Easter symbol of hope, faith, 'greatest victory of all time'

Celebrate victory over death

Seek comfort through Holy Ghost- Receive hope, peace

This Easter morning, President Gordon B. Hinckley said in the Sunday morning session, ". . . we celebrate the greatest victory of all time - the victory over death."

"Those who hated Jesus thought they had put an end to Him forever when the cruel spikes pierced His quivering flesh and the cross was raised on Calvary," the prophet related. "But this was the Son of God with whose power they did not reckon. Through His death came the resurrection and the assurance of eternal life."

General conference and Easter this year occurred on the same day, and President Hinckley gave a powerful address on "one grand key in this vast divine program, the redemption of mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ."

But before speaking of Easter, President Hinckley told Church members that he is overwhelmed by their words of kindness, loyalty and love. He was sustained as prophet a year ago at the April general conference.

"I have no desire other than to do that which the Lord would have done," he said. "I am His servant, called to serve His people. This is His Church. We are only custodians of that which belongs to Him.

"I am thankful for every member of this Church who walks in faith and faithfulness," he said. "The Church is the stronger or the weaker as each member is strong or weak in his or her faith and performance."

President Hinckley said he is determined, while he has strength, to get out among the people to express appreciation, give encouragement, build faith, teach and add his testimony to theirs.

"The work is growing across the world in a remarkable and wonderful way," he said. "The Lord is opening the doors of the nations. He is touching the hearts of the people. The equivalent of a hundred new stakes of Zion are coming into the Church each year."

In speaking of Easter, President Hinckley said, "None of us can fully understand the pain He bore as He prayed in Gethsemane and subsequently hung in ignominy between two thieves while those who looked at Him taunted and said, `He saved others, himself he cannot save.' (Matt. 27:42.)"

President Hinckley then recounted that with unspeakable sorrow those who loved Jesus placed his lifeless body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

"The Jewish Sabbath passed. Then came a new day, a day that ever after was to be the Lord's Day," he explained. "In their sorrow Mary Magdalene and the other women came to the tomb. The stone was no longer in place. Curiously they looked inside. To their astonishment the tomb was empty."

Quoting John 20:11-17, President Hinckley recounted Mary seeing Jesus again. " `Jesus said 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,' " President Hinckley said.

As Paul declares, others up to 500 at one time, also saw Jesus, he added.

"Can anyone doubt the veracity of that account? No event of history has been more certainly confirmed," President Hinckley said. "There is the testimony of all who saw and felt and spoke with the risen Lord. He appeared on two continents in two hemispheres and taught the people before His final ascension. Two sacred volumes, two testaments speak of this most glorious of all events in all of human history."

Beyond these accounts, he continued, is the truth and validity of this event borne by the Holy Ghost.

President Hinckley also referred to the "ringing testimony of the Prophet of this dispensation" who was spoken to by the Almighty Father and the Risen Son. "That vision, glorious beyond description, became the wellspring of this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with all the keys, authority and power found herein and the sustaining comfort to be found in the testimony of its people."

Speaking of death, President Hinckley said there is nothing more universal than death, and nothing brighter with hope and faith than the assurance of immortality. "The abject sorrow that comes with death, the bereavement that follows the passing of a loved one are mitigated only by the certainty of the resurrection of the Son of God that first Easter morning."

President Hinckley asked Church members what meaning life would have without the reality of immortality. Without it, he explained, "life would become only a dismal journey of getting and spending only to end in utter and hopeless oblivion. "The pain of death is swallowed up in the peace of eternal life.

"Whenever the cold hand of death strikes," he declared, "there shines through the gloom and darkness of the hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He is our comfort, our only true comfort, when the dark shroud of earthly night closes about us as the spirit departs the human form."

President Hinckley said in their hour of deepest sorrow, Church members draw hope, peace and certitude from the words of the angel that Easter morning, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matt. 28.6).

"He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ who stands on the right of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God," President Hinckley declared.

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