Latter-day Saint Life

How the Brother of Jesus Led Joseph Smith to the Sacred Grove


The following has been republished with permission from and complements this week's Come, Follow Me study. 

All of you are reading this article because someone asked a solitary question. That person was Joseph Smith. Questions are the foundation of revelation. Questions are the gateway to wisdom. Questions are the pathway to finding truth. Questions are the bridge to discovery.

Joseph had a gaping need for wisdom and the brother of Jesus taught Joseph how to find wisdom in Jesus.

The Circle of Revelation

The writer of the Epistle of James was the half-brother of Jesus. Think of the beautiful circle of revelation that is completed with the Restoration. Jesus came in the meridian of time to reveal Himself as the Lamb of God. Before the apostasy blanketed the world, Jesus’ half-brother James wrote a letter of encouragement to Christians everywhere, commending them to live lives of wisdom, which is the very essence of the gospel as taught and lived by Jesus. Centuries later, James’ invitation to seek after wisdom (James 1:5) was heeded by a humble boy of 14 who trusted with the faith of a child that God would generously and ungrudgingly divulge His treasures of wisdom. God would never scold the honest seeker. That petition for wisdom led right back to Jesus who revealed Himself to Joseph. [Thanks to my wife, Lisa, for pointing this out.]

I wonder if James’ had any inkling of the revolutionary, revelatory, and restorative power that his plea would have in bringing his Brother back into the lives of millions of people.

Jesus Multiplies the Loaves of Wisdom through the Book of Mormon

From Joseph Smith’s single question, the seed of wisdom was planted. Joseph’s ongoing faithfulness nourished and nurtured the seed of wisdom so that we now have a veritable Garden of Eden of truths to harvest and cherish.

The key act of restorative wisdom was to resurrect the Book of Mormon. Think of how monumental and foundational the Book of Mormon is to the Restoration. All of these watershed events in the Restoration of the Church happened after the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

  • The Restoration of the priesthood.
  • The founding of the restored Church.
  • The revelation of the majority of sections canonized in the Doctrine & Covenants.
  • The building of temples.
  • The delivery of the gifts of the endowment.
  • The commencement of work for the dead.
  • The call to gather to Zion.
  • The establishment of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • The sending forth of the first missionaries.

The Book of Mormon is a record of wisdom. Nephi himself loved the wisdom literature of Proverbs from the Old Testament. Proverbial themes saturate Nephi’s writing and spill over into the words and teachings of other Book of Mormon authors. Some of the wisdom themes Nephi embraces and uses to construct his narrative of truth are these:

  • Listening to and recording the words of his wise father.
  • Valuing learning and education.
  • Embracing hard work.
  • Seeking understanding from the Lord despite suffering and trials.
  • Demonstrating the difference between the wise man and the fool.
  • Depicting wisdom as a tree of life.

(See more at Reading 1 Nephi with Wisdom by Taylor Halverson.)

How Are You Seeking and Sharing Wisdom?

Jesus’ half-brother James, himself a lover of wisdom, filled his epistle with themes from the wisdom literature of Proverbs and the Sermon on the Mount. His exploration of how wisdom is found urged Joseph Smith to seek wisdom. Joseph Smith’s seeking ultimately brought forth the slumbering wisdom contained in the Book of Mormon. We now have the combined records of multiple testators from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Another Testament (the Book of Mormon) witnessing that when we choose to show our faith through our deeds we are experiencing and spreading the beauties of God’s wisdom throughout the world.

What wise questions are you pursuing?

How are you seeking wisdom in your life?

How are you sharing wisdom?

Scripture Study Hack

Read Proverbs 1–9 in the Old Testament. Make a list of major themes you see in those chapters. Now re-read all of 1 Nephi and mark each time you see any of the themes from Proverbs appearing in Nephi’s writings. Truly, Nephi was a wise man and he wrote that we, too, might be wise.

Lead image from Getty Images

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