“The Heart of Easter: The Living Jesus Christ,” For the Strength of Youth, Mar. 2021, 2–5.
At this season of Easter, we celebrate the living Jesus Christ. With perfect love, our Savior assures us: “In me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In celebrating Easter, we rejoice that Jesus Christ lives—not only then, but now; not just for some, but for all. He came and comes to heal the brokenhearted, deliver the captives, recover sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are bruised (see Luke 4:18). That’s each of us. His redeeming promises apply, no matter our past, our present, or concerns for our future.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a colt and many “people … took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him” (John 12:12–13; see also Matthew 21:8–9; Mark 11:8–10). Traditionally, palms are a sacred symbol to express joy in our Lord. The faithful recognized this as fulfillment of prophecy and knowingly cried, “Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). Hosanna means “save now” (see Bible Dictionary, “Hosanna”).
A week following Palm Sunday is Easter Sunday. President Russell M. Nelson teaches that Jesus Christ “came to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.”1 Indeed, through the Atonement of Christ, all God’s children “may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3). At Easter, we sing hallelujah. Hallelujah means “praise ye the Lord Jehovah” (see Bible Dictionary, “Hallelujah”).
The sacred events between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are the story of hosanna and hallelujah. Hosanna is our plea for God to save. Hallelujah expresses our praise to the Lord for the hope of salvation and exaltation. In hosanna and hallelujah we recognize the living Jesus Christ as the heart of Easter.
On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1836, in the early days of the Restoration, the living Jesus Christ appeared after the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. Those who saw Him there testified of Him in complementary contrasts of fire and water: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:3; emphasis added).
On that occasion, our Savior declared, “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:4). Again, complementary contrasts—first and last, living and slain. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (see Revelation 1:8; 3 Nephi 9:18; Doctrine and Covenants 19:1; 38:1; 45:7), the author and finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2; Moroni 6:4).
Following the appearance of Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah also came. By divine direction, these great prophets of old restored priesthood keys and authority. Thus, “the keys of this dispensation are committed” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:16) within His restored Church to bless all God’s children.
Significantly, the Book of Mormon describes the “power and resurrection of Christ” (Alma 41:2)—the essence of Easter—in terms of two restorations.
First, resurrection includes physical restoration of our “proper and perfect frame”; “every limb and joint,” “even a hair of the head shall not be lost” (Alma 40:23). This promise gives hope to those who have lost limbs; those who have lost ability to see, hear, or walk; or those thought lost to relentless disease, mental illness, or other diminished capacity. He finds us. He makes us whole.
A second promise of Easter and our Lord’s Atonement is that, spiritually, “all things shall be restored to their proper order” (Alma 41:4). This spiritual restoration reflects our works and desires. It restores “that which is good,” “righteous,” “just,” and “merciful” (Alma 41:13). No wonder the prophet Alma uses the word restore 22 times2 as he urges us to “deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually” (Alma 41:14).
Because “God himself atoneth for the sins of the world” (Alma 42:15), the Lord’s Atonement can make whole not only what was but also what can be. Because He knows our pains, afflictions, sicknesses, our “temptations of every kind” (Alma 7:11), He can, with mercy, succor us according to our infirmities (see Alma 7:12). Because God is “a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also,” the plan of mercy can “appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:15). We repent and do all we can. He encircles us eternally “in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15).
With you, at this Easter season, I testify of God, our Eternal Father, and His Beloved Son, the living Jesus Christ. Mortal men were cruelly crucified and later resurrected. But only the living Jesus Christ in His perfect resurrected form still bears the marks of crucifixion in His hands, feet, and side. Only He can say, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16; 1 Nephi 21:16). Only He can say: “I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:52).
In these times, we can learn much of God’s goodness and our divine potential for God’s love to grow in us as we seek Him and reach out to each other.“ And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:71). At this season of hosanna and hallelujah, sing hallelujah—for He shall reign forever and ever! Shout hosanna, to God and the Lamb!