Each of us has to receive our own witness concerning Jesus as the Christ. We cannot get it secondhand from someone else. I believe that a testimony of our Redeemer comes from a divine source, as a spiritual gift. As John the Baptist stated, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.”1 Such a heaven-sent witness gives us a sacred inner peace and strength, even though we live in a world of turmoil and temptation. It gives us the power to become disciples of the Christ. As one who has sought such a witness, I would like to set my seal upon the testimony that has come to me of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyone who claims discipleship cannot help but have a special appreciation for the calling of the first Apostles and their testimony of His divinity. Let me begin with Peter. No one was in a better position to know than was the Apostle Peter. His story is credible—he was there. Said Peter, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”2
In the book of John we read of some of the other early Apostles:
“Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
“And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! …
“One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
“He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.”3
Peter frequently testified of the divinity of the Savior. At a time when many of His disciples became disaffected, Jesus said to the Twelve Apostles, “Will ye also go away?
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”4
Women who lived at the time of the Savior were also given a testimony concerning His divinity. Jesus arrived at the home of Martha and Mary four days after their brother Lazarus had died.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. …
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
“Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
“She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. …
“And … he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
“And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.”5
We are approaching the Easter season, and there is no greater testimony of Jesus Christ than that found in the story of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The last week of His life began in the little town of Bethany, on the far side of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem. The Savior passed around the brow of the mount through Bethphage. Of Wednesday we have no record. Thursday night was the preparation for the Passover.
“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. …
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
“For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.”6
Jesus then announced the betrayal that was to come. He said, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
“And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
“Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.”7
Then followed the sacrament:
“And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”8
After they had sung a hymn they went out to the Mount of Olives, walking down through the Cedron Valley. Arriving at the first slope on the Mount of Olives, He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Then He exclaimed, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. …
“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”9
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”10
A fuller description is given in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.”11 His suffering was further described as “sore” and “exquisite.”12
Judas knew where to find the Savior. He had been there often with the disciples. The Savior could see the band of men and officers coming down through the gate with lanterns and torches and weapons. He could hear the armor clanking and could perhaps follow every footstep as they came down the hill, crossed over the little brook at the bottom of the Cedron Valley, and entered the garden.
“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
“They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
“As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. [Without question, they were overpowered by the occasion.]
“Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
“Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way. …
“Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him.”13
As He was first questioned “Jesus answered … , I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.”14 The pretrial examination took place before Caiaphas and the council. Of that hearing it is recorded, “For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.”15 And that is not uncommon in tribunals.
“But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”16
“And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
“Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?
“Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.”17
The formal trial and condemnation are briefly recorded; the charge again was blasphemy.
“Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
“And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
“Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
“Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
“And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.”18
At the first appearance before Pilate there was a different charge, that of sedition.
“And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.”19
“Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.”20
Following this, Jesus was taken before Herod. “And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
“Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.
“And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.
“And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
“And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.”21
At the second appearance before Pilate, the Roman ruler over Judea again found Jesus innocent. Jesus was then scourged and mocked. “And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
“And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!”22
Simon of Cyrene, a countryman, was compelled to carry the cross.23 By this time the purple robe had been taken from Jesus and His own clothes put back on, and He was led to Golgotha—“a place of a skull”—to be crucified. Two thieves were crucified with Him, one on the right hand and one on the left, and over His head the accusation was written, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”24
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”25
“And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
“And sitting down they watched him there.”26
There was darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour. Jesus cried in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”27
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”28
The Roman soldiers who were standing by received something of a testimony:
“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”29
John records the piercing of the side of Jesus—how the soldiers, having found that He was already dead, did not break His legs after the custom of inducing death before the Sabbath day.30 Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of the Master, went to Pilate and begged for the body of Jesus.31 Pilate assented. Nicodemus also came and brought about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes.32 Guards were placed at the tomb.33
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
“His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
“And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.”34
It was now Sunday. The Jewish Sabbath had ended. Very early in the morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women came to the sepulchre. They saw that the stone was rolled away and the body of the Lord Jesus was gone.
“And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
“And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee.”35
The women then hurried and told all these things unto the eleven Apostles. Peter and John came and saw for themselves the empty tomb. They found the linen clothes, and the napkin that was about His head was in a separate place by itself.36
Jesus then appeared to Mary Magdalene. “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”37
The resurrected Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, in Jerusalem to Simon Peter, and to the other ten Apostles and those that were with them.38
In my capacity as a special witness, I set my seal and testimony upon these events and upon the divine calling of Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer. I testify that He lives, that He loves us, and that this is His holy work. I testify that His are the words of eternal life. I testify that through this Church His work and His glory—to bring about the immortality and eternal life of the faithful and the obedient39—is being accomplished.
After prayerfully studying this message, share it using a method that encourages the participation of those you teach. A few examples follow:
Read the first three sentences, and discuss what President Faust says about receiving a testimony of Christ. Share and discuss one or more of the stories of the disciples receiving their testimonies. Read together the final paragraph, and share your own witness of the Savior.
Discuss what President Faust says about Easter (see the section “No Greater Testimony”). How can focusing on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection deepen our testimonies? Encourage family members to plan meaningful ways to remember the Savior during the Easter season.