Thursday, March 29, 2018

President Spencer W. Kimball on the miracle of the resurrection

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Only a God could bring about this miracle of resurrection. As a teacher of righteousness, Jesus could inspire souls to goodness; as a prophet, he could foreshadow the future; as an intelligent leader of men, he could organize a church; and as a possessor and magnifier of the priesthood, he could heal the sick, give sight to the blind, even raise other dead; but only as a God could he raise himself from the tomb, overcome death permanently, and bring incorruption in place of corruption, and replace mortality with immortality....
"Ever since mortality came upon Adam, men had feared death, the one enemy which could never be conquered. Herbs and medicines, prayers and surgery, medicine-men and priests, sorcery and magic, all had been used for milleniums in an attempt to overcome, or at least to postpone death but, in spite of all the machinations and efforts of men in all the earth, up to this time they had failed; and the rich and poor, ignorant and educated, black, brown, red, or white, priest and people, all had gone down in death and gone back to mother earth.
"But now came the miracle— the revolution, the unbelievable marvel which none could explain and which none could deny. For the body which these hosts had seen persecuted, tortured, and drained of its life's blood, and left dead upon the cross; the body from which all life had ebbed; the body which lay entombed those long hours in a small, closed and sealed, oxygenless room into the third day; the person who had suffered the fate of death like hundreds of millions before him was calmly walking in the garden, animated, fresh, alive!
"No human hands had been at work to remove the sealed door nor to resuscitate nor restore. No magician nor sorcerer had invaded the precincts to work his cures; not even the priesthood, exercised by another, had been brought in use to heal, but the God who had purposefully and intentionally laid down his life had, by the power of his godhead, taken up his life again.... The spirit which had been by him commended to his Father in Heaven from the cross, and which, according to his later reports, had been to the spirit world, had returned and, ignoring the impenetrable walls of the sepulcher, had entered the place, re-entered the body, had caused the stone door to be rolled away, and walked in life again, with his body changed to immortality, incorruptible—his every faculty keen and alert.
"Unexplainable? Yes! And not understandable—but incontestable. More than 500 unimpeachable witnesses had contact with him. They walked with him, talked with him, ate with him, felt the flesh of his body and saw the wounds in his side and feet and hands; discussed with him the program which had been common to them, and him; and, by many infallible proofs knew and testified that he was risen, and that that last and most dreaded enemy, death, had been overcome....
"And so we bear testimony that the being who created the earth and its contents, who made numerous appearances upon the earth prior to his birth in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is resurrected and immortal, and that this great boon of resurrection and immortality becomes now, through our Redeemer, the heritage of mankind."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "The Greatest Miracle," RS Magazine April 1947, p. 219
Click here to read the full talk (search for "The Greatest Miracle"):

See excerpts in The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 17–18; also "Gospel Classics: From the Garden to the Empty Tomb," Ensign, April 2006

This profound message from President Kimball was shared over 70 years ago, but in my mind it's still one of the most beautiful descriptions of the miracle of the resurrection of the Savior. This opening summary of the Savior's unique role and personality provides a fitting summary of the message:

The fear of death that had gripped all humankind from the beginning was overcome by the hope and anticipation of the resurrection. No longer did mankind have to fear that death was the end of existence. And while we still cling to life in every way we can, we also know the "most dreaded enemy, death, had been overcome" by the Savior's act on our behalf.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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