On Calvin S. Andrus
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This talk gives an account of Christ's whereabouts between His death and resurrection. It also relates a temple story. Given on 24 May 2010 at Calvin S. Andrus' funeral. This is a revised version of my funeral talk given on 05 January 1995 at Burke Giles' funeral.
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On Calvin S. Andrus
A Talk Given at Calvin Andrus' Funeral Service
in Brigham City, Utah
By D. Calvin Andrus
24 May 2010, Version 1.0
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My name is David Andrus. I am Calvin and Sharon’s oldest son. We currently live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
The Missing Three Days (John's Version)
On the morning of the 3rd day after Christ's death, a group of women including a woman named Salome (Mark 16:1-2), a woman named Joanna (Luke 24:10), Mary the mother of James, and Mary of Magdala got up early to visit the tomb. Their intention was to anoint Jesus's dead body with spices. On the walk to the tomb, they wondered aloud how they were going to roll the stone back so they could get in (Mark 16:3). Their faith propelled them forward, even though they had no ready solution to that problem. When they arrived, to their amazement and concern, the stone had already been rolled away. They decided to investigate to see what was going on. Upon entering the tomb, they discovered that the body was gone.
Depending on the account, either one or two angels then addressed the women, scaring them so badly they fell to the ground. The angels told the women not to be afraid, though it seems this admonition did little to quell their fear. The angels continued with these famous words, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen" (Luke 24:5-6). The angels then requested the women to go tell the Apostles that Jesus was risen from the dead.
The women complied with the request and with a mixture of joy and apprehension returned to tell their tale to the Apostles. The Apostles received the message of Jesus's resurrection with a large dose of skepticism. Peter and John decided to see for themselves what was going on. They ran to the tomb, with Mary Magdalene walking behind. John arrived first and paused at the entrance of the tomb. When Peter arrived, he pushed past John and went right in. The two men learned for themselves that Jesus was not in the tomb. They decided it was not safe for them to be there and ran back to the other Apostles, I am sure passing Mary Magdalene on the way. You can almost imagine her wondering why they were going the wrong way.
In spite of the fact that Jesus was not in the tomb, and the two Apostles were not trying to find the body at the tomb, Mary continued back to the tomb. As she considered her options, she was overcome with grief and began to cry. She went back into the tomb. Again, two angels were there. She seemed to be getting used to these angels because rather than tell her not to be afraid, they asked why she was crying. She responded that someone had taken her Lord and she didn't know where he was. Wanting to continue her search for Jesus—and concluding that the angels would not help her find the body—she turned and walked out of the tomb into the garden.
At that point, she saw a man, whom she thought might be the gardener. She asked him that, if he had taken Jesus's body, could he please return it. It turns out that that Man had indeed taken the body and He was indeed returning it. It's just that He was not the gardener, and he was returning the body to His Father, not to Mary. In responding to Mary's request, he spoke her name. She recognized His voice. She ran to hug Him. But He forbade her saying, that while he was resurrected, he had not yet ascended to His Father. He asked her to return again to the Apostles and tell them that her seeking was successful; that she had found Jesus; that He was alive; and that He would visit them soon. Mary did as she requested and returned to the Apostles.
Christ had been dead for three days, but had not yet gone to see his Father. Mary may well have asked herself, "If you haven’t yet been to see your Father, then where have You been for the last three days?" Good question. Where was Jesus for those three days while his body was in the tomb? And, what had he been doing?
Spirits in Prison
Just before Jesus died on the cross, he conversed with the two thieves that were on either side of Him. To one of them he said, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) So while Jesus's body was in the tomb, he and this thief went to a place called "paradise." But according to what He told Mary Magdalene, Jesus's Father--Heavenly Father--was not in this place. Jesus did not go to Heaven to see His Father until he came back to Earth to get his body. This place "paradise" must be a different place than Heaven. It is the place where Jesus went for three days while His Body was separated from His Spirit. It wasn't until His Body was reunited with His Spirit--which is what we call resurrection--that he ascended to His Father who was in Heaven. Paradise is the place Jesus stayed while he was waiting to take up his body again. It is the place where the one thief went after he died.
So what was Jesus doing for those three days in paradise? The Apostle Peter explained this matter in his first recorded letter to the church. He explains that after Jesus's death, but before His resurrection, "[Jesus]" and I quote, "went and preached to the spirits in prison." (1 Peter 3:19) So, for those three days while Jesus was in paradise, he taught the gospel to others who had died. Evidently, after death there is a place to go, for those who have not had the gospel preached to them. They, too, are spirits who have been separated from their bodies. They are also waiting to be reunited with their bodies--waiting to be resurrected. Using Peter's language, I call this place "spirit prison."
From the New Testament, I conclude then, that upon death--and while their bodies lay in the ground--the spirits of all people go to a spirit world that is divided into Paradise and Spirit Prison. Those who have been taught the gospel and lived it go to Paradise, while those who have not been taught the gospel go to Spirit Prison. All people stay in the world of Spirits until their Spirits are reunited with their bodies, in other words, resurrected. Once resurrected, all people are then eligible to ascend to Father in Heaven.
So now what?
Unfortunately, in solving the mystery of the missing three days, another perplexing problem arises. We have discovered that the spirits of those who hear the gospel and live it in this life go to this place called "paradise" when they die. Like Jesus, they wait there until they are resurrected. We have also discovered that the spirits of those who do not hear the gospel in this life go to a place called "spirit prison" when they die. They, too, wait there until they are reunited with their bodies. The problem is this: If Jesus preached the gospel to those who had died without hearing the gospel and then was resurrected and went to heaven, who will preach the gospel to those who didn't hear the gospel in this life and who died after Jesus went to heaven? Who will teach the gospel to the Chinese woman who dies today and goes to spirit prison?
Fortunately, we are not the first ones to stumble onto this dilemma. It turns out there was a Prophet who wrestled with this very problem. He had a vision laid open to him wherein he saw the arrival of Jesus to paradise. This prophet saw a large crowd of people in paradise standing around talking to one another. Then--and I quote--"While this vast multitude waited and conversed . . . the Son of God appeared . . . and preached to them the everlasting gospel . . ." (DC 138:18-19) "But behold, from among the righteous [Christ] organized his forces and appointed messengers, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead." (DC 138:30)
So, just as Jesus set up a ministry here on earth with his Twelve Apostles so that the gospel would be preached after Jesus was gone, so too did Jesus set up a ministry in this place called paradise. And from this paradise, ministers and missionaries go to the "spirits in prison" to teach the gospel to those who did not hear it in this life. It appears, then, that those who live righteously go to paradise when they die and have a full-time job waiting for them--namely to teach the gospel to those who did not have a chance to hear the gospel in this life. This ministry continues in the world of spirits until the resurrection. To this I bear my solemn witness. I can only assume that my dad is now engaged in this ministry. You were all wondering how I would work him into this--it is his funeral after all. He most assuredly is right now teaching the gospel to those who did not have a chance to hear it in this this life. My dad spent so much of his life teaching the gospel--through preaching as a missionary, as a Bishop, as home teacher, but mostly by example. His teaching was most evident within his family. I have been the grateful recipient of his teaching. It is only natural that he would continue this same work on the other side. I believe he will be engaged in this ministry until his own resurrection.
We have heard my brother and sister tell stories about my father. I would just like to relate one short story. Mom and Dad would come to visit us from time to time out there on the East Coast. We would sometimes use the occasion to go to the Washington DC temple. I remember one time in particular Janet and I and mom and dad went. After we finished a “session” we congregated in the Celestial Room of the Temple. We were so happy together in that room. It is a moment that for me is frozen in time. I will always remember and treasure the feelings of family love I shared with him then. That day I got a small glimpse of what it must be like to be a family together forever. I look forward to the time when we all will be in the 'real' Celestial Room together.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.