Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Thoughts

“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The multitudes were rejoicing, weeping, and worshiping who was soon to be their Savior from sin and death. I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming joy, emotion and powerful witness that must have been present at that event. It is a moment I wish I could have been present at.

And yet, in just a few days time, the multitudes forgot, turned away and some even brutally turned against He who was theirs and is our Advocate with the Father.

Perhaps before we become too critical of those who forgot Him in those moments we should take a moment to reflect on the words of President Howard W. Hunter.

“On Palm Sunday, and next week on Easter Sunday, our minds turn very naturally to wonderful thoughts of Jesus…that is admirable, but we wonder if thoughts of Jesus, which “with sweetness fill our breast”, ought not to be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be?

For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to “Jesus, the very thought of thee”? Perhaps for some of us, not enough.

Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ “with sweetness” could fill our breasts.

Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving face to see and in his presence rest.”

The path of the triumphal entry would lead to an upper room where sacred ordinances were instituted. The path would eventually lead to a quiet gathering of olive trees where on a dark, solemn night He who was the greatest of all, became the servant of all as He took upon Himself our sins, sorrows, pains and heartaches. My husband and I had the sacred experience of traveling to Israel three years ago. As I stood in the Garden of Gethsemane I was struck by the fact that as our brother, Jesus Christ, was kneeling in that quiet garden the temple would have been very plainly in front of Him, lighting up the night. Perhaps the temple brought Him comfort in those terrible moments, just as the temple brings us comfort in our darkest of moments.

From the Garden Christ would have seen a band of Roman soldiers led by Judas – a band being 600 soldiers – with their torches climbing down the steps of the wall of Jerusalem, following the path that led through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. How cowardly Judas was, to bring a band of soldiers to take our Savior to Caiphus.

He was judged of Caiphus and Pilate, He who had only brought light and life was condemned to death. He was mocked, tortured and nailed to a cross while his confused and crushed followers helplessly looked on.

As Elder Worthlin stated –

“On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior – the man who had walked on water and raised the dead – was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorry that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.”

Sometimes, I think, it is easy for us to lose sight of what that Friday meant to His followers. We know the end result – the glorious resurrection.

They did not.

They had lost their teacher, their Master, He who was to lead and liberate them from spiritual darkness and captivity. He who had calmed the seas and calmed their hearts had was now hanging from a cross. I cannot imagine what fear must have gripped their hearts, what terror, what confusion. How could this be part of the plan? This was not how things were supposed to work out. How could they pick up the pieces of their scattered lives, dreams, hopes and move on? Was this not the Messiah? Truly, that Friday was the darkest this world has ever seen. But as Elder Worthlin states-

“The doom of that day did not endure.

The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.”

The darkness that seemed everlasting and crushing was dispelled by the light of the Resurrection. He dried their tears and their lives were once again whole and filled with joy.

Elder Worthlin –

“Each of us will have our own Fridays – those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world like littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.”

Our Fridays will come, perhaps there are some even today who are feeling crushed by the darkness of shattered dreams and hopes, not knowing how to cope – let alone move forward. Maybe we found ourselves saying – as perhaps the witnesses of the Crucifixion did – This was not supposed to be how things worked out. How can I possibly endure? But one of the great witnesses of the Resurrection is that, as Elder Worthlin states,

“I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

May we always know that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come.”

We can trust that the Lord is at the helm. He always has been, and He always will be – Sunday will come.

Elder Worthlin stated – “The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?”

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