On the afternoon of the first Easter, two believers walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about 7.5 miles. A stranger joined them who seemed to know nothing about the events of the weekend in Jerusalem. When they shared their disillusionment at the death of Jesus and their bewilderment about reports that He was alive, the stranger admonished them:
O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken….
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?Luke 24:25-26
Then, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
This stranger, as they soon discovered, was Jesus Himself.
Later that evening, the Savior visited them again in Jerusalem, along with the eleven remaining apostles and other believers. Again, He appealed to the scriptures to explain what had happened:
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.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,Luke 24:44-45
It was important to the resurrected Savior that His disciples not only accept what had happened, but also recognize that their own scriptures had foretold these events.
The Savior followed the same pattern in His subsequent visit to the American continent. His first words after descending from heaven in the land of Bountiful were:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.3 Nephi 11:10
Those words helped them recognize the magnitude of what they were experiencing. They fell to the earth because “they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven” (3 Nephi 11:12). When He invited them each to touch His wounds, they “did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come” (3 Nephi 11:15).
Why was it so important to Jesus for His disciples to recognize that He was a fulfillment of prophecy? Here are some possible answers:
- It underscores the significance of His mission. If God took the trouble to tell us in advance about these events, then they must be important.
- It places the events into a broader context. The Savior’s death and resurrection matters to all people in every generation, not just to those who lived during His mortal life.
- It emphasizes the importance of prophets. As He told His audience at Bountiful: “I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled” (3 Nephi 15:6). In other words, if these events caught you off guard, pay more attention—there’s more to come.
On this Easter Sunday, I will be grateful that prophets spoke of the Savior many years before His mortal life. I will remember that His mission is of supernal importance, that His gifts are available to people in every generation, and that His work is not yet finished. I will strive to better understand the words of prophets, so that I am prepared for future events which might otherwise confuse me.