Easter Is a Story of Life, Not Death

(the retelling of a story I shared last Easter as well)

In the Mormon church we believe, as all Christians do, that Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into Heaven. We know He yet lives, and we center our hope and testimonies on this knowledge.  This is perhaps why we do not carry or display any depictions of Christ on the cross, either in our chapels, our homes, jewelry, or otherwise – I believe it has something to do with our choice to focus purely on the Living Christ.

Christus Statue, found in many LDS Visitors Centers

The Christus statue in Salt Lake City's Temple Square Visitors Center. It's a replica of the Christus statue by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768-1844). This is a common representation of Christ used by the Mormon church.

When we lived in Oregon, I had the great pleasure to volunteer one summer at the Portland Art Museum. They allowed us to bring our family in for free one afternoon, so while my husband worked, I (being very pregnant with our youngest!) brought our four children in to see the amazing exhibits.

As we toured the museum, we entered one quiet room, wherein was centered on one wall a massive and particularly grotesque painting of the crucifixion of Christ. I silently observed as my then 6yo son walked up to the painting and stretched his neck to see all angles of the painting. I watched as his shoulders slumped, his head bowed, and his whole body confessed that he was crying.

I pulled him over to a nearby bench and sat with him while he sobbed. That was the first time he had ever seen that kind of image of Christ, and he didn’t even know who it was. He told me in his small voice, “I’m just so sad for that man.”

I then shed my own tears as I told him that man was Jesus Christ, and that I understood how he could feel sad about Christ’s suffering. But then I told him that Christ knew what he was doing – that he had chosen that fate – because He loved us so much and knew He needed to make that sacrifice for us. He sacrificed that we wouldn’t have to carry the weight of our own sins, but could repent and be forgiven.  He died that we might live.  And I told him that though Christ died on the cross, He rose just two days later. And because He broke the bands of death, we would one day be able to do the same. We would be reunited with all those we love. We would be able to live with our Father in Heaven again. Yes, it was sad what happened to Christ, but there is reason for great rejoicing in it, too. It is perhaps the one part of the gospel which brings me the greatest joy and happiness.

I hope that during this season of renewal and rebirth we can all find our way to peace and strength, that we can remember the sacrifice that was made so we might shed our imperfections, regrets, and sorrows and become whole, and live a whole life.  I will always remember this moment with my son, and how his tears changed to a growing, secure testimony in his heart that the blessing of the Easter miracle is not that Christ died, but why.