“Lift Up Your Head and Be of Good Cheer”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

The destiny of the universe centered on this night, and yet, with all that was happening, God cared enough to answer one man’s prayer! The voice of the Lord came to Nephi, assuring him that he, the Lord, was coming into the world that very night. But wasn’t the Lord’s spirit already in Mary’s womb? How could the same spirit be talking with Nephi on the other side of the world? We have no definitive, revealed answer to the question of when a spirit enters its developing body: at conception, during pregnancy when movement is first felt, or at the very moment of birth—or if a spirit can even come and go during pregnancy. If Jesus’ spirit was already inside his mortal body within Mary’s womb and his birth was imminent, then another authorized being—the Holy Ghost or some other angelic ministrant—could speak on behalf of Jesus, by divine investiture of authority. Angels and prophets often speak the very words of Jesus Christ, authorized by him to be his spokesmen on earth.

Part of 3 Nephi 1:14may sound confusing, but it makes sense when we understand that the Being who is speaking fills two roles and speaks from both perspectives: as Jehovah (who is the Father by divine investiture of authority) and as Jesus Christ, the soon-to-be mortal Messiah. Thus, to Nephi he says with perfect propriety and accuracy that when he comes to earth on the morrow as Jesus Christ, he is fulfilling the will of the Father and of the Son—“of the Father because of me,” because of his role as Jehovah, and “of the Son [Jesus Christ] because of my flesh.” In other words, this verse says that Jehovah sent Jesus Christ. God the Father did indeed send his Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus sent himself when he was speaking as Jehovah.

Regarding Jesus Christ speaking as the Father when fulfilling his role as the great Jehovah, President Joseph Fielding Smith stated: “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses (1 Ne. 19:10; 3 Ne.11:10, 14; 15:2–9). The Father [Elohim] has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son.”2

Jesus Christ is both the Father and the Son, the Father because he is Jehovah, and as such he spoke with the authority of Elohim, and the Son because he was the spirit Son as well as the earthly Son of Elohim. (For further discussion of Jesus as the Father and the Son, see commentary at Mosiah 15:2–9.)

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 2