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Jesus was born and lived his life in Palestine, what we now call Israel. The people there had been taught about God and told that Jesus Christ would come to live there. They had been taught this for many, many years.
Far away on the other side of the world, what we now call America, there were also people who had been taught of Jesus Christ. Long ago, their forefathers had come to this land from Israel. This is their Easter story.
Some of these people worshipped God and others did not. Usually those people who didn't believe in God were trying to kill the people who did believe. There were many, many wars in the land because of this.
There were two main groups of people. The Nephites had light colored skin and worshipped God. The Lamanites had dark colored skin and did not worship God. But sometimes things were turned around the other way. Before Jesus was born there was a prophet named Samuel. He was a man of God, God spoke with him and told him to tell the people to repent and worship God. Now, Samuel was also a Lamanite. At this time the Lamanites were the ones who worshipped God and obeyed Him. The Nephites were living in great wickedness at this time. God sent Samuel, the Lamanite, to warn the Nephites that they had better stop doing the wicked things that they were doing. Samuel told them that Jesus Christ was coming to save all people who would repent and believe in Jesus. If the people would not repent they would be destroyed.
Samuel also told the people when Jesus would be born. He said, "Five years will pass and then Jesus will be born. You will know when he is born. The night before Jesus is born it will not get dark. It will be like daytime. There will be a day, then night will come but it will not get dark, then the next day will come. But you will still see the sun come up and go down. There will also be a new star, such as you have never seen. There will also be many other wonderful signs in the skies. You will be amazed and fall down to the ground. When you see these things you will know that Jesus is born. And if you will believe in Jesus, who is the Son of God, you will someday live forever."
"I will also tell you about when Jesus will die. Jesus will die so that all who believe in him can come to God. But to come to God you must stop doing bad things and must believe in Jesus."
"When Jesus dies there will be thunder and lightening and earthquakes, and a great storm. All this will last for many hours. And then there will be darkness on the whole land for three days. It will be dark from the time that Jesus dies until he rises again from the dead. And all these things you will see so that you might repent and believe in Jesus."
Some of the people believed Samuel. They looked for Nephi, who was also a man of God, and repented and were baptized. But others didn't believe him and were angry. They tried to kill Samuel but God was protecting him. Samuel left the Nephites and they never saw him again.
The years passed and all the things Samuel said about Jesus' birth came true. But still many people would not believe in God and were evil.
When it was time for Jesus' death the people began to watch for the signs which Samuel the Lamanite had told them. Many people began to doubt that the signs would come.
But one day there came a storm so terrible! There had never been such a terrible storm. There was thunder and lightening and earthquakes.
Some cities caught fire. Some cities fell into the ocean and the people were drowned. Some cities were covered up by the earthquake. Whirlwinds came and blew away many people. The rocks split in two. All this lasted for about three hours. Then it was dark. There was no light from the sun, the moon or the stars. No candle would burn. Nothing would give any light.
The people cried and cried because so many people were dead and it was so dark.
Then the people heard a voice, it was Jesus' voice. "Woe, woe to this people unless they repent. I have destroyed all the wicked people. You are still alive because you were better than they were. I am Jesus Christ. Every thing that was said of My life and death is done. All of you who will repent and come to Me will be the sons of God. I gave my life that this could be."
The people were so astonished that they were quiet for several hours.
Then Jesus spoke to them again in sorrow because so many people had died because of their wickedness.
Then the people began to cry again.
Finally the light returned and the people were so glad and thankful to Jesus Christ that they were still alive and that God loved them.
Soon Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead in a far away land, would come and be with these people He loved. He would teach them how to live and how to have eternal life with God.
adapted by Lois Anderson
from Helaman Chapter 5 and III Nephi Chapter
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Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 7, 2001