Now that everyone’s had Easter, we can get down to the business of what the world is all about lately. It’s not daily life. It’s not the crime statistics. It’s not the elections or politics of the world. It’s not the weather. It’s not the natural disasters leaving hundreds homeless with shattered lives. It’s the pandemic. That’s all that we talk about. The news anchors blather on and on and on about the pandemic. COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2. Let’s just call it what it is. It’s SARS-2. Does that scare you? It should. It’s serious. But it’s also sensationalized by the media. The media isn’t doing us any favors with their anxiety-filled voices and their mass-grave video clips and their token “story from the heart” at the end of a broadcast filled with fear-mongering and death statistics from COVID-19, the syndrome caused by SARS-CoV-2. Easter was glossed over almost completely, even in TV commercials, and eclipsed by the current pandemic. That’s not right. We need some balance. Serious balance. This is not the first pandemic that mankind has ever faced. It IS the first pandemic that mankind has faced with all of this techonology, which is both good and bad. We can be “Alone Together” through our use of techonological wonders to reach out and connect with each other via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, and other video conferencing options. We can have telemedicine appointments with our doctors and healthcare providers under safer circumstances via this technology. Yes, technology can be good. Technology, though, can also be used, such as by the media, to work on their ratings. The almighty rating leads to the almighty dollar, and that, my friends, will never change until Christ returns. I’m disappointed that we glossed over one of the biggest celebrations of the entire year worldwide over this pandemic. So, right here, right now, we’re going to have an Easter lesson, as taught by my imperfect self, and you may stop reading here and now if you do not wish to participate, celebrate, or learn anything about Easter from the point of view of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I won’t fault you for it. Just warning you.
An Easter Message, as taught by Chris Jones, drawing upon the April 2020 Ensign, Come Follow Me 2020 Manual, and the Scriptures known as the Standard Works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I watched the 1961 movie “King of Kings” yesterday on Easter Sunday via cable television at my mother’s house. It was remarkably accurate for a movie of its kind and I was surprised that I had never seen the movie starring Jeffrey Hunter prior to yesterday. After all, I’ve celebrated 39 Easters now, and yesterday was the first time I had seen the movie. How strange I thought that to be. That meant something special to me. Later in the day, after Easter dinner, my mother and I sat down for an Easter lesson that I taught. The following is what I shared and would like to share with you as well, since Easter was not the topic of the day as it would “normally” be, a sign that I greatly mourned. Here goes…
From the April 2020 Ensign magazine, published by the Church, I shared the article entitled “A Different Perspective on Easter” by Adam C. Olson (p. 48-51) The caption on the facing page of this article was “Five lessons for us from Easter in the Book of Mormon”, which gives a good introduction to the topics at hand. The five topics as summaries appear below.
- “Christ Is the Light of the World”, referenced in Scripture by 3 Nephi 1:15, and 3 Nephi 8:19-23. The gist of these passages is to demonstrate that, when Christ laid down his life on the cross, the peoples in the Western Hemisphere experienced destruction and “suffocating darkness” during the period of time that Christ’s body was without life and Christ Himself was in the Spirit World. “There was not light in the Nephites’ world while the Light of the World was in the tomb,” the author says.
- “I’ve Been Given a Chance to Prepare”, referenced in Scripture by Helaman 14:20-27, 3 Nephi 8:3-4, and D&C 88:89-90. Thanks to living prohets, the Nephites knew what to expect when Christ came the first time. The prophets had preached until they were blue in the face (and then stoned to death and martyred in other horrible ways) what would happen when the Son of God was killed by His own people. The author asks an interesting question at the end of this article, because we are still receiving warnings and guidance for preparation for the Savior’s Second Coming from modern prophets. “But while the world debates its end,” he says, “we have been given the opportunity to prepare. Are we taking it?”
- “I Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Repentance”, referenced in Scripture by 3 Nephi 9:2 and 3 Nephi 9:13-14. The author opens this section with the question, “How can I prepare for that great and terrible day?” The answer is given in The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon prophets gave an exhaustive collective discourse on how to prepare for the last days and Christ’s Second Coming. “[Christ’s] Easter victory is a chance for us to change. He promises He will receive anyone who will repent and come unt Him. The promise of eternal life is within reach of each of us who will take advantage of the ‘never-ending privilege’ of repentance.”
- “How I Feel about His Prophets Is Important”, referenced in Scripture by 3 Nephi 9:15-13, 3 Nephi 10:12-13, 2 Nephi 26:3, and 1 Nephi 11:36. “Six times,” says the author, “He made the connection between how the people treated His prophets and whether or not they were spared. Killing the Lord’s prophets was the primary reason listed for the destruction of more than a dozen cities.” The author continues a few paragraphs later, “The Lord has warned us. In the last days, our decision to follow those He has called to lead His Church — when so many other reject them — will become a protection to us.”
- “Jesus Saves”, referenced in Scripture by 3 Nephi 9:15, 18 and 3 Nephi 9:21-22. Jesus spoke to the Nephites who had been physically spared in the darkness and told them who He was. He laid out the plan of salvation for them. He told them that all they had to do was repent and come unto Him to be saved. Think about this situation. Your entire world has just, as prophesied, been stricken by natural disasters and upheavals, and now you are in total darkness, unable to even make a spark, much less light a fire of any sort. I have experienced true total darkness in the Lewis and Clark Caverns, and it is a bone-chilling fright. True total darkness is nothing to take lightly, especially after all of the destruction that had taken place. Then this voice comes from around you, above you, below you, surrounding you, and telling you, “I am Jesus Christ the Son of God.” Now, if you were prepared for this, you might be comforted by this. If you were not prepared, however, yet another terror grips your soul — that for the well-being of your soul. Jesus was offering them salvation from so much more than they even knew to ask for, though. He keeps His end of the bargain. Will you?
I also shared with my mom the Easter lessson from the “Come, Follow Me 2020” curriculum and another article in that same issue of the Ensign, but they all fall along the lines of what was presented above. We need to ask some serious questions of ourselves and not gloss over the most important event in the history of mankind because of this pandemic. Yes, the pandemic is staring us in the face, but what if you DO get sick? Are you prepared to meet Christ? Are you prepared to meet Heavenly Father? Are you prepared to die? If death is what you are afraid of, then the single-most important event ever — the Resurrection of Jesus Christ — is the key to putting that fear to bed forever and gaining peace. Literally. Think about that as you turn off the news about COVID-19 for a few minutes and ponder your mortal existence. You will die. That is a guarantee. You don’t know when. Are you ready?
As a note, you can go to http://www.churchofjesuschrist.org to find the Scriptures referenced above if you would like to read them for yourself. Thank you for your kind attention.