He Lives: Chiasmus in “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”

the_living_Christ_image_bw.jpgOn January 1, 2000, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve of Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a public statement to “commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago.” Titled “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” its purpose was “to build the faith of our Heavenly Father’s children” and “add our witness to that of our predecessors” (First Presidency letter, Dec. 10, 1999).

The printed statement featured the signatures of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time: Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust, Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Henry B. Eyring. Although several of these men have since passed away, all “duly ordained Apostles” share this same testimony and could add their signatures “to that of [their] predecessors.” It is also the same testimony that we should seek to develop in ourselves.

“The Living Christ” consists of an elegant chiasm that emphasizes different aspects of the mission of Jesus Christ and the profound influence of the Savior in each our lives. This article presents a diagram and detailed analysis of this chiasm.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.
B: None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
C: He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without  him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised  for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
D: He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning  sacrifice. He was arrested  and condemned on spurious charges, convicted  to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins  of all mankind. His was a great  vicarious  gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
E: We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
F: He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians  15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among  those  He had loved in life. He also  ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith,  ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).
F: Of the Living Christ, the Prophet  Joseph wrote:  “His eyes were as a flame  of fire;  the hair  of his head was white like  the pure  snow; his countenance  shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the  sound  of the rushing of great waters,
E: even the voice of Jehovah, saying: “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).
D: Of Him  the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
C: “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants  thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto  God”  (D&C 76:22–24).
B: We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth— “built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself  being  the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see  it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as  King of Kings and reign as Lord  of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every  tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
A: We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles— that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

the_living_christ_signers
Signers of “The Living Christ” (lds.org)

A=A: “[W]e offer our testimony” equals “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles” and “His matchless life” complements “the matchless gift of His divine Son.” Those who are bearing testimony in this document are Christ’s “duly ordained Apostles.” They are testifying of “the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice,” which are a “matchless gift” from Heavenly Father.

B=B: “None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live” complements “His priesthood and His Church … He will rule as  King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords … [e]ach of us will stand to be judged of Him.” All mankind have been, are, and will be profoundly influenced by Jesus Christ: first, through His priesthood and Church, if they desire the ordinances and doctrines of salvation and exaltation; second, through His world government during the Millennium; third, through His eternal judgement, which decides our opportunities in the afterlife.

C=C: “[C]reator of the earth” is expanded by “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created” and “sons and daughters of God” equals “sons and daughters unto God.” Jesus Christ is not an absent or distant Creator. Rather, He makes use of His Creation to further Heavenly Father’s “work and glory” (Moses 1:39). After the spirit “sons and daughters of God” were sent to earth to gain physical bodies, Christ came to teach “the truths of eternity” and entreat “all to follow His example,” so that we can reach our “potential … in the life to come.” This pattern and purpose has been followed on each of the “worlds without number” Jesus Christ has created (Moses 1:33), although His atonement was performed on this earth.

D=D: “He gave His life” complements “he lives!” The first half of this element focuses on His overcoming of spiritual death through the atonement and the second half focuses on His overcoming of physical death through the resurrection.

E=E: “His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary” complements ““I am the first and the last.” This element describes the three phases of Christ’s eternal existence — premortal, mortal, and post-mortal — and emphasizes his significant and leading role in each. Just as Jesus Christ was the “Firstborn” spirit child of our Heavenly Father in the premortal existence, He was the “Only Begotten Son” in mortality, and the first to be resurrected. In His resurrected state, He is our “Redeemer” and “advocate with the Father.”

F=F: “Risen Lord” equals Living Christ” and “Joseph Smith” equals “Prophet Joseph.” The central element of this chiasm emphasizes that Jesus has been resurrected, that he is the “Living Christ.” To do so, three witnesses of His resurrection are presented: first, “those He had loved in life,” or His disciples in the Holy Land; second, “His ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America,” a testimony recorded in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ; third, the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, as head of the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10), is the chief testifier of the Living Christ to our modern world.


Conclusion:

“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” offers an authoritative testimony of Jesus Christ. Chiasmus in this document emphasizes and expands our understanding of His divine mission and role in our lives. For example, Christ played a significant and leading role in the premortal realm, this mortal existence, and in our post-mortal destiny; He is an active Creator of worlds — in addition to organizing their elements and setting them in motion, He teaches their inhabitants and sets the example for them to follow; as our Priest, King, and Judge, He has a direct and profound influence upon all mankind; as our Savior and Redeemer, He overcame spiritual and physical death; as the Living Christ, He manifests himself to his chosen witnesses, both in the meridian of time and in our modern world. As “The Living Christ” declares at both its beginning and end, the life, accomplishments, and influence of Christ are truly “matchless.” With gratitude to the Father, we should seek to learn about and follow the example of His Son.

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