“Our New Light on Jesus’ Mortal Life and Teachings,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 33
The question asked was straightforward: “If we are the Lord’s church and have revelations from Joseph Smith about Jesus, what new information do we have about Jesus from Joseph Smith?”
The immediate answer was brief and general: we know that Jesus was chosen premortally, that under the Father’s direction he created worlds, that he appeared to and directed prophets in the Old and New Worlds before he came to earth himself, that as a resurrected person he appeared to many people in the new world, that in 1820 he appeared with his Father and called a modern-day prophet, and that in due time he will publicly come again when mankind’s premillennial probationary era has come to its appointed close.
But our friend really wanted to know what specific new knowledge we have about the mortal ministry of Jesus. The following is a sampling of some of this new knowledge Latter-day Saints have because of the texts and revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Much of this information comes from the Prophet’s textual translation of passages in the King James Version of the Bible; this translation was a work he described as a “branch of my calling” (History of the Church, 1:238), an idea underscored in the eighth article of faith:
“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly” (A of F 1:8; emphasis added).
For purposes of brevity, the terms King James Version and Joseph Smith Translation are identified with the abbreviations KJV and JST, respectively. Unless otherwise indicated, biblical passages are quoted from the LDS Edition of the King James Version. The new revelatory text from the Joseph Smith Translation is identified by its boldface underlined appearance. Also, for purposes of reference, Jesus’ mortal ministry is divided into five periods—his early Judean ministry (from the first Passover to his return to Galilee), his Galilean ministry, his later Judean ministry, his Perean ministry, and the week before his crucifixion.
1. Signs in the New World marked Jesus’ birth. In the Old World, wise men seeing “his star in the east” would soon come to Judea (Matt. 2:2). But in the New World, a different yet corresponding story unfolded, a story translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Five years prior to Jesus’ birth, a prophetic sign had been given that would herald the birth of earth’s great Redeemer in Bethlehem, on the other side of the globe. Samuel, the Lamanite prophet, said:
“This will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness. …
“ There shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night. …
“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you” (Hel. 14:3–5).
And so it unfolded:
“And it came to pass that the words … were fulfilled, … for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. …
“But it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order. …
“And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word” (3 Ne. 1:15, 19, 21).
2. Wise men came some time after Jesus’ birth. Time passed. Then, still “in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
“Saying, Where is the child that is born?” instead of thinking of Jesus as an infant at this time. Also, rather than the wise men identifying the child as “King of the Jews,” the Prophet Joseph Smith noted that the wise men described the child as “the Messiah of the Jews” (Matt. 2:1–2; Matt. 2:2, note a). Herod “was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3).
“And when he had gathered all the chief priests, and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them, saying, Where is the place that is written of by the prophets, in which Christ should be born?” Then added the Prophet Joseph Smith of Herod, “For he greatly feared, yet he believed not the prophets.
“And they said unto him, It is written by the prophets, that he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus have they said,
“The word of the Lord came unto us, saying, And thou, Bethlehem, which lieth in the land of Judea, in thee shall be born a prince, which art not the least among the princes of Judea; for out of thee shall come the Messiah, who shall save my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6; JST, Matt. 3:4–6; scriptures preceded by “JST” may be found on pp. 797ff of the KJV, LDS edition). Note the use of save instead of rule my people. The term save communicates well the nature of his first coming, and the term rule communicates better the nature of his second coming.
3. New understanding about Jesus’ youth.
• At twelve years of age, when Jesus was found by Mary in the temple, instead of Jesus “hearing” and “asking” the doctors questions, as the KJV says, the Prophet Joseph Smith corrected the text to read “they were hearing him, and asking him questions” (Luke 2:46, note c).
• “Even Jesus, the Son of God,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “had to … restrain His feelings many times for the safety of Himself and His followers, and had to conceal the righteous purposes of His heart in relation to many things pertaining to His Father’s kingdom. When still a boy He had all the intelligence necessary to enable Him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom He possessed; but He was a boy only, and lacked physical strength even to defend His own person; and was subject to cold, to hunger and to death” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 392).
• From the JST come these remarkable details about Jesus’ early home life:
“And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.
“And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.
“And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh” (JST, Matt. 3:24–26).
• It was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that both during the years Jesus grew and waited for his ministry, and throughout his ministry, Jesus “suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them” (D&C 20:22). And in fact, the text in Hebrews 5:8 [Heb. 5:8] that is sometimes applied to Jesus—“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered”—does not refer to Jesus at all, but is “alluding to Melchizedek,” said Joseph Smith (Heb. 5:7, note a).
4. Responding to her request, Jesus asked Mary how he could help. In contrast to the cold response suggested by the KJV that Jesus gave to his mother, Mary, at the wedding at Cana when she asked for his help, Jesus’ response to his mother, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned, was actually, “Woman, what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; for mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4, note a).
5. Jesus went into the wilderness to commune with God. Rather than going into the wilderness “to be tempted of the devil” as the KJV says, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that Jesus went to be “with God” (Matt. 4:1, note b). It was not until after Jesus had fasted forty days “and had communed with God” that he “was left to be tempted of the devil” (Matt. 4:2, note c), although during this period Satan was “seeking to tempt him” (Mark 1:12, note a).
6. The Spirit took Jesus to the temple’s pinnacle.
• The Prophet Joseph Smith said that instead of Satan taking Jesus to Jerusalem as indicated in the KJV, “the Spirit setteth him” on the temple’s pinnacle (Matt. 4:5, note a). “Then the devil came unto him and said, If …” (Matt. 4:6, note a; see also Luke 4:9, note a).
• Similarly, the Prophet Joseph Smith noted that Satan did not take Jesus to a high mountain as expressed in the KJV, but “Jesus was in the Spirit, and it taketh him” and showed him the world’s kingdoms, “and the devil came unto him again, and said, All these things will I give thee …” (Matt. 4:8–9, notes 8a and 9a; see also Luke 4:5, note a).
7. Jesus baptized. Rather than the understanding that Jesus did not personally baptize, as is given by the KJV, the JST reads, “He himself baptized not so many as his disciples;
“For he suffered them for an example, preferring one another” (JST, John 4:3–4).
8. Early in Jesus’ ministry, Pharisees sought his death. According to the KJV, the earliest recorded intent by others to slay Jesus during his ministry came at Nazareth near the beginning of Jesus’ great Galilean ministry. However, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that even in Jesus’ early Judean ministry, which preceded the Galilean ministry—after the first Passover and prior to Jesus’ going through Samaria—that the Pharisees “sought more diligently some means that they might put him to death; for many received John as a prophet” (JST, John 4:2).
9. Jesus did not receive a fulness at first, but “continued from grace to grace.” At some point between John the Baptist’s imprisonment at Machaerus during Jesus’ early Judean period and John’s beheading during the Lord’s Galilean ministry may be the time when John the Baptist wrote a record of his labors. On 6 May 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a portion of John’s record. In that record, John bore testimony of Jesus’ progressive spiritual development.
“And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
“And … continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness. …
“And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him. …
“He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth” (D&C 93:12–13, 17, 26; see also item 11 in accompanying sidebar on John the Baptist).
10. New text from Jesus’ teachings at the Sermon on the Mount.
• Early in his Galilean ministry, Jesus taught what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. In it, the JST says that instead of telling his followers to take “no thought” for their life, food, or clothing as expressed in the KJV, Jesus gave missionary instructions to his disciples and then said:
“And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues.
“Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you.
“And your heavenly Father will provide for you whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on” (JST, Matt. 6:25–27).
• The JST also greatly advances our understanding of what Jesus said to his disciples concerning the mysteries of the gospel. The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that Jesus said:
“Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.
“And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.
“For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you” (JST, Matt. 7:9–11).
11. Jesus taught that baptism is to be done worthily, properly. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that which was previously unknown, that sometime within the first year of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, the Pharisees challenged Jesus on why he did not accept their baptisms:
“Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will ye not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law?
“But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law.
“I receive not you with your baptism, because it profiteth you nothing.
“For when that which is new is come, the old is ready to be put away” (JST, Matt. 9:18–21).
12. Jesus also taught that the Sabbath was a day for glorifying God. During his Galilean ministry, Jesus responded to the Pharisees regarding his and his disciples’ eating the ears of corn from a field on the Sabbath day. It was there that Jesus gave the principle that the “sabbath was made for man,” as the KJV says (Mark 2:27), but the JST adds that Jesus also said:
“Wherefore the Sabbath was given unto man for a day of rest; and also that man should glorify God, and not that man should not eat;
“For the Son of Man made the Sabbath day, therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (JST, Mark 2:26–27).
13. Jesus openly declared who he was more frequently than has been known. The textual additions by the Prophet Joseph Smith to the four New Testament gospels make it clear that Jesus openly declared who he was much more publicly and frequently than is recorded in the KJV. Jesus declared that he was the looked-for Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son of the Father, who was sent to do the great work spoken of by the prophets. Some of these additional declarations are:
• To Nicodemus in the early Judean ministry, Jesus said: “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God which before was preached by the mouth of the holy prophets; for they testified of me” (John 3:18, note c).
• At the calling of Peter and Andrew to join him in the Galilean ministry, Jesus said:
“I am he of whom it is written by the prophets; follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, note a).
• The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that at Capernaum during Jesus’ Galilean ministry, “Then came certain men unto him, accusing him, saying, Why do ye receive sinners, seeing thou makest thyself the Son of God” (JST, Mark 3:21).
• After the Lord taught in the synagogue at Capernaum the day following his feeding of the five thousand during the Galilean ministry, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that Jesus openly taught of himself and his mission:
“And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves” (John 6:42–43).
“No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me. And this is the will of him who hath sent me, that ye receive the Son; for the Father beareth record of him; and he who receiveth the testimony, and doeth the will of him who sent me, I will raise up in the resurrection of the just” (JST, John 6:44).
• In the Perean ministry, the JST shows that Jesus said in speaking to the multitude:
“Then certain of them came to him, saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?
“And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life” (JST, Luke 14:35–36).
• Also in the Perean ministry, some Pharisees who were deriding Jesus said: “We have the law, and the prophets; but as for this man we will not receive him to be our ruler; for he maketh himself to be a judge over us.
“Then said Jesus unto them, The law and the prophets testify of me; yea, and all the prophets who have written, even until John, have foretold of these days. …
“And why teach ye the law, and deny that which is written; and condemn him whom the Father hath sent to fulfil the law, that ye might all be redeemed?” (JST, Luke 16:16–17, 20).
• Joseph Smith learned that at the judgment hall of Pilate on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, “Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, I am, even as thou sayest” (Mark 15:2, note b).
14. Jesus taught total commitment to him and his Gospel. Toward the end of his Galilean ministry, Jesus began to emphasize more completely the full devotion to the gospel that is required if one expects the gospel to change his or her life, including this JST text wherein Jesus taught us to not break a commandment even to save our lives. Jesus said:
“And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments” (Matt. 16:24, note d).
“Break not my commandments for to save your lives; for whosoever will save his life in this world, shall lose it in the world to come.
“And whosoever will lose his life in this world, for my sake, shall find it in the world to come.
“Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls” (JST, Matt. 16:27–29).
• As the JST continued to unfold, the Prophet Joseph learned more about what Jesus meant by losing one’s life in the gospel:
“For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; or whosoever will save his life, shall be willing to lay it down for my sake; and if he is not willing to lay it down for my sake, he shall lose it.
“But whosoever shall be willing to lose his life for my sake, and the gospel, the same shall save it” (JST, Mark 8:37–38).
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
“Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36–37).
“Therefore deny yourselves of these, and be not ashamed of me” (Mark 8:37, note a).
• The JST shows that during Jesus’ Perean ministry he powerfully summarized this theme of being fully committed to the gospel by saying:
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
“Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you” (Luke 14:27, note b).
• The JST shows that Jesus continued to stress during his Perean ministry the total commitment that is required for the gospel to make each of us into a new person. To the rich young man who declined to sell and give to the poor, Jesus said it “is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?” (Matt. 19:24–25).
“But Jesus beheld their thoughts, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but if they will forsake all things for my sake, with God whatsoever things I speak are possible” (Matt. 19:26, note a).
15. Jesus taught that little children have no need of repentance. The restored text by the Prophet Joseph Smith shows that Jesus taught that little children have no need of repentance. This knowledge gives new comprehension regarding the disciples’ thinking that parents need not bring their little children to Jesus to receive a blessing. In the latter part of his Galilean ministry, Jesus “called a little child unto him” (Matt. 18:2) and said, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost, and to call sinners to repentance; but these little ones have no need of repentance, and I will save them” (Matt. 18:11, note c). The Prophet Joseph learned the subsequent thinking of the disciples during the Lord’s Perean ministry when there were “brought unto him [Jesus] little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them, saying, There is no need, for Jesus hath said, Such shall be saved” (Matt. 19:13, note b).
16. Jesus said to not let our friends turn us away from his teachings. The restored text from the Prophet Joseph Smith shows that during the Lord’s Galilean ministry when he was emphasizing our need to give full devotion to the gospel and its teachings, Jesus gave clear counsel regarding our friends, peers, and others who do not desire to follow the Lord’s teachings:
“Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.
“For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell. …
“And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off. …
“Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another. …
“And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.
“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
“For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother” (JST, Mark 9:40–42, 44, 46–48).
17. More than is recorded in the KJV occurred at Jesus’ transfiguration.
• More took place on the mount than is written in the KJV. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith: “The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 158). Also, in August 1831 at Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph that he, the Lord, had showed to Peter, James, and John while they were on the mount the pattern of the earth’s future transfiguration:
“He that endureth in faith and doeth my will … shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come;
“When the earth shall be transfigured, even according to the pattern which was shown unto mine apostles upon the mount; of which account the fulness ye have not yet received” (D&C 63:20–21).
• The Prophet Joseph learned what is unknown outside of the restored gospel: that in addition to Moses and Elijah participating in the events occurring at Jesus’ transfiguration, also “there appeared unto them Elias with Moses or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses: and they were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:4, note a).
• On the way down the mountain, Peter, James, and John asked Jesus about that which was confusing to them—the different Eliases, the timing of their works, and their prophesied comings. They asked why the prophecy said that Elijah should come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord (see Mal. 4:5–6), when in fact Jesus was serving his ministry before Elijah came to him on the mount. The JST teaches the Lord’s use of the term Elias, as well as giving new information relative to understanding the latter days:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things, as the prophets have written.
“And again I say unto you that Elias has come already, concerning whom it is written, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and they knew him not, and have done unto him, whatsoever they listed.
“Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
“But I say unto you, Who is Elias? Behold, this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me.
“Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist, and also of another who should come and restore all things, as it is written by the prophets” (JST, Matt. 17:10–14; see item 7 in accompanying sidebar on John the Baptist).
18. Some of Jesus’ followers were afraid to “confess him before men.” The Prophet Joseph Smith learned something previously unknown to readers of the Bible: that even toward the end of Jesus’ three-year ministry, some of his disciples and followers “had spoken evil against him before the people; for they were afraid to confess him before men” (JST, Luke 12:10).
19. Because of their unbelief, Jesus was told to say little to the Jews about dispersed Israel. At the end of his Galilean ministry, Jesus said to the Jews that he had other sheep that were not of their fold. But because of the Jewish response, Jesus later told the Nephites in the New World that the Father had told him not to tell the Jews any more on this matter. Said Jesus to the Nephites: “Ye are my disciples; and ye are … a remnant of the house of Joseph. …
“This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto [the Jews]:
“That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
“And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them” (3 Ne. 15:12, 16–18).
20. Jesus gave much information to his disciples on the Mount of Olives that is unrecorded in the KJV. On Tuesday, the third day of the Savior’s last week in mortality, he returned to the temple after having cleansed it the previous day. This day is scripturally identified with many elements, but it was Jesus’ foretelling of the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple that elicited queries from his disciples. These questions brought forth the Lord’s great prophecies and explanations of future events in what is known as the Olivet discourse.
The KJV accounts of this discourse in Matthew, Mark, and Luke include highly important items of the Lord’s teachings. But for centuries the sequencing of those items has caused gospel students to raise questions. Thus, it is not surprising that the Lord would reveal to his great latter-day restorer, Joseph Smith, clear and additional information concerning his Mount of Olive teachings. But the text and new information given to the Prophet Joseph Smith is so extensive, so corrective to the existing KJV that there is insufficient space here to explore those dimensions. What may be noted is that on 7 March 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants Section 45. In verses 15 through 59 [D&C 45:15–59] the Lord reviews his Olivet discussion “as I showed it unto my disciples” (D&C 45:16). At the end of this review, the Lord said that “it shall not be given unto you to know any further concerning this chapter, until the New Testament be translated, and in it all these things shall be made known” (D&C 45:60). Consequently, later that year, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the Joseph Smith—Matthew (JS—M) text relating to Matthew 23:39 through chapter 24, as is now printed in the Pearl of Great Price. Later, when translating the book of Luke, the Prophet received the correct translation of chapters 12, 17, and 21 of Luke, which relate to the content in Matthew 24.
Out of these new texts comes a clear structure of Jesus’ discourse, and it is this structure that gives new understanding about the Lord’s teachings. Some of the things we learn are:
• To his disciples Jesus candidly said that “this people shall be destroyed and scattered among all nations” (D&C 45:19) and that it would be done within “this generation” (D&C 45:21) and that “all things … are only the beginning of the sorrows which shall come upon them” (JS—M 1:19).
• In the last days Jesus said that “when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;
“But they receive it not; … and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men” (D&C 45:28–29).
• The Lord said that in time “again shall the abomination of desolation” come upon Jerusalem (JS—M 1:32), and “the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (JS—M 1:36), and then shall the righteous be lifted up. Jesus speaks of “angels descending and gathering the remainder unto them; the one from the bed, … the other from the field, whithersoever he listeth” (JST, Luke 17:38).
• Yet “before the arm of the Lord shall fall, an angel shall sound his trump, and the saints that have slept shall come forth to meet me in the cloud” (D&C 45:45) and also “shall the Lord set his foot upon this mount, and it shall cleave in twain” (D&C 45:48), and the Jews will “look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?” (D&C 45:51).
• As a result of Jesus’ ultimate coming to the world and cleansing it, “Satan shall be bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of the children of men” (D&C 45:55).
21. At the institution of the sacrament, Jesus taught of remembering him. The restored translation of Jesus’ words at the last supper with the Quorum of the Twelve give great clarity to and new understanding concerning the Savior’s instructions regarding the ordinance of the sacrament:
“And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them, and said, Take it, and eat.
“Behold, this is for you to do in remembrance of my body; for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.
“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it.
“And he said unto them, This is in remembrance of my blood which is shed for many, and the new testament which I give unto you; for of me ye shall bear record unto all the world.
“And as oft as ye do this ordinance, ye will remember me in this hour that I was with you and drank with you of this cup, even the last time in my ministry” (JST, Mark 14:20–24).
22. In Gethsemane it was not Jesus who was “sore amazed,” but his disciples.
• The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that instead of Jesus being “sore amazed” in Gethsemane as the KJV suggests, it was “the disciples” who “began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy, and to complain in their hearts, wondering if this be the Messiah.
“And Jesus knowing their hearts, said to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray” (JST, Mark 14:36–37). Then Jesus took Peter, James, and John “and rebuked them, and said unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (JST, Mark 14:38).
• Concerning the intensity of Jesus’ suffering in accomplishing his great atonement, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:16–19).
23. The soldiers who crucified Jesus knew not what they did. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation indicates that Jesus’ words “they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) had central reference to “the soldiers who crucified him” (Luke 23:34, note c).
24. Jesus’ last words were “Thy will is done.” The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that Jesus’ last words on the cross were words telling of his obedience to that which he had been sent by his Father to do:
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost” (Matt. 27:50, note a).
25. There were great cataclysms and three days of darkness in the New World at the time of the Savior’s death. In the Old World Luke wrote of the time of Jesus’ dying that at “about the sixth hour, … there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
“And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst” (Luke 23:44–45). In the New World, there also occurred a corresponding story. Nearly forty years before the Lord’s crucifixion, a prophet in the new world had said concerning the Son of God’s future sacrificial death:
“Behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days. …
“[And] there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble” (Hel. 14:20–21).
Through the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Nephite record, we have knowledge of the fulfillment of that prophecy:
“And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.
“And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.
“And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as had never been known in all the land. …
“[And] all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land. …
“And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen” (3 Ne. 8:5–7, 19, 23).—Jay M. Todd, Managing Editor
Also through the Prophet Joseph Smith has come much new information about the great Jewish prophet who was foreordained to prepare the way for Jesus in mortality.
1. Lehi and the Nephites knew of John’s preparatory role for Jesus. In the New World, father and son prophets Lehi and Nephi both saw in vision the work of “a prophet who should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord. …
“And … that he should baptize the Messiah with water” (1 Ne. 10:7, 9). Lehi noted that after this prophet “had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world” (1 Ne. 10:10).
2. John’s infant ordination and childhood baptism. In Kirtland, Ohio, in September 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants section 84, in which he learned this new information: “The lesser priesthood continued” after Moses was taken out of the midst of Israel, “until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb.
“For he was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord, in whose hand is given all power” (D&C 84:26–28).
3. John was taken to the mountains as a child in order to escape Herod’s death order. We know how Jesus escaped Herod’s decree to slay all children up to the age of two years old: Joseph was directed to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt. But how did the child John escape this slaughter? This knowledge was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “When Herod’s edict went forth to destroy the young children, John was about six months older than Jesus, and came under this hellish edict, and Zacharias caused his mother to take him into the mountains, where he was raised on locusts and wild honey. When his father refused to disclose his hiding place, and being the officiating high priest at the Temple that year, [he] was slain by Herod’s order, between the porch and the altar, as Jesus said” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 261). This information brings clarity to the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:35 [Matt. 23:35]: “Upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
4. John spoke in great clarity about Jesus’ missions. In addition to John’s crying out, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Luke 3:4), note in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation the great breadth and clarity of John’s understanding concerning the Messiah, particularly his understanding of the different natures of the Lord’s first and second comings:
“For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations, to gather together those who are lost, who are of the sheepfold of Israel;
“Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles;
“And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness, unto the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high, to dwell on the right hand of the Father,
“Until the fulness of time, and the law and the testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom shall be delivered up again unto the Father;
“To administer justice unto all; to come down in judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and all this in the day that he shall come;
“For it is a day of power; yea, every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low” (JST, Luke 3:5–10).
5. John foretold that he himself would know and bear record of the Messiah. The JST shows that John spoke of the coming Messiah with greater emphasis and clarity than we see in the KJV. The JST reads: “I indeed baptize you with water, upon your repentance; and when he of whom I bear record cometh, who is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, (or whose place I am not able to fill,) as I said, I indeed baptize you before he cometh, that when he cometh he may baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire.
“And it is he of whom I shall bear record, whose fan shall be in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but in the fulness of his own time will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (JST, Matt. 3:38–39).
6. John saw the heavens opened and heard the Father. Whereas the KJV indicates that Jesus alone saw the heavens opened, the JST says:
“And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and John saw, and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Jesus.
“And lo, he heard a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him” (JST, Matt. 3:45–46).
7. John declared that he himself was a prophesied Elias. Whereas the KJV has John denying that he was a prophesied Elias, or forerunner, the JST text shows that John did exactly the opposite. This event took place some days following Jesus’ return from being in the wilderness after his baptism and communing with God. Observe the new information in the JST additions:
“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask him; Who art thou?
“And he confessed, and denied not that he was Elias; but confessed, saying; I am not the Christ.
“And they asked him, saying; How then art thou Elias? And he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things. And they asked him, saying, Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. …
“And they asked him, and said unto him; Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not the Christ, nor Elias who was to restore all things, neither that prophet?
“John answered them, saying; I baptize with water, but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
“He it is of whom I bear record. He is that prophet, even Elias, who, coming after me, is preferred before me. …
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and said; Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!
“And John bare record of him unto the people” (JST, John 1:20–22, 26–30).
8. Jesus bears testimony of John’s witness. At the second Jerusalem Passover and during the time while John was imprisoned, Jesus bore testimony of John’s witness about him. Instead of the KJV idea that Jesus received “not testimony from man” (John 5:34), the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that Jesus said:
“There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.
“Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth” (John 5:32–33).
“And he received not his testimony of man, but of God, and ye yourselves say that he is a prophet, therefore ye ought to receive his testimony” (John 5:34, note a).
9. Jesus sent angels to the imprisoned John. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that sometime during the long months that John was imprisoned and before he was beheaded, it was Jesus who sent angels to John, correcting the KJV idea that angels came to sustain Jesus after Jesus had cast Satan away: “and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him (John)” (Matt. 4:11, note a).
10. Herod did many things for John before John was beheaded. The JST gives the new information that Herod befriended John in some ways while he was imprisoned: “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and a holy man, and one who feared God and observed to worship him; and when he heard him he did many things for him” (Mark 6:20, note b).
11. John wrote a record of his ministry. Sometime during the estimated fourteen to eighteen months that John was imprisoned at Machaerus, he likely wrote a record of his ministry. We know he wrote a record at some point, because on 6 May 1833, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a portion of John’s record. Note John’s remarkably broad understanding of premortal events regarding Jesus; John’s awareness that Jesus was the creator of this and other worlds; his understanding of Jesus’ progression from grace to grace; and John’s phraseology, imagery, and language, often ascribed to the writing of John the Apostle, although John the Apostle may have acquired this wording from John the Baptist when he was the Baptist’s disciple. The Lord said to the prophet Joseph Smith:
“John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.
“And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the beginning, before the world was;
“Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
“The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
“The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.
“And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
“And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
“And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
“And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
“And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
“And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
“And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him” (D&C 93:6–17).
After instructing Joseph Smith on a point, the Lord again returned to John’s record and said:
“I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
“And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
“He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:26–28).
12. In addition to Moses and Elijah, John the Baptist also came to Jesus when he was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. (See item 17 in accompanying article).