Though His ministry lasted only three years, His teachings have influenced billions for over two millennia.
But the greatest gift Jesus gave to us was His life. He paid the price for our sins, died on the cross, and rose from the dead, providing a way for each one of us to return and live with God someday.
The night before His death, Jesus visited a garden called Gethsemane, just east of the walls of Jerusalem. Leaving His Apostles at the edge of the garden, He trod through the dewy grass and past twisted olive trees, walking farther inward.
He had prepared His entire life for this moment, carefully following His Father’s commands in every step of His life, in every breath He took. Now the time had come. Even as He prayed, “Father, if it be thy will, remove this cup from me,” (Luke 22:42)
He accepted that this was His burden, and His alone, to bear. He was the only one who could free us from the awful consequences of our sins.
In the coolness of the night, He knelt and began to pray. Though we don’t fully understand how, He willingly took upon Himself our sins and sorrows, suffering in body and spirit for every sin, every sadness, every mistake and imperfection of every single one of us. The pain that came was crushing, exquisite and infinite. Blood oozed from His pores as this impossibly heavy weight caused Him to tremble with pain.
Sometime in those seemingly endless hours, the pain ceased. If only that were the sole burden He had to bear. As Jesus re-joined His disciples at the edge of the garden, they watched the glow of distant torches steadily approaching.
The faces of people armed with swords and staffs flickered menacingly in the torchlight.
From the middle of the crowd emerged Judas, Jesus’ own Apostle.
“Master,” Judas said, and kissed Jesus on the cheek.
“Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48) Jesus asked Judas.
The cruelties of the next day have echoed throughout the ages: the cries of “Crucify Him!” as He stood before Pilate, wrists bound like a common criminal; each lash of the whip, laced with bone and metal, tearing the flesh from His back— once, twice, even thirty-nine times; the purple cloak sopping His blood as soldiers pressed a woven crown of thorns into His scalp; the spitting, the cries of anguish, the blows of the hands, the insulting, mocking cries.
At the summit of Golgotha, soldiers stretched Jesus’ arms along a wooden cross. Their hammers drove thick nails into His palms and wrists; The wood grazed the bloodied grooves in His back.
Tired, sweaty, bloodied, Jesus did only what a Redeemer could do: He forgave His murderers, comforted the criminal suffering next to Him, and trusted in His Father. When His sacrifice was complete, He gave up the ghost, but His death wasn’t an end……It was the beginning for all of us.
Three days later, angels declared to the weeping Mary Magdalene: “He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:6). With these words, the most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history was announced - the Saviour’s victory over death.
The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary were wiped away. The salvation of all mankind was secured. Jesus, the risen Lord lives! (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth. He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament.
Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptised to fulfil all righteousness.
He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our pre-mortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great delegated gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
Meeting with the Twelve at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked, “Whom say ye that I am?” Simon Peter, the chief Apostle answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15–16).
“We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the firstborn of the Father, the only begotten son in the flesh, and the Redeemer of the world.” (Quorum of 12 Apostles)
He rose from the grave to “become the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16)
He ushered in the long-promised “dispensation of the fullness of times” (Ephesians 1:10). 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).
I pray that we may always remember him (especially during this Easter celebration), and keep his commandments he has given us.
That the Holy Ghost may be our constant companion. That the blessings of eternity may be ours, that we may dwell with Him forever in His kingdom. I pray In His Holy name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints