For thousands of years mankind has been fascinated with the idea of regaining life once death has shown its grim face. Greek mythology teaches of the majestic phoenix: a bird which, according to the myth, would die in flames and then host the birth of a new phoenix from the ashes of the first. For some reason man does not want to believe that one’s existence ends when one passes on from this life. Job of old wrote, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days… He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not… If a man die, shall he alive again?” (Job 14:1-2,14). Many have shared this same question through the ages. The creations of God testify that life does indeed come after death, and perhaps even that life will come through death.
Consider as an example the noble olive tree. Some say that olive trees can live for more than 2000 years! When an olive tree is chopped down, it has a strong predilection to spring forth young and tender branches from the severed trunk which can grow to form a new tree, or rather, to restore life to the tree which was removed. Man’s futile attempt to chop down such a tree are foiled by the power of life returning to that which was removed.
This behavior is more colloquially observed in backyards across the world when weeds spring up. Unless removed by the root, many weeds will grow back quickly after being cut down, much to the chagrin of many homeowners striving to maintain a weed-free yard.
Yes, life has a tendency to propagate and promulgate even after death or near death experiences. Many life forms depend upon death to give life. Many fruit-bearing trees depend upon the death of their fruit to provide life to young and fragile seeds in the form of energy and nutrients as they strive to germinate, develop juvenile roots, and grow up to become like their parent tree. The death of the fruit is crucial to the survival of the child tree.
If you sit down and think about it, nearly all life supported by death. Think of yourself. What do you eat? What sustains your life? I reckon that your answers, unless you live on a diet of dirt, indicate that you eat life-sustaining food that was generated by something that was once alive and is now or will soon be dead, no matter how artificial a food may seem. Even beyond the obvious examples of meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, other products such as flour, sugar, butter, oils, spices, and even petroleum-derived synthetic food products, all come from an organism that was once alive (petroleum comes from ancient algal blooms that were buried in the sea after the algae died or went into a protective life phase). Even the grass of the field is supported by death. The natural and artificial fertilizers which intentionally or unintentionally arrive at its roots came from sources that were at one time alive (remembering that fossil fuels come from once-living algae mass).
So why is this significant? We should recognize the tremendous symbolism here that the death of our Savior Jesus Christ brings life! Only through His great sacrifice, which included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, are we enabled to overcome death. Without his voluntary death and resurrection our life would end at death. Fortunately for the world there will be life after death, or rather life from death.
Paul the apostle taught powerfully to the people at Corinth, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22). The ancient American prophet Nephi taught that Jesus Christ “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 Ne 2:8). Many other prophets, ancient and modern, testify that through Christ’s death all mankind will be restored to life.
Through the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ all mankind will live again. This is known as the resurrection. It is the reuniting of the spirit with the physical body in a perfected state. It is the conquering of physical death. It is a gift from Christ to all who are born to this earth and will be withheld from no one. Naturally, this doctrine would be incomplete without its essential companion truth that spiritual death, which is man’s separation from God, is also overcome by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, the gift of overcoming spiritual death, which comes by the grace and mercy of Christ, is predicated upon the conditions of willing obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through His infinite mercy, we can be forgiven of our sins and have the companionship of His Holy Spirit while on this earth and return to His presence again after the culmination of our mortal journey.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings. Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the almighty God, whose name is endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.”
The end of this mortal life is temporary. As is the pattern in nature, the sacrifice and death of Christ will provide life to God’s children again through the glorious power of the resurrection!