Originally Published March 2018
Easter is my favorite holiday. As a girl, I loved getting an Easter dress every year, dyeing eggs with my family, and then the egg hunt on Easter morning. I also remember the lessons at church about Jesus Christ and His resurrection. It has always been a much more balanced and peaceful holiday than Christmas.
Over the years, my feelings have only deepened. I love spring, when the days are starting to get longer and warmer. Yellow is my favorite color and daffodils are my favorite flowers, with tulips coming in at a close second. I also love the feelings of rebirth and renewal, with their hope and optimism. It’s a fitting time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and to remember all that He has done for me.
For the past few years we have lived near a Catholic church. Yesterday, as they do every year for Good Friday, they had the living stations of Christ’s last day, including a Way of the Cross procession down the street. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t celebrate Holy Week with all of the same events as the Catholic church, I am grateful to be able to see this procession from my living room window. It helps me to remember Christ’s suffering and death. Still, it doesn’t compare to the hope I feel on Easter Sunday, when I’m reminded how Christ rose from the tomb to live forever.
Now that you’ve read about my deep reverence for Easter, you can probably imagine my disappointment when I saw that the biggest television event this Easter Sunday is the live production of a musical that inaccurately portrays Christ as a flawed human who doesn’t really seem to understand his role in God’s plan. The music may be catchy, but this isn’t the Christ that the world needs to come to know—especially at this time.
So if you’re looking for some alternative viewing this Sunday, let me offer some recommendations. Of course, I speak for myself and myself alone in recommending these titles.
Jesus of Nazareth – Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 mini-series was a production my parents watched often when I was little. All I remember from that time was HOW LONG it was. In my 20s, though, when my dad bought it on DVD, I sat down and watched it with him. I was struck by how reverent it is in its portrayal of Jesus Christ. Now, I have my own copy and every time I watch it, it is a great spiritual experience. Although the film takes some artistic liberties and not every representation aligns with my own religious beliefs, at no time does it show Christ as anything less than the Divine Son of God. His life is covered from the Annunciation of Mary to the Resurrection of Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth is just under 6 ½ hours long. I usually break it up, watching an hour or two every Sunday in the weeks leading up to Easter. If you begin with the “Palm Sunday” scene, it cuts it down to just under 2 ½ hours. Unfortunately, it’s less common to see the movie shown on television now. I was unable to find information on TV listings for 2019. Your best bet is to find a copy on DVD.
The Bible Videos – A few year ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started a video production project to update its scripture-based videos, beginning with the New Testament. All of these videos are short, typically less than 5 minutes long, and they are available to view online. The longest video—“The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane”—is 8 ½ minutes. You can choose which stories and events you wish to watch. There is also a collection of Easter videos on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, featuring videos of everyday people in our modern world and their feelings about Christ.
To This End Was I Born – Another production from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is a 27-minute portrayal of the last week of Christ’s life. It was part of the previous video collection for the New Testament, made (I believe) in the 1980s or ‘90s. I like that it’s a continuous story, but short enough to enjoy as a family. It’s probably not too late to order this video from the online store at ChurchofJesusChrist.org, but I also believe most meetinghouse libraries have a copy, so, if you’re LDS, you can contact your ward librarian. If you’re not LDS, contact an LDS friend and ask if you can watch it with him or her (or ask if you can borrow it; someone is bound to have a copy—like me).
My hope is that we can all enjoy this Easter Sunday, take a little bit of time to feel the peace that Jesus Christ brings, and share that peace with those we love. We plan to spend the day with family, watching our children hunt for eggs, filling Easter baskets, and teaching each other about Jesus Christ.