Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

This is a little late for Easter, I know. The days have come and gone without a thought for my writings heree--the days get filled up with school and exams and all the rest, and then here we are. Even though Easter is past, however, I wanted to bear my testimony here of my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

I know my Savior lives. I know that He loves me with a love that cannot begin to fully understand, but that I feel and rely on every day. I know that He suffered and died so that I would not have to do so, but could live with Him again free of punishment or blame. I know that He rose from the grave on the third day, shattering forever death's hold upon the children of men. I know that He lives today--"the great king Immanuel, who stands... at the right hand of the Father." I know He will come to earth again and finish the great work that He and the Father began--the salvation of mankind. I know that work will succeed.

Some might ask how I know these things. I guess on some level I don't--not in the world's sense of knowing. I haven't seen the Savior. I have not felt the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. I was not there to hear the angels at the empty tomb announcing His resurrection on that first Easter Sunday. I don't have the sort of physical evidence that would prove the case in a courtroom--photographs, nails from the cross and the like.

Don't get me wrong--I have come as close to having that kind of evidence as most people ever get. I have stood in the Church of the Holy Seplechure, kneeling in the upstairs shrine and touching the place where the cross is believed by the Catholic faith to have stood. I have sat among the rocks and brush in the fields overlooking the hillside of Bethlehem, in a place where shepherds still "watch over their flocks by night." I have walked beneath the ancient olive trees of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins and pains of the world, and have marveled anew at the thought of such a great and infinite Atonement. I have sat on the shores of Galilee and watched the morning sun come up over the clear blue water whereon a band of fishermen-turned-apostles once toiled in a fishing boat. I have stood on the steps to the temple mount and in one of the most ancient synagogues in all the Holy Land--places where the Savior Himself stood. I have pondered and sung hymns in the places where He lived and healed--Bethesda, Capernaum, Nain, Jerusalem, and more. I have prayed  at the Western Wall for a new temple to be built. I have sat among the flowers and trees and gazed upon an empty tomb that may have been His, remembering those beautiful words, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."

All of these were incredible experiences. I felt the spirit and was taught of God as I sojourned in the Holy Land and "walked the roads of Palestine" as Jesus did. But I did not need to go to Israel to know "the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great Atoning sacrifice." I got to know those things better in Jerusalem--but I knew them before. I knew my Savior before.

The dictionary defines "knowing"something as "to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to be acquainted with, as by sight, experience, or report." I think this defines very well the way I know Jesus Christ. I know Him by understanding. I know Him by acquaintance--by associating with Him. The Greek "know" has two meanings--to know something in a factual sense, or to know by association. The latter is used in this sense: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." I know Jesus Christ in that way--by association, by being with Him. I know Him perhaps not by physical sight, but by "experience" and by "report." I know Him because He has been with me and because I have felt His presence.

I know Him by faith.Faith is "to hope for things which are not seen, which are true." It is "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It is to walk by complete trust, relying on more than sight alone. It is to act without knowing the end from the beginning, but knowing just enough. The Bible Dictionary says that "faith is a principle of action." That is very true, and I know the Savior that way, too--because my actions center so much around my belief that He lives and has a plan for me beyond what I could ever hope for myself.

I have felt the hand of Jesus Christ in my life. I have felt the Spirit testify to me of Him. I have felt with complete certainty the truth of His words as I have studied them in the scriptures. I have felt His comfort in times when I felt nothing could heal me--when my heart was broken, when I felt entirely alone, or when I felt I would never be enough to measure up in this world. In the times when I feel most worthless, He is there to tell me that I was worth everything. When I have been in the throes of pain and despair, He has provided healing and promises of happiness right around the corner. I  have felt His presence in the holy Temple--the House of the Lord. I know that He can bring "peace in this life," and I have great assurance and hope that He can bring all of us "eternal life in the world to come."

I know that my Redeemer lives--that "Jesus is the living Christ, the immortal Son of God." I know He loves me. I know He loves you, too. Because He loves you, He has blessed you and will continue to bless you, even when you aren't looking--now and always.

I write these words in His holy name--even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.