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Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple grounds on Sunday January 29, 1843
Sources: Joseph Smith Diary (Willard Richards), Times and Seasons (4 [15 May 1843]):200, Franklin D. Richards "Scriptural Items," William Clayton Diary, Willard Richards Diary
Smith DiaryTimes and Seasons "Scriptural Items"Clayton Diary Richards Diary
The Mormons have not yet completed their great Temple, and have no commodious place of worship, but the apostles and elders preach in private houses on the Sabbath, and at other times, though I seldom attend these latter meetings; but when the weather will admit, they meet in the grove, or on the rough floor of the basement of the Temple, and then the prophet frequently preaches. On one of these occasions I heard him preach concerning the prodigal son.
John and the Kingdom

Sunday Jany 29 meeting on floor of the Temple Joseph Read the parable of the prodigal Son after prayer by John Taylor, then singing by the Quoir

¶ I feel thankful to Almighty God for the privilege of standing before you this morning it is necessary that the hearers should have good & honest hearts as well as the speaker I aim to address you on the important subject of the Prodigal Son

¶ 2 Items I wish to notice Last sabbath.--2 questions saying of Jesus coming John--a greater prophet than John 2d. least in the kingdom of God greater than he.--

¶ some so blind they wont see. I dont expect I can work Miracles enough to open

¶ greatest prophet. What constituted him.--no prophet, if do no miracles John did no miracles.--

¶ After naming his text, the prophet remarked , that some one had asked him the meaning of the expression of Jesus, "among those born of the woman there has not arisen a greater than John," and said he had promised to answer it in public, and he would do it then. "It could not have been on account of the miracles John performed, for he did no miracles; but it was,
Why John is Great

¶ How is it John was considered one of the Greatest of Prophets? 3 things

¶ 1st he was trusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord.-- Trust before or since? no man!--

¶ 2d. He was trusted & it was required at his hands to baptize the son of Man. Who ever did that? who had so great a privilege & glory?--son of God into the waters of baptism & beholding the Holy Ghost--in in the sign the form of a dove--with the sign of the dove.

Sign of the Dove - Book of Abraham Facsimile 2

instituted before the creation Devil could not come in sign of a dove.--Holy Ghost is a personage in the form of a personage--does not confine itself to form of a dove--but in sign of a dove. = 1

More on John's Authority

No man holds this book [Bible] more sacred than I do.--

¶ 3d. John at that time was the only legal administrator holding the keys of Power there was on Earth.2 the Keys the Kingdom the power the Glory from the Jews Son of Zachariah by the holy anointing decree of heaven these 3 constituted him the greatest born of woman.

¶ He that is least in the Kingdom is greater than he? who did Jesus have reference to? Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in all gods kingdom.--

¶ He that is considered the least among you, is greater than John! that is myself.--

¶ another question, Law & prophets were until John--since which time the kingdom of heaven is preached & all men press into it.--

¶ additional proof--to what--I offered you on the last sabbath. that that was the beginning of the Kingdom

First, Because he was trusted with a divine mission, of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Who was trusted with such a mission, before or since? No man.

Second, He was trusted, and it was required at his hand, to baptise the Son of Man. who ever did that? Who ever had so great a privilege or glory? Who ever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, beholding the Holy Ghost descend upon him in the sign of the Dove? No man.

Third, John, at that time, was the only legal administrator, holding the keys of power there was on the earth. The keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory, had departed from the Jews; and John, the son of Zechariah, by the holy anointing, and decree of heaven, held the keys of power at that time."

the next sabbath he (Joseph) asked and answered
¶ 1st How was John the greatest prophet ever born of a woman
¶ 2d How was Christ is the least in the Kingdom greater than he
¶ Ans to 1st His greatness consisted in 3 things 1st His appointment to prepare the way before the Lord Jesus Christ 2nd His privilege to Baptise him or induct him into his Kingdom 3d His being the only legal administrator in the affairs of the Kingdom that was then on the Earth consequently the Jews had to obey his instruction or be damned by their own Law &

Christ is Jehovah? Holy Ghost as a Dove

Christ fulfiled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the the Law which himself had given to Moses on the mount and thereby magnified it and made it honorable instead of destroying it

¶ Ans to 2nd Query Christ was least in the Kingdom in their estimation or least entitled to their credulty as a Prophet but as in Truth greater than John

¶ The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a Dove but the sign of a Dove was given to John to signify the Truth of the Deed as the Dove was an emblem or Token of Truth.

Prodigal Son - 99 Sheep - Lost Coin

¶ Prodigal Son.--when you have heard go & read your bible if the thing are not wring true.--

¶ great deal of speculation. Subject I never dwelt upon-- understood by many to be one of the intricate subjects--Elders in this church preach.--no rule of interpretation.--what is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. understood precisely as it read.--

Joseph's Key to Understanding Scripture

I have Key by which I understand the scripture--I enquire what was the question which drew out the answer.--

¶ National. Abraham. &c as some suppose 1st place dig up the root--what drew out the saying out of Jesus? Pharisees & scribes murmurred! this man receives sinners & eateth with them this is the key word.--to answer the murmuring & questioning of [that] Sadducees & Pharisees had is it this man as great as he pretends to be. & eat with publicans & sinners.--Jesus not put to it so but he could have found something of the kind discerned it for nations.--Men in an individual capacity. all straining on this point is a bubble.--Boy Boys say [I] ought to be hanged can tell it to you.

¶ big folks Presbyterians. Methodists. Baptists &c-- [I] despise the ignorance & abomination of this world.--

¶ this man receiveth sinners--he spoke this parable.

Lost Sheep

what man of you having an hundred sheep & 100 Sadducees & Pharisees If you Pharisees & Sadducees. are in the sheepfold. I have no mission for you sent to look up sheep that are lost will back him up--& make joy in heaven.--hunting after a few individuals laying it on his Shoulder--one publican you despise.--

Lost Coin

one piece of Silver--the piece which was lost--Joy in found of the angels over one sinner that repenteth so righteous they will be damned any how you cannot save them rain off from a gooses back--Great I. little you--

¶ certain man had two sons &c.-- am a poor publican a sinner-- humbled themselves. spending their bread & living &c Ill return to my fathers house. to Jesus you pharisees so righteous you cannot be touched.--I will arise &c claim not be a pharisee or Sadducee. I claim not to be a son do not let me starve--nothing about Ephraim Abraham-- is not mentioned. all that is meant is brought to bear upon the pharisee. Sadducee. the publicans & sinners,


Eldest son [in the parable is the], Pharisees & Sadducees murmuring & complaining--because Jesus sat with publicans & sinners-- father came out & entreated when John came baptized all. when Jesus come they were angry & would not go in. dealing of God with individuals men always Righteous always have access to throne of God eats in his fathers home If we interpret this to [be] national, view where is the eldest son?

Milk Pan Analogy

¶ likened the kingdom to an old womans milk pan--how could Jesus take the kingdom from those who bore no fruit & give it to another.-- is an apple tree no longer a tree because it has no apples? parable of Prodigal son spoken to illustrate this distinction--from the moment John's voice was first heard he was the Prunner on the earth entitled to salvation. on the earth.

Creedal Christianity - Pharisees, Sadducees

¶ Servants of God of the last days myself & those I have ordained, have the priesthood & a mission--to the publicans & sinners--& if the Presbyterians & [two lines left blank].

¶ are in the kingdom. if they are not righteous-- what is the result. they are sinners & if they reject our voice they shall be damnded.

¶ If a man was going to hell I would not let any man disturb him.-- while we will be the last to oppress we will be the last to be driven from our post--peace be still bury the hatchet & the sword.-- the sound of war is dreadful in my ear. any man who will not fight for his wife & children is a coward & a bastard.

¶ Mohemetans [Muslims], Presbyterians, &c if ye will not embrace our religion embrace our hospitalities.

Pres. Joseph Preached in the Temple on the Prodigal Son and showed that it did not refer to any nation, but was mearly an answer to the remark "he recieveth the sinners and eateth with them," the Temple was crowded with people. Meeting. Prodigal Son.


1. See 21Mar41 for a connection with 27Jun39 and D&C 129 (9Feb43).

2. See D&C 84:28. There are obvious geographic limitations to this statement. Consider the Nephites.

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