In the Bible, in Romans 5:8-11 are recorded these words:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the third Article of Faith states,
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws of the Gospel.
President Marion G. Romney once stated that, “The atonement of the Master is the central point of world history. Without it, the whole purpose for the creation of the earth and our living upon it would fail.” (IE, December 1953, p. 942) George Q. Morris further stated that, “The principal question before us is not do we comprehend the atonement, but do we accept it.” (CR, April 1956, p.112) Sad to say, there are those who do not accept it.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the Apostle Paul confidently affirms that the Gospel he taught was that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” Let us take just a few minutes and learn from the scriptures seven reasons for believing that Christ actually died and rose from the dead.
Reason # 1: A Public Execution Assured That He Actually Died
During the Jewish feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of Justice. As he stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Him of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded His death. “And Pilate answered and said again unto them, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the king of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him.” (Mark 15:12-13). Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem along a public road, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends as well as mocking enemies witnessed His death. In the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ death is clearly stated. In Matthew 27:50 and in John 19:30, the writers said He “yielded” or “gave up “His spirit. The other two accounts record that He “breathed His last” (Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46).
As the Sabbath evening neared, Roman soldiers who were experts in crucifixion were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they break not his legs:” (John 19:33). As a final precaution, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:34) When Joseph of Aramathea asked for the body of Christ so that he and Nicodemus could bury Him, Pointus Pilate ordered a centurion to verify that Jesus was dead (Mark 15:43-45). The Roman governor would not release the body to Joseph until the centurion was certain that all signs of life were gone. You can be sure that an officer in the Roman army would not make a mistake about an important matter like this in his report to such a high official as Pilate. To do so would have meant his death.
Reason#2: High Officials Secured the Grave Site
The next day, religious leaders met with Pilate once again. They said that Jesus had predicted that He would rise in three days. To ensure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put grave robbers on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard (Matthew 27:62-66). Any disciple that wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by the guards, which would not have been an easy task. The Roman guards had good reason to stay alert—the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.
Reason#3: The Grave Was Found Empty
There were several eyewitnesses to testify to this fact. The first to see and report the empty tomb were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome, who “had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.” (Mark 16:1) John and Peter were the next to witness that the tomb was empty. John, it should be noted, is the one who wrote this account and recorded it in chapter 20 of his Gospel. What better eyewitness could be asked for?
Reason#4: Many People Claimed to Have Seen Him Alive
About A.D. 55, the Apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James, and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). In addition the New Testament in other places records the following witnesses to the resurrection: Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18), several women near the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), Peter (Luke 24:33-35), ten disciples in the upper room (Luke 24:36-43), eleven disciples in the upper room (John 20:26-31), seven men at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25), eleven disciples on a mountain (Matthew 28: 16-20), and an undisclosed amount of disciples near Bethany (Acts 1:9-12; Luke 24:52). The book of Acts begins its history of Christ by stating that Jesus “shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” (Acts 1:3).
Reason #5: His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed
Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their Master. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the one that they had called Savior and Lord. Even after they were threatened, imprisoned, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the Apostles said to the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:42)
Reason # 6: Witnesses Were Willing to Die For What They Knew to Be the Truth
While many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. Jesus’ disciples died for their claims to have seen Him alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins, but He had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived. Peter was crucified upside down. Mark was dragged through the streets to his death. James was beheaded. Thomas was pierced with a lance. All of these men were willing to die for the One who overcame death for them—and for us!
Reason#7: Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Was Clearly Predicted
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith that he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
The prophet Isaiah also predicted Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the twelve verses that comprise Isaiah 53, he refers to Christ as the Servant of the Lord and teaches us four important lessons about this Servant. In Isaiah 53:1-3, we learn about the Servant’s submission; in verses 4-6, the Servant’s substitution; in verses 7-9, the Servant’s sinless nature; and in verses 10-12, the Servant’s satisfaction.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:
No member of this Church must ever forget the terrible price paid by our Redeemer who gave his life that all men might live – the agony of Gethsemane, the bitter mockery of his trial, the vicious crown of thorns tearing at his flesh, the blood cry of the mob before Pilate, the lonely burden of his heavy walk along the way to Calvary, the terrifying pain as great nails pierced his hands and feet, the fevered torture of his body as he hung that tragic day, the Son of God crying out, “Father forgive them , for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.)
This was the cross, the instrument of his torture, the terrible device designed to destroy the Man of Peace, the evil recompense for his miraculous work of healing the sick, of causing the blind to see, of raising the dead. This was the cross on which he hung, and died on Golgotha’s lonely summit.
We cannot forget that. We must never forget it, for here our Savior, our Redeemer, the Son of God, gave himself a vicarious sacrifice for each of us. (“The Symbol of Christ,” Ensign, May 1975, p.93.)
In Matthew 16:13-16 are recorded these words:
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
People all over the world today have many different views about who Jesus Christ really is. Many are skeptical and critical about the life of this One who lived a perfect, sinless life and gave that life as a ransom for the world that the world might be redeemed from sin and have a means by which to one day return to their Father in Heaven. However, in spite of all of the skepticism and criticism, I believe that it is safe to say that almost everyone would agree that Jesus Christ was not just an ordinary man. His life had a major impact on the entire world.
When I was stationed in the country of Greece several years ago while serving on active duty in the United States Navy, it was common to greet people during the Easter season by saying, “Christos Anesti!” (Χριστός Ανέστη!) and their response would be, “Alithos Anesti!” (Είναι όντως ανέστη!) That is to say, “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” Let us rejoice and celebrate the glory of His Glorious Resurrection. He gave His life for us as a ransom for sin’s debt so that we might live. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He paid a debt that He did not owe, a debt that we could have never paid.
I close with this testimony:
I know that Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer — the Holy One of Israel is Alive and He Lives forever more seated at the right hand of God the Father. I am eternally grateful for His amazing grace and His great atoning sacrifice. It is because of His tremendous love for me that I can stand before the world and boldly testify that He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Lord, and my King. If I could only recall one verse of Scripture out of the entire canon of Scriptures that we have, it would be my humble prayer that I would always have written on my heart the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Contained within that one verse is the summation of everything that has been discussed in this treatise. He is the Son of the Living God! He is the Christ! Of these things I do so testify and bear solemn witness in the sacred name of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life –Even Jesus the Christ. Amen.