The Joy of Resurrection
by Elder Joseph Chung
of the Seventy
“He (Jesus) is not here: for He is risen, as He said” (See Matthew 28:5-6). This, by far, is the most exciting news in human history!
At the end of the Chinese Song dynasty, loyalist Wen Tianxiang wrote the following verse before he was martyred:
Since ancient times,
Who can escape death?
May my loyal heart
(Wen Tianxiang, 1236-1283, “Leaving Sea of Desolation.”)
While stories like Wen’s, who unflinchingly facing death moved us, the resurrection of Christ inspires our souls. Indeed, “God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
The resurrection of Christ assures us that death for the righteous is sweet. Jesus said,” …they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). In a world where sins are more prevalent all the time, “good deeds” have become rare commodities and at times even defiled as bad. In more and more cases, we see people “call[ing] evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
By His resurrection, the Savior declared that He had overcome death. All that He has taught is truth and what He promised will be fulfilled. How comforting and relieving, how encouraging and rejuvenating this assurance is! Righteousness will eventually overcome evil; truth will shatter lies. No wonder, after the Savior ascended to heaven after His resurrection, Peter and John boldly testified of Christ’s resurrection. The priests and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees put Peter and others in hold and questioned them. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). They commanded Peter and John not to speak at all, but Peter and John answered and said unto them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19).
After the Savior was crucified, people in the American continent experienced tempests, earthquakes, fires, whirlwinds, and physical upheavals (See 3 Nephi 8) and three days covered with darkness, “And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away. And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer” (3 Nephi 10:9-10). To the righteous who survived the disasters, resurrection was neither a myth nor hearsay. Their joy and assurance must have been great beyond description!
Through the power of the Holy Ghost, we all can know for ourselves the reality of Christ’s resurrection (See Moroni 10:5,7). The resurrection of the Savior and His Atonement are inseparably connected. The resurrection has been free and unconditional given to us, just as Paul said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). However, the effect of the Atonement is conditional as the prophet Nephi taught, “Unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved” (2 Nephi 31:16).
Dear brothers and sisters, at this Easter season as we commemorate the resurrection of the Savior, may we ponder upon the atoning sacrifice of the Savior, His triumph over death, and His glorious resurrection. Let us ask ourselves this question, “Will we accept Christ’s invitation to follow Him” (see Matthew 4:19)?
The Lord said, there is no man that hath followed Him ”who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:30). The gospel of Jesus Christ allows us to receive many blessings in this life. For example, keeping the commandments may seem boring or even difficult to some, but through time it is proven that we are happier and life is easier when we keep the commandments than if we disobey them, because ”wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). King Benjamin said, “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41).
Another blessing we can receive when we keep the commandments is the joy we experience when we help others. Those who help people selflessly know that it is more blessed to give than to receive. When we help others, we can feel an inner happiness which is just like what parents will experience when they love their children unselfishly and tirelessly. There are many people in this world, regardless of their religious beliefs, who are willing to give and help others in private and don’t expect any recognition or rewards. We admire such people for their charity. They also make us feel ever grateful for the teachings and example of Jesus!
The Lord told Peter, “and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). After Christ was resurrected, Peter became even more converted and determined, and he indeed strengthened many Church members. In one of his epistles, Peter wrote, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:14-15).
As Christians, in addition to commiting that we are willing to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death” (Mosiah 18:9), we need to do as the prophet Joseph Smith said, “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 426). All in all, the gospel of Christ brings kindness to homes, harmony to society, and peace to the world.
We’re grateful for the resurrection of the Savior. We rejoice in this knowledge. It helps us to be more willing to follow Him, and strive to know Him and emulate His example. Christ has elevated our vision and helped us understand how pure and dignified human nature is and what the infinite worth of souls are. Furthermore, His gospel teaches us that humans have unlimited potential and can someday become like Him and our Father in Heaven. Through a revelation in modern scriptures, He taught us, “Virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy” (D&C 88:40). The worth of virtue surpasses wealth, knowledge, and fame. The Lord looks on the heart and not on the outward appearance (See 1 Samuel 16:7). He respects our agency and doesn’t force us. He works according to people’s faith in Him. He helps us realize how insignificant we are, and yet He loves each one of us. He died for us to make it possible that we can have eternal happiness.
May we all take upon us His name, and worship Him together! ■