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."
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. "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." He broke the bonds of death for all of us. We, too, will be resurrected. Our spirits will be reunited with our bodies.
Later the Risen Lord appeared to other women, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to Peter, to the Apostles, and "after that," as reported by Paul, "he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once."
"And last of all," continued Paul, "he was seen of me also" (1 Cor. 15:6, 8).
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. Much that he said and did is not written, but such things as are of record, John assures us, "are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31).
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" 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 eleven 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; also Luke 24:50-51).
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 now there was victory over the grave--always, until then, the final conqueror of all men.
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.
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.
May God hasten the day when people everywhere will accept his teachings, his example, and his divinity, yes, when they will accept as a reality his glorious resurrection, which broke the bonds of death for all of us.
Yes, we must learn and learn again that only through accepting and living the gospel of love as taught by the Master, and only through doing his will can we break the bonds of ignorance and doubt that bind us. We must learn this simple, glorious truth so that we can experience the sweet joys of the Spirit now and eternally. We must lose ourselves in doing his will. We must place him first in our lives. Yes, our blessings multiply as we share his love with our neighbor.
To the extent that we stray from the path marked out for us by the Man of Galilee, to that extent we are failing in our individual battles to overcome our worlds. But we are not without his help. Again and again he told his disciples, and all of us, "Let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:1).
"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14).
"I will not leave you comfortless" (John 14:18).
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (John 14:27).
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 who have seen him, known him, felt his presence.
On this spring day more than 1900 years after his resurrection, I give you my solemn witness and testimony that I know that Jesus the Christ lives. He was in very deed raised from the dead as we shall be. He is "the resurrection and the life." He appeared unto many in the Old World after his resurrection and according to modern scriptures, sacred to me and to Latter-day Saints everywhere, he spent three glorious days before his final ascension with his "other sheep" here in America, the New World.
By him and through him and his gospel, God the Father has made it possible for you and me to overcome the world.
Yes, my friends, Jesus is the Christ. He lives. He did break the bonds of death. He is more than "a great moral teacher." He is our Savior and Redeemer, the very Son of God. And he will come again. "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).
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. Members of the Church throughout the world bear this solemn testimony.
Today thousands of faithful missionaries at home and abroad freely carry this all-important message to the world. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of mankind, the Redeemer of the world, the very Son of God. He is the God of this world, our advocate with the Father.
Today we bear witness that God has again spoken from the heavens, that Jesus Christ has appeared again unto man, that the resurrection is a reality.
Today I testify to the truth of the message which they bear and add my solemn witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.