Many years ago I learned of the heroic efforts of Oscar Schindler, a compassionate man who attempted to rescue a doomed race of people. Schindler made large amounts of money in his factory in Krakow Poland providing enamel-ware for the Germans. He used that money to buy the lives of hundreds of defenseless Jews. To be on Schindler’s list was life.
Schindler was motivated by words an old Rabbi quoted from the Jewish Talmud, “He who saves one life saves a nation.”
After the liberation of Czechoslovakia and saving over 1200 lives from the death camps, Schindler prepared to escape the Nazi party. He knew that he would be arrested and treated as a war criminal. His grateful Jewish workers presented him with a gift – a ring made from he gold of the teeth of the Jewish people he had protected. The ring was inscribed with the message from the Talmud.
“He who saves one life [indeed] saves a nation.”
To many of my non-Christian friends, it seems odd that the hero of this Easter story is the One that died. It may even seem like a senseless death, but it was a death with purpose, a death to pay the price of sin and even covers all our inadequacies and problems, a death that leads to life. I would tell my friends who question my celebrating, that I celebrate the love of God. I celebrate the Life given to those who turn to Him and the life given to those who would refuse Him.
I celebrate Easter because it is at the heart of my faith… the story of how God’s love overcomes all… a story of a God determined to rescue… a story of renewal and of a way to peace…
Per The Plan, the Fall brought death into the world… Physical death (separation of spirit and from body) and spiritual death (separation of of our spirits from God as a result of sin). The Plan is the way to return and the way to become like Him. The Plan includes a rescue clause that saves us from (not in) our sins and mistakes. This marvelous work and wonder, motivated be love, came at great cost to the Father and the Son. The Plan required someone with the highest position and the greatest authority. Such a One would be the only one able to pay the ransom for ALL of God’s children. God sent His own Beloved Son, Jesus, to pay that price.
The Savior described His own experience in D&C 19:
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “There is no human condition – be it suffering, incapacity, inadequacy, mental deficiency, or sin – which Hew cannot comprehend or for which His love will not reach out to the individual.”
“He comprehended all things” because “He descended below all things.” D&C 88:6; 122:8
President Thomas S. Monson taught, “After the Savior was crucified and His body had lain in the tomb for three days, the spirit again entered. The stone was rolled away, and the resurrected Redeemer walked forth, clothed with an immortal body of flesh and bones.”
Mary approached the garden tomb and was greeted by two men in shining garments: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.” (Luke 24)
“The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.” – Robert Flatt
I acknowledge the debt I owe the Savior. Just why would He do all this for me and for all mankind? Because…
He loves me with perfect love…
This perfect Being who loves with perfect love suffered the combined results of all hatred, malice, evil intent, bigotry and persecution. The Great Healer, the Great Physician, who brought the Resurrection of all people, suffered the pain and indignity of all diseases and illnesses, physical and mental. He even suffered the pain associated with murder, torture, starvation, addiction and suicide. The great Creator and the Prince of Peace suffered the torture of war, of violence, fear, death, mangled bodies, and mangled lives, and the pain associated with families and nations torn apart. This Great Creator understood the destruction of pollution, pestilence, environmental disasters, holocausts, and people seeking safety being separated from their homes and loved one. He who is the embodiment of Love, who delights in purity and chastity suffered the degrading insults of rape, incest, pornography, adultery and all other perversions. He who loves little children and tenderly placed them on His knee suffered the sorrow and consequences of abortion, drug addicted babies, child abuse, divorce, loneliness and neglect. He who owns all and was willing to give all, even His own life for all mankind, suffered the effects of selfishness, greed, poverty, and materialism. He who is the Great Liberator suffered the effects of slavery, captivity, bondage, false accusation, unjust imprisonment. This Master Teacher suffered the effects of ignorance, stupidity, deceit, lies, fraud, and incorrect tradition. The Great Law Giver suffered the injustice of broken law, prejudice, abuse of power, secret combinations, and all manner of lawlessness. He, the Sinless One suffered the consequences of all mistakes, failures, omissions, misunderstanding, bad choices, improper judgement, humiliation and rejection.
He suffer all this and more that we might have hope in and through Him. He suffered all this that He might be able heal us as we approach Him, believe Him, repent and obey Him. He wants to bless us; He wants to heal us.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Easter than how I spent my time over the last few days. First, I spent the week with family – my children and grandchildren, and parents and siblings, throughout the week. On Friday, the day most Christians recognize as the day the Savior of the world was crucified, I drove home. I then spent all of Saturday and Sunday listening to the Lord’s representatives in General Conference, taking notes, and making goals on what I could do to improve my relationship with Christ. Seriously. What better way is there to celebrate the sacrifice of God’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ?
“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there. ” – Clarence W. Hall
I am grateful to know that the Savior understands. I feel the pain of recognizing my sins and I mourn the pain I cause others, especially my Savior. I give thanks for the opportunity to repent and for the Savior who will not only forgive me of my sins as I repent, but will heal hearts as well. I have grieved deeply and have been rescued by the great solace of the Comforter. I am grateful for the assurance of a glorious resurrection and reunion that awaits us all. I do know that my Redeemer lives. I know that His resurrection broke the bands of death for all of us.
That is the message of Easter!