Holy Saturday: Christ ministers in the spirit world

a grove of trees with sunlight breaking through the branches
a grove of trees with sunlight breaking through the branches By: Unspash

The day after the Savior’s very public death on Good Friday, His disciples were left to mourn the suffering and death of their Master Teacher, unbeknownst to them,  while His body lay in the tomb, Christ was continuing His ministry in the Spirit World.

After Jesus Christ’s body was laid in the tomb, the Pharisees and chief priests reported to Pontius Pilate that Christ made a prophecy that He would raise from the dead three days after His death. They feared Christ’s followers would come and take His body from the tomb leaving it empty and making it only seem like the prophecy had been fulfilled. So, Pilate commanded that His tomb be sealed and watched by a guard.

While the Bible says little of what Christ did in spirit as His body laid in the tomb, in the last section of Doctrine and Covenants —as recorded by President Joseph F. Smith — it is revealed that Christ continued ministering in the Spirit World after His death.

President Smith explains in section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants that as he was reading chapters 3 and 4 from the first epistle of Peter, he was impressed by a couple of verses that taught that the Savior had ministered in spirit after His death.

1 Peter 3:18-20 says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

Upon reading and pondering these verses, President Smith records that the “eyes of his understanding” were opened by the Spirit of the Lord and he received a vision expounding on the principles taught in 1 Peter 3 and 4.

“Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of him in the flesh,” recorded President Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 138:36-37. “That they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of his servants might also hear his words.”

President Smith’s revelation teaches the importance of the work of Salvation among those who have already died. 

Christ went to minister among them and teach the gospel so that those who hadn’t received the gospel while living would still have a chance to accept it in the Spirit World. 

This emphasizes the importance of proxy ordinances performed in the temple that are performed to help further the teaching that occurs in the Spirit World. It also shows the great love of Christ because not only did He die for all those who would live, but also for those who had died. He showcases His mercy by offering His atoning sacrifice to those who have already left this world and teaching that there is hope for personal redemption from sin even after mortal death.