When we think of the Savior, most of us envision Him within the stories we learned in primary, and think of His ministry teaching the Gospel. Most of us do not reflect on His personal life or consider His role as a husband. In fact, many – including Latter-day Saints, are not aware of the fact that the Savior did “fulfill ALL righteousness”, including the charge given us to live the law of Celestial Marriage.
The Savior was sent to atone for our sins and to live as an example in all things. We know that He is to inherit all things the father has – because He fulfilled the requirements essential for Him to obtain such blessings.
We are taught that there are certain requirements necessary for entry into the Celestial Kingdom that even the Savior Himself was not exempt from. This is evident considering the fact that even our perfect Savior fulfilled the requirement of baptism. In 2 Nephi 31: 6-7, Nephi explains:
And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water? Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
Just as all of us are required to enter into the waters of baptism to obtain the blessings of exaltation, the same was required of our Savior.
Another requirement for obtaining the highest degree of glory is for us to enter into and live the principle of Celestial Marriage. D&C 132:19-21 discusses the blessings of living this standard and admonishes:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
Again – even the Savior was required to enter into the covenant of Celestial Marriage if He was to ultimately “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths…” as God affirms in D&C 132:19.
The marriage of the Savior was taught more often in early church history, by leaders like President Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon, President Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Jedediah M. Grant, President Joseph F. Smith, and President Heber C. Kimball, to name just a few. In a General Conference address on October 6, 1854, Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed the Savior’s wedding recounted in the Bible:
“…Jesus was the bridegroom at the marriage of Cana of Galilee, and he told them what to do. Now there was actually a marriage, and if Jesus was not the bridegroom on that occasion, please tell who was. If any man can show this, and prove that it was not the Savior of the world, then I will acknowledge I am in error. We say it was Jesus Christ who was married, to be brought into the relation whereby he could see his seed, before he was crucified.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 82, 83).
We now have the opportunity to learn more about a woman blessed enough to have been chosen as a companion and help-meet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and at the same time, discover more about Him on a personal level. In light of this, we must examine the interactions between Jesus and Mary of Bethany, which illustrate the intimate relationship between the two – that would have been inappropriate had they not been husband and wife.
John 12: 3-7 contains a very important account of one of the days He spent with Mary of Bethany:
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
The same story is relayed in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and again in Luke 7. What is the apparent significance of this story? An examination of a quiet ordinance called “The Second Anointing”, an extension of the initiatory “Washing and Anointing” performed in the temple will help to clarify;
The Second Anointing – overseen by the President of the Church, is a rite administered only to married couples. The first portion of this ordinance is carried out in the Holy of Holies within the Temple. The second part of the ordinance (implemented at the couple’s home), involves the act of the wife “washing the feet” of the husband, or rather anointing the feet of the husband, in early preparation for his burial, and to allow for her to have claim upon him in the resurrection. (The Mysteries of Godliness, pp. 87-90, Buerger).
Matthew 26: 12-13 elucidates that Mary of Bethany performed this portion of the Second Anointing for her own husband before His death:
For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
These scriptures do not describe merely an act of “hero worship”, but a demonstration of an intimate and sacred ordinance taking place between the Savior and His wife! This offers us a clear understanding as to why His love for this particular woman was so great.
D&C 131: 1-3 is very specific about the importance of the marriage covenant:
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
What an amazing opportunity we have to look deeper inside the life of the Savior Jesus Christ – via the scriptures – and to learn more of Him personally. Most importantly, we can see yet another illustration of the Savior’s example to us and how His life was a literal fulfillment of all God’s commandments, and how we too can obtain the highest degree of exaltation if we model our lives after His.