Chapter 28: “I Know That He Lives”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 198–205


Map Chp. 28

The Resurrected Christ Appears to Men

Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

The First Day of the Week

    

Appears unto Peter

Appears to all Apostles Except Thomas

 

16:14

24:34

24:33–49

20:19–23

Appearances Subsequent to Those of the First Day of the Week

    

Jerusalem

Appears to the Eleven Apostles

   

20:24–29

Sea of Galilee

An Appearance to the Disciples

   

21:1–14

“Feed My Sheep”

John Is to Be Translated

   

21:15–19

21:20–23

Jerusalem

Appearance to a Great Multitude

Appears to James

(1 Corinthians 15:6)

(1 Corinthians 15:7)

  

Galilee

Appearance to the Disciples

28:16–20

16:15–18

(See Acts 1:1–8)

Bethany, Judea

The Ascension

 

16:19

24:50, 51

 

Disciples Return to Jerusalem

 

16:20

24:52, 53

 

John’s Concluding Words

   

20:30, 31

21:24, 25

Interpretive Commentary

(28-1) Luke 24:34. Why Did Jesus Appear to Peter Apart from the Others?

“This is the sole mention made by the Gospel-writers of Christ’s personal appearance to Simon Peter on that day. The interview between the Lord and His once recreant but now repentant apostle must have been affecting in the extreme. Peter’s remorseful penitence over his denial of Christ in the palace of the high priest was deep and pitiful; he may have doubted that ever again would the Master call him His servant; but hope must have been engendered through the message from the tomb brought by the women, in which the Lord sent greetings to the apostles, whom for the first time He designated as His brethren, and from this honorable and affectionate characterization Peter had not been excluded; moreover, the angel’s commission to the women had given prominence to Peter by particular mention. To the repentant Peter came the Lord, doubtless with forgiveness and loving assurance. The apostle himself maintains a reverent silence respecting the visitation, but the fact thereof is attested by Paul as one of the definite proofs of the Lord’s resurrection.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 687.)

But Jesus’ appearance to Peter perhaps had additional significance. Earlier, during his mortal ministry, Jesus had announced that he would confer the “keys of the kingdom” upon Peter (Matthew 16:19). Peter, in conjunction with James and John, who would preside with him, received those keys on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1–8; Luke 9:28–36), and thereafter “acted as the First Presidency of the Church in their day.” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:152.) Those keys “belong always unto the Presidency of the High Priesthood” (D&C 81:2), and can be exercised in their fulness on the earth by only one man at a time; and that man in the period just after Jesus ascended into heaven was Peter. It may have been, then, that Jesus’ special appearance to Peter was associated in some way with the principle of keys. (See also McConkie, DNTC, 1:851.)

(28-2) John 20:19–29. Did Thomas Doubt the Resurrection?

“The case of Thomas shows why the Lord went to such great lengths on the Emmaus road and in the upper room to show beyond peradventure of doubt exactly what his body was like. And so rather than point the finger of scorn at Thomas we might do well to look carefully at the modern disbelief in that holy being who with his Father reigns as a Holy Man in the heavens above.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:860.)

(28-3) John 21:1–17. “Simon, … Lovest Thou Me More than These?”

“This is a very important question for each one of us. May I ask each of you, ‘Do you love the Lord?’ The answer almost without exception would be, ‘Yes.’ Let us place ourselves in the position of Peter. …

“Can you picture this great scene of that powerful Peter being asked these simple questions? And the Lord had a way of knowing how deep the love was within Peter and how to teach him the way to show his love for Jesus Christ.

“We show and prove our love by feeding the lambs and the sheep. There are over three billion people on the earth today, and at the present rate of teaching, over two and a half billion of God’s children will never be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. What if you were to live on this earth and never had a chance to hear and be taught the true way of life?

“Our task is great. Teachers are needed. Every member of this Church that has a testimony and is converted is urgently needed. The lambs and the sheep are hungry for the bread of life, for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can show our love by following the prophet of God, ‘by every member being a missionary’ to bring one or more souls into the Church each year.” (Bernard P. Brockbank in CR, Oct. 1963, p. 66.)

(28-4) John 21:21–24; D&C 7:1–8. Would John Never Die?

“It is interesting to note that in the gospel account John specifies that he was promised that he should tarry until the Second Coming and not that he should escape death. From the account of the translation of the Three Nephite disciples we learn that this is exactly what takes place. A change is wrought in their bodies so they cannot die at this time, but when the Lord comes again they ‘shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality,’ and thus they ‘shall never taste of death.’ (3 Ne. 28:1–10, 36–40.) They will be like a person who lives during the millennium.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:865.)

(28-5) Matthew 28:16–20. Jesus Appears in Galilee

“Of all the recorded appearances of the risen Christ to his disciples in Palestine, this one is paramount; and yet of it the present Bible preserves only a most fragmentary account. This was an appearance by appointment, by prearrangement, to which probably a great multitude of disciples was invited. It is likely the occasion of which, as Paul wrote later, ‘he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.’ (1 Cor. 15:6.) If so, the seventies and leading brethren of the Church would have been present, as also perhaps the faithful women who are inheritors of like rewards with obedient priesthood holders.

“We do not know when Jesus specified the location of the meeting, but on the night of his betrayal and arrest, he gave this promise: ‘After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.’ (Matt. 26:32.) Then the angels at the tomb, as part of their announcement to the women that ‘he is risen,’ commanded them to tell his disciples: ‘He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.’ (Matt. 28:7; Mark 16:7.) And then to confirm again their previously made appointment, and in so doing to reemphasize its importance, the risen Jesus himself said to the women, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him: ‘Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.’ (Matt. 28:9–10.)

“We may suppose that great preparation preceded this meeting; that it dealt with many things, perhaps being similar to his resurrected ministry to multitudes of Nephites; and that from it, by the mouths of many witnesses, the sure testimony of his divine Sonship went forth to the world.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:866–67.)

Points to Ponder

(28-6) “I Know That He Lives”

Jesus rose from the dead. As a glorified, resurrected being, he appeared before his disciples. They saw him—saw the wounds which marked his crucifixion. They saw him eat and speak and move before them. He was alive! They saw that he lived, and they declared that witness before kings and nations and defended it by faithful testimony to the end of their lives. Others, apostles and prophets in this modern day, bear the same witness: that Jesus lives and is the Redeemer!

Centuries before his ministry, death, and resurrection, Jesus had commanded Moses that truth could be verified by the testimony of two or more witnesses. (See Deuteronomy 17:6; compare D&C 6:28.) Consistent with that requirement, between his resurrection and ascension disciples by the score became witnesses of the living Redeemer.

At a general conference, President Harold B. Lee prefaced his witness by these words: “I know, with a testimony more powerful than sight. …” (CR, Oct. 1972, p. 20.) No doubt many hundreds saw Jesus during his lifetime—even Pilate and the members of the Sanhedrin saw him. But they did not have the witness that Jesus was their Redeemer. Read these four passages carefully to see how this ‘‘second witness,” “more powerful than sight,” was a principle established by Jesus and well understood by his disciples.

Read the following: Matthew 16:15–17; John 15:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Acts 2:32. How did these early disciples become witnesses of Christ? Is this avenue open to you?

(28-7) Understand the Significance of These Simple Words? “I Know That He Lives!”

You have read the four Gospels, and you have had an opportunity to consider carefully the life and ministry of that being who is your Redeemer. Presumably you have been a good student. Hopefully you will pray often and earnestly for the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide your study.

When John wrote the final verses of his Gospel, which appropriately concludes the four, he bore testimony that the things he had written about Jesus were true. (See John 21:24, 25.) Do you know that they are true? Have you wanted to know? Read Matthew 13:44–46; 7:7, 8. Have you paid the price to know?

Testimonies of the Prophets

In this last dispensation twelve prophets have stood at the fore of those whom God has called to bear special witness of Jesus. Each of these men has served as the president of the Church. They have borne a faithful testimony of Jesus to the Church and to the world.

Before you read their testimonies, however, there is something you should consider. These are special men—they bear special witness, but the words they use are nevertheless common words.

(28-8) Heed the Testimonies of the Prophets

“There are those who hear testimonies borne in the Church, by those in high station and by members in the wards and branches, all using the same words—‘I know that God lives; I know that Jesus is the Christ,’ and come to question, ‘Why cannot it be said in plainer words? Why aren’t they more explicit and more descriptive? Cannot the apostles say more?’

“How like the sacred experience in the temple becomes our personal testimony. It is sacred, and when we are wont to put it into words, we say it in the same way—all using the same words. The apostles declare it in the same phrases with the little Primary or Sunday School youngster. ‘I know that God lives and I know that Jesus is the Christ.’

“We would do well not to disregard the testimonies of the prophets or of the children, for ‘he imparteth his words by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times which confound the wise and the learned.’ (Al. 32:23.)

“Some seek for a witness to be given in some new and dramatic and different way.

“The bearing of a testimony is akin to a declaration of love. The romantics and poets and couples in love, from the beginning of time, have sought more impressive ways of saying it, or singing it, or writing it. They have used all of the adjectives, all of the superlatives, all manner of poetic expression. And when all is said and done, the declaration which is most powerful is the simple, three-word variety.

“To one who is honestly seeking, the testimony borne in these simple phrases is enough, for it is the spirit that beareth record, not the words.” (Boyd K. Packer in CR, Apr. 1971, pp. 123–24.)

Now, keeping that in mind, read these testimonies of the prophets. Read them carefully and slowly: ponder them, and remember that “it is the spirit that beareth record, and not the words.” (Compare D&C 1:39.)

(28-9) Joseph Smith

“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.” (D&C 76:22–24.)

(28-10) Brigham Young

“My testimony is positive. I know that there are such cities as London, Paris, and New York—from my own experience or from that of others; I know that the sun shines, I know that I exist and have a being, and I testify that there is a God, and that Jesus Christ lives, and that he is the Savior of the world. Have you been to heaven and learned to the contrary? I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he had many revelations. Who can disprove this testimony? Any one may dispute it, but there is no one in the world who can disprove it. I have had many revelations; I have seen and heard for myself, and know these things are true, and nobody on earth can disprove them. The eye, the ear, the hand, all the senses may be deceived, but the Spirit of God cannot be deceived; and when inspired with that Spirit, the whole man is filled with knowledge, he can see with a spiritual eye, and he knows that which is beyond the power of man to controvert. What I know concerning God, concerning the earth, concerning government, I have received from the heavens, not alone through my natural ability, and I give God the glory and the praise.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 1951 ed., p. 433.)

(28-11) John Taylor

“As a God, He descended below all things, and made Himself subject to man in man’s fallen condition; as a man, He grappled with all the circumstances incident to His sufferings in the world. Anointed, indeed, with the oil of gladness above His fellows, He struggled with and overcame the powers of men and devils, of earth and hell combined; and aided by this superior power of the Godhead, He vanquished death, hell and the grave, and arose triumphant as the Son of God, the very eternal Father, the Messiah, the Prince of peace, the Redeemer, the Savior of the world; having finished and completed the work pertaining to the atonement, which His Father had given Him to do as the Son of God and the Son of man. As the Son of Man, He endured all that it was possible for flesh and blood to endure; as the Son of God He triumphed over all, and forever ascended to the right hand of God, to further carry out the designs of Jehovah pertaining to the world and to the human family.” (The Mediation and Atonement, pp. 147–48.)

(28-12) Wilford Woodruff

“When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, stepped forth into the world to occupy the position to which He had been ordained of God, there were but few individuals who had faith in Him, or who were looking for the coming of the Son of Man in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus, all His life, it may be said, from the manger to the cross, was very unpopular with the mass of the human family, more particularly the inhabitants of Jerusalem. His history is before the world. He died an ignominious death upon the cross, and those of His own Father’s house, the High Priests, and the leading men of Jerusalem, were all in favor of His death. Yet the Savior possessed truth. He offered truth to the world; He offered life and salvation to the world. But the principles He taught were unpopular in His day. He gathered around Him a few followers; but the acceptance of His principles cost them their lives, as it did the life of the Savior Himself. I do not know of a man—except it was John the Revelator—who escaped. They all died violent deaths. They had to seal their testimony with their blood. Some were crucified; others were sawn asunder, beheaded, or in some way put to death for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. They were put to death for their religion. How is it to-day? What name has been more honored, or more held up as an ensample to the world than the name of Jesus Christ?” (JD, 25:5.)

(28-13) Lorenzo Snow

“There is no man that knows the truth of this work more than I do. I know it fully; I know it distinctly. I know there is a God just as well as any man knows it, because God has revealed himself to me. I know it positively. I shall never forget the manifestations of the Lord; I never will forget them as long as memory endures. It is in me. There is something to labor for, there is something to sacrifice for. When the Elders go forth among the nations, they dare to say this; they dare to say that God has revealed himself. They dare to say that God has spoken to His sons and daughters as He did in former days, and they dare to say that He has heard the prayers of the house of Israel, He has heard the prayers of the honest in heart, and He has come down as He did in the days of Israel when they were in Egyptian bondage to deliver them; He has come down to relieve the distressed, and to confer upon them knowledge, intellectually, spiritually, and to place them in a country where they can be blessed and saved from that half-starvation in which many have been found where the Gospel reached them.” (CR, Oct. 1880, p. 32.)

(28-14) Joseph F. Smith

“I bear my testimony, and surely it is of as much force and effect, if it be true, as the testimony of Job, the testimonies of the disciples of Jerusalem, the disciples on this continent, of Joseph Smith, or any other man who told the truth. All are of equal force and binding on the world. If no man had ever testified to these things upon the face of the globe, I want to say as a servant of God, independent of the testimonies of all men and of every book that has been written, that I have received the witness of the Spirit in my own heart, and I testify before God, angels and men, without fear of the consequences, that I know that my Redeemer lives, and I shall see him face to face, and stand with him in my resurrected body upon this earth, if I am faithful; for God has revealed this unto me. I have received the witness, and I bear my testimony, and my testimony is true.” (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 446–47.)

(28-15) Heber J. Grant

“I thank God for the knowledge I possess by the inspiration of his Spirit that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of the world, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. And I thank him that I do know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the true and the living God. … May God help me and every Latter-day Saint who has a testimony of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged to so live that our lives may proclaim the truth of this Gospel, is my humble prayer, and I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.” (In CR, Apr. 1930, p. 192.)

(28-16) George Albert Smith

“In conclusion let me say: We are not out of the woods. This world is in for a housecleaning unless the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father repent of their sins and turn to him. And that means the Latter-day Saints, or the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with all the rest, but we, first of all, ought to be setting the example. We have sent over seventy thousand of our sons and daughters into the world, paying their own expenses, to divide the gospel of Jesus Christ with his other children. Why? Because we know it is the only plan God has given to the children of men to earn a place in the celestial kingdom. That is why it is so important. In this great building that has been so sacred to all, after listening to the splendid choir and the organ, listening to the prayers that have been offered here, listening to the testimonies that have been borne, I want to leave my testimony with you and say to you: I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Living God, and had restored to him the true gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. …

“So, realizing the seriousness of a testimony like that, realizing what it means, and with love unfeigned and a desire to be a blessing to all our Father’s children, I leave this witness with you that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only power of God unto salvation in preparation for the celestial kingdom, into which kingdom we may all go if we will, but it will be on his terms, and I bear you that witness this day, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.” (CR, Oct. 1946, p. 153.)

(28-17) David O. McKay

“Brethren and sisters, I have cherished from childhood the truth that God is a personal being and is, indeed, our Father whom we can approach in prayer and receive answers thereto. My testimony of the risen Lord is just as real as Thomas’, who said to the resurrected Christ when he appeared to his disciples: ‘My Lord and my God.’ (John 20:28.) I know that he lives. He is God made manifest in the flesh; and I know that ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12.)

“I know that he will confer with his servants who seek him in humility and in righteousness. I know because I have heard his voice, and I have received his guidance in matters pertaining to his kingdom here on earth.

“I know that his Father, our Creator, lives. I know that they appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and revealed to him the revelations which we now have recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants and in other Church works. This knowledge is as real to me as that which occurs in our daily lives. When we lay our bodies down at night, we know—we have an assurance—that the sun will rise in the morning and shed its glory over all the earth. So near to me is the knowledge of Christ’s existence and divinity of this restored Church.” (In CR, Apr. 1968, pp. 9–10.)

(28-18) Joseph Fielding Smith

“The Savior never committed any sin nor carried any troubled conscience. He hadn’t been under the necessity of repenting as you and I have; but in some way that I can not understand, he carried the weight of my transgressions and yours and the transgressions of every soul who comes into this Church from the days of Adam to our present time. He came and offered himself as a sacrifice to pay the debt for the things I have done that are wrong and that each of you individually have done that are wrong, and each other person who has been willing to repent of his sins and return to Jesus Christ and keep his commandments. He paid the price. Think of it if you can. Think of what one man can suffer for his wrongdoing. The Savior carried that burden in some way beyond our comprehension. But he carried it. I know that because I accept his word. And the great weight of the torment he went through to save us from the torment was so great that he plead with his Father that if it were possible he may not drink the bitter cup and shrink—‘but nevertheless thy will be done.’ The answer he got from his Father was, ‘You have to drink it.’

“Can I help loving him? No, I can’t. Do you love him? Then keep his commandments. If you don’t, you will have to answer for them yourselves. ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’” (Take Heed to Yourselves, pp. 281–82.)

(28-19) Harold B. Lee

“As one of the humblest among you, and occupying the station I do, I want to bear you my humble testimony that I have received by the voice and the power of revelation, the knowledge and an understanding that God is. It was a week following the conference, when I was preparing myself for a radio talk on the life of the Savior when I read again the story of the life, the crucifixion and, the resurrection of the Master—there came to me as I read that, a reality of that story, more than just what was on the written page. For in truth, I found myself viewing the scenes with a certainty as though I had been there in person. I know that these things come by the revelations of the living God.” (“Divine Revelation,” Speeches of the Year, 1952, p. 12. Italics added.)

(28-20) Spencer W. Kimball

“This is Easter week—a time when we solemnly remind each other of the unprecedented occurrence which took place in a small inner garden, in a rough-hewn tomb, in a caliche hill, outside the walls of Jerusalem. It happened there in an early morning and startled every soul who heard of it.

“Since it had never happened before on this earth, it must have been difficult for the people to believe, but how could they any longer doubt, when the resurrected Lord himself came to them and showed himself, and they felt the wounds in his hands and feet? Hundreds of his intimate believing friends bore witness.

“This was Jesus of Nazareth, born in a manger, reared in a small village, baptized in the Jordan River, crucified on Golgotha, buried in a stone-cold roomlet in the cliff, and his resurrection attested to in a small, pleasant garden near the tomb.

“His suffering before and on the cross and his great sacrifice can mean little or nothing to us unless we live his commandments. For he says:

“‘… why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’ (Luke 6:46.)

“‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ (John 14:15.)

“Certainly if we fail to live his teachings, we lose communication with him. (CR, Apr. 1972, pp. 25–26.) …

“And eternal life again was made available to men in the earth, for does not the scripture say: ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’ (John 17:3.) And so we return to the promise made on the hill in Palestine. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8.)

“Men who know God and love him and live his commandments and obey his true ordinances may yet in this life, or the life to come, see his face and know that he lives and will commune with them.

“Our friends, I invite further inquiry. I testify to these truths, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” (CR, Apr. 1964, pp. 98–99.)

These are the testimonies of the prophets—twelve men who, among many others, know the Lord and know that he is a living Redeemer. How strong is your testimony? Has your study of the Gospels strengthened it? How? Have you raised your voice as a witness, as have the prophets?

(28-21) Will It Make a Difference?

You are at the end of this lesson and at the end of your study of the Gospels. But the account about you is just beginning. You will write it—all the rest of it—throughout your life. Will you live and act and serve as one who loves the Lord?

Come back to the Gospels often—never get too far away from the sweet, quiet testimony that they contain: that Jesus lives and is your Redeemer.

“Members of the Church … are under obligation to make the sinless Son of Man their ideal—the one perfect being who ever walked the earth.

Sublimest Example of Nobility
God-like in nature
Perfect in his love
Our Redeemer
Our Savior
The immaculate Son of our Eternal Father
The Light, the Life, the Way

“I know he lives. …” (David O. McKay, “The Transforming Power of Faith in Jesus Christ,” Improvement Era, June 1951, p. 478.)