He is Risen

President David O. McKay

March 30, 1947 at BYU

We seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here. He is risen. Behold the place where they laid him.

Before commenting further upon that theme, President McDonald, officers and members of the Brigham Young University, permit me to commend you for the exemplary, reverential attitude during these most inspirational services. Every number on the program has been appropriately and impressively rendered. The sacrament was administered orderly and efficiently. The Superintendent has conducted there services in an exemplary way. The inspirational singing, particularly this Hallelujah chorus, is most uplifting. I as sure that everyone present has said in his or her heart amen to the gratitude expressed by the student who offered the invocation. I was particularly impressed when he expressed thanks for the school, for his membership herein, when he prayed for the spirit of brotherhood and true Christianity to prevail. I have thought during these exercises that probably nowhere else in the world will such a program be rendered in any university. I believe you agree with me. I am grateful to be with you students. I wish those who at an time have expressed doubt as to the advisability of holding a University Sunday School, were here this morning.

One week from today there will be held throughout the Christian world Easter services commemorating the greatest event in all history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This day might just as appropriately be celebrated for that event, that is on this day we might just as well, just as appropriately celebrate it, for Easter is a shifting day. It comes on a Sunday following, as you all know, the full moon that comes either on the 21st or immediately after the 21st of March. Thus it may shift from March 22, be held any time between March 22 and about April 25. It is a pagan celebration. It antedates the birth of Christ. It's really a spring festival in honor of the goddess Eastre, a Saxon goddess. It has been adapted, or adopted, by the Christian world, and as I say, we associate with it now the resurrection of our Lord. I wish that we could put a day, establish a regular day, for Easter and I'd have it on April 6, probably the day. I am [2] thoroughly in accord with the movement now throughout the nations to establish a world calendar instead of the calendar under which we are now operating. If that world calendar were adopted this year, the first day of January 1948 would be Sunday and so would every other new year. Christmas would be on the same day, the 4th of July, the 24th of July, your birthday and mine, and possibly we could establish then day for Easter. If that world calendar were adopted, the year would be divided into four quarters, one month in each of which would have 31 days; the other tow, thirty days each. That would be four times 91, 364 days then in order to complete the year we would have a supernumerary Saturday which would be held the last Saturday every year and that would be very good. Christmas would come on Monday of every year, so you would have the first Saturday which would be December 30th, the you'd have your supernumerary Saturday and Sunday and Christmas. Think of the holidays you'd have whether you had Christmas holidays or not. However it isn't the day but the event that is significant. Christ is risen. He died a lonely death, an ignominious death as the two thieves, one on each side of him. Of the death Mr. Lloyd C. Douglas, author of the Rove, writes as follows: Demetrius, a slave and friend of his master Marcellus, forced his unwilling feet to advance slowly toward three crosses where hung three condemned men. The gruesome scene stunned him, and he came to a stop. The two unidentified men were writhing on their crosses. The lonely man on the central cross was still a statue. His head hung forward. Perhaps he was dead, or at least unconscious. Demetrius hoped so. For a long time Demetrius stood there contemplating this tragic sight. The lonely man had thrown his life away. There was nothing to show for his audacious courage. The temple would continue to cheat the country people who came in to offer a lamb. Herod would continue to bully and whip the poor if they inconvenienced the rich. Caiaphas would continue the blasphemies of men who didn't want the gods fetched to market. Pilate would deal out injustice and was his dirty hands in a silver bowl. This lonely man had paid a high price for this brief and fruitless war on wickedness. But he had spoken. He had acted. By tomorrow [3] nobody would remember that he had risked everything and lost his life in the cause of honesty. But perhaps a man was better off dead than in a world where such an event as this could happen/" I give you that picture to emphasize the fact of Jesus' death might have been from an ordinary standpoint, just as insignificant as the death of others who were crucified in those ancient days. "For what are men who grasp the praises sublime but bubbles on the rapid stream of time that rise and fall, that swell and are no more, born and forgot, ten thousand in an hour." But to live is not merely to breathe, to eat, to sleep, to gratify appetite and passion. Only to do such things is to exist, not to live. To live is to have joy, to experience high thoughts, noble aspirations, to sense the happiness of friendship, the ecstasy of true love, the inspiration that comes from the consciousness of communion with God through his divine spirit. In your own minds now, I will have you repeat to yourselves, "We live in deeds, not years, in thoughts, not breaths, in feelings, not in figures on a dial." Measured by this standard Jesus, though crucified in ignominy nearly two thousand years ago, is alive today. The memory of his childhood is an inspiration to youth. His teachings guide and comfort millions. His perfect life and god-like character are ideals that uplift the world. You may say, well so did Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, and other great leaders. I grant you that, and in so doing but emphasize the fact that death cannot end the life of any great soul. But that isn't immortality nor does it bear directly upon the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. What we celebrate today is the persistence of Christ's personality after death, following the placing of his body in the borrowed tomb. Is it a fact that Christ's body was reanimated, that his spirit did re-enter his body and that he appeared in a resurrected state following that gruesome, lonely death? Establish that and you have established the immortality of the soul. Now just for few moments let's consider what the evidence is; that the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ was accepted by those who had lived with him for two and half years or more cannot be doubted. I like Beverly Nichols reference to this. You read it in The [4] Fool Hath Said. "The authors of the epistles were within hailing distance historically of Christ. At any rate when their ideas, which they afterwards transmitted to paper, were formed, the winds had hardly had time to efface the sacred print of his steps in the sands over which he walked. The rain had hardly had time to wash away with its callused tears the blood from the rotting wood of the deserted cross. Yet these men knew--I can't go on using the word 'believe' which is far too vapid and colorless--that God had descended to earth in the shape of a certain man, that this man had met an obscene and clownish death, and that the grotesque mode of his dying had redeemed mankind from sin. They knew, moreover, that he had risen from the dead on the third day and ascended to heaven." That's Beverly Nichols, the English author. Now students, this you know too. At Jesus' death the disciples were stricken with gloom. There in the garden they had fled. Only John stood at the cross. Their intense grief, the story of Thomas, doubting they call him; I don't like to call him doubting Thomas as he was one of the most stalwart and brave among them but he was perplexed somewhat as Peter. The evident preparations for burial all combined to illustrate the prevalence of a fear that the redemption of Israel had failed. Notwithstanding the often repeated assurance that Christ would return, the apostles didn't understand it, and they went away. Peter, you know, said, "I am going fishing." Four others said, "Well, we'll go with thee," and away, back to the usual vocation they went. Not with such doubt and perplexity can the inhabitants of the world be stirred as the inhabitants of the world have been stirred by the testimonies of these men, and I put that out as your first thought. What was it that changed these men from that fear, that doubt, that wonderment? Answer it, you Biblical students. Answer it you critics in the world who doubt the resurrection and I include ministers. What was it that changed them? To men who have influenced millions, not only those with whom they came in personal contact. It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words of an eminent writer, the final and absolute seal of genuineness had been put all claims and the indelible stamp of a divine authority [5] upon all his teachings. The gloom of death had been banished by the glorious light of the presence of their risen, glorified Lord and Saviour. On the evidence of these unprejudiced, unexpectant, incredulous witnesses, faith in the resurrection has its impregnable foundation. Who are they? The first is Mark. John was his Jewish name. Younger than any student who sits here today when his mother joined the church. Now I know this is somewhat--about when his mother joined the church and all that, is a little inference, but we do not know that she was in the church and that the apostles met in her house and I am not so sure but that it was in her house in Jerusalem where the last supper was held. Now don't take that as a fact, but nobody knows where it was held and they had met in her house afterwards. But John or Mark her son did not join the church. He heard about him, about that teacher, but I am inclined to think, and this is the reason I infer that if the last supper wasn't held in John Mark's mother's house that she was nearby for somebody know that Judas and the soldiers were going to Gethsemane whither the Lord and the eleven had left just a few moments before. Somebody said to a young man, "Get up and warn Jesus that soldiers are coming," and that young man didn't stop top dress but wrapped a linen cloth about him and rushed through the gate and even then it was too late. When he got into Gethsemane to warn him and the Bible says when the soldiers reached for him he left the linen cloth and fled home. Whither it was John Mark or not is mere incident. Certain it is that after those great events, the death and resurrection of Jesus, this young man became interested in the church, became a close associate with Peter, the chief apostle, and later Peter called him "my son" in the faith. And that young man heard from Peter the testimony that Jesus Christ had risen and had appeared to Peter and he devoted his entire life to preaching Christ and his crucified and when an old man after he returned from the northern part of Africa where you will find the ruin of churches built to him to this day in Alexandria, he was told to write down his experiences which he did. And among them, "Ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here. He is risen. Behold the [6] place where they laid him." I cannot, if I were the most skeptical of men, conceive that that young man after all that life in hi innocent earnestness would write down a statement like that to deceive people among whom de devoted his life to preach Christ and him crucified, can you? Neither can I conceive of Dr. Luke who didn't know Christ. As far as we know he had never seen him or heard him, but he heard these apostles say that Christ was crucified and had risen from the dead and that trained man who had a trained mind began to investigate it and these are the words that he uses after that investigation. He writes--particularly he interviewed and recorded the declaration of those Quote who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. He avers that the Quote accurately traced all things from the very first so that he might quoted them right them in order. This means that Luke obtained the testimony of those eye-witnesses directly from themselves and not from previous narratives. And so you read in the Gospel of St. Luke, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen." Well I know neither Mark nor Luke says anywhere that either saw the risen Lord. But I repeat they talked to Peter who said he did, and to James and to others. Time will not permit now to give the evidence of a man who did see Christ or else lied or else he was deceived. And that man was as bitter a persecutor as any person could ever be. You know Saul of Tarsus. You also know that there came a time when he had to stand in chains, having been condemned for testifying to that, and the Roman governor couldn't decide whether to let him go or not, Feasts, he was before Festus, he was before Felix and finally they said when King Agrippa came and his sister, "Come on, listen to this man's story," and there is one of the greatest dramatic scenes in all the world; that little brown-eyed man with chains on his wrists said, "I thought, King Agrippa, that I did right when I persecuted these men. I took out evidence against them, got papers to chase them," and finally he said, "Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority to commission from the chief priest, at mid-day oh King I saw in the way a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them [7] which journeyed with me and when we were all fallen to the earth I heard a voice speaking unto me and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against pricks. And I said Who art thou Lord and he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest, but rise and stand upon they feet for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee." I know that Luke wrote that, that Luke got that from Paul, for Luke traveled with Paul and wrote down in an intelligent way the whole thing and if you want Luke's testimony in Acts is not questioned even by the most severe critics. I have a list here of proofs which they have found recently which demonstrate the accuracy of that man's record. I know, I repeat, that that is Luke's testimony. All right, take Paul's, written by his own hand when he sent back a letter tot he people who he loved in the mission field. And I cannot imagine anyone of you writing back a lie to these people who loved you and trusted you. Well that is just exactly what Paul did when he wrote that letter to the Corinthians and he said when he found out that there was dissension among them, he said, "I gave you what I myself had received, how that Christ died, how that he rose again the third day and how that he was seen of Cephas, then of the eleven, then of above five hundred brethren at once, many of whom are living to this day though some have fallen asleep. Then of James, then of the twelve, and last of all he was seen of me who am least worthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the saints of God.

To summarize, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I think this is a certainty. If any fact, not merely of Christianity but of history stands on an impregnable foundation, this does. The direct evidence of this may be state as follows: First the sudden and marvelous transformation in the spirit and work of the disciples; Second the practical and universal belief of the early church as recorded in the gospels; Third, the direct [8 missing]

[9] to man for when death takes a loved one form us we can look with assurance into the open grave and say, "He is not here; he is risen." Jesus Christ our Lord has revealed and made possible the immortality of the soul.

God bless you students and you prepare to accept the responsibility of carrying this message to an unbelieving world, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.