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Easter

Easter Sunday celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus that enabled everlasting life for all humankind.

Though celebrated on a particular Sunday, Easter pays tribute to a whole week of significant events, from the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the observance of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, to Easter Sunday itself.

Events associated with Easter

Palm Sunday

To celebrate the Passover, Jewish pilgrims flooded the streets of Jerusalem every year. The particular year near the end of Jesus’s life, on Palm Sunday, those who had heard of Jesus, His miracles, and His divinity welcomed Jesus as the Messiah for whom they had watched and waited. As was customary at the time, people cast palm fronds to cover Jesus’s path, showing they felt he was someone worthy of highest honor. Jesus entered the city riding a donkey, an animal symbolizing peace and Jewish royalty, and thereby fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). As He passed, the multitude shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). This Hosanna shout literally meant “Save us now” or “Save, we pray.”

This sign of devotion and belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the scriptures enraged Jewish leaders. “Behold, the world is gone after him” (John 12:19), they complained of the adoring crowd. Offended by Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God and resentful of His influence over Jewish followers, the Pharisees plotted to end His life.

The Last Supper

As the Pharisees devised a plan to eliminate Him, Jesus spent the week teaching His disciples. On Thursday evening they shared the Passover meal, which represented the liberation of Israel by God’s power. At this time, Jesus introduced the ordinance of the sacrament. “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (Mark 14:22–24).

Jesus knew His death was imminent. He also knew that one of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot, had been bribed by the Pharisees to betray Him. After learning that Jesus knew his intention, Judas left the group. Thus the plot to end Jesus’s life was set in motion.

Gethsemane

Following the Last Supper, Jesus and His Apostles walked to an olive orchard, called Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. In this garden, Jesus went a short distance from His Apostles to pray to His Father. During this prayer, Jesus would feel the guilt, pain, and sorrow of every person who lived or had lived and of every person to come. He would suffer as no mortal person could. Indeed, the sorrow, grief, and agony were so great that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). “O my Father,” He prayed, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” But it was not possible. Knowing this was part of God’s plan, He continued, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus suffered “according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance” (Alma 7:13). The events that began that evening in Gethsemane and culminated in the Resurrection from the tomb defined Jesus’s role as the Savior of all humankind.

Jesus’s Crucifixion and Death

As Jesus returned to His waiting disciples, a crowd of Roman soldiers armed with swords and staffs approached Gethsemane. Among them was Judas Iscariot, who signaled Jesus’s identity by giving Him a kiss. The soldiers, sent by the Pharisees, arrested Jesus, who went with them peaceably. When Christ was apprehended, His disciples fled in fear of the angry mob. Eventually, Jesus was taken before the Roman governor who, finding no fault with Jesus after questioning Him, wanted to free Him. But a raging crowd led by Jewish religious leaders vehemently demanded His death—even giving a Passover-tradition pardon by the governor to a convicted murderer in exchange for the Crucifixion of Jesus (see Matthew 27).

Then, as was recorded in biblical prophecy, Jesus was scourged, His clothing taken and bartered by Roman soldiers. “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:18). And then they crucified Him. An excruciating method of execution, the Crucifixion of Jesus involved nailing His hands and feet to a cross, which fulfilled the prophecy that “they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16).

As a divine being, Jesus held the power over His mortal life, yet He gave it up willingly. “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18). After several hours of excruciating pain on the cross, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).

Good Friday

The unjust and horrific events of the Crucifixion occurred on what has become known as Good Friday. This optimistic title reveals the immeasurable value of Jesus’s sacrifice and the eternal purpose of God’s plan. Christians all over the world recognize the great worth of the events that occurred on this day, and they call it Good Friday for the infinite good it brought to the world. 

Resurrection

After Jesus died, loyal followers “took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:40) and placed it in a garden tomb. The tomb was sealed with a large stone and the body left untouched on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Early on Sunday, Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb to share their grief, show respect, and anoint Jesus’s body with embalming oils.

On that pivotal Sunday morning, the women found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Shocked, frightened, and then distressed that Jesus’s body had secretly been taken away, the women wept. Then an angel appeared, declaring, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5–6).

Jesus was risen, His body restored in perfect resurrected form. Jesus had overcome death—meaning He lives today, and His Resurrection promises we will all live again, too.

Why Christians celebrate Easter

Jesus Christ’s mission

Christians celebrate Easter to honor what Jesus did for all humankind. His role as Savior is part of God’s plan for all people. Jesus taught that through His sacrifice, Crucifixion, death, and Resurrection, He accomplished God’s purposes. He said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37).

Jesus declared His mission to people in Jerusalem and then to people in the Americas as well. Christ’s words, recorded in the Book of Mormon, emphasize that His sacrifice was truly for all the world: “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father. . . . And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me” (3 Nephi 27:14–15).

Forgiveness of sins

Easter reminds us that sins can be forgiven. Because Jesus suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross, all sins—including yours—can be forgiven by God. If you choose to have faith in Jesus, keep His commandments, and repent when you sin, He promises to forgive you and compensate for your shortcomings. His goal is to help all people return worthily to God. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Since “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37), Jesus will cover you “with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10) through His Atonement, making you clean and whole again, if you accept Him as your Savior and Redeemer.

Victory over death

Easter is also a reminder that death is temporary because of Jesus Christ. Jesus explained, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). Paul rejoiced in this concept, saying, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? . . . But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57). Because of Jesus’s Resurrection, every person who has lived on earth will be resurrected and live again, too. 

A celebration of hope

Easter promises hope. Every spring, Christians celebrate Easter in remembrance of the price Jesus paid to overcome sin and death. They think about the final events of His life and recommit to living His gospel. You can celebrate Easter by attending a church service on Easter Sunday. And on every other Sunday, you can remember the blessings of Jesus’s sacrifice and the hope He offers for eternal life by participating in the sacrament. 

Find a church service where you can participate in the sacrament and learn more about Jesus Christ. 

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