Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter or "Resurrection" Sunday

Carl Heinrich Bloch, The Resurrection (Wikmedia Commons)
Because Easter is not a biblical term (and has pagan origins), some suggest that "Resurrection Sunday" would be a better term.  The actual word "Easter" only appears once in the King James Bible, at Acts 12:4, where is is better translated as "Passover." So significant was the event of that Sunday morning that Christians since have celebrated it as "the Lord's Day," and it has become our weekly sabbath, replacing the Saturday of the Old Testament. Still, for millennia the term "Easter" has come to be synonymous with resurrection, hope, and the joyful refrain "He is risen!" 

With the rays of the morning sun, the agony of Thursday, the pain and grief of Friday, and the separation of Saturday suddenly melted away in the joy of the first Easter.  For millennia the term “Easter” has come to be synonymous with resurrection, hope, and the joyful refrain “He is risen!”  So significant was the event of that Sunday morning that Christians since have celebrated it as “the Lord’s Day,” and it has become our weekly Sabbath, replacing the Saturday of the Old Testament.  As a result, while the week leading up to and including Easter is a wonderful time to commemorate and reflect upon the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is something we celebrate as a church family every week. Indeed, the covenants that we renew each Sunday enjoin us to remember him always.
The Herodian family tomb west of the Old City provides an idea of what Joseph of Arimathea's tomb would have looked like
The accounts of the resurrection in the four gospels serve as the foundation of our understanding of the rise of our Lord from the tomb.  They paint for us a dramatic story as the women found an empty tomb and heard the testimony of angels. The story crescendos as Peter and John confirm that the tomb was empty.  First Mary, then the other women, and then two disciples converse with Jesus on the way to Emmaus.  Finally the ten of the remaining eleven apostles see the Risen Lord.  These and subsequent appearances confirm that Jesus in fact rose from the dead “with healing in his wings,” and though he ascended again into heaven, the gospels leave us with the assurance that in a very real way he remains here with us.  (From God So Loved the World, 107–108)

Scriptural Accounts: Matt 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20:1–18

William Bouguereau, The Three Marys at the Tomb, 1876.
Episodes for Personal Study
  • The Empty Tomb (Mark 16:1–8; Matt 28:1–8; Luke 24:1–9; John 20:1–10)
  • Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9–11; Matt 28:9–10; Luke 24:10–11; John 20:11–18)
  • Chief Priests React to the Resurrection (Matt 28:11–15)
  • The Road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12–13; Luke 24:13–35)
  • Jesus Appears to the Disciples (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:26–48; John 20:19–23 [to the Ten only])

Ideas for Families

  • I find nothing wrong with traditional activities such as egg hunts and gathering candy Easter morning. But as we do Christmas morning, we make sure that the spiritual focus comes first and the "fun" second.
  • Gather in a room, say the parents' bedroom, other than where Easter baskets and candy may be found. Read one of the resurrection stories, such as Luke 24:1–12. Then bear testimony of the resurrection, sing "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," and have family prayer. After this, other Easter traditions can follow.
  • Talk about the reactions of the different characters to the evidence provided them that first Easter: the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, the witness of angels, and finally appearances of the Risen Lord. How do we react to the news of the resurrection of Jesus? How does our testimony start with small evidences, is reinforced by the witness of others, and finally solidified by personal revelation?
  • Read or sing C. Austin Miles' "In the Garden" (see the background of this hymn in the musical reflection below)
    Walter Rane, He Is Not Here

    Brief Discussion of the Events of Easter Sunday
    See the much longer discussion in God So Loved the World, 107–119.

     All four gospels begin their resurrection narratives with an account of the empty tomb, preserving the wonder and awe that filled the women who came to the tomb that early morning to find the stone rolled away.
    And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, "Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, "Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him."  (Mark 16:16)

    Scriptural and Musical Reflection: "In the Garden"

    Eeugen Burnand, The Disciples Running to the Sepulchre, 1898.
    The experience of Mary Magdalene in finding the tomb empty is much expanded in the account of John.  In the account of Jesus' burial in John 19:41, the sepulchre is specifically described as being in a garden.  It is in this garden that Mary's touching experience with the Risen Lord is then described in John 20:1–18.  In this account Mary came to the garden tomb alone, and, finding it empty, she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus' body was missing.  Upon hearing this news, Peter and another disciple, usually assumed to be John, ran to the garden, stooped to enter the tomb, and found in it only the linen cloths with which Jesus' body had been wrapped. (John 20:3–10).

    The disciples then left Mary weeping alone in the garden.  Soon she saw two angels in the tomb at the spot where Jesus' body had lain.  When they asked why she was crying, she said it was because she feared that someone had taken the Lord's body.  Then, turning, she "saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus."
    Jesus saith unto her, "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."  Jesus saith unto her, "Mary." She turned herself, and saith unto him, "Rabboni," which is to say, Master.   Jesus saith unto her, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:1517)
    Harry Anderson, He Is Risen
    Mary thus became the first person to see the Risen Lord, and, obedient to his direction, she went and told the disciples all that she had seen and heard.  In this Mary serves as a model witness for all believers, but especially to women.  As I wrote in God So Loved the World, 114, "Given the restrictions on women in that time and culture, which allowed them to do very little without the permission, guidance, or direction of the men in their lives, Mary’s ability to gain a testimony on her own—without father, brother, husband, or guardian—provides an important and empowering image for women today. Just as the Beloved Disciple gained his testimony standing at the foot of the cross and in the empty tomb, so can Woman gain the surest witness possible directly from the risen Lord."

    Yet Peter and John too serve as examples for believers, even when our witness is less secure than that of Mary.  When she had told them that the tomb was empty, they did not walk, they ran to the garden to see whether her report was true.  And though they did not see the Risen Lord at that time, seeing the tomb empty and the burial clothes lying there, they nonetheless believed.  Do we too run to find out whether the testimony of the resurrection that we hear and read from others is true?  And are we able to accept on faith its reality even when we have not yet seen the resurrected Christ?

    The experiences of Peter, John, and above all of Mary provided author and composer C. Austin Miles (1896–1946) inspiration for a touching hymn that has become a Christian classic.  In April of 1912 Miles was reading from John 20 when he felt that he was drawn into the garden scene.  In what he described as a vision, he saw Mary and then the other two disciples as they discovered the empty tomb.  But above all, he saw Mary as she heard the voice of Jesus, turned to look at him, and cried out "Rabboni!"  It was under the influence of this vision that Miles wrote "In the Garden" (Osbeck, Amazing Grace, second edition, 113).

    I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;
                And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

    He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
                And the melody that he gave to me within my heart is ringing.

    I’d stay in the garden with him tho the nigh around me is falling;
                But he bids me go—through the voice of woe, his voice to me is calling.
    Watch and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square as they perform Ryan Murphy's arrangement of "In the Garden."

    Through the words and the melody of this lovely yet simple song, we can picture ourselves in that garden scene, imagining what it will be like when we also have the privilege of seeing the Risen Lord.

    With Samuel at the Garden Tomb, Holy Week 2011

    Christ is Risen!

    An early Greek tradition was to greet people Easter morning with the expression Χριστός ἀνέστη, meaning "Christ is Risen!" to which one responds Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη, "Truly he is risen indeed!"  Common now throughout the Eastern Orthodox world, it has been adopted by many Roman Catholics and Protestants in Western countries.

    Even if this is not a custom in your family, the favorite Easter hymn, "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," certainly catches the feelings of joy  that we share with Christians the world over at the Easter miracle.
    Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
    Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
    Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
    Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth reply, Alleluia!

    Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
    Fought the fight, the vict’ry won, Alleluia!
    Jesus’ agony is o’er, Alleluia!
    Darkness veils the earth no more, Alleluia!

    Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
    Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
    Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
    Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! (Hymn 200)

    Subsequent Appearances

    • Jesus and Thomas (John 20:24–29)
    • Jesus Meets the Disciples in Galilee (John 21:1–14)
      • Jesus and Peter: Three-fold affirmation of Peter’s love (21:15–19)
      • Jesus and the Other Disciple (21:20–23)
    • The Forty Day Ministry (Acts 1:1–5)
    • Apostolic commission (Mark 16:15–18 [still in Jerusalem?]; Matt 28:16–20 [Galilee]; Acts 1:6–8)
    • The Ascension (Mark 16:19–20; Luke 24:49–53; Acts 1:9–11)
    • See also Paul’s list of post-resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:3–9 (Peter, the rest of the Twelve, over five hundred, James the brother of Jesus, "all the ‘apostles,’" and, last of all, Paul)
    The Gospel accounts make it clear that the risen Lord was seen, heard, and felt. To these accounts one can add Paul’s list of post-resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:3–9 (Peter, the rest of the Twelve, over five hundred, James the brother of Jesus, "all the ‘apostles,’" and, last of all, Paul). Much later the apostle John, referring both to the reality of the Incarnation and Jesus’ continuing physical reality wrote:
    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1–3)


    With my mother at the Garden Tomb, December 2011
    Each of the resurrection narratives carries beauty and power, confirming our own testimonies that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and lives today. The fact that the first to actually see him were Mary Magdalene, the other women, and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus suggests that all disciples, not just the Twelve, can receive sure testimonies that Jesus lives. Nevertheless, we are grateful for such special witnesses, "to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs [Greek tekmēriois, "sure signs" or "tokens"]" (Acts 1:3).

    For my final Easter message, however, I want to share the implications of his resurrection for us. Inasmuch as Jesus has overcome death, all shall live again . . . and as the Book of Mormon teaches, all will be restored to a perfect frame with imperfections corrected and challenges overcome (see Alma 11:42–44).

    Mounting examples in this life of those who struggle with physical, developmental, and other challenges—including those of my own precious son—have caused me to see a new need for the hope of renewal, rebirth, and healing that are so marvelously illustrated in the reality of the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ own resurrection healed hearts as "grief turned to joy":
    "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16:20–21)
    Mother, my daughter Rachel, and my niece Lindsay
    The hope of the resurrection continues to heal many grieving hearts as well as bodies, giving new meaning to the prophecy "but unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Malachi 4:2). Significantly, Jesus’ final commission to the apostles included the important injunction that they go forth not only to teach and baptize (Matt 28:19–20) but also to lay hands on the sick that should recover (Mark 16:18, 20). Certainly part of our discipleship should be that as Christ brought hope and healing, so should we work for these ends in our own small way.

    "He is not here, for he is risen!"
    Beyond this, however, is the hope of a glorious resurrection for those who accept him and are true and faithful to the covenants that they make with him. In recent years the death of grandparents, my father, my mother-in-law, and others dear to me has brought new meaning to this Easter message. Because He lives, so shall we . . . accordingly I close with the words of Paul that I shared at Dad's funeral:

    For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:14–17; see D&C 88:95–98)

    Saturday, April 19, 2014


    Fra Angelico, Christ in Limbo

    The only event the gospels record for the day after the crucifixion is the posting of a guard at the tomb at the request of the chief priests and Pharisees (Matthew 27:62–66).  Because this was ostensibly Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, Jesus’ family and friends stayed away from the tomb that day. Nothing else about Jesus’ body in the tomb or the activities of his disciples who were still in Jerusalem is known from those texts, although the Book of Mormon records that darkness prevailed among the Nephites during this period, symbolizing that the Light of the World had left it (see 3 Nephi 9–10).
    James Tissot, Watch over the Tomb

    Yet while the body of Jesus was in the tomb, his spirit was nonetheless alive and active.  An intriguing notice in 1 Peter 3:18–4:6 alludes to Jesus’ preaching to the dead or “spirits in prison.”  Christian tradition relates the so-called "Harrowing of Hell," wherein Jesus broke the bonds of Adam and Eve and brought them and other Old Testament saints from hell into heaven.  Although LDS doctrinal statements do not include statements such as "and he descended into hell" as do the Apostolic and other creeds, Restoration scripture does stress that "he descended below all things" (e.g., D&C 88:6, 122:8).

    Scriptural Accounts: Luke 23:43; 1 Peter 3:18–19, 4:6; D&C 138; 3 Nephi 9 and 10

    Ideas for Families 
    • Read Isaiah 52:7 and 53:10 and then Mosiah 15:10–18.  What does it mean that after he has made an offering for sin "he shall see his seed?"
    • Read portions of all or some of D&C 138 and discuss together Jesus' activities during the time that his body was in the tomb
    • Sing "How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord" (hymn 288) or "Turn Your Hearts" (hymn 291)
    • Return to the the fact that during this time Jesus' body was in the tomb.  Perhaps using traditional customs, such as coloring Easter eggs, talk about how the egg had come to be a symbol of the tomb.  To prepare for Easter morning, extend the discussion to talk about what happens when the egg hatches.
    Jesus and the Spirit World
    See the longer discussion in God So Loved the World, 95–105.

    The real state of the righteous dead before the Atonement of Christ and Jesus' own activities among them during the time that his body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea were revealed to Joseph F. Smith on October 3, 1918:

    "As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.  And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality; And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer's name. 
    "All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.  They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.  Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy.
    "While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful; And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.
    "But unto the wicked he did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised; Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face. Where these were, darkness reigned, but among the righteous there was peace; And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell." (D&C 138:11-23, emphasis added)

    President Smith Further related the subsequent missionary work that was organized in the Spirit World:

    "But behold, from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead. And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel. Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets. These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross." (D&C 138:30-35, emphasis added)

    The account from 3 Nephi not only provides a powerful picture of the aftermath of Jesus' death in the New World but also contains some powerful teaching by the voice of the Savior himself regarding the effects of his death and resurrection:

    "Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.  Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.  I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.  And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.  I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

    "And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.  And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.  Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.  Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved." (3 Nephi 9:14-22, emphasis added)

    Easter Quick Links

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    Good Friday

    "And he, bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of the skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha: where they crucified him . . .
    "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst . . . When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." (John 19:17–18, 28–30)

    Harry Anderson, The Crucifixion

    Good Friday is observed with great solemnity in some Christian traditions.  While not marked as a holiday as such in the LDS community, Good Friday can be a tender and reflective time for individuals and families to pause and consider how Jesus, as our great high priest, offered himself as a sacrifice for us: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12).  Understanding how and why he died makes the miracle of his resurrection on Easter morning all the more glorious and joyous.

    Customarily the day Jesus died on the cross is called "Good Friday" in English, either because it is a "holy" Friday, or, more likely, because in English "good" is often an archaic expression for "God."  For instance, "goodbye" means "go with God."  Accordingly, the Friday before Easter is "God's Friday" because this day saw the culmination of God's efforts to reconcile the world to himself through the death of his Son.  The apostle Paul described it this way:

    But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:8–12).
    The gospel narratives all agree that Jesus was first tried before Pilate, the Roman governor.  Luke adds that he was also questioned by Herod Antipas, the client ruler of Galilee. During his trial and after his conviction, Jesus was mocked and physically abused before being led to the place of crucifixion, where, after hanging on the cross for three to six hours, he died.  He was then hastily buried in a borrowed tomb.

    Scriptural Accounts: Matt 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28–19:42; see also 3 Nephi 8

    Episodes for Personal Study

    • Jesus in the Hands of the Romans (Mark 15:1–19; Matt 27:1–30; Luke 23:1–25; John 18:29-19:15)
    • Jesus is Crucified (Mark 15:20-28; Matt 27:31-38; Luke 23:26-34, 38; John 19:16-24)
    • Jesus' Final Hours (Mark 15:29-37; Matt 27:39-50; Luke 23:35-46; John 19:25-30)
    • Signs and Reactions to Jesus' Death (Mark 15:38-41; Matt 27:51-56; Luke 23:47-49; John 19:31-37)
    • The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42-47; Matt 27:57-66; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
    Carl Bloch, Crucifixion

    Suggested Listening: Bach, St . Matthew Passion; Handel, Messiah, Part II.

    For further reading: Raymond Brown, The Death of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 665–1313..

    Eric D. Huntsman, "Before the Romans," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ 3, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), 269–317.

    Kent P. Jackson, "The Crucifixion," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 318–337.

    Eric D. Huntsman, "The Lamb of God: Unique Aspects of the Passion Narrative in John," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration (Provo: Religious Study Center, 2008), 49–70, n.b., 60–65.

    Dawn C. Pheysey, "Picturing the Crucifixion," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, 155–164.

    Robert Millet, "Glorying in the Cross of Christ," Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, 125–138.

    Cecilia M. Peek, "The Burial," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 338–377.

    Ideas for Families

    • Discuss the trial and abuse of Jesus.  How did these experiences constitute part of “descending below all things?” 
    • Read Isaiah 53:3–4 and discuss what it means that Jesus was “a man of sorrows.”  What is the connection between the Lord’s sufferings and how we are falsely judged and badly treated?
    • Sing "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown" (hymn 197).
    • Read one of the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, such as John 19:17–30.
    • Take turns reading the Last Words of Christ (Luke 23:34; 23:43; John 19:26–27; Mark 15:34/Matthew 27:46; John 19:28; Luke 23:46; John 19:30).
    • Sing one of the sacrament hymns that described Jesus’ death on the cross, such as “Upon the Cross of Calvary” (hymn 184), “Behold the Great Redeemer Die” (hymn 191), or “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” (hymn 194).
    • Read John 3:14–18, John 12:32, and 3 Nephi 27:14–15 and talk about the symbolism of the cross.
    • Share testimonies of how Jesus died for our sins.

    Traditional Anglican collect for the day:

     Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this thy human family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross: who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

    Brief Discussion of the Events of the Friday before Easter
    See the much longer discussion in God So Loved the World, 71–93.

    Titian, "Christ Crowned with Thorns," 1540

    Jesus in the Hands of the Romans
    Trial, Scourging, and Mocking

    • Before Pilate (Mark 15: 2–5; Matt 27:2–14; Luke 23:1–12; John 18:28–38a)
    • Suicide of Judas Iscariot (Matt 27:3–10)
    • Pilate and Jesus
    • Pilate interviews Christ Privately Jjohn 18:33–38a: Art thou a king?)
    • Jesus before Herod (Luke 23:6–12)
    • Jesus again before Pilate and the mob (Mark 15:6–11; Matt 27:15–23; Luke 23:13–23; John 18:38b–19:12)
    • Pilate hands jesus over to be crucified (Mark 15:12–15; Matt 27:24–26; Luke 23:24–26; John 19:13–16)
    • The soldiers mock Jesus preliminary to his crucifixion (Mark 15:16–20a; Matt 27:27–31)
    • Simon of Cyrene bears the cross (Mark 15:20b–21; Matt 27:32; Luke 23:26; the Johannine Jesus carries his own cross)
    • Women bewail Jesus (Luke 23:27–31)
    Mihály Munkácsy, Christ before Pilate
    Whereas the charge in the Jewish hearing was one of blasphemy, the one laid against Jesus in the Roman trial was political: Jesus claimed to be a king, an offense against the Roman order.  Pilate is described in the gospels as indecisive and at times even desirous to let Jesus go.  This in no way exculpates him; when political pressure is brought upon him by the Jewish leadership ("If thou let this man go, thou are not Caesar's friend . . ." John 19:12), Pilate knowingly allowed an innocent man be executed.  In the end, discussions of immediate responsibility are irrelevant.  Jesus' death was a critical part of the plan of salvation, and it was made necessary by us.  Elsewhere I have written,
    . . . what remains important is that judgment took place, and it is both significant and ironic that the two 'trials' of Jesus took place before the two peoples who were most dedicated to and obsessed by law. Just as the two trials reflect the two realities of Christ’s identity—as both Son of God and King—so the Jews and the Romans represent all Gentiles and all of Israel (Acts 4:27). Examining the trial should not be for us an issue of assigning culpability—to Judas, the chief priests, or Pilate—for the betrayal and condemnation were necessary parts of the Atonement." ("Roman Trial of Jesus," From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, 316)
    Stained glass window in the Church of the Flagellation
    And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. (1 Nephi 19:9)
    After both the Jewish hearing and the Roman trial, Jesus was subjected to abuse: mocking, scourging, spitting.  Although often overlooked as we concentrate on the three pivotal points of the Atonement—Gethsemane, Golgotha, and Garden Tomb---this abuse was a prophesied part of what Jesus would suffer for us.  The fact some of the most powerful recorded prophecies of the abuse and mockery are found in the Book of Mormon in such passages as 1 Nephi 19:9, 2 Nephi 6:9, and Mosiah 3:9 suggests that they cannot be overlooked.  "The focus there is not with when and how the scourging, hitting, and spitting took place, but why. Christ was willing to suffer these things ‘because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.’" (Huntsman, 316317)
    Crown of thorns mosaic from Church of the Flagellation
    Much of this experience is powerfully represented in the beautiful hymn adapted from a Bach chorus, "O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown."
    O Savior, thou who wearest
    A crown of piercing thorn,
    The pain thou meekly bearest,
    Weigh’d down by grief and scorn.
    The soldiers mock and flail thee;
    For drink they give thee gall;
    Upon the cross they nail thee
    To die, O King of all.
    No creature is so lowly,
    No sinner so depraved,
    But feels thy presence holy
    And thru thy love is saved.
    Tho craven friends betray thee,
    They feel thy love’s embrace;
    The very foes who slay thee
    Have access to thy grace.

    Thy sacrifice transcended
    The mortal law’s demand;
    Thy mercy is extended
    To ev’ry time and land.
    No more can Satan harm us,
    Tho long the fight may be,
    Nor fear of death alarm us;
    We live, O Lord, thru thee.

    What praises can we offer
    To thank thee, Lord most high?
    In our place thou didst suffer;
    In our place thou didst die,
    By heaven’s plan appointed,
    To ransom us, our King.
    O Jesus, the anointed,
    To thee our love we bring! (Hymn 197)
    Reflection: A Man of Sorrows

    As noted yesterday, the cumulative feelings of betrayal, abuse, rejection, and false judgment despised were foreseen by Isaiah, whose words are movingly caught by Handel in the sorrowful mezzo-soprano air "He Was Despised" (see
    (Isaiah 53:3).  Today, on Good Friday, with the image of our Lord, bruised and bleeding and bearing the cross, the wrenching choruses "Surely He Hath Born Our Griefs" and "With His Stripes We Are Healed" are particularly poignant:
    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. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
    Frieze from the Church of the Condemnation
    The fact that "with his stripes we are healed" demonstrates that these incidents were, in fact, parts of our Lord’s atoning journey. Further, what Jesus experienced personally in this terrible day, together with the vicarious suffering that began in the Garden the night before, seem part of the filling his bowels with mercy "that he may know how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (See Alma 7:12).

    Yet even while the Lord can truly empathize with us in our afflictions, there are ways in which our sorrows, heartaches, and sufferings allow us, in some measure, to be more like our Savior. Paul wrote, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (2 Corinthians 1:5). How often we pray to be more like Jesus, but when pain, rejection, loss, and heartache come our way, we recoil and beg for these experiences to be taken away! Yet when we learn true patience, the Latin root of which is "suffer," from these experiences, our ability to trust in God and understand and empathize with others who similarly suffer grows exponentially.

    Click here for a moving performance of this hear-rending song by Liz Hilton, one of our Jerusalem Center alums.

    Down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem that day
    The soldiers tried to clear the narrow street
    But the crowd pressed in to see
    A Man condemned to die on Calvary
    He was bleeding
    from a beating, there were stripes upon His back
    And He wore a crown of thorns upon His head
    And He bore with every step
    The scorn of those who cried out for His death

    Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
    Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King,
    But He chose to walk that road out of His love
    For you and me.
    Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.

    Por la Via Dolorosa, triste dia en Jerusalem
    Los saldados le abrian paso a Jesus
    Mas la gente se acercaba
    Para ver al que llevaba aquella cruz
    Por la Via Dolorosa, que es la via Del dolor
    Como oveja vino Cristo, Rey, Señor
    Y fue El quien quiso ir por su amor
    Por ti y Por mi
    Por la Via Dolorosa al Calvario y a morir

    The blood that would cleanse the souls of all men
    Made its way to the heart of Jerusalem.
    Down the Via Dolorosa called the way of suffering
    Like a lamb came the Messiah, Christ the King
    But He chose to walk that road out of His love
    For you and me
    Down the Via Dolorosa, all the way to Calvary.

    The Crucifixion

    The Synoptics, following Mark, have Jesus crucified at the third hour (approximately 9:00 a.m.).  Darkness and physical manifestations of the suffering of Jesus occurred at the sixth hour (12:00 noon), and Jesus died at the sixth hour (about 3:00 p.m.).  Some scholars have suggested that Mark wrote his gospel to be read aloud, and that these precise hours reflect an early Christian practice of dramatizing the Passion narrative and perhaps praying or worshiping at these hours.  John portrays the crucifixion as taking place at noon, which gives more time for the trial and the events of that morning; he agrees that our Lord died about 3:00.
    J. Kirk Richard, Grey Day at Golgotha

    • Jesus is crucified (Mark 15:22–28; Matt 27:33–38; Luke 23:32–34, 38; John 19:17b–24)
    • Jesus is mocked (Mark 15:29–32; Matt 27:39–44; Luke 23:3–39)
    • "Salvation" of the Believing Bandit (Luke 23:40–43)
    • Women at the Foot of the Cross (John 19:25)
    • Jesus’ Mother Commended to the Beloved Disciple (John 19:26–27)
    While it became popular in the Middle Ages to focus on extreme suffering of Jesus' scourging and crucifixion, the gospels themselves are sparing of such brutal details.  They simply state, for instance, "there they crucified him."  Instead the emphasis is on the words and symbolic acts of Jesus that fulfill prophecy.  These include the the division of his garments, his crucifixion between two bandits or criminals, mocking that Jesus endured upon the cross, the so-called "Seven Last Sayings of Jesus," offering poor wine as a drink, the failure to break his legs, and his side being pierced.

    Further reflections from Handel's Messiah

    The mocking that Jesus endured on the cross—from those passing by, from the chief priests and scribes, and from even one of the thieves being crucified at his side—is introduced in Messiah by a tenor recitative adapted from Psalm 22:7.

    All they that see Him, laugh him to scorn;     they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying:

    The chorus then begins with the basses, followed by the tenors and eventually the full choir taking the part of those opponents who had done so much to orchestrate Jesus' death:
    He trusted in God that he would deliver him;
         let him deliver him, if he delight in him. (Psalm 22:8)

    The tenor soloist then sings movingly of the impact of this on Jesus, who was suffering this derision on top of his physical and spiritual anguish for the very foes who were slaying him:
    Thy rebuke hath broken his heart;
         He is full of heaviness.
    He looked for some to have pity on Him,
         but there was no man
         neither found he any to comfort Him. (Psalm 69:20)

    Behold, and see if there be any sorrow,
          like unto His sorrow. (Lamentation 1:12)

    Last Sayings of Jesus
    Liz Lemon Swindle, "It Is Finished"

    • "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
    • "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
    • "Woman, behold your son: behold your mother" (John 19:26–27).
    • "Eli Eli lema sabachthani?" (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).
    • "I thirst" (John 19:28).
    • "It is finished" (John 19:30).
    • "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
    "Gordon's Calvary," a site near the Garden Tomb identified in the late eighteenth century as a Protestant alternative to the Holy Sepulchre.

    Last Moments (Mark 15:33–37; Matt 27:45–50; Luke 23:44–46; John 19:28–30)

    Significantly, the greatest suffering that our Lord suffered on the cross does not seem to be anything that man inflicted upon him.  Jesus’ cry, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34–35; Matt 27:46–47), may reflect that, as in Gethsemane, carrying the weight of our sins necessarily separated him from his Father in a way that he never experienced before, leading Elder McConkie, following Elder Talmage, to write:

    Then the heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 p.m., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred. (McConkie, May 1985)
    When the prophecies had all been fulfilled and his work for us completed, our Lord cried out and died (Mark 15:37; Matt 27:50; Luke 23:46).  Luke sensitively notes that Jesus commended his spirit to his Father; John records that he authoritatively declared "It is finished" (John 19:30b), typical of the divine Johannine Jesus who "laid down his life" because no one could take it from him.

    Two of my favorite sacrament hymns reflect these final events, portraying them with different tenors.  First, "Behold the Great Redeemer Die."

    Samuel and Rachel in front of the traditional Rock of Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
    Behold the great Redeemer die,
    A broken law to satisfy.
    He dies a sacrifice for sin,
    He dies a sacrifice for sin,
    That man may live and glory win.

    While guilty men his pains deride,
    They pierce his hands and feet and side;
    And with insulting scoffs and scorns,
    And with insulting scoffs and scorns,
    They crown his head with plaited thorns.

    Although in agony he hung,
    No murm’ring word escaped his tongue.
    His high commission to fulfill,
    His high commission to fulfill,
    He magnified his Father’s will.

    “Father, from me remove this cup.
    Yet, if thou wilt, I’ll drink it up.
    I’ve done the work thou gavest me,
    I’ve done the work thou gavest me;
    Receive my spirit unto thee.”

    He died, and at the awful sight
    The sun in shame withdrew its light!
    Earth trembled, and all nature sighed,
    Earth trembled, and all nature sighed
    In dread response, “A God has died!” (Hymn, 191)

    Then, "There Is a Green Hill Far Away."

    There is a green hill far away,
    Without a city wall,
    Where the dear Lord was crucified,
    Who died to save us all.

    We may not know, we cannot tell,
    What pains he had to bear,
    But we believe it was for us
    He hung and suffered there.

    There was no other good enough
    To pay the price of sin.
    He only could unlock the gate
    Of heav’n and let us in. (Hymn 194)

    In the tradition of the medieval verdant cross. Often the cross was green in stained glass windows, and sometimes paintings depicted it sprouting leaves, flowers, and even fruit. The idea was that the dead tree of cursing (the instrument of Jesus' death) became a new Tree of Life (the instrument of our salvation and resurrection).

    Pacino de Buonaguida, Tree of Life
    In God So Loved the World, 84–85, I wrote the following about the symbolism and importance of the cross:
    For many Christians the experience on the cross has become central to the expressions of their faith in what Jesus did for us.  For them it is not purely a symbol of death, particularly in the Protestant tradition, where the cross is empty, because he has risen and is no longer there.  As Latter-day Saints we rarely use cross imagery, largely because of our focus on a living Christ rather than a crucified Christ.  But part of this may also have arisen from the fact that the early members of the Church in the New York and Ohio periods came out of a fairly Puritan Protestant background that generally avoided images of any kind.

    In 1975 President Hinckley addressed the issue of such symbolism in an important address subsequently reprinted in the April 2005 Ensign.  In it, he pointed out that the greatest symbol of Christ is found in the lives of his people.  Indeed, we are charged to bear his image in our countenances and hold up his light in the examples of our lives (Alma 5:14; 3 Nephi 18:16b, 24).  Nevertheless, although we do not use the symbol of the cross, we remember weekly what happened on it, as revealed by the texts of most of our sacrament hymns, which often focus on the final act of Calvary more than on Gethsemane.  But Jesus did not just bear our sins or even suffer for them-he died for them, and he died in a way that had long been prophesied.  As President Hinckley has noted,           

    ". . . no member of this Church must ever forget the terrible price paid by our Redeemer who gave his life that all men might live-the agony of Gethsemane, the bitter mockery of his trial, the vicious crown of thorns tearing at his flesh, the blood cry of the mob before Pilate, the lonely burden of his heavy walk along the way to Calvary, the terrifying pain as great nails pierced his hands and feet, the fevered torture of his body as he hung that tragic day . . . This was the cross, the instrument of his torture, the terrible device designed to destroy the Man of Peace, the evil recompense for his miraculous work of healing the sick, of causing the blind to see, of raising the dead. This was the cross on which he hung and died on Golgotha's lonely summit. We cannot forget that. We must never forget it, for here our Savior, our Redeemer, the Son of God, gave himself a vicarious sacrifice for each of us."
    Hendrick Goltzius, "Christ on the Tree of Life," 1610
    The cross was not just the means of our Lord's death, it was also a symbol of what that death has and will accomplish for us.  Historically, the cross was not necessarily the Latin or Greek cross of art; it was just as likely to have been scaffolding or upright poles to which crossbeams of various kinds were attached for any number of criminals.  Instead, the significance of the cross is found in the image of raising Jesus up, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9; see also 2 Nephi 25:20; Alma 33:19; Helaman 8:14-16).  Three times the Savior referred to this symbolism in the gospel of John (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32), but nowhere is the point made more clearly than when the Risen Lord himself said this to the Nephites:
    " . . . my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works." (3 Nephi 27:14-15, emphases added)
    Finally, the crucifixion left lasting tokens of the Lord's saving act, marks that were used to impart a sure witness that he was the Lord and God of those whom he saved.  Although the experience of Thomas after the resurrection does suggest that we should be believing before we receive such assurance (John 19:24-29), Jesus' display of the marks in his hands, feet, and side took on almost ritual significance when he appeared to the Nephites at the temple in Bountiful: "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." (3 Nephi 11:14)

    Musical Reflection: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

    The noted Christian poet Isaac Watts (1674–1748) wrote the words to this stirring hymn as he was preparing for a communion service in 1707.  He was inspired by Galatians 6:14, which reads, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."  Charles Wesley (1717-1788), another noted English hymn composer, is claimed to have said that he would rather have written this than all of his other hymns, and Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) called it the greatest hymn of the English language (see Osbeck, Amazing Grace, second edition, 103, and Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, special edition, 89).

    As we come to better understand that everything that Jesus suffered from the Garden of Gethsemane through his final moments on the cross was vital to the atonement that he worked on our behalf, his sacrifice can change us ever more powerfully:
    When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.

    See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

    His dying crimson, like a robe,
    Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
    Then I am dead to all the globe,
    And all the globe is dead to me.

    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.
    Signs and Reactions to Christ’s Death (Mark 15:38–41; Matt 27:51–56; Luke 23:45b, 47–49; John 19:31–37)

    The Synoptics Record that upon Jesus’ death, the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom, indicating that it was rent by God from above rather than by any person below.  Hebrew 9:11–12, 24–26 explicates this symbolism, teaching that the blood and death of Christ have opened the way for all to come into the presence of God.

    Interestingly, it was a Gentile, the Roman centurion in charge of the crucifixion, whose reaction is the most telling: “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).  While the people who had gathered mourned and finally left (Luke 23:48), the women who had followed Jesus since Galilee stood afar and continued their role as witnesses—having seen how Jesus died, they will next see where he is buried and at last find that same tomb empty Easter morning.

    The final images of Jesus as the Lamb of God are found after He voluntarily surrendered His spirit. When the Jewish leadership asked the Roman authorities to break the legs of those being crucified so that their bodies would not desecrate the Sabbath—and in John, the Passover itself—the soldiers first broke the legs of the two insurgents or revolutionaries (lestai, King James Version “thieves”) who had been crucified with Him. When they came to Jesus, however, and found that He was already dead, they did not break Jesus’s legs “that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:31–33, 36). While this was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Psalm 34:21, not breaking any bones was a particular requirement of the Paschal Lamb, one that was as significant as the prerequisite that the Paschal Lamb, like Jesus, be without blemish (see Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12).

    John ends his testimony of the Lord's saving death with this important event:

    But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe." (John 19:33-35)
    John emphasized the importance of this sign, I think, because it provides a testimony of who Jesus really was and what he had done for us.  Throughout the gospel of John blood is the symbol of life but mortal life, whereas water is a symbol of eternal or divine life.  Could it be that the blood represented Jesus' mortal inheritance from his mother Mary, the power to lay his life down for sin and that water represented his divine inheritance from God his Father, the power to take it up again and be to us "a well of water springing up unto everlasting life?"  (See “The Lamb of God: Unique Aspects of the Passion Narrative in John,” Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, 62–64, and God So Loved the World, 90–91).

    Artistic Reflection: The Lamentation

    Michelangelo, Pietà , 1498–99
    One of the most powerful episodes artistically is one that is not accounted for scripturally. Whereas the gospels agree that Joseph of Arimathea requested the body of Jesus from Pilate and was given permission to bury it, nothing is said of the women who grimly watched the crucifixion except that they followed afar off and saw where the body was laid.

    Few more images are more powerful, however, than those based on the theme of the heart-rending despair felt by those who loved Jesus.  Works of art often depict Jesus’ mother, Mary, John, the other women, an even angels of the heavenly hosts lamenting over the body of Jesus. No parent who has lost a child—either in actuality or metaphorically—can fail to be moved by images of the Pietà, Mary holding the body of her beloved son.
    Bloch, Burial

    The Burial of Jesus

    • Joseph of Arimathaea Requests Jesus’ Body (Mark 15:42–45; Matt 27:57–58; Luke 23:50–52 [Joseph’s righteousness and messianic expectation attested]; John 19:38 [Joseph a secret disciple])
    • Nicodemus Brings a Kingly Amount of Burial Spices in Daylight (John 19:39–40; cf. 3:2a, 14)
    • Placing the Body in the New Tomb (Mark 15:46a; Matt 27:58–60a; Luke 23:53–54; John 19:41–42)
    • Sealing the Tomb (Mark 15:46b; Matt 27:60b)
    • The Women Witness Where the Body Was Laid (Mark 15:47; Matt 27:61; Luke 23:55–56)
    • The Pharisees Request and Obtain a Guard from Pilate (Matt 27:62–66)
    Following Jesus' death, Joseph of Arimathea, assisted according to John by Nicodemus, obtained the body of Jesus and buried it in a "new tomb."  Nicodemus' involvement in the Fourth Gospel is telling.  Sometimes seen as a secret disciple of Jesus or as one who represents those who lacked sufficient faith to support Him openly, he had visited Jesus secretly by night in John 3 and then tried, weakly, to speak for Jesus before the council in John 7:45-53.  However, in his third appearance in the Gospel of John at the burial of Jesus (19:38-42), Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus when it was dark, comes out into the light, bringing a kingly amount of spices to assist Joseph of Arimathaea in preparing Jesus= body to be placed in the tomb.  Significantly, this occurs after Jesus has been lifted up upon the cross, a fulfilment of a prophecy made by Jesus that He would be lifted up "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness" (3:14).

    Traditionally placed at the site of the Holy Sepulchre, which in the Herodian period was outside of the city walls, many Protestants and most Latter-day Saints instead identify the Garden Tomb outside the current city walls near the site of Gordon's Calvary (which today looks like a skull) as the probable site of Jesus' final resting place. 

    Located in a modern garden, it conveys better the sense of what the tomb and its setting must indeed have been like, and Presidents Lee and Kimball are both on record as having had particularly strong impressions at the site.  On the other hand, many archaeologists have noted that the Garden Tomb is actually a much earlier tomb and does not date to the first century.  President Hinckley, in his personal remarks preluding the Testimony of the Living Christ that was filmed on the site, has said, "Just outside the walls of Jerusalem, in this place or somewhere nearby was the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where the body of the Lord was interred."  (see my discussion of sites in God So Loved the World, 81, 100-101)  

    Perhaps more exactly similar to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea is the family tomb of the Herods or a number of first-century tombs near Bethphage, which are securely dated to the time of Christ and include the rolling stones and other features described.  Still, the Garden Tomb remains in the hearts and minds the best place for picturing the setting not just of our Lord's burial but also the miracle of his resurrection.


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