First Presidency Message

The Meaning of Easter


Ezra Taft Benson

The Meaning of Easter

I cannot recall a time that I did not believe in Jesus Christ. It seems that the reality of His life, death, and resurrection has always been a part of me. I was reared in a home by faithful parents who earnestly believed in and testified of Christ, for which I am most grateful.

The greatest events of history are those that affect the greatest number of people for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master.

The literal resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a certainty, and surely one should make careful preparation for this event. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman, for resurrection will be a reality.

Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

The scriptural record tells us that on the third day following Jesus’ crucifixion, there was a great earthquake. The stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb. Some of the women, among the most devoted of His followers, came to the place with spices “and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Angels appeared and said simply, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.” (Luke 24:3–6.) Nothing in history equals that dramatic announcement: “He is not here, but is risen.”

The fact of our Lord’s resurrection is based on the testimonies of many credible witnesses. The risen Lord appeared to several women, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to Peter, to the Apostles; and “after that,” as Paul reported, “he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once. … And last of all he was seen of [Paul] also.” (1 Cor. 15:6, 8.)

Throughout the forty days subsequent to His resurrection, the Lord manifested Himself at intervals and gave instructions pertaining to the kingdom of God. Much that He said and did is not written, but such things as are of record, John assures us, “are written, that [we] might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing [we] might have life through his name.” (John 20:31; italics added.)

The Savior told His followers that He must soon ascend to His Father in heaven. As the time of His ascension drew near, the Lord, in that last solemn interview, gave His parting instructions to His disciples.

When Christ and the disciples had gone “as far as to Bethany,” where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, He “lifted up his hands, and blessed them.” (Luke 24:50.) When He had spoken, He was taken up until a cloud received Him out of their sight. As the Apostles stood gazing toward heaven, two personages clothed in white apparel appeared. They spoke to those assembled, saying, “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.)

Worshipfully and with great joy, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem. The Lord’s ascension was accomplished. Now the disciples began to comprehend more fully some of His last words: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.) Because of Christ, the grave had no permanent victory. Death was overcome!

Following His ascension, He appeared to the inhabitants of America as chronicled in the Book of Mormon. Then in modern times the Prophet Joseph Smith testified of the appearance of the Redeemer of the world in these words:

“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.” (D&C 76:22–23.)

As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected Being. He is our Savior, our Lord, the very Son of God. I testify that He will come again as our glorified, resurrected Lord. That day is not far distant. To all who accept Him as Savior and Lord, His literal resurrection means that life does not end at death, for He promised: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19.)

Ideas for Home Teachers

Some Points of Emphasis

You may wish to make these points in your home teaching discussions:

  1. 1.

    The literal resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a certainty.

  2. 2.

    The fact of our Lord’s resurrection is based on the testimonies of many credible witnesses, recorded in the New Testament, in the Book of Mormon, and in the Doctrine and Covenants.

  3. 3.

    President Benson testifies: “As one of His latter-day witnesses, I testify that He lives today. He is a resurrected being.”

  4. 4.

    Everyone should make careful preparation for this event. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman.

Discussion Helps

  1. 1.

    Relate your feelings about the resurrection. Ask those you visit to share their feelings.

  2. 2.

    Are there some scriptures or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?

  3. 3.

    Would this discussion be better after a pre-visit chat with the head of the house? Is there a message from the bishop or quorum leader?

[illustration] The Unbelief of Thomas, by James J. Tissot

[illustration] The Ascension from the Mount of Olives, by James J. Tissot