“Day turned into night, his friends scattered, and death thought it had won. But heaven just started counting to three.”
Today is a day to celebrate. Today might be the day I rejoice more than any other day of the year. Today we celebrate the day the bands of death were broken. Today, death has no victory.
“But there is a resurrection, therefore, the grave hath no victory. The sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”
Is this hard to believe?? That Death can and was overcome? If not, Are we thinking about it enough? The possibility that people who have died can be brought forth and live again in a resurrected body has brought hope to many and has stirred up controversy. I wonder if we fully appreciate the enormous significance of our belief in a literal resurrection.
I grew up Cliff jumping At Lake Powell. Each year the cliffs we would jump got higher and higher. My palms are sweaty just thinking about it. I would get nervous every Time. Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to Mexico where my husband and I decided to bungee jump off a high ledge over the ocean. As I reached the EDGE, so many memories rushed back, and I was nervous, just as I had been as a child — Nervous to take that plunge. But Why was I so nervous? Because the second you jump off a cliff, attached to a bungee, or out of a plane, there is no going back! Every time I have stepped over that edge I’ve thought, “this is it! There is no going back now!!”
The only other time I thought this was the day we lost our sweet daughter Penny. My dad had told me to keep her connected to the machines that were keeping her alive and breathing. And I knew why. Death was one of those cliff jumping moments where there was no going back. I couldn’t bear the thought, but it kept coming to me. I felt hopeless. When the doctor finally told me that she had passed, I knew there was nothing I could do. It was like jumping off a cliff.
This latest bungee jump experience was different than cliff jumping. After cliff jumping you hit the water and swim to the boat. But this time, I didn’t hit the water. I bounced a few good bounces, and then I saw something! I was looking for it because the instructor (a trained professional who had done this many times before) told me it was coming. It was a rope! A rope that he had instructed me to fasten to my “D” ring on my harness. This rope was to pull me back up. back to the top.
I liken this experience to this Easter Day, because, brothers and sisters, I was wrong that day at the hospital. In that moment of despair and hopelessness, I was so wrong. Death does not finish us! It is not the end. When you have watched someone go, when you have held them and seen them pass to the other side, this is a very hard thing to accept. Although we’re taught our whole lives to believe you will see your loved ones again, it’s hard to believe it when you’re faced with it. I’ve been given a small glimpse of what Christ’s Apostles must have felt. I think of them watching Christ die, taking him down from the cross, and carrying and caring for his body as they laid it in the tomb. I’ve known a small piece of the pain they must have felt, even though Jesus told them many times that he would rise on the third day. It was just too hard for them to believe it.
But Brothers and sisters, that’s exactly what He DID!! Three days later, Christ rose from the tomb and we can read the written accounts of the resurrected savior in the bible and the book of Mormon. Hundreds saw the risen lord and touched him, feeling the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. In third nephi, the savior invited a multitude to have this experience “one by one”, so that they would know that he was the Son of God, that he had died and risen from the dead. That he reunited both the spirit and the body back together as one.
We also know from modern revelation, that without the reuniting of our spirits and our bodies in the resurrection we could not receive a “fullness of joy”
Samuel the lamanite taught us that Christ had to die for the resurrection to be made possible:
“He surely must die that salvation may come; yea it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead.”
Jesus Christ had to be the first to break the bands of death. We are taught in the scriptures that The order of the resurrection will come to those that are most faithful first then down to the wicked, being that last to be resurrected. Christ was the only one of us with power over death.
Lehi Taught this principle to his son Jacob:
“The Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh and taketh it again by the power of the spirit that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.”
This reality, this hope the resurrection gives us can change our whole perspective. This is not the end! We don’t have to fear death.
elder Oaks said:
“this assurance of the resurrection and immortality affects how we look on the physical challenges of mortality, how we live our mortal lives, and how we relate to those around us. The assurance of the resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love.”
The song “I will rise” has become especially close to my heart. Its chorus says, “I will rise, when he calls my name. no more sorrow, and no more pain. I will rise.”
I say these words to myself daily. Today I celebrate the most remarkable day the world has known. Today I celebrate my savior and the sacrifice he made so that I will indeed hug and hold my Penny again. I will be reunited with all those I am separated from in the flesh. I’m not just saying this. These are not just words. I have been to the depths, and this knowledge and this knowledge alone has pulled me back. The knowledge that death has been conquered by my lord, my brother, my savior Jesus Christ.