Return to Holidays

S-WHTFLOWERS.JPG (9362 bytes)

The Prince of Peace

And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:6)

The meaning of Easter is not as easy to discern as it first appears. Obviously it is more than just an Easter Bunny.

Surely it is also more than just recounting the horrible treatment our Savior received in the long process of the crucifixion. The Atonement is a significant part and it is important to remember that the suffering He did here was far greater than any suffering He endured during the crucifixion.

Certainly Easter is something that should stir in us the greatest feelings of gratitude for our Savior. For truly He has given us salvation. The fact that we will all be resurrected is only because of what He did for us. Even more important is that we will have the chance to live with our Heavenly Father again; for He gave us the ability to repent by paying the price for our sins.

But still Easter should be more than remembering what happened, more than even our greatest feelings of gratitude to our Savior. Every story and every event in the scriptures has meaning and supplication to our lives and how we should be living. The events we usually recount at Easter have some the greatest and most important meaning of all. Major keys of the way to establish a Zion society are contained within them. Even if we believe a Zion society is too difficult at this time, surely a Zion type of ward or a Zion family are not.

Concerning the Atonement, President Benson said; "In Gethsemane and on Calvary, He worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history. . . On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took three of the twelve and went into the place called Gethsemane. There He suffered the pains of all men. He suffered as only God could suffer, bearing our griefs, carrying our sorrow, being wounded for our transgressions, voluntarily submitting Himself to the iniquity of us all, just as Isaiah prophesied. It was in Gethsemane that Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world, in Gethsemane that His pain was equivalent to the cumulative burden of all men, in Gethsemane that He descended below all things so taht all could repent and come to Him. The mortal mind fails to fathom, the tongue cannot express, the pen of man cannot describe the breadth, the depth, the height of the suffering of Lord -- nor His infinite love for us."

President Kimball recounted the last hours of Jesus' life as follows; "We have the supreme example of fortitude, kindness, charity and forgiveness in Him who set the perfect example, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who commands us all to follow. All His life He had been the victim of ugliness. As a newborn infant He had been spirited away to save His life at the instruction of an angel in a dream, and had been taken to Egypt. At the end of a hectic life He had stood in quiet, restrained, divine dignity, while evil men spat foul, disease-germ-ridden spittle in His face. How nauseating! But what composure He showed! What control!

"They pushed Him around and jostled Him and buffeted Him. Not an angry word escaped His lips. What mastery of self! They slapped Him in His face and on His body. What humiliation! How painful! Yet He stood resolute, unintimidated. Literally did He follow His own admonition when He turned His other cheek so that it too could be clapped and smitten.

"His own disciples had forsaken Him and fled. In such a difficult position, He met the rabble and their leaders. He stood alone at the mercy of His brutal, criminal assailants and vilifiers.

"Words, too, are hard to take. Incriminations and recriminations and their blasphemy of things, persons, places and situations sacred to Him must have been hard to take. They called His own sweet innocent mother a fornicator, yet He stood His ground, never faltering. No cringing, no denials, no rebuttals. When false, mercenary witnesses were paid to lie about Him, He seemed not to condemn them. They twisted His words and misinterpreted His meanings, yet He was calm and unflustered. Had He not taught to pray for them 'which despitefully use you?'

"He was beaten, officially scourged. He was mocked and jeered. He suffered every indignity at the hands of His own people. 'I came unto my own,' He said, 'and my own received me not.' He was required to carry His own cross, taken to the mount of Calvery, nailed to a cross, and suffered excruciating pain. Finally, with the soldiers and His accusers down below Him, He looked upon the Roman soldiers and said these immortal word; 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' (Luke 23:34)"

Love and forgiveness seem to be the two main keys. Our Savior holds such a deep love for each of us, it is a love so great that we may not be able to fully comprehend it. Because of this great love for us, He gave us the ability to be forgiven through our own repentance and the atonement. On the cross He gave a great sermon through His example. He asked His father to forgive these men who were so cruel to Him.

How does this apply to us? The Savior asked "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?" And His answer was, "Even as I am." (2Nephi 27:27) We need to love our fellow man, our fellow brothers and sisters in the gospel, and our family members. It must be the kind of pure unconditional love that Jesus showed for us. He understood that we would not be perfect, that we would make mistakes, but He loved us enough to suffer for us and give a gift of forgiveness that is available to all of us. Should we not then love each other with an understanding that we will all make mistakes, some of them big ones, and still forgive and love each other? Otherwise we are not being as the Savior was.

Since we all seek eternal life we must realize that "forgiveness is an absolute requirement . . man naturally ponders: How can I best secure that forgiveness? One of the many basic factors stands out as indispensable immediately: One must forgive to be forgiven." [The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball pg. 261]

In the D&C 64:8-10, we learn that the disciples of old did not forgive each other in their hearts and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. It continues to say that the one who does not forgive bears the greatest sin. In Joseph Smith's time apostasy and afflictions were a major problem for the early saints. They were unable to establish Zion. This was in direct relation to their lack of love for each other and lack of forgiveness. Great contentions resulted and the apostates who left the church were the ones who stirred u the local people against the saints. Similar problems are predicted for the saints in the last day.

Unconditional love and a forgiving heart are the hardest virtues of all. But they are the most important. For these are what give us, at minimum, internal peace and at best, peace on earth. "One of the glorious aspects of the principles of forgiveness is the purifying and ennobling effects its application has upon the personality and character of the forgive. Someone Wisely said, 'He who has not forgiven a wrong or an injury has not yet tasted one of the sublime enjoyments of Life.' The human soul seldom rises to such heights of strength and nobility as when it removes all resentments and forgives errors and malice." [from the Visiting Teacher's Message, October, 1963]

President Kimball said: "Forgiveness is the miraculous ingredient that assures harmony and love in the home or the ward. Without it there is contention. Without understanding and forgiveness there is dissension, followed by lack of harmony, and this breeds disloyalty in homes, in branches and in wards. On the other hand, forgiveness is harmonious with the spirit of the gospel, with the Spirit of Christ. This is the spirit we must all possess if we would receive forgiveness of our own sins and be blameless before God.

"Across the barren deserts of hate and greed and grudge is the beautiful valley of paradise. It can be done. Man can conquer self. Man can overcome. Man can forgive all who have trespassed against him and go on the receive peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come." [The Miracle of Forgiveness pg. 275, 300.]

How can we have such love and a forgiving heart? It is a gift of the spirit. We must ask God to help us. May we all look to our Lord and Savior, The Prince of Peace and follow His great example. When we think of Him on the cross, let us remember the words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Peace is the fruit of righteousness. It cannot be bought with money, and cannot be traded nor bartered. It must be earned. The wealthy often spend much of their gains in a bid for peace, only to find that it is not for sale. But the poorest as well as the richest may have it in abundance if the total price is paid. Those who abide the laws and live the Christlike life may have peace and other kindred blessings, principal among which are exaltation and eternal life. They include also blessings for this life.

Spencer W. Kimball

The whole spirit of the gospel is one of peace and brotherhood. The Lord has made it very clear in the revelations. This is what the Lord said to His Church in this day, and these revelations were intended for the entire world. This is what He says about peace: "Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children."

Ezra Taft Benson

Easter is a sacred day, a day of thanksgiving and divine worship.  It is not a day just for rejoicing because of the opening of springtime, not merely an opportunity to display beautiful hats and fine clothing -- it is an occasion for the expression of gratitude to God for having sent his only begotten Son into the world, to be "the way, the truth, the life," to declare the eternal truth that ". . .whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 48

 

Return to Holidays

Background was adapted fromWeb Graphics, Rita Peitz

 

Webmaster: Debra Oaks Coe: ddcoe@msn.com  
Copyright 1997
Last modified: November 21, 1998