Easter Thoughts


Elder Delbert L. Stapley

As we approach the Easter season, the hearts and emotions of Christians are mellowed by the sacrifice of the life and the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Shortly before Christ’s betrayal, he lifted up his eyes to heaven in a pleading intercessory prayer for his disciples, whom the Father gave unto him. He uttered this profound statement: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)

To know God the Father and his Beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior, is life eternal. Do men truly know them—their attributes, characteristics, and powers? Surely such knowledge can be had: otherwise, our Savior would not have made this statement.

When Philip said unto Christ, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” Jesus answered, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:8–9.)

Paul declared to the Corinthian saints that Christ is “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), and to the Hebrews that Christ is “the express image of [God’s] person.” (Heb. 1:3.) It is logical for the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal God to be in “the express image of his [Father’s] person.” Like produces like, and any earthly son we know—and the earthly is typical of the heavenly—is in the image of his father. It is true in mortal life that some sons are in the express image of their father’s person.

In modern revelation we learn that Seth, the son of Adam, “was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age.” (D&C 107:43.) Could that be what Christ meant when he said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”? (John 14:9.) This statement also accords with modern-day revelation that God “the Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.” (D&C 130:22.)

Now Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” (John 5:19.) Also: “As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28.) Here Christ informs us that he was following the example and teachings of his Father and the works which the Father had performed previously in his own experience, which proves both Father and Son possess like individual characteristics, attributes, and powers.

When Thomas asked the Lord, “How can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:5–6.) “For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” declared the apostle Peter to the rulers, elders, and scribes of the Jewish factions. (Acts 4:12.) As Jesus walked in Solomon’s porch, the Jews came to him and solemnly asked, “If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, saying, “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” (John 10:23–25.)

Truly the works, miracles, and teachings of the Christ, together with heavenly appearances and confirmations of angelic personages—also the declarations of God the Father in the presence of accredited witnesses—testify fully and conclusively that Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, our Redeemer, Savior, and Lord.

After Christ’s ministry on earth, his death on the cross, and glorious resurrection from the dead, he appeared unto his disciples and opened their understanding to the scriptures concerning him: how that all the scriptures written concerning the happenings of his life, death, and resurrection had been fulfilled. Then he said unto them, “And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48.) The apostle Peter taught Cornelius and his household all about the Christ, his message, death, and resurrection, declaring God showed the resurrected Lord openly: “Not,” he said, “to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. … To him,” said Peter, “give all the prophets witness.” (Acts 10:38–43.)

The prophets before Christ did testify of his coming and prophesied sufficiently concerning his life, ministry, works, and miracles to identify him with absolute certainty. They also foretold his death on the cross and resurrection to glory as a sealing act to his ministry and divine commission to atone for the sins of men.

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, was given a sign by which he could recognize the Son of God. When he saw Jesus coming toward him, he said to his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29.) God the Father also spoke from heaven testifying of his Son to all the people assembled at the baptism of the Christ by announcing, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17.) In answer to the query of the Lord to Peter, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter emphatically declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:15–16.) Even unclean and evil spirits who knew Christ in the spirit world recognized him in the flesh and confessed him with positive knowledge, calling him, “Jesus, thou Son of God most high.” (Luke 8:28.)

The works and the miracles of Christ, the evidences and testimonies of faithful, true, and actual witnesses of all they had seen and heard, even to the voice of God speaking from the heavens, are convincing proof that Jesus was not merely a well-principled man and a great teacher, but the actual Son of God, the Redeemer and Savior of the world, the exemplar to all mankind, whom to know and love and follow is life eternal.

Now, the other evidences and testimonies of true witnesses who saw the risen, resurrected Lord prove that he is alive today; just as the angel Gabriel declared to Mary, the mother of Jesus, “of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:33.) There were many appearances of the risen Lord to his disciples after his passion. I shall mention a few very briefly: First, to Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16–18.) Second, to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13–35.) Third, to his disciples who were gathered together following his resurrection. He invited them to “behold my hands and my feet, … handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:36–40.)

Fourth, Luke tells us that Christ, after his passion, “shewed himself alive … by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3.) Fifth, Paul the apostle testifies that after Christ’s resurrection “he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, [then] of above five hundred brethren at once; …

“After that, … of James, then of all the apostles,” and last of all by Paul himself. (1 Cor. 15:5–8.)

Sixth, the concluding New Testament account of witnesses for our consideration is highly significant, for it furnishes hope and faith to all God’s children for the future. It deals with an important event subsequent to Christ’s resurrection and following the forty days spent with his disciples, teaching and instructing them in the things of his kingdom. “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11.) Christ was received into heaven with his resurrected body. If he is to return in like manner at his second coming, as this scripture affirms, he will come with his same body. This is further verified by prophecy to a branch of the house of Israel who shall ask the Lord at his second coming, “What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?

“Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.” (D&C 45:51–52; see also Zech. 13:6.)

In the Book of Mormon, one of four standard works of scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is recorded a beautiful account of Christ’s visit to the people on this continent after his resurrection from the grave. At that appearance, God the Father spoke from heaven, declaring, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.” (3 Ne. 11:7.)

On that occasion Jesus Christ also announced himself, saying, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.” (3 Ne. 11:10.) At the invitation of their Lord, a large number were privileged to come forward, in order, according to the historical account, “that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my 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.” (3 Ne. 11:14.)

“And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:

“Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.” (3 Ne. 11:16–17.)

By this friendly and compelling demonstration, Jesus assured the people assembled that he was truly their risen Lord, as several of their prophets had foretold. All these evidences and testimonies of witnesses are persuasive and convincing to the seeker of truth, light, and knowledge concerning God and his Beloved Son. Mankind need not struggle in the dark to gain faith in the only true God and Jesus Christ, nor in the gospel plan of life and salvation. The Comforter, or the Holy Ghost, which Christ promised to send, is the Spirit of truth and is to guide his followers into all truth. The Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son and is a teacher, also a revelator. Witness Peter’s statement that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21), and Paul’s declaration, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3). John, the beloved apostle, taught, “It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” (1 Jn. 5:6.)

According to these statements of scripture, the witness of the Holy Ghost, which all who are worthy can enjoy, has the power to bestow knowledge, understanding, faith, and the testimony of truth to those who prayerfully seek it. A prophet-writer of Book of Mormon history and doctrine gave this wise and understanding counsel and admonition: “I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:4–5.)

Every individual can realize this promise if he is willing to humble himself and seek the light, knowledge, and intelligence that flow from God through the Holy Spirit. By that power I testify to you that it is life eternal to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, who in very deed is our Lord, Redeemer, and Savior.

In closing, I join with the first prophet of this latter-day dispensation in declaring, “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!” (D&C 76:22.) I present to you these evidences of fact and truth humbly and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.