The Greatest Event in History


From an April 1964 general conference address; capitalization modernized.
The greatest events of history affect the greatest number for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important than the Resurrection of the Master.
President Ezra Taft Benson

It is a high and sacred honor to bear witness to the divine mission of Jesus Christ; to represent His great Church; to be an ambassador of truth to our Father’s children; to be called by a prophet of the Lord to go into the world and proclaim the glad tidings that God has again spoken from the heavens: that the heavens are not sealed, that God still communicates with men on the earth, and that the pure gospel of Jesus Christ has again been restored to the earth in its fulness. …

As a people we have just joined with others of the Christian world in the celebration of Easter. It is, therefore, most fitting that we consider together that most glorious event, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Testimony: Jesus Is the Christ

I bear witness to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world—the very Son of God.

He was born the babe of Bethlehem.

He lived and ministered among men.

He was crucified on Calvary.

His friends deserted Him.

His closest associates did not fully understand His mission, and they doubted. One of the most trusted denied knowing Him.

A pagan governor, struggling with his conscience after consenting to Jesus’ death, caused a sign to be erected over the cross proclaiming Him “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19).

He asked forgiveness for His tormentors and then willingly gave up His life.

His body was laid in a borrowed tomb.

An immense stone was placed over the opening.

In the minds of His stunned followers over and over echoed some of His last words, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

On the third day 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” (Luke 24:3).

Angels appeared and said simply, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?

“He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6).

There is nothing in history to equal that dramatic announcement: “He is not here, but is risen.”

“He Is Risen”

The greatest events of history are those which affect the greatest number for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the Resurrection of the Master. The eventual resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a scriptural certainty, and surely there is no event for which one should make more careful preparation. Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). …

Yes, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a glorious reality. He became the first fruits of them that slept. He truly rose from the tomb the third day, as He and His prophets foretold, and became in very deed the resurrection “and the life” (John 4:6). He broke the bonds of death for all of us. We, too, will be resurrected. Our spirits will be reunited with our bodies (see Alma 11:43). …

Resurrection, a Glorious Reality

Yes, Christ’s Resurrection was abundantly verified. The witnesses are many. Throughout the 40 days following His Resurrection, the Lord manifested Himself at intervals and gave instructions in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. …

He had told His followers that He must soon ascend unto His Father in heaven. And as the time of His Ascension drew nigh, the Lord in that last solemn interview gave His parting instructions to His disciples.

And when Christ and the disciples had gone “as far as to Bethany” (Luke 24:50), where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, the Lord lifted His hands and blessed them. And while He yet spoke He rose from their midst until a cloud received Him from out of their sight. As the Apostles stood gazing steadfastly upward, two personages clothed in white apparel appeared by them. They spoke unto the 11 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 1:11).

Worshipfully, and with great joy, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem. The Lord’s Ascension was accomplished. It was truly a literal departure of a material being, as His Resurrection had been an actual return of His spirit to His own physical body. Now the disciples began to comprehend more fully that He had truly overcome the world. Not that He had displaced Caesar or even Pilate, who ruled over Judea. The great majority of the world’s people had still not even heard of Him. Not that man’s inhumanity to man was suddenly wiped out. But there was victory over the grave, always, until then, the final conqueror of all men.

His Kingdom Not of This World

Then the realization began to dawn on His faithful followers that His kingdom was not of this world. He had overcome the world of hate, envy, greed, and lust. He had shown the way for man to break the chains of selfishness and vengeance which had bound him, doomed him to mediocrity, a prisoner of his own misconceptions. His disciples were quickened with a realization that this was what He had been teaching them. This was what His life had spelled out to them. More clear became His ringing words:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43–44).

Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ liberated man from the world by the pure gospel of love. He demonstrated that man through the love of God and through kindness and charity to his fellows could achieve his highest potential. He lived the plain and sure doctrine of service, of doing good to all men, friends and enemies alike. His charge to return good for evil is still the greatest challenge to the mind of man. At the same time it is man’s greatest weapon.

Impact of His Life

No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus the Christ. We cannot conceive of our lives without His teachings. Without Him we would be lost in a mirage of beliefs and worships, born in fear and darkness where the sensual and materialistic hold sway. We are far short of the goal He set for us, but we must never lose sight of it; nor must we forget that our great climb toward the light, toward perfection, would not be possible except for His teachings, His life, His death, and His Resurrection. …

His Comforting Spirit

We feel His comforting spirit in the sweet prayer of a child and the quiet abiding faith of all who have let His gospel permeate their lives. What a priceless gift it is that we can know Him through our own prayers and through the sacred and solemn testimonies of those that have seen Him, known Him, felt His presence. …

His Church Restored

Yes, this same Jesus has already come to earth in our day. The Resurrected Christ—glorified, exalted, the God of this world under the Father—appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in 1820. This same Jesus who was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, the Creator of this earth, has come in our day. He was introduced by the Father to Joseph Smith in these words: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17).

The appearance of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ to the boy Prophet is the greatest event that has occurred in this world since the Resurrection of the Master. As the restored Church of Jesus Christ we humbly and gratefully bear this witness to all men. This message is a world message. It is the truth.

[illustration] He Is Risen, by Del Parson

[illustration] The First Vision, by Del Parson