Easter is coming in just a few days. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a Mormon), Easter means much more to me than spring flowers and chocolate bunnies. I am a Christian, with a deep and abiding love for Jesus Christ. As always at this time of year, I feel both profound sorrow and profound joy as I contemplate the sacrifice of our Savior when He took upon Himself all the sins and evil of the world, suffered, and was crucified. It is almost unbearable to remember His sufferings. Yet my heart is filled with overwhelming joy at His resurrection, which brings with it the incredible promise of eternal life. The Doctrine and Covenants, which contains revelations from God given through modern Mormon prophets, uses a beautiful image to describe Jesus’ atonement. Jesus has “descended below all things, …that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth” (from The Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 6). The darkness of sin and death have been swallowed up in light and life.
Another holiday coincides with Easter, a holiday that is deeply symbolic of Jesus’ atonement as well. That holiday is Passover. Like most Christians, Mormons do not celebrate Passover, but it is no accident that the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ occurred during this time. Indeed, Christ ate the Passover meal with His disciples just before leaving for the Garden of Gethsemane, where His atonement began. The Last Supper was a Passover meal; its bread and wine were the bread and wine of Seder:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26-28).
Passover commemorates the time when God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt by the hand of Moses. The final plague visited upon the Egyptians caused the death of the firstborn of every living thing, from “the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.” (Exodus 11:5-6). The Israelites could be protected from this great tragedy only by slaughtering a male lamb without blemish, and then striking its blood on both sides and above the door of the houses where they stayed. During the night, the Israelites were spared as they ate their first Passover meal, while the firstborn of all Egypt died. The destroyer passed them by.
The lamb sacrificed to save the children of Israel from death and destruction was a symbol of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ blood, like the blood of the Passover lamb, saves us from Satan, who would otherwise destroy our bodies and souls. Isaiah prophesied of Christ long before His birth, saying that the Messiah would be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). John the Baptist told his followers who Jesus was in a single sentence: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Andrew, Peter’s brother, was among those who heard John speak. He knew instantly what John meant: the Lamb prophesied by Isaiah, whose blood delivered the Israelites from bondage and death, commemorated by Passover every year, had come at last. Andrew followed Jesus, and then ran to find his brother Peter, telling him, “We have found the Messias” (John 1:41). I can only imagine the joy they felt to have found their Savior at last.
The older I get, the more I realize how much I need the atonement of Jesus in my life. Some of my loved ones have passed away, and I long for their company. As the years go by, my body ages, and I can see that in time it will wear out and I, too, will die. At times I feel weighed down my my sins and mistakes, or burdened by sorrow for the sufferings and sins of others. I need the blood of the Lamb of God to save me from the destroyer. So every week, I attend Church, and partake of the bread and water representing the blood and body of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The resurrection of His body renews my body; the sacrifice of His blood redeems my soul. My heart rejoices in the promise of life everlasting, made possible by His infinite love. May the joy of Jesus’ redemption dwell in your heart as well this Easter, and always.