Nephi presents Lehi’s vision of the tree of life as if it is discreet from his teachings regarding the Savior and his Atonement. Indeed, Chapter 9 serves as a brief interlude between the two teachings. Chapter 11, however, reveals how clearly these two teachings were interwoven.
Nephi seeks to know the truth of what his father had revealed. In 1 Nephi 10, that revelation was specifically focused on the nature of the son of God. Yet, Nephi is first asked whether he believes that his father saw the tree of life. From this point, Nephi dramatically declares “Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.” And then the spirit responds and emphasizes how blessed Nephi is “because thou believest in the Son of the most high God.”
Belief in the vision that his father saw is interconnected with faith in the Son of God. Therefore, when Nephi asks for an interpretation of the tree of life, he is then shown the birth of the savior. The tree represents the “the condescension of God” and “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men. In other words, it represents God’s plan of mercy for mankind, which culminated in the birth of the savior and his infinite atonement.
I’ve noticed that someones when we teach Lehi’s dream, we can forget about the central role of the savior. We focus on the word of God, which we often see as the scriptures, the love of God… etc., but we might forget to draw attention to the central role that the atonement of Jesus Christ plays in this vision. Truly, the fruits of the atonement are those things which are sweet above all that is sweet. We should never forget that the savior is at the center of Lehi’s dream and is the goal of our mortal journey.