The Greatest Week in History
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“The Greatest Week in History,” Ensign, Apr. 1972, 34

The Greatest Week in History

When the history of this world is finally written up with an eternal perspective, many events will vie as being worthy to be included. However, because of their significance to every person who has ever lived on this earth or who will ever live on it, the events of the last week of the Savior’s life—from the Sunday morning of his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem to the Sunday morning of the resurrection—will undoubtedly be acclaimed as the greatest week in history. Without the events of that week, particularly those which took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the time of the resurrection, everything else is virtually meaningless.

Obviously an article such as this could barely list, let alone discuss, all the week’s events that are recorded in the scriptures. Thus, the article will discuss in some detail only one or two events from each day, and it will mention only briefly some of the others.

The First Day (Sunday)

Sunday has been the first day of the week since the time of creation. On this particular Sunday, the first day of the greatest week in history, the Savior left the small village of Bethany, where he had spent the Sabbath with his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and ascended the slopes leading toward Jerusalem, less than three miles away.

Near the village of Bethphage, he dispatched some of his disciples to obtain a small donkey for him so he could enter Jerusalem seated on the donkey; this act would not only fulfill the prophecies but would also indicate that he came in peace.

Matthew records that “a very great multitude” had come out to greet the Master, spreading their garments and the branches of trees before him and crying, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt. 21:8–9.)

All of these acts were symbols of respect, and the use of the title “Son of David” indicated that the multitude accepted the Savior as the long-awaited Messiah, for this was the sacred title reserved for the Messiah.

And why shouldn’t the common believing people be ready to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah? Did he not fulfill the words of their prophets? Was he not a descendant of Judah through the loins of David, just as their prophets had said? Had he not been born of a virgin named Mary in the city of Bethlehem?

Had he not come forth out of Egypt, been reared in Nazareth, proven his mastery over the elements of the earth and the human body by changing the water to wine, by stilling the wind, by calming the waves, by causing the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, and by bringing the very dead back to life again—all as part of the “mighty miracles” the prophets had said he would perform? And here he was, seated on the foal of an ass, entering into the holy city of Jerusalem just as their prophet Zechariah had foretold.

No wonder the common people followed him in great multitudes, greeting him as the Messiah, the “Son of David.” Evidently many of the people expected him to now go into the city and fulfill some of the other prophecies stated about him, including his taking possession of the armies of Israel and leading them to victory over their enemies and then establishing a reign of peace and justice and righteousness upon the earth. He had fulfilled the words of the prophets with his past deeds; surely he would now fulfill the remainder of their words.

As history and the prophets have indicated, the tragic mistake made by the believing Jews at that time was that they expected the Savior to do at his first coming some of the things that he was to do at his second coming. Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet, had stated hundreds of years before the birth of the Savior that the Jews would deny the Messiah when he came, because they were “looking beyond the mark.” (Jacob 4:14.)

It was not until later in the week, after the Savior had made such statements as “Render … unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21) and “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) that the people were to change their cries from “Hosanna to the Son of David” to “Crucify him!” It was not until later in the week that the believers among the common people felt he had betrayed them; therefore they agreed to betray him. On that first Palm Sunday, the cries were still “Hosanna to the Son of David.”

These cries were also heard across the valley from the Mount of Olives on the temple mount, where the Pharisees and some of the jealous religious and secular leaders were assembled. Their consternation at this adulation being given the Savior was so great that they exclaimed, “… the world is gone after him.” (John 12:19.)

When the Savior came nearer to Jerusalem, he wept over the city as he contemplated the future destruction that would come upon its inhabitants. His soul continued to be troubled after he had entered Jerusalem; there he prayed, “Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” A voice answered him from heaven, causing some of the people to exclaim that it thundered, while others replied, “An angel spake to him.” (John 12:27, 29.)

Then the Savior gave his discourse on the children of light, reminding the people that the light would be with them only “yet a little while” and admonishing them: “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” (John 12:35–36.) And when “the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:11.)

The Second Day (Monday)

Early on the second day, Monday, the Savior returned again to Jerusalem from Bethany. Matthew records the trip as follows:

“Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

“And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward, for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

“And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!” (Matt. 21:18–20.)

This incident of the blighting of the fig tree has been difficult for many people to understand because it is so different from the other miracles of the Savior. Before, he had brought relief to the suffering and had largely used his powers for beneficial purposes and blessings; indeed, he had brought the dead back to life again. But here, he appears to have rendered a final judgment and caused death. However, the disciples undoubtedly learned a great lesson from this incident. Among other things, they surely recognized now that the Savior had power to cause death as well as to give life; thus, they realized it would be possible for him to voluntarily give his life as he had said. They had cause to remember this lesson before the week was out.

Another possible lesson learned by the disciples from this incident is that neither they nor anyone else should pretend to be something they really are not. The leafy fig tree pretended to have fruit, for the leaf and the fruit of the fig normally develop together. However, this leafy fig tree was deceptively barren.

Elder James E. Talmage has suggested that the tree was blighted not because it was fruitless (so were the other fig trees at this time of the year, late March or early April), but because it was deceptively barren and represented “a type of human hypocrisy.”

Another event that possibly happened on this second day of the week was the cleansing of the temple. Some students of the gospels have placed this incident on Sunday, the first day, because of the context of Matt. 21:12 and Luke 19:45. However, others have interpreted Mark 11:11 and Mark 15 as meaning that the event took place on Monday.

Regardless of the exact day, it was three years to the week from the time the Savior had driven the money changers from the temple. On that occasion, he had accused them of making his “Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:16. Italics added.) On this occasion, now that he has openly avowed himself to be the Messiah, the Savior refers to the temple as “my house” when he quotes the scripture: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:13.) Before the week is over, the Savior will say to the rebellious residents of Jerusalem concerning the temple, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38. Italics added.) The shift in the words showing possession is both interesting and significant.

The apostate religious leaders were incensed at this treatment by the Savior, and “the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.”

However, the common people “were very attentive to hear him.” (Luke 19:47–48.)

The chief priests and the scribes were further displeased when they saw the Savior healing the blind and the lame who came to him in the temple; and they were incensed when they heard the children crying in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David.”

Matthew records the end of the incident as follows: And the chief priests and the scribes “said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes arid sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

“And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.” (Matt. 21: 6–17.)

The Third and Fourth Days (Tuesday and Wednesday)

The events of Tuesday and Wednesday will be considered together, not only because many of the events are related but because it is not always evident from the scriptures exactly which events happened on which days.

The record is clear, however, that after the events of Sunday and Monday, when the common people had demonstrated their love and interest in the Messiah, both the secular and religious leaders felt threatened by his possible leadership and they determined they would challenge him and hopefully would discredit him in the eyes of the people. Thus, they had spent their time devising barbed questions with which they hoped to discredit him.

When the Savior arrived at the temple mount, the first group to come forth with their question was a delegation representing the hierarchy of the temple. They remembered only too vividly how he had cast out the moneychangers and had accused them of making “his” house a den of thieves. Therefore, they accosted him with their carefully prepared question: “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23.)

The Savior countered with a question of his own: “I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” (Matt. 21:24–25.)

It is of interest to note that the members of the delegation did not consider answering him with what they really believed; rather, they considered their answer in light of how the people might respond, for “they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

“But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

“And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” (Matt. 21:25–27.)

The Savior then turned questioner, and with the challenging introduction of “What think ye,” he gave his last three parables to a public audience: the parable of the Two Sons, the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, and the parable of the Royal Marriage Feast. (See Matt. 21:28–46; Matt. 22:1–14.)

The next group to attempt to ridicule the Master were the Herodians, those who supported the rulership of Herod and the Roman leaders and who sought to bring down any possible new religious leadership. Their barbed question was: “What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

“But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

“Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

“And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:17–21.)

The Sadducees were the next group to attempt to trick the Savior; they were of that faction of Judaism who were the avowed opponents of the Pharisees and who disagreed with them on many religious questions, including the resurrection. On this occasion the Sadducees asked the Master a question based on the extremely unlikely situation of a woman who had been married to, and then widowed by, seven consecutive brothers. Their query was, “in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven?” (Matt. 22:28.)

The Savior, sensing that the real question was not whose wife she would be, but whether or not there was indeed a resurrection, answered their direct question but briefly, pointing out that eternal marriage relationships were determined by the power of the priesthood here upon this earth; thus, “they neither marry, nor are given in marriage” in the resurrection.

Then the Master dealt with the real substance of the question: “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matt. 22:30–32.)

The honest in heart who were present quickly recognized the unassailable logic used by the Savior: Inasmuch as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had all died many years before, yet God still said he was their God and that he was God only of the living, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must still be living! Certain of the scribes who were present exclaimed, “Master, thou hast well said.” The logic silenced the Sadducees, “and after that they durst not ask him any question at all.” (Luke 20:39–40.)

The final group, the Pharisees, were ready with their question, however, which was put to the Master by one of their number, a lawyer: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36), or, as Mark phrased it, “Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28).

The Savior’s answer, however, was definite and unequivocal. He replied in almost the same words used by Moses with the children of Israel, which words Moses had commanded the Israelites to teach diligently to their children: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37–39.)

After answering the Pharisees, the Savior turned questioner and asked them: “What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” Their prompt reply was, “The Son of David.

“He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord. …

“If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

“And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matt. 22:42–46.)

The Savior then turned to the disciples and taught them, in the hearing of the multitude, of the false teachings and practices of the scribes and the Pharisees. He frequently used the word hypocrite in referring to the self-assumed teachers, and he concluded his denunciation by referring to them as “serpents” and a “generation of vipers.” (Matt. 23:33.)

The Savior then lamented over Jerusalem, reminding the people of the many prophets who had been sent to this area, and yet how frequently the people had rejected these prophets. He also pronounced the destruction that was yet to come upon the people and upon the city, stating concerning the temple “there shall not be left here one stone upon another.” (Matt. 24:2.)

Next, the Savior went to the Mount of Olives, where the disciples met with him privately and asked him to explain his prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent events that were to follow until the end of the world. The teachings of the Savior on this subject occupy three chapters in the gospels (Matt. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21).

However, to make the teachings even more clear and plain, the Savior revealed them to the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation, and they are printed in the writings of Joseph Smith, chapter 1, in the Pearl of Great Price. The Savior specifically stated, “I speak these things unto you for the elect’s sake.” (JS—M 1:23.) Thus, every person who has elected and determined to follow the Savior and his teachings should carefully review these inspired teachings.

After answering the specific points raised by his disciples, the Savior concluded his teachings to them that day by giving the last three parables that are recorded in the New Testament: the parable of the Ten Virgins, the parable of the Entrusted Talents, and the parable of the Inevitable Judgment.

The Savior then returned to Bethany to spend the night and to prepare for the trying ordeal that was ahead.

The Fifth and Sixth Days (Thursday and Friday)

The scriptures give very few details of the events during the early part of Thursday, the fifth day. The indications are that sometime during the day Judas Iscariot had plotted with the “chief priests and the Pharisees” to betray the Christ and deliver him into their hands. Also, the Savior had given instructions to his disciples as to where the feast of the Passover was to be observed by them that evening.

Several significant events took place at the time of the Passover meal, which was held in the “guestchamber … a large upper room” of one of the “goodmen” in the city of Jerusalem. (See Mark 14:14–15.) Here it was revealed that Judas Iscariot should be the one who was to betray the Savior. Here the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was instituted. Here the Savior washed the feet of the disciples and asked them to continue to perform this ordinance.

After Judas left the gathering, the Savior gave a new commandment to the remaining disciples in these words: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34.) It was also on this occasion that he counseled Peter, “… when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32.)

The Savior reminded his disciples that he was soon to leave them, yet he would not leave them comfortless but would send them the “other Comforter,” the Holy Ghost. He explained that the Holy Ghost shall “bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14: 26.)

Then the Savior uttered the superb allegory of the vine and the branches, wherein he said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. … I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. …” (John 15:1, 5.)

This was followed by the “high priestly” prayer of the Savior in which he said: “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:1–3.)

The Savior’s statement “the hour is come” was soon followed by his leaving the upper room and proceeding to the Mount of Olives and to the Garden of Gethsemane, where occurred one of the most important and transcendent events in the history of the world. It was here that he atoned for the original transgressions of Adam and Eve, and it was here that he took upon himself the sins of all mankind upon the condition of repentance of their sins.

The events in the Garden of Gethsemane and what happened in the next three days were so important that the Savior exclaimed, “… for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12:27.)

Upon leaving the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior met Judas and “the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders” who had come to take him to trial. (Luke 22:52.)

The events of the remainder of that night and the chief events of the next day (Friday) are listed by the writers of the four gospels. These events include the appearance and illegal trial before the high priest (Caiaphas) and the Sanhedrin, where he was first charged with sedition (a disturber of the peace) but was then accused of blasphemy (falsely assuming the power of God), which was the most serious charge in Jewish law.

When he was asked directly, “Tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63), his answer was clear and definite, “I am.” (Mark 14:62.) The apostate high priest cried out, “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? … He is guilty of death.” (Matt. 26:65–66.)

Thus one of the greatest ironies in history occurred, for Jesus, the divine Son of God, the one person who could not have been guilty of falsely assuming the power of God, was found guilty of blasphemy! Also, the only person since the fall of Adam who had power over physical death was condemned to die! However, the power to pronounce capital punishment had been taken away from the Jewish council by Roman decree; thus the leaders of the Sanhedrin had him delivered to Pilate so an official decree of death could be issued.

The Savior was thus brought to trial before Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea who lived in Caesarea but who happened to be in Jerusalem for the Jewish feasts. There, Pilate came outside to hear their charges. The charge was now changed to that of high treason, the most serious offense in the Roman law. To back their charge of treason against the Savior, the members of the Sanhedrin falsely claimed the Savior had forbidden the people to give tribute to Caesar (his actual words were, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”—Matt. 22:21), and they also accused him of making himself a king. (Luke 23:2.) When Pilate asked the Savior directly, “Art thou the king of the Jews?” (Luke 23:3), the Savior answered, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Thus finding no fault in him, Pilate was about to let the Savior go free when one of the priests claimed that Jesus had been teaching treason “beginning from Galilee to this place.” (Luke 23:5.) As soon as Pilate was reminded that Jesus was a Galilean, he sent the Savior to be tried by Herod, the vassal ruler of the province of Galilee, who was also in Jerusalem for the Passover season. However, when the Savior refused to answer any of the questions put to him by Herod, he was taken again before Pilate by the members of the Sanhedrin, who were determined to have a death sentence pronounced against him.

Pilate could still find no fault in the Savior and so declared, saying, “I will … chastise him, and release him.” (Luke 23:16.) Pilate also reminded the Jews that it was the custom during the Passover season to release one of the prisoners from prison and that he was willing to invoke this precedence for the release of Jesus. However, the people cried, “Release … Barabbas” (Luke 23:18); thus a murderer and one guilty of sedition was released, while the innocent one was retained.

When finally Pilate asked the people what they wanted him to do with Jesus, their awful cry was, “Crucify him, crucify him.” (Luke 23:21.)

Pilate’s reply was that he found no fault in the man, and that he washed his hands of his blood. And then came the awful condemnatory cry, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25.) Even then, Pilate was about to let the Savior go with just a scourging and a chastisement, when a person cried out the barb, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” (John 19:12.) This taunt proved to be too much for Pilate, who had received what power he had from Caesar.

Thus Pilate finally agreed to the crucifixion and turned Jesus over to his soldiers to be scourged.

Then followed the torturous walk to Golgotha, where the tired, physical body of the Savior was given the assistance of Simon of Cyrene in carrying the cross.

Pilate had earlier ordered that the words “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS” should be inscribed on the cross in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin characters. When the Jewish leaders tried to get him to change the inscription from “The King of the Jews” to “he said, I am King of the Jews,” Pilate replied: “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:21–22.)

It was about the third hour (9:00 A.M.) of the sixth day (Friday) when the Savior was nailed to the cross. Despite the pain of the nailing, the Savior later could still look upon the Roman soldiers and say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)

About noon a great earthquake occurred, which among other things rent the veil of the temple. The light of the sun was also obscured, and “there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.” (Luke 23:44.)

It was about three in the afternoon when the Savior cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46.) Then he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Thus, the one who had been given power over death by his Father voluntarily gave up his life so that physical death could be conquered and all of us might live eternally.

According to religious law, it was not proper to leave a body unburied on the Sabbath day. Thus, as sundown approached, the followers of the Savior took his body from the cross and quickly and incompletely prepared it for burial. The body was then laid in the tomb offered by one of his disciples, Joseph of Arimathaea.

And thus ended Friday, the sixth day, perhaps the darkest day in the history of the world.

The Seventh Day (Saturday)

The New Testament is practically silent concerning the events of the seventh day while the body of the Savior lay in the tomb. The most extensive account in the four Gospels is the terse statement by Luke that they “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:56.)

Later, however, Peter mentioned some of the happenings of that seventh day:

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; …

“For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:18–19; 1 Pet. 4:6.)

While the Savior was still on the cross, he had hinted concerning some of his actions in the immediate future, for he had promised the repentant thief, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43.) Earlier in his ministry the Savior had prophesied concerning his activities in the post-earthly spirit world:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

“And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (John 5:25–28.)

The Lord has revealed to Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church in this dispensation, what actually occurred on that momentous day, which in eternity promises to be one of the most important days of all time. (See Ensign, November 1971, pp. 66–70.)

The Book of Mormon also tells us of some of the activities of Jesus on this seventh day when his body lay in the tomb in Jerusalem. It was on this day that the Savior spoke out of the darkness to the Nephite survivors on the American continent. He did not appear to them on that occasion, but he spoke to them and, among other things, said:

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.

“I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.

“And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh. …” (3 Ne. 9:13–17.)

Among many peoples on the earth the seventh day was a day of physical darkness, but it was only the brief darkness of the night that was to precede the most glorious dawn in history.

The Eighth Day (Sunday)

Although the resurrection occurred on the eighth day, according to the actual time that had elapsed it was not yet a full week since Jesus had left Bethany the previous Sunday to go to Jerusalem.

John records that “it was yet dark” on “the first day of the week” (John 20:1) when Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” came to the tomb of the Savior with their sweet spices to anoint his body. However, they found the tomb empty, and an angel soon explained to them why the body of the Savior was not therein: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead. …” (Matt. 28:5–7.)

And so the darkness and the despair of Friday were changed into the light and joy of the day when the Savior was resurrected from the dead, breaking forever the bands of physical death and guaranteeing every person life after death. What event in all history is there to compare with this?

Before the day was ended, many witnesses could testify of the literalness of the resurrection, not only because of the appearances of the resurrected Christ but also because of the appearances of other resurrected beings, for Matthew records that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matt. 27:52–53.)

The peoples of the Book of Mormon also had these additional witnesses, for just as Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied, after the resurrection of the Savior on the eastern continent many bodies of the saints in the Americas also “did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them.” (3 Ne. 23:11.)

Within the next few weeks, the resurrected Christ appeared several times, including appearances to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, to Peter, to ten of the apostles on the day of his resurrection, to the eleven apostles (including Thomas) a week after his resurrection, to seven of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, to the eleven apostles on a mountain in Galilee, to more than 500 brethren at one time, and to the apostles at the time of his ascension into heaven. The Book of Mormon tells of additional appearances of the resurrected Christ, including one appearance to 2500 persons and later appearances to even larger groups.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most carefully documented events in history, as it should rightfully be, for it was the crowning event in the most important week in the history of the world.

The apostle John listed the following reason for including in his gospel the major events of the last week in the earthly life of the Savior: “… 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 20:31.)

  • Prior to his recent calling to serve as director of instructional materials for the Church, Dr. Ludlow was a professor of ancient scripture and dean of the College of Religion at Brigham Young University. He is also director of correlation secretaries for the Church. He resides in the 13th Ward, Provo East Stake.

Photos by Doyle L. Green

Traditional Garden of Gethsemane

Kidron Valley with the wall of Jerusalem in background

Temple site in Jerusalem, with the Moslem mosque, the Dome of the Rock, at right

Mount of Olives from Jerusalem

Gordon’s Calvary, revered by many as hill where Jesus was crucified

Garden Tomb, where Jesus’ body may have lain

“Garden of the Resurrection” from inside the tomb