Victory Day

Traditionally, VE Day means Victory in Europe Day and refers to the end of the horrific Second World War. Today, I use VE Day to mean Victory on Easter Day. Easter is all about victory! Victory over death. Victory over sin. Victory over hell, the Devil, and misery. Jesus Christ is the Victor and it is to Him I pay tribute and give my eternal love, loyalty, and thanks.

Two thousand years ago, the Son of God was arrested, illicitly tried, spit on, abused, tortured, and cruelly crucified in front of a jeering mob on a forlorn hill outside of old Jerusalem. This Holy Man, called Jesus of Nazareth, suffered excruciatingly while those of His own people – those He had loved and served so diligently – mocked Him and exuded demonic hatred and malice for no reason. His pain, however, was not merely physical, but profoundly spiritual.

It was not only Jesus’ wrists, hands, and feet that were pierced, but His noble spirit had been pierced the night before this public humiliation and veritable ritual murder. It was in the tranquil Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus worked out the Atonement that allows me and you to lay our burdens and sins upon Him and become redeemed. There, Jesus suffered a private torment surpassing anything the Jews or Romans could have inflicted upon Him. It was while prostrate in that Garden of Glory that Jesus literally bled from every pore of His body because His anguish was so awful for the sins of mankind.

Despite the immense pain which required God the Father to send an angel to comfort His suffering Son during this most pivotal moment of eternity, Jesus endured, pushed forward, and conquered! He did what He tells us to do – He gave His heart and soul. He poured Himself out to His Father and our God, offering His sinless soul as an offering for our .

For some reason we don’t yet understand, blood – the life force of mortality – is required to ratify a sacrifice. To voluntarily spill His blood and give His life as the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus went from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Cross. There, on Golgotha, the Savior completed His work and fulfilled His Father’s Plan of Salvation. There on the Cross of Completion the Lord cried in anguish, but also with finality and exultation: “Father, it is finished, thy will is done” (Matthew 27:50, Joseph Smith Translation).

At that moment, Jesus was dead, yet He was never more alive. His spirit, freed from its suffering tabernacle of clay, simply transitioned from mortality to immortality; from the cruel earth to the paradise of the spirit world. There He reclaimed His spot as the Lord of Hosts. There He marshaled His forces to preach the Gospel to the spirits in prison. There He continued His work of salvation and prepared for the next act – placing the capstone on His perfect performance by rising from the grave in great glory.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Friday afternoon after He voluntarily gave His life for us on the Cross, that the Savior formally finished His Atonement and forever abolished death. Jesus, who is the Life and Light of the world, offered eternal life to each of us with the glorious hope of a future day of rest from earthly cares and pains, happiness with our families, and salvation in Heaven. Angels appeared to declare that He had fulfilled His promises; that He truly was the Master of Heaven and earth with power to save. It was a day unlike any other; a day that changed everything!

The empty tomb is the Tomb of Triumphant. The empty tomb is the ultimate symbol of Christ. Christians often remember the cruel Cross on Calvary. While it is essential to recall this event and to always keep in mind the suffering our Lord endured for us, it is more joyful and appropriate to remember the empty tomb and what it signifies. That tomb told the world that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer, the Savior, the All-Powerful Lord of the elements and of eternity. Let’s remember all that Christ has done for us and give Him particular thanks on this glorious Victory Day.

On an Easter morning many years ago, a modern prophet of the Lord gave this witness of the miracle of Christ’s Easter Victory. He proclaimed:

“There is one grand key in this vast divine program, and that is the redemption of mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

“This is Easter morning. This is the Lord’s day, when 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. 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. . . .

“Whenever the cold hand of death strikes, there shines through the gloom and the darkness of that hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who by his matchless and eternal power overcame death. He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He took it up again and became the firstfruits of them that slept. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He, as the Omnipotent One, stands above all rulers. 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.

“Towering above all mankind stands Jesus the Christ, the King of glory, the unblemished Messiah, the Lord Emmanuel. In the hour of deepest sorrow we draw hope and 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 hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God. Of this we bear solemn testimony this day of rejoicing, this Easter morning, when we commemorate the miracle of the empty tomb” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Glorious Easter Morn,” General Conference, April, 1996).

I add my testimony to President Hinckley’s. Death is nothing. The Devil is nothing. They have no power over us because we are Christ’s and Christ is King – the Triumphant Victor. Life is endless and eternal because of our Eternal God, Jesus Christ, who is the Life and Light of all. I know without any doubt that life goes on and that Jesus the Christ, the Redeemer of the world, lives!

What greatest message can we give to the world than that Jesus, the very same who was crucified in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, lives at this very moment? If He lives, then He was and is truly the Savior He said He was. And as that living Savior, He has the power to help us and save us even now. As one man of God said of our Redeemer:

“He is so accessible. I bear witness that He is alive right now. Jesus is saving and helping and healing and forgiving right now. He is quick to forgive and slow to anger. He is mighty to save” (Elder Kyle S. McKay, “There Must Needs Be a Christ,” BYU Devotional, March 23, 2021).

And so He is. Jesus is the One who saves, who purifies, who rescues, who heals, who changes us into better men and women, and who promises us eternal life with Him and our Father if we but turn to Him and give Him our heart. This Victory on Easter Day, let’s remember the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and the grace He so freely offers each of us. Yes, let’s remember the abundant life He offers us and has the power to offer us because He redeemed us in the Garden of Glory, died for us on Cross of Completion, and gave us unending hope by raising from the Tomb of Triumph.

As the Lord’s prophet on earth, President Russell M. Nelson, said this morning in a worldwide message about the Savior:

“No other message is more vital to our happiness now and forever. No other message is more filled with hope. No other message can eliminate contention in our society. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of all belief and the conduit of divine power” (President Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, April 4, 2021).

Amen to that testimony. It is true. It’s all true. And because it’s true, each of us can cry in our hearts, in our prayers, and boldly before the world:

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? . . . .

“. . . thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57).

Zack Strong,

April 4, 2021

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