Lucky me, I got to talk about Mosiah 15 in my Gospel Doctrine lesson today.
Here’s the first half of the chapter, with some of my off-the-cuff musings thrown in.
1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
One of my favorite verses in the canon. God himself came down to redeem his people. This is the foundation of my confidence in God–his personal investment in us.
2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son–
3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son–
4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
At this point many class members look confused. Abinadi is talking about the duality of Christ, how he was both divine and mortal. But calling him “the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth” seems to throw people. We don’t often talk about Christ as Father. More on this later.
5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.
6 And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
The first thing that comes to my mind is Jesus’ majestic acquiescence in Gethsemane, “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done,” which suggests two separate, embodied wills in conflict: Elohim’s and Jesus’. But Abinadi’s context reminds us that the two wills in conflict both belonged to Jesus. The Father in him (the spirit) wanted one thing, the Son in him (the flesh) wanted another.
The image of the will of the flesh being “swallowed up” in the will of the spirit is powerful for me. It reminds me that the will of my flesh must be subdued and, finally, obliterated, and that this happens as the will of my spirit becomes stronger and stronger. I think of two creatures that need to be fed to live–if I feed the spirit it will flourish, and overcome the flesh. And vice-versa.
8 And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men–
9 Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
Victory: the Son in Jesus is no longer in conflict with the Father in him. They’ve become an integrated soul, one in desire and purpose.
10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?
Back to Jesus as Father. When each of my kids have prepared for baptism, we’ve done a FHE lesson called “My Three Dads.” Heavenly Father is the literal father of our spirit bodies. Our biological fathers are literal fathers of our physical bodies. But these physical bodies are doomed to die, and so are these spirit bodies. Jesus is the father of spiritual bodies redeemed and reborn, and of physical bodies resurrected. When we make the covenant of baptism, Jesus becomes the father of our souls. We become his sons and daughters.
Surprisingly, this comes as news to many in the class.
I believe “he shall see his seed” refers at least in part to the real-time spiritual connection between Jesus and his people when he is making his offering. He literally feels each of our pains, sorrows, and burdens. I imagine he saw us as he suffered for us. Also, the Saturday after the crucifixion, during Jesus’s advent into the spirit world, we know he saw in person many of his seed.
11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord–I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the bkingdom of God.
The covenant does us no good unless we keep it, and this is how.
These verses come together to create an indescribable awareness and sensation within me. I am a dual being, similar to the Father/Son Abinadi describes. God did not beget my mortal body, so I cannot compare myself to Jesus in that respect. But techically, I’m half divine, half fallen mortal. There’s tension within me just as there was tension within Jesus. Through grace and faith, my spirit can swallow up the will of my flesh. Because I’m a daughter of Jesus, I can grow up to be like him.
At the end of this discussion I took the liberty of reading all of Mosiah 14 aloud.
What thoughts and feelings do these scriptural passages evoke within you?