The Internet is a wonderful thing, and it has brought a great change in the way most people act and interact. I appreciate the Internet for many reasons, the most important of which is the ease that I now have to stay in contact with family members and friends in distant places. However, I also appreciate the ease with which I can gain instant information about many subjects. I can ask Google almost any question and receive an answer immediately.
Tonight I asked the Internet this question: What day most changed the course of history? I discovered some interesting answers that include following: Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker, says that it is June 28, 1914. On this date “Franz Ferdinand’s carriage driver took a wrong turn” and “put in motion the two largest wars in world history” – World Wars I and II.
Christina H. Paxson, President, Brown University, says that it is the day in 1440 when “Johannes Gutenberg finished his wooden printing press” and “Western civilization turned onto a path toward more efficient, accessible communication of knowledge.” Other people listed the day that the steam engine was invented, the day that the American colonists signed the Declaration of Independence, and even the date when American women received the right to vote. Surely, others would say the date of the first flight by the Wright brothers as well as other worthwhile achievements.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints suggests that we should raise our thinking to a higher level. He believes that the event that changed the course of history for all mankind happened on a day nearly 2000 years ago.
In my mind the answer is clear.
To find the most important day in history, we must go back to that evening almost 2,000 years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus Christ knelt in intense prayer and offered Himself as a ransom for our sins. It was during this great and infinite sacrifice of unparalleled suffering in both body and spirit that Jesus Christ, even God, bled at every pore. Out of perfect love, He gave all that we might receive all. His supernal sacrifice, difficult to comprehend, to be felt only with all our heart and mind, reminds us of the universal debt of gratitude we owe Christ for His divine gift.
Later that night, Jesus was brought before religious and political authorities who mocked Him, beat Him, and sentenced Him to a shameful death. He hung in agony upon the cross until, finally, “it [was] finished” (John 19:30). His lifeless body was laid in a borrowed tomb. And then, on the morning of the third day, Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, emerged from the tomb as a glorious, resurrected being of splendor, light, and majesty.
Yes, there are many events throughout history that have profoundly affected the destiny of nations and peoples. But combine them all, and they cannot begin to compare to the importance of what happened on that first Easter morning.
Elder Uchtdorf asks what it is about this infinite sacrifice as well as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that makes this “the most important event in history” – even “more influential than world wars, cataclysmic disasters, and life-changing scientific discoveries?” He says that the answer to this question “lies in two great, insurmountable challenges” faced by all mankind.
The first challenge is the fact that “we all die.” However, death is a temporary condition. Jesus Christ overcame death and was resurrected. He also made it possible for all mankind to be resurrected. At that time, the spirit and body will be reunited for all eternity.
The second challenge is that we all sin. God said that “no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom” (3 Nephi 27:19). Since we all sin, none of us would qualify to live with God, and we would all be shut out of His presence for all eternity. However, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins – every single one – when He “offered His life as a ransom for our sins.” He is the only sinless person who has ever lived on earth, and He “owed no debt to justice.” Therefore, “He could pay our debt and meet the demands of justice for every soul.”
On that most important day in history, Jesus the Christ opened the gates of death and cast aside the barriers that prevented us from passing into the holy and hallowed halls of everlasting life. Because of our Lord and Savior, you and I are granted a most precious and priceless gift – regardless of our past, we can repent and follow the path that leads to celestial light and glory, surrounded by the faithful children of Heavenly Father.
The first challenge and solution are definite. We will all die, but we will all be resurrected. The solution to the second challenge – sin – comes by choice. We can choose whether or not we will choose to follow Jesus Christ. We can repent and overcome the problems caused by our sins. If we choose this solution, we can return to the presence of God and live with our loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all eternity.
I agree with Elder Uchtdorf when he testifies that “the most important day in the history of mankind” is the day that Jesus Christ overcame death and sin for all of us. I also agree with him when he says that the most important day in each of our lives is the day that we commit ourselves to follow Christ. I know that as we make this commitment and keep it, we will be on the path that leads to eternity life and exaltation.