, control over the church or state, in a beleaguered and subjugated province of Rome These were the circumstances “the Father of heaven and earth” chose to enter mortality. We attach such great importance to office. Christ attached nothing to it.

To the extent Christ relied on the presence of official “office,” He used it to conceal His presence, and to oppose His mission. He allowed everyone who would see nothing in Him to see just that. For those whose eyes were opened to the things of heaven, He allowed them to see “the Father of heaven and earth” and the “Creator of all things from the beginning.”

How often the Lord chooses to send His messengers in exactly the same way as He came! Without rank or office, and without social significance or recognition; as with Abinadi, Samuel, Peter, Luke, Joseph Smith, Amos, and Elijah. The test remains exactly the same in every generation. We can know Alma would have received Christ, because he received Abinadi’s teachings. Against the opposition of the society he lived in, Alma heard in the message something from the Lord.

How difficult would it have been to have seen in the obscure and lowly station of Christ the reality that this was the Son of God? For the most part, the “Christian” world flatters themselves into believing they would have recognized and accepted Him if they lived in His day. The only reason most people claim Him now is because of the two millennia of Christian conquest, and traditions of their fathers. If they had to choose a living, teaching Christ of obscure and uncredentialed origin, they would reject Him. They want buildings, budgets, hierarchies, and social acceptance. Today Christianity offers all that to them.

The meek and lowly Lord who came was everything the angel foretold. But He came with no credentials that we should respect Him. No office, that we should recognize Him. No wealth and influence, that we should admire Him. He was without form or the kind of regalia we respect, and therefore no reason to desire Him. (Isa. 53: 2.)

Mosiah 3: 7, continued

The suffering of Christ in atoning for mankind was not limited to spiritual torment, but was physical as well. The angel explained He would suffer “pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” as part of His great ordeal. (Mosiah 3: 7.)

Alma explained this would include “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind.” It would extend into “the sicknesses of his people.”  (Alma 7: 11.) All disease, even death were overcome by Him.

This was so the Lord could rise again, and with healing in His wings (2 Ne. 25: 13; Malachi 4: 2) be able to succor all our ills. (Alma 7: 12.) Because He has felt all of our “infirmities,” whether they are spiritual or physical, there is no limit to His ability to understand our plight and give to us His compassionate aid. (Alma 7: 12.)

This does not remove our own cup of suffering. Even the Lord’s most favored servants endure suffering, sometimes in perplexing magnitude that seems beyond our ability to endure. (D&C 121: 3-4.) Sometimes the way He consoles the suffering servant is to remind them the Master has endured more. (D&C 121: 8.)

He knows our limits, even if we do not. He protects us by limiting what the faithful endure to only that which we can handle. (1 Cor. 10: 13.)

The angel was sent to inform King Benjamin of this (and in turn his people and those who read the Book of Mormon) so we may understand the Lord’s purchase of us from death, hell, and torment. He wants us all to understand this so we can take advantage of it by repenting.

If we look upon His suffering and remain unrepentant, then we are left to endure the just punishment for our unrepented sins. According to Christ, who suffered those pains of sin, this is beyond our comprehension.

In pleading for us to repent and turn from our sins, the Lord could only inform us: “how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; 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 of the bitter cup, and shrink–” (D&C 19: 16-18.) Any who have looked upon the suffering of our Lord are moved beyond words at what He endured.

In Come, Let Us Adore Him there is a chapter on Gethsemene. The Lord’s sufferings came in waves, and included all that mankind has done to one another, all mankind did to Him. This suffering gave Him the right to claim each of us through His victory. It was a hard won victory. It means nothing if we do not repent. How foolish it is to believe you can escape the claim of justice on your own failings. You cannot. The only way to escape is through the mercy provided by Christ through the price He paid. (Alma 34: 15.) As explained by Alma, the redemption which comes from faith in Christ empowers our repentance, so we can take advantage of His atonement by forsaking our sins. (Id.) This is a difficult process, involving constant attention to His mercy which redeems you. (Alma 34: 18-27.)

The angel who visisted King Benjamin taught the same truths about our Lord as Isaiah: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53: 5.)

So why would we reject the invitation to repent? Why in our pride would we talk of God’s great favor and blessing of us all? Why would we claim to be chosen, royal and better than others around us? Why would we ever trust for one moment that all is well and we are Zion? Why would we refuse the mercy offered to us by Christ? Why do we prefer pride and self-sufficiency? Why would we claim some man with “keys” can relieve us of our suffering for sins when the Lord has taught us otherwise? What difference does any ordinance, or ordination, or blessing or promise make if we fail to satisfy the demands of repentance in order to lay claim upon them? The realization of all blessings depends upon your faithfulness. It is only if you are true and faithful that you may later be called up and given more than an invitation through a man. Why do you also harden your hearts so that you also cannot enter into God’s presence? (D&C 84: 23-24.)

The sermon from the angel to King Benjamin encompasses the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it seeks to teach us how to be redeemed from our sins and enter into the rest of the Lord.

Mosiah 3: 7

This verse is the greatest summary of what the Lord would suffer in atoning for man’s sins given before His mortality. King Benjamin is given this instruction because God wants all mankind to understand the great sacrifice made by the Lord Omnipotent.

Christ suffered “even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” as part of the burden He bore. (Mosiah 3: 7.) What was the burden?

First on the angel’s list is “temptations.” Isaiah would call it “our griefs” and “our sorrows” and “our transgressions” and “our iniquities.” (Isa. 53: 4-5.)  Alma would call it “afflictions and temptations of every kind.” (Alma 7: 11.) Paul explained how He “who knew no sin” was made “to be sin” for our sake. (2 Cor. 5: 21.) In other words, though Christ was not personally responsible for any transgression, He was made accountable for every one of all our transgressions. He was made “to be sin” and to feel the loathsome filthiness of our unworthiness before God.

Mormon had been in the Lord’s presence. He knew how painful it was to be before God in our fallen and guilty state. Mormon explained how terrible it is to bring the weight of your own sins into God’s holy presence. He describes it as “under a consciousness of your guilt” and “a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws” and “more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would be to dwell with the damned souls in hell.” (Mormon 9: 3-4.) He explains that in God’s presence “ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God” and it “will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.” (Mormon 9: 5.) Since Mormon had been there, and knew what it was like to behold God’s holy presence, he understood the great challenge we all face if we do not repent.

When the prophet Isaiah was brought into God’s presence he collapsed in guilt and anguish, proclaiming, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” (Isa. 6: 5.)

Beholding God brings with it the keenest appreciation of your own unworthiness before Him so it is possible to understand He is a “just and holy Being” in whom there is no darkness.

Christ succumbed to no temptations. Yet He was made to feel the guilt and misery of all mankind’s great surrender to sin. Christ explained what that involved when He declared: “repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.” (D&C 19: 15-17.) Christ, looking back on His atonement, called the pain of it “exquisite” and “hard to bear” from a distance of two millennia.

The scriptures tell us how His suffering was accomplished. As He knelt in prayer, He was visited by a “just and holy being” to borrow Mormon’s words. (Luke 22: 43.) There, in the presence of the Father, Christ struggled through all the guilt, sorrow, nakedness, consciousness of guilt, and torment of being sinful, unworthy, unclean, and having ever transgressed the law of God. It was an unquenchable fire of emotion and pain, torment of mind, and recognition of failure before God. He, like all the wicked, “trembled because of pain” and “shrank” away from God in horror at His condition. (D&C 19: 18.)

Abraham was on the mount with the knife in his hand at the sacrifice of Isaac, and God the Father was present at the sacrifice of His Son. Indeed, Christ’s sufferings required the Father to be present in order to reconcile man to the Father. It was the presence of the Father that made the suffering possible. Therefore, we know the identity of the unnamed angel in Luke. (Luke 22: 43.) Christ could not have suffered the guilt of all mankind in the presence of a just and holy God, unless during this moment of torment His suffering was before that very Being.