Today is Easter! It also happens to be the anniversary of the day Vaughn and I got engaged, March 27, 1978. One of the most important days of my life, but that is another story :).
I wish I could somehow convey perfectly how I feel about Jesus Christ. But more and more I am frustrated with the limitations of language.
I love Jesus. And I can sense and feel His love and concern for and feelings about me. I can sense His personality. And, as I have written about before, I can sometimes hear His words directly to me. I believe what the scriptures say about His life. At the Easter season we remember the events surrounding His last week or so of life in this mortality.
I want my children and grandchildren to know what an eye witness to some of those events says about the events. So, I am going to quote some here from a man who has seen those events. Here is his account of the events in Gethsemane:
“I knew a man in Christ about four years ago, who, being overshadowed by the Spirit on the 26th of February, 2005, had the Lord appear to him again. And the Lord spoke to him face to face, in plain humility, as one man speaks to another, calling him by name. As they spoke the Lord put forth His hand and touched the eyes of the man and said, ‘Look!’ The man had opened before him a view of the Lord kneeling in prayer. It was in a dark place. The air was heavy and overcast with sorrow. The man beheld the Lord praying in Gethsemene on the night of His betrayal and before His crucifixion. All the Lord had previously done in His mortal ministry by healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, curing the leper and ministering relief to others as He taught was but a prelude to what the Lord was now to do on this dark, oppressive night. As the Lord knelt in prayer, His vicarious suffering began. He was overcome by pain and anguish. He felt within Him, not just the pains of sin, but also the illnesses men suffer as a result of the Fall, and their foolish and evil choices. The suffering was long and the challenge difficult. The Lord suffered the afflictions. He was healed from the sickness. He overcame the pains, and patiently bore the infirmities until, finally, He returned to peace of mind, and strength of body. It took an act of will and hope for Him to overcome the affliction which had been poured upon Him. He overcame the separation caused by these afflictions and reconciled with His Father. He was at peace with all mankind. He thought His sufferings were over, but to His astonishment another wave overcame Him. This one was much greater than the first. The Lord, who had been kneeling, fell forward onto His hands at the impact of the pain that was part of a greater, second wave. This second wave was so much greater than the first that it seemed to entirely overcome the Lord. The Lord was now stricken with physical injuries, as well as spiritual affliction. As He suffered anew, His flesh was torn which He healed using the power of the charity within Him. The Lord had such life within Him, such power and virtue within Him, that although He suffered in His flesh, these injuries healed and His flesh restored. His suffering was both body and spirit, and there was anguish of thought, feeling and soul. The Lord overcame this second wave of suffering, and again found peace of mind and strength of body; and His heart filled with love despite what He had suffered. Indeed, it was charity or love that allowed Him to overcome. He was at peace with His Father, and with all mankind, but it required another, still greater act of will and charity than the first for Him to do so. Again, the Lord thought His suffering was over. He stayed on His hands and knees for a moment to collect Himself when another wave of torment burst upon Him. This wave struck Him with such force He fell forward upon His face. He was afflicted by this greater wave. He was then healed only to then be afflicted again as the waves of torment overflowed. Wave after wave poured out upon Him, with only moments between them. The Lord’s suffering progressed from a lesser to a greater portion of affliction; for as one would be overcome by Him, the next, greater affliction would then be poured out. Each wave of suffering was only preparation for the next, greater wave. The pains of mortality, disease, injury and infirmity, together with the sufferings of sin, transgressions, guilt of mind, and unease of soul, the horrors of recognition of the evils men had inflicted upon others were all poured out upon Him; with confusion and perplexity multiplied upon Him. . . . The man saw that the Lord pleaded again with the Father that ‘this cup may pass’ from Him. But the Lord was determined to suffer the Father’s will, and not His own. Therefore, a final wave came upon Him with such violence as to cut Him at every pore. It seemed for a moment that He was torn apart, and that blood came out of every pore. The Lord writhed in pain upon the ground as this great final torment was poured upon Him. All virtue was taken from Him. All the great life force in Him was stricken and afflicted. All the light turned to darkness. He was humbled, drained and left with nothing. It is not possible for a man to bear such pains and live, but with nothing more than will, hope in His Father, and charity toward all men, He emerged from the final wave of torment, knowing He had suffered all this for His Father and His brethren. By His hope and great charity, trusting in the Father, the Lord returned from this dark abyss and found grace again, His heart being filled with love toward the Father and all men. . . .
After long inquiring into the things which he had seen, the Lord, who is patient and merciful and willing to instruct those who call upon Him, again appeared to the man on the 20th of December, 2007. He made known unto him that the waves of torment suffered by the Lord came in pairs which mirrored each other. The first of each wave poured upon the Lord those feelings, regrets, recriminations and pains felt by those who injured their fellow man. Then followed a second wave, which mirrored the first, but imposed the pains suffered by the victims of the acts committed by those in the first wave. Instead of the pains of those who inflict hurt or harm, it was now the anger, bitterness and resentments felt by those who suffered these wrongs. From each wave of suffering, whether as the one afflicting or as the victim of those wrongs, the Lord would overcome the evil feelings associated with these wrongs, and find His heart again filled with peace. This was why, in the vision of the suffering of the Lord it was in the second waves that there appeared oftentimes to be injuries to His body. The greater difficulty in these paired waves of torment was always overcoming the suffering of the victim. With these waves, the Lord learned to overcome the victims’ resentments, to forgive, and to heal both body and spirit. This was more difficult than overcoming the struggles arising from the one who committed the evil. This is because the one doing evil knows he has done wrong, and feels a natural regret when he sees himself aright. The victim, however, always feels it is their right to hold resentment, to judge their persecutor, and to withhold peace and love for their fellow men. The Lord was required to overcome both so that He could succor both. In the pairing of the waves, the first torment was of the mind and spirit, and the second was torment of mind, spirit and body. The Lord experienced all the horror and regret wicked men feel for their crimes when they finally see the truth. He experienced the suffering of their victims whose righteous anger and natural resentment and disappointment must also be shed, and forgiveness given, in order for them to find peace. He overcame them all. He descended below them all. He comprehends it all. And He knows how to bring peace to them all. He knows how to love others whether they are the one who has given offense or the one who is a victim of the offense. In the final wave, the most brutal, most evil, most heinous sins men inflict upon one another were felt by Him as a victim of the worst men can do. He knew how it felt to wrongly suffer death. He knew what it was like to be a mother holding a child in her arms as they are both killed by those who delight in their suffering. He knew how it was for ambitious men to rid themselves of a rival by conspiracy and murder. He knew what it was to have virtue robbed from the innocent. He knew betrayal, treachery, and abuse in all its worst degrading horror. There was no cruelty, no offense, no evil that mankind has suffered or will suffer that was not put upon Him. He knew what it is like for men to satisfy their ambition by clothing their hypocrisy in religious garb. He also felt what it was like to be the victim of religious oppression by those who pretend to practice virtue while oppressing others. He knew the hearts of those who would kill Him. Before confronting their condemnation of Him in the flesh, He suffered their torment of mind when they recognized He was the Lord, and then found peace for what they would do by rejecting Him. In this extremity there was madness itself as He mirrored the evil which would destroy Him, and learned how to come to peace with the Father after killing the Son of God, and to love all those involved without restraint and without pretense even before they did these terrible deeds. His suffering, therefore, encompassed all that has happened, all that did happen, and all that would happen in the future. As a result of what the Lord suffered, there is no condition – physical, spiritual or mental – that He does not fully understand. He knows how to teach, comfort, succor and direct any who come to Him seeking forgiveness and peace. This is why the prophet wrote: ‘by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.’ (Isa. 53: 11.) And again: ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.’ (Id. v. 4–5.) He obtained this knowledge by the things he suffered. He suffered that we might avoid sin by being obedient to His commandments. None of us need harm another, if we will follow Him. He knows fully the consequences of sin. He teaches His followers how to avoid sin. . . .
He can bring peace to any soul. He can help those who will come to Him love their fellow man. He alone is the Perfect Teacher because He alone has the knowledge each of us lack to return to being whole and at peace with the God and Father of us all after our transgression of His will. He is wise to what is required for each man’s salvation.” Snuffer Jr., Denver C. (2010-12-24). Come, Let Us Adore Him (Kindle Locations 2797-2891). . Kindle Edition.
It is vital that some who see and know bear testimony of that. In Lectures on Faith, Lecture Second:56 it says: “We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based which excited the inquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God; and we have seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this inquiry, in the first instance, in their minds. It was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers, this testimony having aroused their minds to inquire after the knowledge of God; the inquiry frequently terminated, indeed always terminated when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries and eternal certainty.”
From the same man who was the eye witness to the atonement quoted above:
“. . . the Lord requires that some must bear testimony so that others may read or hear, and be edified by them, that faith may increase among mankind. If none of those who receive these things were ever permitted to make them known, then mankind could not come to their Lord and be healed. It is not important to know why the Lord chooses to make these things known to some and then instructs them to testify of them to another. It is only necessary to understand that the Lord is the One to whom all should look in their trials and afflictions for succor. He is mighty and able to save. You do not and will not suffer from any affliction, any dilemma, disappointment or pain which He does not already understand. He has overcome it all. He is worthy to be trusted with your burdens. Come to Him and be healed! Come to Him and be understood! When all others move away, He will come to you! There is nothing wretched that you must confront that He did not first confront and overcome! Take your burdens to Him!” Snuffer Jr., Denver C. (2010-12-24). Come, Let Us Adore Him (Kindle Locations 2899-2906). . Kindle Edition.
The Lord has told us we have to have witnesses, so that we even know of the possibilities for ourselves. As the Lectures say, in the first instance we must have human testimony of the Lord, and from those testimonies we know that we can also inquire after the knowledge of God. And we can also know that since all are alike unto God, and He is no respecter of persons, that we can also have this same kind of knowledge of Him. We inquire of the Lord directly for that, because the witnesses are not in between us and God. We are not to put other people between us and God.
“If I have a witness of the Lord’s resurrection, certainly you can have the same. There is nothing significant about me. Further, I cannot compel you to believe me, but can truthfully testify of Him. Believe His promise to come to you and comfort you, and take up His abode with you. (John 14: 18–23.) Believe Him, because everybody is equally dependent upon Him for their hope of salvation. Never put your eternal salvation in the hands of anyone other than Jesus Christ, who paid to ransom you. Belief based upon the testimony or witness of another should never satisfy you. You should press forward and obtain your own witness of your Risen Lord. Move into action, grow beyond belief, act in conformity to the things He has asked you, and develop faith. Use that faith to develop knowledge of Him. We proceed from belief to faith, and from faith to knowledge, by following the pattern of everyone who has seen Him. The conditions are no different for any of them and are no different for you. My earlier book The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil is a description of the path these others have followed. If you are interested in taking that same journey, that book describes it. Let me end this brief retelling of His resurrection with my own witness: He lives! I have seen Him. These testimonies of those who have had the opportunity to see Him are not fables, they are all true. I do not ask you to merely believe my account. Instead, I invite you to go obtain your own directly from Him. You, like the many witnesses referred to in this chapter, are entitled to come and know these things for yourself. Then you will not be dependent upon anyone else for knowledge which will both save you and assure you eternal life.” Snuffer Jr., Denver C. (2010-12-24). Come, Let Us Adore Him (Kindle Locations 3471-3484). . Kindle Edition.
This account of the atonement of Christ is amazing. When I first read it a few years ago, I thought it was one of the very most wonderful things I had ever read, even though it is devastating to think of how awful it was for the Savior. What He did for us is so overwhelming, and so glorious.
A while ago I had a dream that gave me a glimpse of some of what is described in this account. In the dream Jesus was with me, and I was reliving some of the events in my life that were very painful, beyond painful. I won’t say what those were, but what was happening was I was being shown the events, feeling what I felt during them, and then being shown by the Savior how the other people in the event felt, or other things about the event I hadn’t realized at the time. And throughout that He would show me how to overcome any negative feelings or pain I still had about each event. This went on for a long time, and I know I can’t remember all of it at all, but as I was waking up, I remember asking for it to continue, even though it was super hard on me. It was almost totally overcoming me, but I knew it was also helping me. But I was told it would be too much for it to continue then, and it ended. I believe at some point, I will be able to learn about everything in my life from that point of view with the Savior showing, teaching, and helping me.
I tell you this because it corroborates for me what this man’s testimony is of how the atonement was, and the knowledge Jesus gained through it. I believe what he says about it.
Since Easter Day itself is supposed to be about the resurrection, here is a bit about that:
“I hope you will pardon the personal nature of this chapter. When it comes to a discussion of the resurrection, I cannot avoid bearing personal testimony of Christ. When I saw His resurrection, I was surprised to see it was still dark. I had always thought it occurred at sun up, as the return of daylight symbolized the return of life. But it was dark. The Gospel of John is the only one which records the darkness of that morning. Even so, it never registered with me that Christ rose in the darkness of that early morning. In the spring of 2009, I went in the early morning while it was still dark to the Jordan River Temple to attend a session for one of my ancestors. As I walked from the parking lot toward the front of the building I noticed how the birds were all singing. It was dark, so they remained on their nighttime perches inside the trees providing them cover. It would have been dangerous for them to attempt flight in the dark, so they remained motionless. But they sang. All of them were chirping, whistling, singing out with such a combined chorus that I had to stop and listen. It was striking. They seemed so joyful, even enthusiastic. I stood there on the northern sidewalk adjacent to the Jordan River Temple and took in this loud, joyful sound. I wondered why they were so filled with song while it was still dark and they were still confined to their trees. ‘Perhaps,’ I thought, ‘it is because they knew another day was coming. And, after all, if I could fly every time daylight returned I would be happy to awake and contemplate the coming flight.’ As I mused over the birds it struck me – this was the time of morning when the Lord rose from the dead! This was the moment, when it is yet dark, but the day will soon break forth, when He returned to life! This morning chorus coincided with that event. I thought it is certainly true that, as Moses wrote and Joseph Smith restored: And behold, …all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me. (Moses 6: 63.) Since that morning outside the Jordan River Temple, I have not heard the birds sing out in an early morning, while it is yet dark, without the instant recognition and conviction they are bearing witness to the moment at which the Lord arose from the dead. He did rise from the dead. We rejoice because it is true. As so many others have done before, I can add my own witness that He rose from the dead. I was shown it. It happened. He who died on the cross rose from the dead and He lives still.” Snuffer Jr., Denver C. (2010-12-24). Come, Let Us Adore Him (Kindle Locations 3220-3243). . Kindle Edition.
And more. He has just recounted some of the Biblical accounts:
“The accounts differ in the details. All four are set out to allow us to consider their similarities and differences. They are universal in the fact that Christ was seen by the women (or woman) first, and not by His Apostles. The last account, quoted immediately above, records that Christ told Mary: ‘Touch me not.’ In the Joseph Smith translation the words are changed to read: ‘Hold me not.’ (JST-John 20: 17.) Joseph’s change of the text was warranted. When Mary realized it was Jesus, she embraced Him joyfully. She did not timidly reach out her hand, but she readily greeted Him with open arms, and He, in turn, embraced her. It is difficult to describe what I saw of the incident, apart from saying the Lord was triumphant, exultant, overjoyed at His return from the grave! She shared His joy. I was shown the scene and do not have words to adequately communicate how complete the feelings of joy and gratitude were which were felt by our Lord that morning. As dark and terrible were the sufferings through which He passed, the magnitude of which is impossible for man to put into words, these feelings of triumph were, on the other hand, of equal magnitude in their joy and gratitude. I do not think it possible for a mortal to feel a fullness of either. And, having felt some of what He shares with His witnesses, I know words are inadequate to capture His feelings on the morning of His resurrection. He had the deep satisfaction of having accomplished the most difficult assignment given by the Father, knowing it was a benefit to all of His Father’s children, and it had been done perfectly. Mary and Christ embraced. There was nothing timid about the warm encounter she had with Him. Then He said to her, ‘Hold me not’ because He had to ascend, return and report to His Father. Joseph Smith was correct when he revised this language. I then saw Him ascend to heaven. I saw the golden heavenly light glowing down upon Mary as she watched His ascent. All this happened while it was yet dark on the morning He rose from the dead. He has shown this to me and I can testify to it as a witness.” Snuffer Jr., Denver C. (2010-12-24). Come, Let Us Adore Him (Kindle Locations 3307-3322). . Kindle Edition.
The book, Come Let Us Adore Him, is by far one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is all about Jesus. I hope that all my children and grandchildren will read it.
Jesus lives! I believe that. I love Him! I look forward to witnessing these things that Denver describes for myself. I pray the same for my children and grandchildren and all those I love so dearly. The Lord has blessed me so much. I am so grateful!