Appearances of Jesus Christ
To actually see Jesus Christ! For many, that would be the fulfillment of their deepest wish. Yet throughout history, Jesus has appeared to many people during their earthly lives. The appearance of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as a newborn baby, centuries ago, is an oft-told Christmas story (Luke 2). Numerous people sought and found Him during His ministries in Galilee and Judea.
Even before Jesus came to this earth, He appeared to Abraham (Genesis 12:7), to Enoch (D&C 107:49), Moses (Exodus 33:11), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:26), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1) and others. The Book of Mormon tells a particularly moving story of a man identified only by his brother Jared’s name. This man first saw the Lord’s finger, then, because of his unconditional belief in the words of His Savior, He was allowed to view Jesus Christ just as he would appear in the flesh (Ether 3). It isn’t necessary to be a prophet to be privileged to have such an appearance. Jacob, Nephi’s brother, saw Jesus while he was just a youth (2 Nephi 2:4). The Lamanite king, Lamoni, testified that he saw his Redeemer soon after he was taught of His existence (Alma 19:13).
After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, His appearances became particularly significant to those who wanted to know the truth of His resurrection. Mary was one of the first to be so privileged. Jesus appeared to His apostles and disciples and many others during the forty days following His resurrection from the dead. He appeared on the road to Emmaus and then took supper with those who had seen and talked to Him.
Even after Jesus ascended into Heaven, He did not keep Himself from those who sought Him or needed Him. At the time of his martyrdom, Stephen saw Him. Jesus changed Paul’s life on the road to Damascus when He appeared there to Paul. Jesus visited those who lived on the American continent. He healed their sick, He taught them, and He blessed them (3 Nephi).
Another appearance of Jesus Christ, in company with God the Father, occurred when fourteen year old Joseph Smith asked a key question in prayer (Joseph Smith-History 17). Jesus later appeared to Joseph and others when the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, was dedicated. Other special witnesses of Christ such as Lorenzo Snow have also spoken of the Lord’s appearance to them. The scriptures promise that Jesus Christ will come to earth again, in a grand Second Coming when all shall see Him and know who He is.
However, even before that time, His followers may seek His face and find Him. “Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:68). We have His promise that every one who does so will be granted the great privilege of seeing Jesus Christ. “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:1).