A week ago was Easter, and our thoughts were focused again on the atoning sacrifice and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This past year I have been thinking and pondering about the Resurrection more than normal.
Nearly one year ago, our daughter Alisa died. She had struggled with cancer for almost eight years, with several surgeries, many different treatments, exciting miracles, and deep disappointments. We watched her physical condition deteriorate as she came to the close of her mortal life. It was excruciating to see that happen to our precious daughter—that bright-eyed little baby who had grown up to be a talented, wonderful woman, wife, and mother. I thought my heart would break.
Last year at Easter time, a little over a month before she passed away, Alisa wrote: “Easter is a reminder of all that I hope for myself. That someday I will be healed and someday I will be whole. Someday I won’t have any metal or plastic inside of me. Someday my heart will be free of fear and my mind free of anxieties. I am not praying that this happens soon, but I am so glad I truly believe in a beautiful afterlife.”1
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ ensures the very things Alisa hoped for and instills in each of us “a reason [for] the hope that is in [us].”2 President Gordon B. Hinckley referred to the Resurrection as “the greatest of all events in the history of mankind.”3
The Resurrection is brought to pass by the Atonement of Jesus Christ and is pivotal to the great plan of salvation.4 We are spirit children of heavenly parents.5 When we come to this earth life, our spirit is united with our body. We experience all the joys and challenges associated with mortal life. When a person dies, their spirit is separated from their body. Resurrection makes it possible for a person’s spirit and body to be united again, only this time that body will be immortal and perfect—not subject to pain, disease, or other problems.6
After resurrection, the spirit will never again be separated from the body because the Savior’s Resurrection brought total victory over death. In order to obtain our eternal destiny, we need to have this immortal soul—a spirit and body—united forever. With spirit and immortal body inseparably connected, we can “receive a fulness of joy.”7 In fact, without the Resurrection we could never receive a fulness of joy but would be miserable forever.8 Even faithful, righteous people view the separation of their bodies from their spirits as captivity. We are released from this captivity through the Resurrection, which is redemption from the bands or chains of death.9 There is no salvation without both our spirit and our body.
Each of us has physical, mental, and emotional limitations and weaknesses. These challenges, some of which seem so intractable now, will eventually be resolved. None of these problems will plague us after we are resurrected. Alisa researched survival rates for persons with the type of cancer she had, and the numbers were not encouraging. She wrote: “But there is a cure, so I’m not scared. Jesus has already cured my cancer, and yours. … I will be better. I’m glad I know this.”10
We can replace the word cancer with any of the other physical, mental, or emotional ailments we may face. Because of the Resurrection, they have already been cured too. The miracle of resurrection, the ultimate cure, is beyond the power of modern medicine. But it is not beyond the power of God. We know it can be done because the Savior is resurrected and will bring to pass the Resurrection of each of us too.11
The Resurrection of the Savior proves that He is the Son of God and that what He taught is real. “He is risen, as he said.”12 There could be no stronger proof of His divinity than Him coming forth from the grave with an immortal body.
We know of witnesses to the Resurrection in New Testament times. In addition to the women and men we read about in the Gospels, the New Testament assures us that hundreds actually saw the resurrected Lord.13 And the Book of Mormon tells of many hundreds more: “The multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, … and [they] did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.”14
To those ancient witnesses are added witnesses in the latter days. In fact, in the opening scene of this dispensation, Joseph Smith saw the resurrected Savior with the Father.15 Living prophets and apostles have testified of the reality of the resurrected, living Christ.16 So we may say, “We also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.”17 And each of us can be part of a cloud of witnesses who know through the power of the Holy Ghost that what we celebrate on Easter actually happened—that the Resurrection is real.
The reality of the Resurrection of the Savior overwhelms our heartbreak with hope because with it comes the assurance that all the other promises of the gospel are just as real—promises that are no less miraculous than the Resurrection. We know that He has the power to cleanse us from all our sins. We know that He has taken upon Himself all our infirmities, pains, and the injustices we have suffered.18 We know that He has “rise[n] from the dead, with healing in his wings.”19 We know that He can make us whole no matter what is broken in us. We know that He “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.”20 We know that we can be “made perfect through Jesus … , who wrought out this perfect atonement,”21 if we will just have faith and follow Him.
Toward the end of the inspiring oratorio Messiah, Handel put to beautiful music the Apostle Paul’s words that rejoice over the Resurrection.
“Behold, I [tell] you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: … the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
“… Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? …
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”22
I am grateful for the blessings that are ours because of the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For all who have laid a child in a grave or wept over the casket of a spouse or grieved over the death of a parent or someone they loved, the Resurrection is a source of great hope. What a powerful experience it will be to see them again—not just as spirits but with resurrected bodies.
I long to see my mother again and feel her gentle touch and look into her loving eyes. I want to see my father’s smile and hear his laugh and see him as a resurrected, perfect being. With an eye of faith, I picture Alisa completely beyond the reach of any earthly troubles or any sting of death—a resurrected, perfected Alisa, victorious and with a fulness of joy.
A few Easters ago, she wrote simply: “Life through His name. So much hope. Always. Through everything. I love Easter to remind me.”23
I testify of the reality of the Resurrection. Jesus Christ lives, and because of Him, we will all live again. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.