The Christian holiday of Easter marks the greatest miracle in all human history, the great atoning sacrifice wrought by Jesus of Nazareth who died on Calvary’s cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb and on the third day arose from the grave as the Living Son of the Living God — the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
The angel’s message on that first Easter morning, “He is risen!” spoken to the woman at the tomb, was the first evidence of His resurrection and infinite Atonement. The risen Christ appeared to His apostles and then to many others who became witnesses to the reality of His glorious physical resurrection. He would then commission the apostles He had ordained and send them to “all nations” to declare repentance and the remission of sins, and to teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
As Risen Lord, He also went and ministered in love among his “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America, as recorded by their prophets in the Book of Mormon, and those people too became witnesses to His physical resurrection. He invited them to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet “that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.” As He had done in the Holy Land, He commissioned 12 among them to lead His church. He blessed their children and taught the saving principles of His gospel. (3 Nephi 11-27)
Then there is the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844), whom God called and commanded to restore Christ’s church to the earth in our day. Following a marvelous vision received in 1832 while Joseph and an associate, Sidney Rigdon, were on the Lord’s errand, they penned these words which confirm the truth of that first Easter morning:
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“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 — 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” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:22–24).
Jesus is the Living Christ, revealing himself in our day as He did to his disciples in the days following that first Easter!
The Christian places his faith in Jesus Christ, Savior and Redeemer, because He did what no other could do and what none of us can do for ourselves —forgive our sins, lift our burdens, renew our souls, raise us from the dead, and through his grace enable us for glory hereafter. In following the Jesus into the waters of baptism we covenant and promise to do what we can do. We can repent, thanks to Christ, and go forward and do our best to keep the commandments God has given. We can love, forgive, and serve one another, as Jesus did.
As author Victor W. Harris has written, “We demonstrate the degree to which the love, the light, and the teachings of Jesus Christ fill our hearts and lives by the way we treat ourselves and treat others.”
This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of happiness, made possible that first Easter week in a garden and on a hill and at an empty tomb. For those who have gained a personal witness of what Christ has done for mankind and what He is doing today, Easter is a joyful time to worship and express our love and gratitude to God.