Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Story That Should Change Us

I love it when I can get an entire group of children to listen to a story with a ton of intensity.  It happened today in Primary.  It just so happens that this is the story that ought to consume us all, every day of our lives.

It is the story of a man who was celebrated triumphantly by his followers as he came into the city.  A week later, this humble man taught his closest friends about the sacrament and what it represents.  He served them by washing their feet. They ate what was their last supper together. He went to a garden and prayed so long and so hard for every single person in the world--those who lived then, those who lived before, those who have lived since, those who will yet live--that he sweat blood.

He was sad and he was exhausted when a group of soldiers entered the garden, led by one of his closest associates.  The friend kissed the man, thus betraying him to those who would surely kill him. 

He spent a long night being "tried" in various supposed courts, and in the end it was his own people who cried, "Crucify him!  Crucify him!"  He was stripped, beaten, spit upon, and crowned with terrible thorns.  He was forced to carry his own cross to the awful place where nails were driven into his hands and feet, securing him to that same cross.  He suffered unspeakably, yet he spoke comforting words to thieves, disciples, and his mother.  After all of the agony, all of the humiliation, all of the sorrow, the man spoke forgiveness for those who had treated him thus; and finally, willingly, humbly, marvelously, he gave up the ghost. 

His friends--filled with sorrow--carried his body to a tomb, where they wrapped him hastily in burial clothes and shrouded his face.  A huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb, and the hated enemy soldiers were placed to guard the tomb. 

Angels came and removed the stone, frightening the soldiers.  His friends hastened to the tomb in the early morning hours, only to find the stone removed and the body of their beloved friend missing.  They saw angels, who told them to go tell the Master's brethren.  The men, thus informed, ran as quickly as possible, confirming with their own witness that the burial clothes were folded neatly, and his body was not there.

Mary, alone at the tomb, was startled by the man she thought was the gardener.  He asked the reason for her tears.  But her tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy when he called her by name, for she recognized Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  He was, indeed, risen from the dead, the firstfruits of those who slept.  He rose triumphantly as our Savior, the only person who could -- and did! -- save us from death.

And that, my friends, is the greatest celebration of all.  It's greater than new clothes, visits from bunnies, eggs, and even better than candy!

I add my witness that He lives.  I know this through the Comforter, whom Jesus Christ sent, and I cannot and I will not deny it.  God be praised and thanked for the matchless life, teachings, example, death, and resurrection of His Only Begotten.  How grateful I am!