There are those who say Jesus Christ survived the cross, therefore was not resurrected on the morning of the third day. They are wrong. This line of thought actually denigrates and denounces one of the greatest and most wonderful sacrifices in the history of all of Heavenly Father‘s children.
For indeed, too many witnessed the nailing of our Savior’s hands and feet to the cross, the crown of thrones jammed onto His head, piercing His skin, causing blood to run in streams down His beloved face. Weeping eyes saw Him raised up between two thieves and mocked as the King of the Jews. Broken and mourning hearts saw Him cry out to His Father:
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mark 15:34)
And finally, as those who loved Him in mortality and in the heavens watched on with horror and grief ripping through their souls, they heard Him say:
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
And the greatest act of love ever committed in the history of this earth was finished. Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, gave up the ghost and completed His mission which was to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
This brings us to the resurrection. It is written in the scriptures that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and other women came to the Savior’s tomb early on Sunday morning. It was customary among the Jews to check the body of the deceased at the conclusion of three days to insure the person was definitely dead.
It was Mary Magdalene, Mary and the others who came to finish the preparations for Jesus’ burial which had been interrupted by the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. There were oils to anoint along with other preparations. It was at this time they discovered the stone had been rolled away and the Savior was gone.
The followers of Jesus Christ had greatly feared that His body would be stolen and it is the first thing that came to the mind of Mary Magdalene who raced to find Peter and John.
Andrew Skinner, a noted historian and theologian, states:
As the other women drew near to the opened sephulchre for the first time that morning, they saw two angels, not one as reported in the King James version of Matthew and Mark. The angels were dressed in long, white, shining (glorious) garments. (JST Mark 16:3; JST Luke 24:2) Matthew adds that their countenance was like lightning and their raiment was as white as snow. (Matthew 28:3) The Joseph Smith Translation is a tremendous gift in helping to clarify our understanding of events that first resurrection morning. (Andrew Skinner, The Garden Tomb, Deseret Book, 2005 102)
And so it was from two angels, sent from our Father in Heaven, who told these women who loved Jesus Christ that He was resurrected and now was a time of great rejoicing, both in the heavens and on earth.
Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; He is risen; He is not here; Behold the place where they laid Him; and go your way, tell His disciples and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him as He said unto you. And they, entering into the sepulcher, saw the place where they had laid Jesus. (JST Mark 16:4-6)
The events rolled forward until Mary Magdalene returned to the Savior’s tomb donated by Joseph of Arimathea, who is Mary the mother of Jesus’ great uncle, to weep and mourn for the loss of her Savior’s body. At this moment Jesus appeared unto her and said;
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.
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. (John 20:15-18)
Mary rejoiced. Her Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, was resurrected as prophesied and she had seen Him once again. She rushed to the apostles as instructed.
It took them a few minutes to believe her because they had not considered resurrection but the robbing of the grave and kidnapping of Jesus’ body.
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these 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 20:19-31)
And so we now have a total of twelve plus witnesses to the resurrected Jesus Christ.
Pontius Pilate, yes, that Pontius Pilate who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ wrote to his grandfather-in-law, Caesar Tiberius, the ruler of the Roman Empire:
And on the first of the week, about the third hour of the night, the sun was seen such as it had never at any time shone, and all the heaven was lighted up. And as lightnings come on in winter, so majestic men of indescribable splendour of dress and of glory appeared in the air, and an innumerable multitude of angels crying out, and saying: Glory in the highest to God, and on earth peace, among men goodwill: come up out of Hades, ye who have been kept in slavery in the underground regions of Hades. And at their voice all the mountains and hills were shaken, and the rocks were burst asunder; and great chasms were made in the earth, so that also what was in the abyss appeared. And there were seen in that terror dead men raised up, as the Jews that saw them said: We have seen Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs, that died two thousand five hundred years ago; and we have seen Noah manifestly in the body. And all the multitude walked about, and sang praises to God with a loud voice, saying: The Lord our God that has risen from the dead has brought to life all the dead, and has plundered Hades, and put him to death. (Letters of Pontius Pilate: Communique to Caesar Tiberius regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ)
The witnesses to this glorious event go on and on, some religious, some secular, but all swear by all that is holy that they saw the resurrected Christ.
And so we look at this world today and those who would deny the divinity of Jesus Christ because He died and further deny His resurrection as unbelievable. To them I say, Jesus was born to a mortal mother so that He could die. He was born of a god so that He could control the moment of that death. Until He died and resurrected on that third day the grave held captive all who had lived and died since Adam and Eve.
I have not looked my Savior in the face during my mortal life, as much as I long to, but as Jesus Christ said: “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” I believe, and it has been testified to me as truth by the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ lived, suffered, died and was resurrected. This is truth and the denying of it does not make it any less real.
Reach out to Him that paid the ransom for your sins and let yourself be embraced in His arms. For Jesus Christ awaits all who will follow in His path to welcome them home. This I testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.