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Question

 

Gramps,

Was Jesus Christ the first person to be resurrected?

Conrad

 

Answer

 

Conrad,

It is a very simple thing to answer your question with a “yes.”  But I believe you may be wondering about a couple of other concepts that are not the same as resurrection.  So, let me address those as well.

First, let’s describe what resurrection is not.  It is not simply coming back to life (as happens sometimes in hospitals when a person is resuscitated by mortal means).  It is not simply being brought back to life as was Lazarus.  Jesus, as well as a few prophets were known to have raised some individuals from the dead.  This was not resurrection.  Yet it is still a divine power.  No man, prophet or not, has the power to raise anyone from the dead except it be by the power of God.  Jesus, being The Great Jehovah, had such power.

“… I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again…” (John 10:17-18)

But this type of raising (like Lazarus) is different than resurrection in that they are still mortal and will die at some future point.  But resurrection is more.

…this mortal body is raised to an immortal body… that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:45)

This is quite different than being brought back to life as was Lazarus.

Another misconception is that those who are translated beings are actually resurrected beings.  Moses, Elijah, Enoch (and by modern revelation, his entire city) were all translated prior to Christ’s mortal ministry.  But translation is not death — as in the separation of the spirit and body.  And it is not resurrection.

Translated beings are still mortal, but, their physical bodies have been changed from a telestial condition to a terrestrial condition; they are freed from the physical sufferings of their mortal bodies (History of the Church, 4:210)

Now, let us not diminish in any way the transcendent effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It was His atonement that broke the band of death and hell.

In the New Testament we read:

…the veil of the temple was rent in twain…and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.  (Matt 27:51-53)

This note was placed here to indicate the relationship between the death and atonement of Christ, the symbolism of the temple veil being rent, and the resurrection of the dead.  But the resurrection of the dead did not occur until after the resurrection of Christ Himself.

Modern apostles confirm the testimony of ancient apostles as well.

His rising from death on the third day crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave.

–Bruce R. McConkie (The Purifying Power of Gethsemane; General Conference, April 1985)

Thus the effects of Christ’s resurrection passed on to all men.

“Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.”  (Alma 11:42)

It is this matchless event which is what we call the gospel (the good news).

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” (2 Nephi 2:8)

So, we spread the good news that Jesus Christ has broken the bands of temporal death.  We spread the good news that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins allowing us to return to our Heavenly Father.  He has saved us from death and hell.

 

Gramps

 

 

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