There is much which comes to mind as I ponder the roles of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in my life. If you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, referred to as the Mormons, you might have some confusion as to the difference between Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Well, it has been said that we do not believe in the same Jesus Christ as other Christians, therefore we are not Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me address this from my viewpoint, but be assured that it follows right along with the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Mormon Church.
I believe in the Jesus Christ in the King James version of New Testament.
I believe in the Jesus Christ who descended from His heavenly throne and was born into meek and lowly circumstances 2,007 years ago in Bethlehem. (Luke 2)
I believe in the Jesus Christ who was brought up from the waters of baptism to hear from His Heavenly Father:
“Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22)
At this moment, it was clearly defined that Jesus Christ was one personage and Heavenly Father another.
I believe in the Jesus Christ who worked miracle after miracle while in the flesh, but who called upon His heavenly priesthoods, powers and divine role in order to do so. (John 9, John 11, Matthew 15:34-38, Mark 5:24-33)
I believe in the Jesus Christ who entered into the Garden of Gethsemane, and suffered so much for the sins, sorrows and travails of the world that it caused Him, even God, to bleed from every pore. (D&C 19:18)
I believe in the Jesus Christ who was crucified by a cruel, unfeeling, vicious government and religious group that He might pay every last farthing of the ransom for our souls. (Matthew 27)
There came upon Him the weight and agony of ages. … Hence His profound grief, His indescribable anguish, His overpowering torture, all experienced in the submission to the eternal fiat of Jehovah and the requirements made of an inexorable law. … Groaning beneath this concentrated load, this intense, incomprehensible pressure, this terrible exaction of Divine justice, from which feeble humanity shrank, and through the agony thus experienced sweating great drops of blood, He was led to exclaim, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. (Tad R. Callister quoting John Taylor, The Infinite Atonement, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2000 124)
I believe in the Jesus Christ who broke the bands of death and was resurrected into a perfected body of flesh and bone on the third day after His crucifixion, witnessed by Mary Magdalene, the twelve apostles and countless others who testified of seeing the resurrected Jesus walking the streets, His wounds visible to all who would see. (Matthew 28)
I believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ with a perfected physical body, who, after forty days, ascended into heaven in full view of the twelve apostles and two angels who asked the amazed apostles:
And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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 1:9-11)
This is the Jesus Christ I believe in. He is my Lord, my God, my Savior and Redeemer. Through Him, and only through Him may we return to our Heavenly Father and the heavenly home we left. My love, adoration and admiration for Him knows no bounds and I serve at His behest.
I testify to you that He lives. I testify to you that He is of a divine and royal heritage and He sits at the right hand of God the Eternal Father. I assure you, with every bit of truth which exists inside me, that He did live, die and resurrect in order to satisfy the demands of justice. He purchased us with His suffering and freed us with His love.
It is now up to us whether to avail ourselves of the Atonement, infinite in depth, which He made available to us or to simply walk away forever from our God. I choose to follow in His footsteps, preaching His gospel at every opportunity. I choose to follow in His path that I might one day be reunited with my family who have shuffled off this mortal coil. I choose to follow in His ways that I might bring the joy and happiness that comes with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who might hear, all who might see and all who might believe.
Although perfection for us cannot be achieved without the help of Jesus Christ, He achieved perfection all on His own. He is my Lord, my God, my Redeemer . . . even my Elder Brother. I cannot, nor will I, ever turn my back on Him and the sacrifice He made on our behalf.
Brigham Young, the second called prophet in these modern times, said:
It must be that God knows something about temporal things, and has had a body and been on an earth, were it not so He would not know how to judge men righteously, according to the temptations and sin they have had to contend with. (Tad R .Callister quoting Brigham Young, The Infinite Atonement, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2000 108)
And so Jesus Christ, who during His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross descended below the very depths of men and paid the price for our souls, is amply qualified, just and loving as our Judge.
And this brings us to our Father in Heaven. Oh, the love I have for my Heavenly Father also known as God the Eternal Father. There is a song called “O My Father” and the lyrics teach of a most profound and everlasting truth:
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold by face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?
This Father Eliza R. Snow speaks of, is also the Father Jesus Christ prayed to and others heard speak.
At the Savior’s baptism:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ begged His Father at three separate times during the intense and excruciating suffering of the Atonement:
Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:36)
Who appeared to Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration, in a sacred grove on a quiet spring morning in 1820:
When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Joseph Smith History 1:17)
Here, Joseph Smith, Jr. not only heard, but saw, two distinct personages of flesh and bone which he identified as our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, His Beloved Son.
Before you came to this earth you lived in a heavenly home where we knew our families and friends, understood and knew our Savior, Jesus Christ, and were closely associated with our Heavenly Father.
Our Father in Heaven put forth a plan for the continued growth of His children, that would be you and I. The only way this plan would work is if a savior was provided. Two stepped forward: Jesus Christ and Lucifer, who became known as Satan after his rebellion against Heavenly Father.
Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ and thus began our mortal sojourn on earth as we each took our turns undergoing our mortal probation.
Of the hours when Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Eden, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, an apostle of the Lord, said:
God heard the cry of His Son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when, it is said the pores of His body opened and drops of blood stood upon Him, and He cried out: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.”
I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress, in this world, and not render aid and assistance? …
He [Heavenly Father] saw that Son finally upon Calvary; He saw His body stretched out upon the wooden cross; He saw the cruel nails driven through hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life’s blood of His Son. He looked upon that.
In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of His Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over His Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment, when even our Savior cried out in despair: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even He could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room so as not to look upon the last struggles, so He bowed His head, and hid in some part of His universe, His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us, for He had not only the love of His Son in mind, but He also had love for us. (Tad R. Callister as quoting Melvin J. Ballard, The Infinite Atonement, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2000 162)
This is our Heavenly Father, the one who could not save His Son without sacrificing each of us. I thank them both, with all the fervor and love in my heart, that they, both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, love us that much. Because of their great and marvelous sacrifices the path to redemption is there for us to trod.
We are not meant to travel that alone. Our Father in Heaven awaits our daily prayers, beseechings and behests through this wonderful tool given to us called prayer. When we pray, we pray to our Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ as the Savior taught us in Matthew 6:9-13.
Our Father in Heaven stands ready and waiting at all times to assist us in our daily efforts to triumph and succeed in life. He loves us and wishes for us to return to Him.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
Eliza R. Snow
Indeed, in following in the footsteps of His Son, Jesus Christ, I will find my way back to my Heavenly Father and my heavenly home. Such comfort is given to my heart and soul in knowing that the family unit on earth is an imitation of the one which exists in heaven to which we belong. Amazing peace pervades my heart when I realize I’ve a Heavenly Father who loves me more than I can ever hope to comprehend.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are two separate personages of flesh and blood. They are, however, one in heart, mind and purpose. Jesus Christ carries out every command or request that the Father asks of Him, just as we try to carry out every command or request that Jesus makes of us.
I love and worship them both as they are clearly defined in the New Testament within the King James version of the Holy Bible, a book of scripture accepted by Christians across the world.
And so, I too, long for that anxiously awaited reunion with my Father and Savior after I have completed my mortal life. I long to be held in the arms of my Savior and told “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” And to be taken by the hand and led into the presence of my Father in Heaven once again.