Teachings About the Resurrection

by Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson

The greatest events of history are those which affect the greatest number for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master. The eventual resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a scriptural certainty. And surely there is no event for which one should make more careful preparation.

Nothing is more absolutely universal than the Resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Yes, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a glorious reality. He became the first fruits of them that slept. He truly rose from the tomb the third day, as He and His prophets foretold, and became, in very deed, "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). He broke the bonds of death for all of us. We, too, will be resurrected—our spirits will be reunited with our bodies. (So Shall Ye Reap, p. 4.)

If we live good lives on earth and keep the commandments of the Lord, life on the other side of the veil will be glorious. The Lord described it as paradise—a place where there is much joy and happiness instead of worries and heartaches. But as beautiful as the spirit world is for those who are righteous, life does not endlessly continue there. In time, our spirits must be joined again to our bodies to obtain complete joy. This is called the resurrection.

Three days after Jesus' body was laid in a tomb, He took His body up again. By doing so He overcame death for every other individual so that we, too, will live after this life. This is what He meant when He said that "because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). ("He Is Risen," Friend 11 [April 1981]: 6.)

Christ's resurrection was abundantly verified. The witnesses are many. Throughout the forty days following His resurrection the Lord manifested Himself at intervals and gave instructions in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Much that He said and did is not written, but such things as are of record, John assures us, "are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31). (CR April 1964, Improvement Era 67 [June 1964]: 504.)

And when Christ and the disciples had gone "as far as to Bethany," where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, the Lord lifted up His hands and blessed them. And while He yet spoke He rose from their midst until a cloud received Him out of their sight.

As the Apostles stood gazing steadfastly upward, two personages, clothed in white apparel, appeared by them; these spoke unto the eleven, saying: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11; also Luke 24:50-51.)

Worshipfully and with great joy the Apostles returned to Jerusalem. The Lord's ascension was accomplished. It was as truly a literal departure of a material being as His resurrection had been an actual return of His spirit to His own physical body. Now the disciples began to comprehend more fully that He had truly "overcome the world"—not that He had displaced Caesar, or even Pilate who ruled over Judea (see John 16:33). The great majority of the world's peoples had still not even heard of Him. But there was victory over the grave. (So Shall Ye Reap, p. 5.)

The Book of Mormon records the resurrected Lord's appearance on the American continent. To those people He said, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world." One by one, about twenty-five hundred people "thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet." And they did "cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship Him." (3 Nephi 11:10-17.) ("Keeping Christ in Christmas," Christmas Devotional, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1 December 1985.)

Since the day of resurrection when Jesus became the "firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20), there have been those who disbelieve and scoff. They maintain there is no life beyond mortal existence. Some have even written books that contain their fanciful heresies to suggest how Jesus' disciples perpetrated the hoax of His resurrection. I give you my testimony: The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest historical event in the world to date. He lives! He lives with a resurrected body. There is no truth or fact of which I am more assured than the truth of the literal resurrection of our Lord. (Come unto Christ, pp. 9-10.)

There has been considerable publicity and media coverage recently on the reporting of experiences that seemingly verify that "life after life" is a reality. The ancient prophet's question asked centuries ago has been revived: "If a man die, shall he live again" (Job 14:14)? In other words, what happens to a person once he dies? A definite answer to that question is provided by the Savior's ministry in the spirit world following His crucifixion, death, and burial (see D&C 138). (Come unto Christ, p. 117.)

This great thing that we refer to as the Resurrection has partly been accomplished. Part of those who have been in the graves arose at the time the Master broke the bonds of death. There are some who feel that the resurrection is going on continually and has been since that time. That is not scripturally true, but we do know that it is possible for our Father to call from the graves those whom He needs to perform special missions and special service. For example, we know of at least three who have been called up since the resurrection of the Master and since that first mass resurrection when the graves were opened and many of the Saints arose.

Peter and James who came and laid their hands upon the Prophet Joseph and ordained him to the Melchizedek Priesthood were resurrected beings who lived and ministered after the time that the Master was upon the earth. Moroni, who lived and died many years after the time of the resurrection of the Master, was a resurrected being. So we know that there are some that have been resurrected, and we know that certain promises are made that if the Lord needs the help of certain special messengers they may be called up. We are trying to live so that we will be worthy to come forth in the morning of this resurrection that will come preceding the great millennial period. The righteous will be caught up to meet the Savior as He comes in glory and makes His second appearance to rule and reign here in the earth when the millennial period will begin. (Washington D.C. Stake Conference, 8 March 1959.)

This power to revive His own life was possible because Jesus Christ was God—even the Son of God. Because He had the power to overcome death, all mankind will be resurrected. "Because I live, ye shall live also," He testified (John 14:19). (Come unto Christ, p. 130.)

(See President Benson's Teachings About Christ, the Atonement, and the Second Coming of Christ)