God's plan included the fall of Adam and Eve, which allowed sin and death to enter the world, thus a Savior was necessary. Jesus Christ was the only one able to perform a perfect atonement, which is made up of six attributes:
- Son of God
- Sinless Life
- Shedding of Blood
- Death on the Cross
In the pre-mortal world (when God presented His plan) a Savior was chosen to come to earth and save man- to bring to pass the Atonement.
We were redeemed "...with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world..." (1 Peter 1:18-20).
"Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ..." (Ether 3:14).
- Divine Sonship
Born of the virgin Mary, Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, making it possible for him to bear the eternal weight of the Atonement. Throughout the scriptures there are hundreds of references that Christ is the divine son of our Heavenly Father. At Christ's baptism, at the mount of transfiguration, and at other times in history, the voice of God has been heard to declare, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (see Matt 3:17; Luke 9:28-36; JSH 1:17)
In The Book of Mormon when Christ visited the Americas the people also heard a voice saying:
"Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
"And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them...
"And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
"Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
"And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning" (3 Nephi 11:7-11).
- Sinless Life
Jesus Christ was the only person to live upon the earth who never sinned. Because he lived a life without sin He was able to perform the Atonement and be our mediator between justice and mercy. Christ is our advocate with the Father:
"Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified" (D&C 45:4).
Joseph Smith said, "Who, among all the Saints in these last days, can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is as perfect? Who is as pure? Who is as holy as He was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven—no deceit was in His mouth, neither was guile found in His heart.... Where is one like Christ? He cannot be found on earth" ("Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith," 2007, 53).
- Shedding of Blood
When Christ entered the Garden of Gethsemane He took upon Him every sin, temptation, heartache, sorrow, and pain of every being who has lived (and will live) upon this earth. As He suffered this unimaginable Atonement His blood was shed from every pore.
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44).
"And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
"And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary" (Mosiah 3:7-8).
- Death on the Cross
Another main aspect of the Atonement was when Christ was crucified on the cross at Golgotha (called Calvary in Latin). Before He died, Christ suffered yet again the Atonement of all our sins while He hung upon the cross.
"Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
"Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst" (John 19:16-18).
The culminating triumph of the Atonement was when Christ was resurrected three days after His death. His spirit and body were once again reunited into a perfect being, although His body bears the marks of the nail prints in His hands and feet, and the wound in His side.
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
"But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
"And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
"And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet....
"And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Luke 24:36-40,46).
Now that we understand what the Atonement is, learn what, exactly, the Atonement Does For Us. Or share your answer to this question: Why do we need a Savior?