John 20:1-18 — Resurrection, the Final Act of Creation

The resurrection of this earth and of the people who live on it, will be the completion of our creation. It will be able to rest from the iniquity that has inhabited it and become the home of celestial beings. Three scriptures help us understand its importance. One is D&C 88:17-20 that was already quoted. The other two are:

61 And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;
62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem (Moses 7:61-62).

25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it (D&C 88:25-26).

The Lord promised Enoch:

62 I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem (Moses 7:62).

The Prophet Joseph explained:

9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s (D&C 130:9).

That relationship is described more fully in two other places in the scriptures. A short version is reported by the Prophet Joseph when he saw a vision of his brother Alvin.

1 The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.
2 I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;
3 Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.
4 I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold (D&C 137:1-4).

That “Holy City” is described in some detail in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation. Here is just part of that description.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal…
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof (Revelation 21:10-11, 22-23).

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
17 … And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:14, 17).

The Savior’s great intercessory prayer is the ultimate expression of those eternal relationships. Here is part of what he said.

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves…
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:1-26).

The Savior promised his disciples:

2 In my Father’s house are many mansions [3438]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:2-3).

My old Strong’s [# 3438] says “mansions” means “a staying,” “abode”; another says “abiding places.” Perhaps a good modern translation might be “motels.” That is what is suggested in D&C 130 where it talks about persons in the celestial kingdom.

10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known;
11 And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word (D&C 130:10-11).

The persons who receive a white stone are already in the celestial kingdom. I suppose that if one has access to a stone “whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known,” that stone is also a guide whereby one may achieve those “higher orders of kingdoms.”
The conclusion has to be that if we receive a celestial body that is capable of withstanding the power of intensely pure light, then after the resurrection there is a great adventure awaiting us.

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John 18:1-14—The Case Against Judas Iscariot

Jesus’s Intercessory Prayer was very much a final report to his Father. Most of it was positive as he reviewed his relationships with his trusted friends. However, there is one line in the prayer that sticks out as different from all the rest. Jesus said:

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled (John 17:12).

He was referring to a psalm that carries the same foreboding sense as Jesus’s own words. The psalm reads:

9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
10 But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.
13 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen (Psalms 41:9-13).

One of the first times we learn about Judas Iscariot’s duplicity was when Jesus and the apostles were in Martha’s home being served supper by her.

3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. (John 12:1-11).

Judas did not take the rebuke lightly. After all, he thought she was wasting money that he intended to pocket for himself. However, in his greed all was not lost. If he could not have that money, then there was a source where he could get more. Matthew tells the same story as John then adds this important bit of information. Picking up where John left off:

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?
And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. {1}
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him (Mathew 26:11-16, see also Mark 14:10-11 and Luke 22:1-3).

Sometime later, John describes Jesus’s last supper as the final act of Judas’s deceitfulness before he showed himself publically as Jesus’s enemy. John reports:

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
…………………
21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly (John 13:1-5, 21-27).

Each of the gospel writers tell the story a little differently. Matthew writes:

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said (Matthew 26:21-25).

Mark’s account is much the same, except Joseph Smith added something to their conversation:

30 And he said unto Judas Iscariot, What thou doest, do quickly; but beware of innocent blood (JST Mark 14:30).

John’s report continues:

28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.
29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night (John 13:28-30).

We learn more of Judas’s fraudulent friendship immediately after John tells us about the Savior’s Intercessory Prayer.

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?(Luke 22:47-48)

4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. [In his prayer Jesus said, “none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled (See John 17:12).]

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people (John 18:1-14, see Matthew 26:45-51, Mark 14:1-47, Luke 22:47-51).

Matthew tells about the desperate end of Judas’s life.

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me (Matthew 27:10).

Peter told it somewhat differently, but without a more pleasant ending.

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood (Acts 1:12-26).

In his prayer, Jesus had said Judas was a “son of perdition.”That is a dreadful epitaph. Other New Testament writers also understood the depth of his degradation and warned others of the dangers of Judas’s fate. Paul warned:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you
by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5).

To his friend Timothy, Paul issued a similar warning:

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:9-10 see also 2 Peter 3:4-9 and Revelation 17:6-14).

Judas’s treasonous acts of betrayal were even known among the Nephites. When Jesus was talking with his Nephite disciples his words changed from expressing great joy to deep sorrow when he said:

30 And now, behold, my joy is great, even unto fulness, because of you, and also this generation; yea, and even the Father rejoiceth, and also all the holy angels, because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost.
31 Behold, I would that ye should understand; for I mean them who are now alive of this generation; and none of them are lost; and in them I have fulness of joy.
32 But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition; for they will sell me for silver and for gold, and for that which moth doth corrupt and which thieves can break through and steal. And in that day will I visit them, even in turning their works upon their own heads (3 Nephi 27:30-3).

Later, Mormon reflected on those words when he challenged the Gentiles of our time, to whom the Book of Mormon would bear testimony:

5 Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!
6 Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!
7 Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ! (3 Nephi 29:5-8).

The first person to be called perdition was Satan who was driven from the presence of God by the war in heaven. The word perdition is from the Latin perdere which means ‘destroy’. The word describes both his purpose and his destiny. Speaking of those benighted people who follow him, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph:

32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (D&C 88:32).

While reporting the vision that is Section 76, the Prophet Joseph said:

25 And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,
26 And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.
27 And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! (D&C 76:25-26, see Moses 4:1-4).

The first person in this world to be called perdition was Cain who killed his brother Abel then “gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands (Moses 5:33).”Earlier, the Lord had warned Cain about the direction his attitudes and actions were taking him, but Cain only had a tantrum and refused to listen.

22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?
23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;
24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.
25 And it shall be said in time to come—That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.
26 And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord (Moses 5:22-26).

Again, in the vision of the three degrees of glory Joseph reported that there was still another that was not glory because, like a black hole, there is no light there:

31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—
32 They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;
33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;
34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—
35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—
37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath (D&C 76:31-38).

We are told the names of very few who become sons of perdition. Cain and Judas are two of them. However, I believe we could find the names of others among those who, like Judas, had “betrayed the innocent blood, persecuted the Prophet Joseph Smith after they knew of the reality of his divine call, and then reveled in his death.”

ENDNOTE

{1}B. J. Bamberger reports:
Matt. 26: 15 refers to another sort of silver coin, where it is said that the high priest paid to Judas Iscariot thirty pieces of silver (apyuplo) for the betrayal of the Lord. According to Exod. 21 :32, thirty shekels were the compensation which had to be paid for a servant who was accidentally slain (cf. Matt. 27 :6: “blood money,” KJV “price of blood”). This parallel leads to the assumption that the coins paid to Judas were thirty shekels which were coined in Tyre, or their equivalent-thirty tetradrachmas of Antiochia. Nos. 30-31 in §§ 5 below show specimens of the coins which must have been in Judas’ hands (B. J. Bamberger, “Money, Coins, ” Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible [Nashville, Abingdon Press, vol. 3, K – Q, 1993], 428).

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John 18 and 19 — Jesus’s Faithful Friends at His Trial and Crucifixion

John tells the story of Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion with the soberness of an eye witness and with the empathy and unique perspective of a beloved friend.
The soldiers who arrested Jesus were not Romans, but were “the captain and officers of the Jews.” This was the private army (police force) of the temple high priest and the Sanhedrin. We know almost nothing of the words the two groups exchanged when the soldiers confronted Jesus and his friends, but the upshot was that Peter would not be intimidated by them.

10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:10-11)

The soldiers arrested Jesus, bound him, “and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.” (John 18:12-13)
Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin for trial. Scholars often point out that the trial, conducted at night, was illegal. The Sanhedrin was not an unbiased court. They had met earlier and expressed the fear that Jesus might assert his royal claim or cause a popular uprising that would bring retaliation from Rome.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death (John 11:47-53).

At the trial they found him guilty of blasphemy, which was a death sentence under Mosaic Law (Leviticus 24:16; John 19:7). However, the Sanhedrin lacked authority to execute a prisoner, so they took him to Pilate. Matthew and Mark show how the council tried but failed to find a witness who could convince Pilate Jesus had broken Roman law, but Pilate did not want to deal with it. He sent Jesus to Herod Antipas who was visiting Jerusalem, but had no jurisdiction there. He sent Jesus back to Pilate who now tried to release him instead of Barabbas, but was overruled by the mob who were spurred on up by the priests.
Eternal law requires all ordinances must be witnessed by persons with the right authority. Peter and John had been present at Jesus’s coronation on the Mount of Transfiguration, his administering and teaching about the sacrament, and his atoning sacrifice in garden of Gethsemane. However, their witnessing the Roman trial, where the pain of Jesus’s Atonement continued as he was mocked and whipped, would require some strategy. Jesus had understood that would happen when he told Peter that he would deny him three times before the cock crowed.
John was able to get into the Roman court because he “was known unto the high priest,” but Peter was a Galilean whose accent would betray him, so he had to sit among the servants. Notwithstanding his own deep feelings and personal danger, Peter remained to witness the trial until he was released from his duties by the crowing of the cock. Then he went out and wept bitterly. (That was discussed in the previous chapter called “John 13:38—‘till thou hast denied me thrice’—Peter’s Necessary Witness of the Atonement”).
Pilate made a public display of washing his hands of the matter and told the Jews they could have their way, conceding that Jesus could be crucified under Roman law. He still had to show how Jesus merited execution so he put an inscription on the cross asserting that he was guilty of insurrection against Rome because he had claimed to be the rightful king.
Matthew and Mark each wrote that while Jesus was on the cross he recited at least the first words of the 22nd psalm, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me.” While John does not say Jesus quoted it, he does show how the Roman soldiers fulfilled the psalm’s prophecy about the Savior’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:35).

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture (Psalm 22:16-18).

John had to watch the prophecy being fulfilled by Roman soldiers who had no idea the real implications of what they were doing.

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did (John 19:23-24).

It is quite possible that the reason Jesus quoted the 22nd Psalm to his friends who were near the cross was because it not only prophesied of his pain on the cross, but also of his triumphal visit to the world of the spirits as is recounted in Doctrine and Covenants 138. Jesus was assuring his friends that he was still in charge.
Once again John reminds us that Jesus’s close friends were not embarrassed to acknowledge their association with him, even then, when he hung on the cross.

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

One can easily imagine the embrace shared by Mary and John when they made that agreement which early Christian tradition says they kept for years until she died.
One can only try to imagine the wordless exchange between Jesus and his beloved friend John as their eyes met. Jesus was in great pain. John, in a different but no less real way, was also suffering. Their eyes shared each other’s agony notwithstanding the encouragement of the final words of the psalm that they each remembered.
Jesus knew his own mission and the power by which he would fulfill it. John also probably remembered back when Jesus had told him:

17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father (John 10:17-18).

Whatever their eyes said to each other, John tells us with certainty that Jesus did not die until he had fulfilled all the covenants he had made with his Father.

28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:28-30).

Of his own volition Jesus’s triumphant spirit left his mutilated body hanging there on the cross. The 22nd Psalm continues its prophecy to tell us about Jesus’s entering the world of spirits and being met (as D&C 138 tells us) by a congregation of the earth’s greatest spiritual leaders.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him (Psalm 22:22-25).

John did not leave Jesus after he died, but remained near the cross. Again he watched the fulfillment of the Psalm’s prophecies. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels (Psalm 22:14).

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced (John 19:28-30).

The last act of friendship John records in Jesus’s final days was when Joseph of Arimathæa and Nicodemus went to Pilate and asked for authority to bury Jesus’s body. This was no little feat for two reasons: First, the Jews had heard the predictions that Jesus would come alive again, and feared his body would be stolen to encourage the belief that it would happen. They were determined to make sure that the body would remain safely under their control.
Second, the Romans were not generous to their inferiors. In order for the men to get to Pilot they would, no doubt, have had to bribe some secretary and probably several undersecretaries as well. That would have been only the beginning. There is ample evidence that Pilot did not want to be in that desert and intended to fleece the Jews for all he could get. Undoubtedly, he would have insisted on receiving a very healthy bribe from Jesus’s two wealthy friends before he would risk angering the Jews by granting the men permission to remove Jesus body from the cross and give it a proper burial. His friends did what they had to do to get his permission. One can detect the respect in John’s words as he briefly tells what happened.

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand (John 19:28-30).

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John 18:1—“A Garden, into the which He Entered”

John’s description of the events in the garden is only one sentence and tells us almost nothing at all about what happened there.

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples (John 18:1).

John chooses not to write about Jesus’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. That is one of three very sacred experiences about he says little or nothing. The other two are the Mount of Transfiguration when he and Peter were with Jesus, and the administration of the sacrament at the last supper. John tells about the supper but not the sacrament. It is curious that he did not write about them even though he was present for each (Mark 14:33, Matthew 17:1, John 13:23)

Matthew and Mark each wrote that while Jesus was on the cross he recited at least the first words of the 22nd psalm, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me.” While John does not say Jesus quoted it, he does show how the Roman soldiers fulfilled the psalm’s prophecy about the Savior’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:35).

Perhaps he felt that they were too sacred to talk about, or perhaps he did not discuss them because his purpose was to focus the high points of his gospel: Jesus’s teaching his apostles in chapters 13-16 and Jesus’s prayer to his Heavenly Father in chapter 17. Or perhaps he did not mention them because he wanted to follow the outline of the ancient Israelite temple drama.

Even though Jesus’s coronation on the Mount of Transfiguration, his administering and teaching about the sacrament, and finally his atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane, were all in their necessary sequence in Jesus’s biography, they would have disrupted the sequence of the temple drama as John laid it out. The plot of the pre-exilic temple drama was also a representation of the Savior’s eternal biography. It is that story John was very interested in telling.{1}

Like First Nephi, the entire Book of Mormon, the Hymn of the Pearl, and many other sacred writings, the Gospel of John follows the pattern of a chiasmus, which is also the pattern of Israelite temple drama. Some scholars call it the outline of the cosmic myth, others call it the hero cycle. It looks like this:{2}

A The hero is required to leave home.
B He is given a seemingly impossible task.
C He confronts overwhelming odds and certain failure
b He succeeds in accomplishing the task.
a He returns home, triumphantly.

A way of writing that so it is more meaningful to Latter-day Saints is to show it as an outline of the plan of salvation.

A The hero is required to leave his premortal home.
B Before leaving, he is given a difficult task.
C On earth he confronts daunting odds.
b Notwithstanding the difficulties, he succeeds.
a He returns triumphant to his celestial home.

By following the pattern of the ancient temple drama in the Gospel of John, John’s early Christian readers would have been able to recognize it as symbolic of their own eternal quest.

A      Chapters 1-3 establish Jesus’s identity as Jehovah, the Light and Life of the world, the creator God, the Father’s Only Begotten Son, his Beloved Son, and the Messiah. John uses Jesus’s association with his Father and conversations with his friends to establish Jesus’s identity.

B       Chapters 4-16 tell of Jesus’s difficulty with the unbelieving Jews, but they mostly focus on his devotion and loving relationships with his true friends.

C      Chapters 17-19 are his final report to his Father, then his trial, death, and burial. As John tells the story these events are interlaced with recollections of the unwavering devotion of Jesus’s friends: Peter and John as witnesses, his mother Mary and John at the cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa at his burial.

b      Chapters 20-21 are the evidences of Jesus’s absolute success: his resurrection, appearances to Mary, Peter, John, and the rest of the apostles, concluding with his giving Peter and John their final assignments at the Sea of Tiberius.

a      John concludes with his own testimony, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” It will be in First John that he tells that Jesus’s relationship with the Saints is his eternal triumph.

It is appropriate that John the Beloved ended his history with his personal testimony of the resurrected Christ. The whole of John’s gospel is woven around the love and loyalty, hesed, established among Jesus and his friends, and the conclusion that those friendships transcend death.

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FOOTNOTES

{1}The first half of Baker and Ricks, Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, uses the psalms to reconstruct the Israelite temple drama enacted each year while Solomon’s Temple was in use.

{2}John W. Welch, ed. Chiasmus in Antiquity (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1981)

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John 17:1-26—The Savior’s Intimate Conversation with His Fath

Jesus’s prayer as recorded in John 17 is an intensely intimate conversation with his Father. While much of its focus is about his concern for his apostles and others who will believe on him through their word, most of those concerns are expressed as an extension of his love for his Father. It was a three way relationship: Jesus, his Father, and his children. I t was a symbiotic association that Jesus had explained to his apostles some time before.

15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
………….
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
……………………..
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30 I and my Father are one (John 10:10-30).

John’s introduction to the prayer is very short. At the end of chapter 16, the Savior tells his apostles that he is going to leave them and that their lot will become very hard when he is gone. However, there is a peace that overrides fear and tribulation. He promises them that peace.

32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16-32-33).

Then, without any further explanation about what happened in the interim or if Jesus remained where the apostles could watch and hear him, John only tells us that Jesus prayed.

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:1-3).

Those words read as a restatement of a premortal contract or covenant and as the assurance that its terms have been, or are about to be, fulfilled. Moroni ended the Book of Mormon in a similar way, but explained the covenant more fully. The terms for our coming into this life were clearly laid out before the world was. The covenant was between our Heavenly Father, the Savior, and ourselves. The objects of the covenant were our exaltation and the Savior’s triumphal return to his Father. On their part, the Savior’s Atonement was the validation and the fulfillment of the Father’s covenant. On our part, the terms were our obedience to eternal law. Moroni’s final words are a perfect summation of the covenant.

32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moroni 10:32-33).

We learn more about the importance of that covenant in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph.

45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world. (D&C 84:33-56)

The Savior’s prayer is a reiteration of his object and obligation in fulfilling his part of that covenant.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (John 17:4-5).

A revelation to the Prophet Joseph told how that would be accomplished.

106 … when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;
107 When he shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless, saying: I have overcome and have trodden the wine–press alone, even the wine–press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.
108 Then shall he be crowned with the crown of his glory, to sit on the throne of his power to reign forever and ever (D&C 76:106-08).

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word (John 17:6).

12 By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God—
13 Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning;
14 Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision (D&C 76:12-14).

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them (John 17:7-10).

The story of that transfer of authority is told very briefly in the Book of Abraham. It begins with an assembly of the members of the Council in Heaven.

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; [Important plans were made and Satan was expelled from the Council]
1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth (Abraham 3:23-24, 4:1).

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are (John 17:11).

Jesus had already spoken of the origins of his comradery with his apostles in the very distant past. Now, in the conversation that immediately preceded his prayer, he reaffirmed their friendship.

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:14-17).

Jesus then explained his dilemma. He was leaving them to the buffeting of their enemies in this world because he could no longer be with them. He had already warned them:

2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you (John 16:2-4).

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

The fellowship he established “in the beginning” was not limited to just his apostles, but (as Alma says) “there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God (Alma 13:12). The Savior explained to the brother of Jared:

14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters (Ether 3:11-14).

The Savior expanded his great prayer to include all of those.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:20-23).

In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph, the Savior tells of another prayer of the Atonement which emphasizes the power of that mutual love. First we hear the prayer, then his explanation.

3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold th e blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
……………………..
8 I came unto mine own, and mine own received me not; but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God; and even unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life (D&C 45:1-8).

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).

To be where he is, is not a casual or arbitrary thing. It presupposes our keeping eternal covenants made, renewed, and sanctioned by the power of the priesthood. That priesthood, also, was before the foundation of the world. In the following quote from Alma, the word “forward” is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “to the earliest part of time.” The setting here is the same as the Council in Haven as described in Abraham 3.

1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
………………..
8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—
9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen (Alma 13:1-9).

The last words of the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer bring us and him back to its beginning where he reiterates the divine relationship between himself, our Father, and ourselves.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:25-26).

The fulfillment of that promise is found in another revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (D&C 76:50-62).

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John 17:1-26—Jesus’s Prayer in Behalf of His Apostles

Much of Jesus’s great Intercessory Prayer focuses on his concern for his apostles, but it is about our needs as well, for he said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; hat they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” These are the words of his prayer:

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

That last phrase, “I am glorified in them,” reads like a remembrance of God’s words to Moses.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).

We find it echoed again in the very last words of the Savior’s prayer.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).

Earlier in John’s gospel, he introduced Jesus’s conversation with his apostles with these words:

1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end (John 13:1).

Thereafter, throughout their conversation as John recorded it, Jesus repeatedly reminded the apostles of their eternal relationships with each other, with himself, and with his Father. Here are just two examples:

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (John 14:20-22).

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:7-11).

Jesus’s prayer continues:

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:11-13)

That last phrase asks, “How and why?” At first glance it appears to say that they are a source of his joy. That would be consistent with many of the things he told them. However, with a more careful reading we discover that it is about their fulfillment as a extension of his joy. Now we must ask, as did Nicodemus, “How can these things be? (John 3:9).” Jesus answered the Jewish scholar’s question by explaining his own eternal identity and the power of his Atonement. If we are to answer it here, we must approach it the same way. We must begin by asking “Who is Jesus?” His revelation to the Prophet Joseph that is Section 93 in the Doctrine and Covenaants gives the answer we seek. It tells of his eternal nature and contains a key by which we can discover how his Atonement works so “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
…………..
38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers (D&C 93:36-39).

“Innocent before God” in verse 38 is the key.
My best friend at BYU read this verse to me and observed, “Innocence is a relationship.” Ultimately, our innocence is the quality of our being “before God.” We cannot be innocent unless it is within the trust of that comradery. That same principle is also true in this world. Showing how it works in our society may be an effective way of showing how it works with the Atonement, and how the apostles could have Jesus’s “joy fulfilled in themselves.” Here is a parable.
Johnny is an intelligent, healthy child who is inquisitive and rambunctious. While he is at grandma’s house he does something he shouldn’t and breaks one of her favorite dishes. Johnny is terrified. Grandma told him to be careful but he wasn’t paying attention and it got broken. He knows he has to tell her, so in his fear he finds her and shows her the broken dish. Grandma loves Johnny and understands about little boys. She puts her arms around him, tells him thanks for showing her, and explains that he is more important to her than the dish. Everything is OK. Johnny is innocent in grandma’s eyes because she has forgiven him. She is concerned about Johnny and to her the dish is not the issue. Because it is her dish, she, and only she, can make him innocent through her love.
But that is only half the story. Johnny is still afraid and embarrassed. He is not at all sure grandma is not just pretending she is not angry. In a strange but real turnabout, grandma is not innocent in Johnny’s eyes. The dish is still a factor in his thinking even if not in hers. Until he is sure he can trust her, he will not be completely comfortable where she is.

For each of them, innocence is defined by their individual perceptions of their relationship. One’s innocence is only real when it is reflected from the eyes of the other person.
The Savior’s Atonement is something like that. Just as grandma is the only one who can make Johnny innocent of the broken dish, so the Savior is the only one who can make us fully innocent of our sins. He has suffered more than we can suffer so only he can truly say “I understand and it is OK.” His love can take all the burden of guilt from us. However, like Johnny, until we are able to recognize and accept his total love, we still struggle under the burden of not trusting him. That trust is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. When we are worthy of the constant companionship of the Spirit, the trust will be an integral part of who we are, and we can accept our own innocence in the Savior’s eyes.
There are several veils that separate us from God. One is the veil of forgetfulness that takes from our memory the trust and motives we had in the premortal world that enabled us to dare to enter this difficult time and place. Another is the sense of guilt that we have accumulated while we have been here. It cripples our ability and even our willingness to believe the Savior will ever think of us as being innocent as little Johnny.
This veil of guilt that separates us from God is of our own making. Therefore, it places upon us the responsibility to go behind that veil so we may be where God is. He provides a way and the instructions so we may do that. It is a strange veil, for we can not see it at all. We must recognize that it is there before we can open it to him, as he has already opened it from his side to us.
We are confined to remain outside that veil until we acknowledge that it is real, and are willing to open it, and to let him see us as we really are.
The Atonement has already established the terms of Jesus’s part of our relationship. On his part, those terms have already been met. He has accomplished them in his agony in this world and our being in this world gives us the opportunity to establish ours. Our part is keeping the covenants and honoring the ordinances that we seal in charity in our relationship to him and others.
Charity is the final step. In this world we learn sorrow, disappointment, and hurt. They either make us hard and angry, or enable us to have empathy and compassion for others. The latter enables each of us to play the part of grandma to other people. Until we can acknowledge the innocence of others, the veil that separates us from the Savior’s love remains a wall we are unable to breach. Their innocence, like ours can only be defined in trusting relationships.
For us to achieve that end, sin has to be defined differently from cultural “right and wrong.” For example, breaking the dish was culturally wrong but if it were an accident then there would be no fault except foolishness. To be a real sin it would have to be the product of a still earlier sin. The first and perhaps the greater sin would be the anger or contempt by which we justified our attack on grandma’s dish. The attitude that initiated the deed is often a greater sin than the deed itself because such attitudes are always contemptuous, self aggrandizing, and blind to other people’s needs.
Sin is first the thought then the action which is the consequence of the thought. The dish is broken. Innocence comes through grandma’s love. But if breaking it was deliberate, then the premeditation must be repented of before Johnny can acknowledge and accept the innocence grandma offers. That principle is much of the burden of the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount.

21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment.
…….
23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—
24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.
…….
27 Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;
28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.
29 Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart;
30 For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.
…….
43 And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;
44 But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
…….
14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (3 Nephi 12:21 through 13:15).

As Johnny must accept grandma’s love with the same genuineness that she gives it to him, so he must give it to others so that each may be innocent in the friendship they share.
I believe it was that principle the Savior was expressing in his prayer when he said, “…that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” A way of describing the celestial society is that it is a perfect comradery that is born of mutual understanding, mutual acceptance, and mutual love. This is the way the Prophet Joseph described it:

92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.
96 And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.

the criteria for that kind of salvation as it is listed in Moroni 7:23-24. Comparing that with the similar list in 2 Peter 1:5-7, we find a one-to-one coloration with all the ideas except “hope” and “brotherly kindness.” However, thoughtful analysis shows that they are each used the same way, as the entrance into charity. Therefore, it follows that in those passages hope must mean the same as philadelphia.
Then, to check its correctness, I compared that conclusion with hope in Moroni 7: 39-48. It is apparent that in all three contexts. Peter’s philadelphia, and Mormon’s hope, each is equivalent to hesed. Because with each, as with hesed , it is the necessary prerequisite to charity.
As an entree to charity, the hesed relationship must be with one’s own true Self, with God, and with those individuals who share one’s personal hesed environment. (One’s Self, like a temple, is too sacred to be entrusted to just anyone.)
I have previously defined hope as “living as though the covenants are already fulfilled.” That remains true, except it is now apparent that one cannot live to the eternal covenants without an honest hesed relationship with Self, God, and the people we love. Hesed & hope & ultimately charity are equivalents

The Savior’s prayer in behalf of his apostles continued.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
…………………..
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:14-26)

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Chapter 51 * John 17 & 13:38—All Things Are By Covenant

The Savior’s prayer in John 17 is a review and report of his and his apostles’ eternal covenants. All things that matter and persist in eternity are made by covenants that are validated by ordinances. The Savior was explaining that concept when he said,

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23, 3 Nephi 14:21-23).

The wording in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is the same as in 3 Nephi. However, the Prophet’s Inspired Version clarifies it. Where Matthew says “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23), the Joseph Smith translation says, “Ye never knew me” (JST Matthew 7:33).
The Book of Mormon shows that the Matthew version is correct, but the Prophet’s change shows that the Savior’s intent was to describe a relationship that never happened.
Herbert B. Huffmon has shown that the Hebrew word “yada”, translated “know” in the Bible, is a technical term “to indicate mutual legal recognition” in a covenant or treaty and “is also used as a technical term for recognition of the treaty stipulations as binding.”{1} He cites “a number of texts in which “yada” would seem to be used in reference to covenant recognition of Israel by Yahweh.” One of those is Amos 3:2.

1 Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known [yada`] of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? …
7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret [sode] unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:1-7).

In verse 7, “secret” is sode in Hebrew and refers to the covenants made at the Council in Heaven. Jeremiah understood this, for when he was called to be a prophet the Lord said,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew [yada`] thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

As Jeremiah struggled to teach Israel to repent he prayed, “But thou, O Lord, knowest [yada] me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee” (Jeremiah 12:3).
Huffmon cites that verse as an example of “the frequent combination, ‘know’ and ‘see’” and Deuteronomy 34:10 is an example of one “whom Yahweh knew face to face.”

10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew [yada`] face to face. 12:3).

The beautiful 36th Psalm puts it all together in a single verse.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness [hesed] unto them that know [yada`] thee; and thy righteousness [zedek] to the upright in heart (Psalms 36:10).

So it appears that when the Savior says “I never knew you,” or “You never knew me,” that what he was saying is “I never made a covenant with you,” or “No covenant you made with me was ever sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.”
Once again, we are back where we began: at the Council in Heaven where we made those covenants. One of those covenants is what James called the “royal law.”

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well (James 2:8)

John assures us that the royal law was taught “from the beginning.”

7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth
9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him (1 John 2:7-10).

Nothing ever changes! That royal law which was taught “from the beginning” is still the sealing power that binds those in the celestial kingdom together in a perfect order. We are assured,

1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (D&C 130:1-2).

It is, and has always been, about relationships: with family, with friends, and with God, and those lasting relations are founded upon eternal covenants.

——————
FOOTNOTE

{1}Stephen D. Ricks, and RoseAnn Benson—“Treaties and Covenants: Ancient Near Eastern Legal Terminology in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2005), Volume – 14, Issue – 1, Pages: 48-61, 128-29.
Herbert B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew Yada’,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.1 B 1 (Feb., 1966), pp. 31-7 Published by: The American Schools of Oriental Research Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1356118 Accessed: 09/02/2015 12:10
The Hebrew word Vada` (Strong # 3045) also can mean the very intimate relationship in marriage, which also has strong contractual overtones. Adultery violates the terms of that contract.
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