Easter and the Book of Mormon
Regarding “Easter,” the LDS Bible Dictionary states: “This word occurs only once in the Bible (Acts 12:4) and then would be better translated ‘Passover.’… [It is] the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.… Jesus, being the Lamb of God, was crucified at Passover time and is the true Passover.” Easter is appropriately associated with new light and life, and we cannot celebrate Easter without speaking of the Atonement.
2 Nephi 9:6-15, 22; Alma 11:41-45; Alma 40:21-23 Three Blessings of the Atonement
As we celebrate Easter, it is best to consider not only the Resurrection, but all blessings of the Atonement. In 2 Nephi 9:6, “the merciful plan of the great Creator” is highlighted. In this plan, man became fallen and expelled from God’s presence (which is spiritual death), and he also became subject to mortal death. We may consider these two deaths to be catastrophic, but they are necessary steps in our eternal progress. Still, we must be extricated from our fallen condition. Let us identify three great gifts of the Atonement:
- Redemption from temporal or mortal death (the “first death,” defined as separation of body and spirit; see Alma 11:43, 45). Because of Christ, all who ever lived will become immortal, with a “perfect form” and “proper frame” (Alma 11:43; 40:23), through the gift and power of Jesus’s resurrection (2 Nephi 9:6-8, 10-13, 15, 22; Alma 11:41-45; 40:21-23).
- Redemption from spiritual death (the “second death,” defined as separation from God). Our Savior suffered for our sins, which leads to forgiveness and entry into God’s presence, subject to our faith and repentance (2 Nephi 9:7, 10, 12).
- Redemption through Christ’s grace, which is enabling power that allows us to fully come unto Him. Without His grace, we would not be able to breathe, move, function, live, and grow (see Mosiah 2:21; D&C 88:11-13). The Bible Dictionary states that grace is “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ … made possible by His atoning sacrifice…. Divine grace is needed by every soul.”
2 Nephi 9:6-15, 22; Mosiah 15:5-9; Alma 11:41-45; 40:21-23; 3 Nephi 26:4-5 The Judgment
These teachings from Jacob, Amulek, Alma, and Jesus help us understand the following:
- After being resurrected, all will appear before God to be judged according to our works (2 Nephi 9:14-15, 22; Alma 11:41, 43-44; 40:21; 3 Nephi 26:4).
- At the Judgment, we will remember our unrepented guilt (2 Nephi 9:14; Alma 11:43), but also our righteousness (2 Nephi 9:14).
- At our judgment, Jesus will represent His disciples and “make intercession” for them before the Father, “standing betwixt them and justice” (Mosiah 15:8-9; see also D&C 45:3-5).
- God’s judgment of us is “according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ” (3 Nephi 26:5), which includes His love and generous grace toward all (see also 2 Nephi 9:15; Mosiah 15:9).
Regarding this last point, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. of the First Presidency testified: “I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children…. I believe that in his justice and mercy he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1953, p. 84.)
Mosiah 3:7; 15:5-9; Alma 11:7-13 What Was the Nature of Jesus’s Suffering?
It is not possible to fathom what Jesus Christ endured in Gethsemane and on the cross. But the Lord has given us several descriptive expressions that can help us try to appreciate the gift of His atonement:
- He was “mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people” (Mosiah 15:5).
- He suffered “temptation, pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (Mosiah 3:7; see also 15:5).
- He took upon Himself our “iniquity,” our “transgressions” (Mosiah 15:9) and “the sins of his people” (Alma 7:13).
- He endured “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” (Alma 7:11).
- He took upon Himself “the sicknesses of his people,” our “infirmities,” and “death” (Alma 7:11-12).
- He was “led, crucified, and slain” (Mosiah 15:7).
Additionally, we learn that His suffering was “even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death” (Mosiah 3:7). In other words, if any human were subjected as Christ was, it would immediately result in that person’s death. But not so with Jesus, for He had power over death—including when He would die—and He chose to remain alive until He knew that He had paid “the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26) and could say, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
And, what was the cause of Jesus’s suffering? The scripture says, “for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). Jesus’s pain was physical, spiritual, and emotional; and His anguish was caused by our sins. It was so intense that the Savior prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”; but of course, Jesus immediately followed up that petition with, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39; see also Mark 14:35-36; Luke 22:42). This was our Savior’s attitude, determination, and willingness, just as it says in Mosiah 15:5, 7, 9: “And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father … the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father … being filled with compassion towards the children of men” (see also D&C 19:18-19). We too must work daily to submit our will to the will of the Father.
He won! The scripture states: “And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory … taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice” (Mosiah 15:8-9; see also Alma 7:12-13). This is our Redeemer, conquering both physical and spiritual deaths, in order to save us all.
Mosiah 5:1-2; 27:8-28; Alma 15:3-12; 24:7-19 He Heals Us and Gives Us New Life
Go through these scriptures carefully and make a list of what happens when we are “born again” (Mosiah 27:25), as well as what happens any time we are strengthened or healed by Christ. Your list may look like this:
- A mighty change in our hearts; our disposition being changed to good continually (Mosiah 5:2).
- Sincere repentance, followed by spiritual rescue and re-birth (Mosiah 27:24).
- Being changed from carnal and fallen to a state of righteousness (Mosiah 27:25).
- Rescue from burning, bitterness, and bonds; instead beholding the marvelous light of God (Mosiah 27:28-29).
- Being healed of spiritual and emotional sickness (Alma 15:3, 5, 10-11).
- Being convinced of one’s sins and false traditions (Alma 24:7-9).
- Gaining forgiveness from God and having guilt removed from our hearts (Alma 24:10).
- A determination not to return to sinful ways (Alma 24:12-13, 15-19).
- A knowledge and understanding of the plan of salvation (Alma 24:14).
- Entering into a covenant relationship with God (Alma 24:18).
- Firmness in the faith (Alma 24:19).