Cloud of Witnesses

Matthew 27:52–53

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Elder Carlos E. Asay said:

“In the Acts of the Apostles it is recorded: ‘To whom also he shewed himself alive after his sufferings by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Acts 1:3; emphasis added].

“Included in the cloud of witnesses or among the ‘infallible proofs’ were hundreds of followers who saw the risen Lord on multiple occasions.

• “‘He appeared first to Mary Magdalene’ (Mark 16:9). She saw Him and heard His voice.

• “He appeared to Joanna, Mary (the mother of James), ‘and other women that were with them’ (Luke 24:10). They ‘held him by the feet, and worshipped him’ (Matt. 28:9).

• “He appeared to Peter—the one who had denied Him thrice (see Luke 24:34).

• “He appeared to two disciples as they went into the country (see Luke 24:13–32).

• “He appeared to His beloved Apostles at least four times.

• “He was seen after the Crucifixion by ‘above five hundred brethren at once’ (1 Cor. 15:6), according to Paul’s account.

• “Moreover, ‘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. 27:52–53).

“Even after all of these eyewitnesses, there were the skeptics. Some regarded the words of the women as ‘idle tales’ (Luke 24:11). Jesus chided the two disciples by saying, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken’ (Luke 24:25). And He upbraided some ‘because they believed not them which had seen him [earlier] after he was risen’ (Mark 16:14).

“One wonders how anyone could doubt the actuality of the Resurrection after reading the several accounts of His appearances to the women, the disciples, and the Apostles. What greater evidence would one want than the documentation of fact provided in holy writ?

“But there is more. Wrote John, ‘The testimony of two men is true’ (John 8:17). If this is a valid statement, then surely the testimony of Christ’s escape from the tomb provided by a second nation must not be overlooked. I refer, of course, to the Book of Mormon record of Christ’s postmortal appearances on the Western Hemisphere.

“Near a temple in the land called Bountiful some 2,500 people heard a small, piercing voice declare: ‘Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him’ (3 Ne. 11:7). They stood in awe and experienced a change of heart upon hearing God, the Eternal Father, introduce His Only Begotten Son—His means of extending the gifts of immortality and eternal life to all of His children (see John 3:16).

The multitude saw a man descending out of heaven. They heard Him announce, ‘Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world’ (3 Ne. 11:10). Then He invited the people to come forth one by one and see with their eyes and feel with their hands the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet (see 3 Ne. 11:14–17).

“A cloud of people on two continents were eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. Thus, it can be said about this glorious fact of history, ‘The Resurrection . . . is attested by evidence more conclusive than that upon which rests our acceptance of historical events in general’ [James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 699].”

(“If a Man Die, Shall He Live Again?” Ensign, May 1994, 10–12.)