Easter is important for numerous reasons. One reason that most people can understand is that there would be no Christmas to celebrate if there had been no Easter. Put another way, if Jesus Christ were not resurrected, there would be no reason to celebrate His birth. Without His atoning sacrifice and resurrection, He would have been just another baby.
I studied about Easter for my Come, Follow Me lesson this week with two basic principles. The first principle is “Jesus Christ lives.” This is a fact that has many witnesses. Matthew 28 tells us that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” went to the sepulcher at the end of the Sabbath. They met an angel who told them that Jesus had risen and to go tell His disciples. While they were going, “Jesus met them, saying, All hail…. Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:9-10). Mark 16:9 tells us, “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the wee, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…” and told her to go tell the disciples. They did not believe her.
Mark 16:12-14 tells of other witnesses: “After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.”
At some point, the disciples went fishing and found Jesus on the shore of the sea of Tiberias. John 21:14 says, “This is the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.”
In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul lists a number of people who saw the risen Lord:
Cephas or Peter (v. 5), the twelve (v. 5), “above 500 brethren at once” (v. 6), James, then all the apostles (v. 7), and Paul (v. 8).
The New Testament is not the only scripture that records visits of the risen Christ. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ – records visits from the risen Savior on multiple days. Chapter 11:1-8 tells of a multitude of people gathered at the temple who saw Jesus Christ descend from heaven and heard the voice of the Father say, “Behold, my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him.” This chapter also says that each member of the multitude felt “the prints of the nails in [His] hands and in [His] feet” and bore witness of their experience (verses 14-17).
In the latter days, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith the early spring of 1820. The Father introduced the Son, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:5-20). The Savior appeared to the Prophet several times, one of which took place in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, to the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery.
1 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.
2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your Advocate with the Father (Doctrine and Covenants 110:1-4).
Jesus Christ is a real Person who lived on the earth, was crucified, and rose from the tomb on the third day. He lives! This brings me to the second principle: “Because of Jesus Christ, I will be resurrected.” Jesus Christ overcame the power of death. He laid down His life, and He took it up again. At the time of His resurrection, His spirit reentered His body, never to again be separated. Because Christ was resurrected, He made it possible for all mankind to be resurrected. Every man, woman, and child who has ever lived upon the earth will be resurrected and gain immortality.
I have not seen the risen Christ, but I know that He lives because the Holy Ghost has borne witness to me. Jesus Christ is the living Son of the living Father in Heaven. I know that They live and that They love each of us. Jesus Christ was resurrected on the first Easter morning and made it possible for all of us to be resurrected also. This is the reason why we celebrate Christmas and Easter. This is the reason why Easter is important!