Happy Easter! It is a beautiful spring morning. It is a wonderful time to reflect on and remember the life of Jesus Christ. Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity of being involved with a film project put on by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were filming scenes from the life of Christ from the New Testament, and I was cast as a ‘background character’, or in other words, I was movable scenery. It was so much fun to be on set, a very carefully and well-built recreation of ancient Jerusalem and surrounding ares built out in the Utah desert, and the cast and crew involved were all fun and excited to be a part of such a great project.
These videos have been appearing online recently, as they get them finished, they are being posted to the Church’s website at www.biblevideos.lds.org. They started at Christmas by posting the videos that tell of the birth of Christ and the circumstances surrounding that event, and now that it is Easter, the videos that describe the death and resurrection are now available.
As you watch these videos, if you’re keen-eyed, you may well catch a glimpse of me. I am in two of the videos, The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane, and Jesus is Scourged and Crucified. Those were powerful scenes to be a part of, to see a representation of what our Lord went through on his last few days in mortality and to feel the spirit testifying that these events actually took place, that Jesus did suffer and die and rise again so that all men might one day be resurrected. And it was amazing to see the detail that the directors and set designers and costume designers and everybody put into this project.
During the scene where Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (the scene in which I was a member of the angry mob coming to arrest him) the director spoke to us and read a verse of scripture to explain what he wanted us to do. Although we filmed this, it did not make it into the final version that appears online, but it was still interesting to me. In John chapter 18 it describes the “band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” coming to arrest Jesus, and he asks them, “Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he.” And then verse 6 describes something that I had never paid attention to before. It says, “As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.” The director had us do that, we fell backward to the ground when Jesus answered, “I am he”. And he explained that this small act, this simple sentence acts as confirmation that Jesus allowed himself to be taken, that he was not coerced or taken by force. Jesus was proving to these men that he had the power and authority to resist them, and yet he did not. He knew what would be required of him and he was willingly submitting to the will of the Father.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 26 details these same events and there is a verse that I have always loved. After Peter cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Jesus tells him, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Jesus could have at any time called upon the powers of heaven to deliver him, but he did not. He knew what he had to do and he was willing to do it. I am so grateful for his sacrifice for me.
There is a verse at the end of the Gospel of Luke that fascinated me when I first read and understood it, Luke 24:44, which is Christ speaking to his Apostles after his resurrection, and he says, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” I had never read the Psalms much before, but after reading this verse I started looking through the Psalms trying to find the prophecies of Jesus Christ that he was referring to here, and I found some that really impressed me and reinforced the fact that Jesus Christ knew completely what would be required of him.
In John 19:28, “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” And the footnote in the LDS version of the scriptures points to Psalms 69:21, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” But why did they give Jesus vinegar to drink? Because he asked for it, because he asked for drink. And he asked for a drink “that the scripture might be fulfilled” And the next verse in John reads, When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It isafinished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” It was not until he had received the vinegar and fulfilled the prophecy in the Psalms, that it was finished. Jesus knew exactly what he would be required to do as our Savior and he did not shrink, but drank the bitter cup and finished his preparations unto the children of men.
I am so thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, for everything that he has done for me, and for this Easter season which reminds me of the testimony that I have. I loved being a part of this film, having the opportunity to speak with Jesus and the Apostles, to laugh and joke with them between scenes and to feel their spirit during the filming of these powerful moments. And I love watching these videos over and over again. And with that video, on this Easter Sunday, I am also glad that I could find the video of the last testimony of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane. Such a powerful message, such a powerful spirit, and such a powerful reminder of the purpose of this life and the reason we can return again and live with our Father in Heaven. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, I love Jesus Christ, and I love his Church that helps men come unto him and know him. I wish you all a wonderfully happy Easter, filled with the love of God and of all men.
P.S. If you were wanting to know exactly where I am in those video clips, I have some handy screenshots.