Remembering Christ's lessons at Easter time

Alf Gunn

During this Easter season, our thoughts and hearts turn to Jesus Christ, who came into the world to do for us what only the Son of God could do.

In a 1998 talk entitled “I Can Do All Things Through Christ,” Virginia U. Jensen, then a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke of working in her garden and coming to understand it in order to have success in cultivating it.

Then she said, “There is another Garden we must come to understand in order to experience the fullness of its import in our lives. We must all come to realize in a profound way what Jesus did for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s hill.”

Christ’s Atonement is the most important event that has ever occurred in the history of mankind, and it was accomplished in Gethsemane and on Calvary. The empty tomb is the symbol of the resurrection, and the appearances of the resurrected Christ are ongoing proof of it.

In his last hours on earth, Jesus approached Gethsemane with a few of his disciples, “and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (KJV Matthew 26:37-38).

The scriptural record says he entered the garden and “fell on his face,” and prayed, saying “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” and then setting another perfect example for us as we face our trials, he prayed, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).

In the garden, the sinless Redeemer was taking upon himself the pain and agony of the sins of all mankind, including yours and mine, in an infinite Atonement. When we suffer, either in body or in spirit, we have a God who understands, because he descended below all things.

“Behold,” he would later declare, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself ... to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18).

Soon he would suffer the additional agony of crucifixion and death and complete the redeeming Atonement, the most unselfish act of all time.

Three days later, on that first Easter morning, the risen Christ appeared to his Apostles and many others who became witnesses to the reality of his resurrection. He commissioned them and sent them to all nations of the world to declare repentance and the remission of sins, teaching them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20 and Luke 24:47).

Our faith is in Christ the Redeemer because he did what no other could do and what none of us could do for ourselves — forgive our sins, lift our burdens, renew our souls and re-create our nature, raise us from the dead and qualify us for glory hereafter.

In following the Savior into the waters of baptism, we covenant and promise to do what we can do.

We can repent, thanks to Christ, and deny ourselves of ungodliness. We can love and serve one another, and always remember Christ and keep the commandments which he has given us.

We can pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and our faith can grow. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of happiness, made possible that first Easter week, in a garden and on a hill.

Alf Gunn