(picture from lds.org)
i was asked to speak for the first time in our new ward on easter sunday... (so much pressure!) with a very vague topic of "easter" (way to add to the pressure...) but i think i did okay... i got some good ideas from a talk entitled "this glorious easter morn" given by president gordon b hinckley 20 years ago... give it a read, that man was amazing! what a wonderful easter sunday it was... and how grateful i am for the miracle of the empty tomb ♥
happy easter to you all!
“There was once a bridge which spanned a large river. During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river paralleled with the banks, allowing ships to pass through freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river, allowing a train to cross it.
A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place as the train crossed. One evening as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come; he looked off into the distance thru the dimming twilight and caught sight of the train lights. He stepped to the control and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance at which time he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but, to his horror, he found the locking control did not work. If the bridge was not securely in position it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came onto it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This would be a passenger train with many people aboard. He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a lever switch he could hold to operate the lock manually. He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed. He could hear the rumble of the train now, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man’s strength.
Then, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control shack, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. “Daddy, where are you?” His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first impulse was to cry out to his child, “Run! Run!” But the train was too close; his tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time. The man almost left his lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety. But he realized that he could not get back to the lever. Either the people on the train or his little son must die. He took a moment to make his decision.
The train sped safely and swiftly on its way, and no one aboard was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They did not see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked: to tell his wife how their son had brutally died to save the lives of others."
Now if you comprehend the emotions which went through this man’s heart, you can begin to understand the feelings of our Father in Heaven when He sacrificed His Son to bridge the gap between us and eternal life. Can there be any wonder that He caused the earth to tremble and the skies to darken when His Son died? How does our Heavenly Father feel when we speed along through life without giving a thought to what was done for us through Jesus Christ? When we think of the Atonement do we only think of our Savior’s gift to us? Or do we also think of a loving Father in Heaven, who watched His son die for each of us, so that we could live again.
This is Easter morning. This is the Lord’s day, when we celebrate the greatest victory of all time, the victory over death. Those who hated Jesus thought they had put an end to Him forever when they pierced His hands and feet and side when the cross was raised on Calvary. But this was the Son of God, whose power they could not understand. Through His death came the and our own assurance of eternal life. None of us can fully understand the pain He suffered as He prayed in Gethsemane and was then crucified between two thieves.
With unbearable sorrow those who loved Him placed His wounded, lifeless body in the tomb belonging of Joseph of Arimathea. Gone was hope from the lives of His Apostles, whom He had loved and taught. Their Lord and Master had been crucified and His body laid in a sealed tomb. He had taught them of His eventual death and Resurrection, but they had not understood. They must have wept and wondered as the great stone was rolled to seal the burial place.
The Jewish Sabbath passed. Then came a new day, a day that would be the Lord’s day. Grieving Mary Magdalene and the other women came to the tomb. The stone was no longer in place. Curiously they looked inside. To their astonishment the tomb was empty. Distraught, Mary ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciples whom Jesus loved. She cried, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” as found in .
They came running, and their fears were confirmed. Jesus no longer lay in the tomb.
“But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
“And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
“And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
“And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” this is found in .
She who had loved Him so much, she who had been healed by Him, was the first to whom He appeared. There followed others, even, as Paul declared, in 1st Corinthians, up to 500 brethren at one time.
It was then that the Apostles understood what He had tried to teach them. Thomas, felt His wounds, and declared “My Lord and My God”.
There is no one that could doubt the truth of that account. No other event in history has ever been more certainly confirmed. There is the testimony of all who saw and felt and spoke with the risen Lord. He appeared on two continents in two hemispheres and taught the people before His final ascension. Two sacred volumes, two testaments speak of this, the most glorious of all events in all of human history. But these are only accounts, the faithless critics say. To which we are able to reply that beyond these is the witness and the testimony, borne by the power of the , of the truth of this most remarkable event. Through the centuries untold numbers have paid with the sacrifice of their comforts, their fortunes, even their very lives for the convictions they carried in their hearts that Jesus Christ lives! He is our risen, living Lord.
There also came the ringing testimony of the first Prophet of this dispensation that he saw and was actually spoken to by the Almighty Father and the Risen Son. That vision, glorious beyond all description, became the beginning of this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That vision, which as we re-tell and read time and time again, allows our own personal conviction of the gospel to grow within us.
There is nothing more universal than death, and nothing brighter with hope and faith than our assurance of being able to one day gain our own immortality. The sorrow that comes with death, the bereavement that follows the passing of a loved one is only able to be softened by that certainty that the Son of God was raised from the dead, that first Easter morning.
How different would our lives be without this hope of immortality? Life would simply be a journey ending with no assurance of where we go to next.
The pain of death is taken away within the peace of eternal life.
Contemplating the wonder of the Atonement which our Saviour willingly suffered on behalf of all mankind, the Prophet said in Doctrine and Covenants 128 verse 23:
“Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!”.
Whenever death takes a loved one, there shines through the sorrow of that hour, the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who overcame death for me and for all of you. He is our Redeemer. He gave His life for each of us. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He stands above all rulers. He is our only true comfort, when the spirit of a loved one departs from this earth.
Towering above all men who have ever lived is Jesus Christ. In our hours of deepest sorrow we draw hope and peace and certainty from the words of the angel that Easter morning, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (). We draw strength from the words of Paul, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ … all [are] made alive” ().
I particularly love the words of Hymn 193, I stand all Amazed:
He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives, the living Son of our living God.
As said in the Doctrine and covenants 76: 22-23 “and now after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father”
Of this I know for myself, and I bear testimony that he lives, this Easter morning, when we remember the miracle of the empty tomb, in His sacred name, Jesus Christ. Amen.