John 15:1-8 The analogy of the vine and branches
James E. Talmage
"A grander analogy is not to be found in the world's literature. Those ordained servants of the Lord were as helpless and useless without Him as is a bough severed from the tree. As the branch is made fruitful only by virtue of the nourishing sap it receives from the rooted trunk, and if cut away or broken off withers, dries, and becomes utterly worthless except as fuel for the burning, so those men, though ordained to the Holy Apostleship, would find themselves strong and fruitful in good works, only as they remained in steadfast communion with the Lord. Without Christ what were they, but unschooled Galileans, some of them fishermen, one a publican, the rest of undistinguished attainments, and all of them weak mortals? As branches of the Vine they were at that hour clean and healthful, through the instructions and authoritative ordinances with which they had been blessed, and by the reverent obedience they had manifested." (Jesus the Christ, pp. 604-5.)
John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away
Elder David A. Smith
"How many of us belong to that branch which beareth good fruit? How many of us are in danger of being cut off because of our inactivity, because of our failure to take advantage of every opportunity that comes to us for service in this great work?
"May we be numbered among the branches that bear fruit; may God purge us that we may bring forth more fruit; may we always abide in him and may his words abide in us, that we may eventually be glorified with that glory which he has promised to those who are faithful in all things. May God help us to see the way; may we be guided by his Spirit that we may go forward and accomplish that which is required of us, doing it in faith and humility." (Conference Report, April 1926, Third Day-Morning Session 130.)
John 15:2 every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit
Spencer J. Condie
"For those of us who are unschooled in horticulture, it seems perfectly reasonable for the husbandman of the vineyard to prune and take away every branch 'that beareth not fruit.' What may not seem quite so reasonable is that he purges or prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so 'that it may bring forth more fruit.' Every fruit grower understands this principle well. If branches are left unpruned, a fruit tree can soon become a giant bush whose weak and flimsy limbs cannot support the large, succulent fruit the tree was intended to produce. Just as branches must be shortened to be strengthened, the fruit itself must often be thinned to allow one blossom to become one large apple instead of permitting four blossoms to produce tiny, insignificant fruit.
"The Savior's beautiful allegory is full of meaning as He reminds His disciples and us that He is the vine and we are the branches and that without Him, or detached from Him, 'ye can do nothing' (John 15:5). When we think we can 'go it alone,' it is then that we re-discover the truth of the Savior's statement: without Him we can do nothing. There are many times when we resist the pruning process, but the pruning process is a perpetually important part of the plan of eternal progression wherein we 'bring forth more fruit.'" (In Perfect Balance [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 133.)
Harold B. Lee
"Listen to the Master's lesson in human horticulture-'Every branch that beareth fruit must be purged [or pruned] that it might bring forth more fruit' (see John 15:2). Remember it's the new wood following such pruning which brings the fruit.
"Rarely, if ever, is there a truly great soul except he has been tried and tested through tears, and adversity-seemingly pruned by the hand of a master gardener. By applying the knife and the pruning hook the branch is shaped and fashioned to God's omnipotent design, in order that its full fruitage may be realized.
"Every one of you must endure trials, and hardships, heartaches and discouragements. When in sorrow and in despair if you will remember, you will be comforted if you learn this lesson: 'For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth' (Hebrews 12:6)-and again: 'My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth' (Proverbs 3:11-12)." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 191.)
John 15:5 He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit
"'I am the vine,' Jesus stated at the Last Supper, 'ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing' (John 15:5). To abide in Christ is to trust in him, rely on him, be patient with him and his plan for us, yield ourselves to his mercies, surrender to him, and thereby draw upon his life and his strength.
"Though the vine and the branch are related, they are not the same. The uniting factor is the sap that flows through the branches. That is like the Holy Spirit in our lives: we appropriate Christ's strength through the power of the Holy Ghost. When that Spirit dwells in us, we begin to bear the 'fruit of the Spirit.' Paul contrasts the 'works of the flesh'-such things as adultery, fornication, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strife, and so forth, which are behaviors and attitudes characterizing the natural man-with the fruit of the Spirit, the works and dispositions that characterize the man or woman who has been born again. 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . . . And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.' Paul then offers this wonderful plea to the household of faith: 'If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit' (Galatians 5:19-25).
"In other words, if we claim membership in the Church of Jesus Christ, let us act like it. If we profess discipleship, people ought to be able to see that discipleship without difficulty. The fruit of the Spirit is the characteristics and attributes that flow from a changed heart-the ways that truly Christlike people feel and act." (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 59)
"Just so with this people. When they [the saints] are doing their part-when they are magnifying their calling, living their religion, and walking in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord, they have a portion of his Spirit given to them to profit withal. And while they are humble, faithful, diligent, and observe the laws and commandments of God, they stand in their proper position on the tree: they are flourishing; the buds, blossoms, leaves, and everything about them are all right, and they form a part and parcel of the tree. ...
"Just as that little twig is indebted for its life and vigour to the tree, so are you indebted entirely to the Lord for the light and intelligence you have received on every subject. You are indebted to the Spirit of God for your wisdom and intelligence, as much as the little twig is indebted to the tree for its vitality, leaves, buds, and fragrance." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, pp. 108, 110.)
John 15:5 for without me ye can do nothing
"[Referring to the Beatitudes] Without God, we are poor, mourners over many things, too meek to withstand powerful and uncontrollable forces, full of nameless hungers and thirstings. (See Matt. 5:3-6.) Alone, we are salt without savor, 'good for nothing, but to be cast out.' (Matt. 5:13.)
"We may defy our nothingness and attempt to become something without God. We may try in many vain ways to prove our worth by seeking wealth, power, or praise of men.
"Yet, when we can finally admit that we are nothing without God, the Savior invites us to lay on the altar the great burden of trying to do everything on our own or of assuming more responsibility than we have. Our meekness and dependence on the Lord, our hunger to know what is right, draw the Lord and his solutions to us. It is the poor in spirit, the mournful, and the meek 'who come unto me' who will receive the kingdom of heaven. (3 Ne. 12:3; italics added.) Those who 'hunger and thirst after righteousness' will be 'filled with the Holy Ghost.' (3 Ne. 12:6.)
"King Benjamin offers an enigmatic promise: if we will remember our nothingness without God, we will always rejoice. (See Mosiah 4:11-12.) We must admit that our own self-will has caused us the most trouble. What a blessing it is to lay it on the altar!" (Catherine Thomas, "Blessed Are Ye ... ," Ensign, June 1987, 6)
George F. Richards
"I quote the following from the poet Wordsworth: 'To character and success, two things, contradictory as they may seem, must go together, humble dependence on God, and manly reliance on self.' If there is anything in which we need humble dependence on God in order to succeed it is in this work of His ministry. The Lord cannot use in His ministry a person who is unwilling to be used." (Priesthood and Ministry by Elder George F. Richards, Improvement Era, 1939, Vol. Xxxii. February, 1939. No. 2. .)
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and...burned
Heber C. Kimball
"If we are in the vine of Christ, we shall bring forth the fruits of righteousness... Supposing we compare this Church to a tree, and suppose that one-fourth of the limbs are dead, what use are they to the tree? They are lifeless; and, consequently, the sooner they are taken away the better for the health of the tree. Is there anything lost by lopping off those lifeless limbs? No; for the power and strength that was formerly in the whole tree will enter into that part which is left...Upon the same principle, this Church has to be proven...If we do not abide in the vine, we shall be cast out; and all the inhabitants of the earth that do not connect themselves to the true vine, Jesus Christ, will become as stubble, and they will be burnt up, and become ashes under the soles of the feet of the Saints that will come upon the earth to trim it, adorn it, and make it like the garden of Eden, that they may dwell upon it forever." (Journal of Discourses, 8:329, 9:127-128.)
John 15:11 These things have I spoken...that your joy might be full
"In these simple words, our Lord expresses the plain but all-important truth that true happiness springs from the love and service of God and man.
"In further support of this truth, I now appeal to your own experience. When have you felt most that life is worth the living? When has it tasted sweetest? When have you been in the fullest possession of a peaceful, refined, joy-giving spirit that filled your soul with love, and your mind with noble thoughts and high aspirations? In short, when have you been most truly happy? I shall speak for you, confident that your answers would all agree that your greatest happiness has sprung from duty best performed, from service of the greatest good.
"Your own experiences, then, support the call I make of you to follow the paths of duty unswervingly, unhaltingly, in order that your lives might be full of that sweet joy that transforms this wicked world into a heaven of delight, typical of the heaven beyond the grave. You shall then be in possession of a spirit that will radiate sunshine wherever you go, and give joy and hope to all with whom you come in contact." ("The Happy Life." by Joseph Merrill, Ph. D., Director of the State School of Mines, University of Utah., Improvement Era, 1906, Vol. Ix. July, 1906. No. 9)
"'These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.' (John 15:11.) Now that is where we get a fullness of joy: when we learn the things of God, the reason for all this creation, and when we make our lives conform therewith.
"Whenever you do good, you get the compensation, and the records are being kept-and you are going to have to face those records, ultimately, good or bad. Now, just like you get joy when you do good, then you just get the opposite when you do evil.
"In the mission field one missionary said, 'I would not take a million dollars for the experience of my mission.' Another missionary, who had played on the BYU basketball team which won the intermountain championship, said, 'The boys literally carried us around on their shoulders, the biggest day of my life-until I came into the mission field. But I wouldn't trade one night like this, bearing witness of the truth, for all the basketball games I have ever played.'
"I took a young man out and let him baptize some people in the North Sea Canal in Holland. On the way back he came up and put his arms around me and said, 'Brother Richards, I have never been so happy in my life.' He said, 'When I was at home I earned good money, my parents didn't ask me to pay board and I could go to any show or any party whenever I wanted, but I wouldn't trade a night like this for all the parties I have ever been to!'" (December 6, 1961, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1961, 8.)
"Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255.)
John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you
M. Russell Ballard
"How critical it is that all who serve together in God's kingdom do so from a foundation of love: love for the Lord, love for the work, and love for each other. No matter how intense our effort or how carefully we follow the handbooks and guidelines, if we don't truly love each other we can't possibly hope to convey the full power of the gospel of love. And I can't help but believe that members are more likely to seek counsel from leaders from whom they feel sincere love emanating. Miracles seem to follow after Church leaders who are motivated by a keen feeling of loving devotion to those over whom they preside." (Counseling with Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 35.)
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends
"One of the most beautiful and tender accounts of brotherly love, concern, and devotion took place in Carthage Jail on the afternoon of the martyrdom. 'The afternoon was sultry and hot. The four brethren [Joseph and Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards] sat listlessly about the room with their coats off; and the windows of the prison were open to receive such air as might be stirring. Late in the afternoon Mr. Stigall, the jailor, came in and suggested that [in view of threats made by the radical and bloodthirsty mob] they would be safer in the cells. Joseph told him that they would go in after supper. Turning to Elder Richards the Prophet said: If we go into the cell will you go with us?'
"Elder Richards answered, 'Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you [referring to the time when they crossed the Mississippi, en route for the Rocky Mountains]-you did not ask me to come to Carthage-you did not ask me to come to jail with you-and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free.'
"With considerable emotion and feeling Joseph replied, 'But you cannot,' to which Brother Richards firmly replied, 'I will.' (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 283.)" (Henry D. Taylor, "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" Ensign, July 1972, 75)
Ezra Taft Benson
"[Christ] gave us the perfect model-himself-after which we are to pattern our lives. He said, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13). Not only did he lay down before us the perfect example for earthly living, but for our sake he willingly gave us his life. He went through an agony both in body and spirit, of which we cannot comprehend, to bring to us the glorious blessing of the Atonement and the Resurrection (D&C 19:15-19).
"Some men are willing to die for their faith but will not fully live for it. Christ both lived and died for us. . . .
"That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely fits the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ." (I Know That My Redeemer Lives: Latter-day Prophets Testify of the Savior [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 216.)
"'Why is it this babbler [Joseph Smith] gains so many followers and retains them?' Because I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world [is] a good heart and a good hand. Mormons can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for a Mormon. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a Mormon, I am bold to declare before heaven that I am just as ready to die for a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or any other denomination." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 139.)
David B. Haight
"A commercial airplane plunged into the Potomac River near Washington, D. C., some years ago, and an unidentified passenger gave his life for his 'unknown friends.' Bystanders watched in amazement as he caught the life preserver lowered from the helicopter to rescue those in the water. Rather than save himself, he passed the life preserver over to another person. The helicopter returned, and he again passed the life preserver to another. 'Why doesn't he hold on and save himself?' someone shouted. After others near him were saved, people on the shore watched in anguish as he slowly sank and disappeared into the frozen waters.
"'If a single man achieves the highest kind of love,' wrote Mahatma Gandhi, 'it will be sufficient to neutralize the hate of millions.'" (A Light unto the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 126.)
John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you
Our relationship with God is described by several scriptural terms, including enemy, servant, son, and friend. King Benjamin teaches us that 'the natural man is an enemy to God' (Mos. 3:19). Here, Christ refers to his apostles as friends. However, the transition from God's enemy to his friend involves a very real spiritual progression-from enemy, to servant, to son or daughter, to friend.
We begin with the natural, or carnal man, who is far from God and cares only for the things of the flesh (Rom 8:5). He receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him (1 Cor 2:14). As we turn to the Lord and become baptized, we become his servants. The baptismal applicant must be willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end (DC 20:37). Next comes the process of spiritual rebirth which makes us a son or daughter of Christ, ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you (Mosiah 5:7). The last stage is that of friendship with God-it is to be paid the great compliment that few have received, to be referred to as the Lord's friend, I say unto you, for you are mine apostles...ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends (DC 84:63). The Lord explained the final requirement as follows, Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (Jn 15:14). Herein lies the secret to friendship with Jesus: we must keep all his commandments. Then he will declare to us, 'Ye are my friend.' Then will the greatest of all spiritual transformations become complete-from the natural man to the spiritual man-from the enemy of God to the friend of God.
Stephen L. Richards
"It is inconceivable that he should extend the friendship he so beautifully described to any others than those who were believers. We know of his compassion, his mercy, and concern for all our Father's children, but it should never be forgotten that he set forth in unequivocal language the eligibility of those admitted to the circle of his friendship. 'Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.'" (Conference Report, April 1955, Afternoon Meeting 38.)
John 15:15 I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you
The most intimate relationship we can have with the Savior is to be considered his friend. The Savior has many servants, he has many sons and daughters, but the number who he calls his friends is relatively few (DC 84:63,77; 88:3; 93:45-51). It is much better to be Jesus' friend than merely his servant. As the Lord indicated, 'the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.' Similarly, the nature of the relationship between father and son is significantly different than the relationship between friends. Even though a son is heir to the inheritance of the father, there are many things that a man will not discuss with his son. The father may not discuss his financial situation with his son. He may not discuss what is going on at work. He may not want to discuss conflicts he has had with his wife and other children. Yet, these personal subject matters are freely discussed with his close friends. The relationship of trust is such that nothing needs to be withheld. Such is the case with those whom Jesus termed his "friends." They are privy to everything; nothing is withheld; they are truly friends, for the Savior says, 'all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.'
Neal A. Maxwell
"Filled with mercy, Jesus generously described His true followers as His friends. Both endearing and lifting, this designation describes how in His perfect love He regards us. He has surely proven His unconditional and unending friendship for us, but we have not yet proven our friendship for Him. He said to His disciples in the meridian of time that they were no longer servants, but friends: 'Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.'
"Attaching this condition does not indicate conditional love for us, since we are loved perfectly by Him. Rather, it describes the condition necessary for us to achieve in order to prove our friendship for Him: we must keep His commandments and strive to become like Him. His truest friends are those who give such evidence of being 'valiant in the testimony of Jesus' and who thereby overcome themselves and the world. (DC 79:79; 121:29)
"...His is a beckoning friendship, a designation that is actually an invitation, for He declared: 'I will call you friends, for ye are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me.' (DC 93:45)" (Even As I Am [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 41.)
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you
"We have not chosen him, but he chooses us and calls us. We are sent forth. Now, it was never my plan in life to be a minister of religion. I studied to be a lawyer; and I have been called into doing this business-not of my own choice. No, I would just as soon practice law, but a call came and said, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' (Matt.5:19.) I had to drop my profession. I had a hard time becoming a lawyer. I had to work my way through school. It was a real struggle, and I hadn't practiced law very long until I had to drop the whole thing-give it all up. I was sent to the islands of the sea to do missionary work. When I came back home, I was hoping I could go into the law profession again. I got back home, and I was called into this for life, at least during good behavior. So here I am. I don't have any choice in the matter. Now, wouldn't you think that I was absolutely crazy if I did this without having an inward conviction that what I am doing is right? I certainly think I am crazy if I don't believe this is right." (Matthew Cowley Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 96.)
"Down through the centuries following the ministry of Christ here upon the earth somebody started changing the program until finally the ministry became a profession just like the profession of law or of medicine. Men chose the ministry. Men chose Christ rather than Christ choosing the men. So in the restoration of the gospel we have gone back to the old ways because Christ has returned us to his plan and so today he says, 'Come, follow me.' And as I think of the men with whom I am associated in the Council of the Twelve and the Presidency of the Church how well I see this exemplified.
"President McKay, for instance, a man who is an educator and whose desire is to be in the field of education, but the voice came, 'Come, follow me' and he dropped everything and gave up his life's ambition to be your humble servant!
"President Richards, his first Counselor, a great lawyer and a great financier who loves business, who loves his profession of the law, and right at the peak of his career the call came, 'Come, follow me,' and he dropped everything that was dear to his heart as far as this world's activities are concerned and became a servant of the Master!
"President Clark, the second Counselor, one of the greatest international lawyers this country has known in a generation, a man who reached the very heights of his profession as an international lawyer! He was a very valuable man in the administration of several Presidents of the United States, a man who later became Ambassador to Mexico and right at the peak of his earning capacity, the peak of his career, of his ambition, the voice, 'Come, follow me,' and he dropped everything, and he followed.
"...Now, brothers and sisters, we do not choose this profession. We are only in this work because we are called and for no other reason. Not one of us has aspired to these positions. We chose other professions." (Matthew Cowley Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 328.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"It is not the individual's prerogative to select the field to which he will go or the assignment which he will accept in the Church, nor is it his prerogative to casually reject for insignificant reasons a call that may come to him. None of us, I suppose, who heard President Clark in the general conference of April 9, 1951, will ever forget his words. They are worthy of repetition. He said:
"In the service of the Lord it is not where you serve, but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.'" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 63.)
John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you
"One of the fine men of the community, through the efforts of our stake missionaries, had recently joined the Church. He was happy in his membership in the Church. It brought a change in his life, a change in his thoughts, a change in his habits, a change in his desires and interest in his fellow men. He had a neighbor with whom he had been very friendly. They lent each other equipment from their farms, but as soon as this man joined the Church his neighbor turned against him.
"The new convert ran for a position on the school board, and his neighbor went out and gathered people from far and near to bring them into the polls to defeat this former friend and neighbor. After the election was over, the new convert went to his neighbor. He said, 'What have I done that would change your attitude toward me as it has been changed?' The answer was, 'I do not like the Mormons.'
"If he had been living in the days of the Savior, his answer would have been, 'I do not like the Christians,' and I think of the words of the Savior when he said: 'If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.'" (Conference Report, April 1957, First Day-Morning Meeting 14.)
John 15:19 I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you
George Q. Cannon
"If we would be like the rest of the world, we would have no opposition from the world. Jesus said to His disciples, 'If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.' (John 15:19.)
"It is just the same today. If we were like the world, the world would love us; but because God has chosen us out of the world, therefore the world hates us; and we shall be hated as long as we preserve these virtues and contend for them, as long as we refuse to partake of the cup of fornications which the mother of abominations holds out to us; as long as we refuse to have the mark of the beast upon us, so long shall we have this opposition to contend with, until Babylon is overthrown and destroyed from the face of the earth-a consummation that is not very far distant." (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 307.)
Joseph F. Smith
"The followers of Jesus were his chosen people, and because they were chosen by him, the world hated them...Contempt is the heritage of a chosen people. Ought we therefore to court the contempt of the world? By no means. On the other hand, we should not be discouraged because it comes to us unsought. Some of our friends-mostly in the Church, some few out of it-would lift us out of the contempt of the world, and keep us out of it, if we would simply be governed by their counsels. The truth is, we are not strangers to hatred; and the contempt of the world has been our lot so much that we have no reason to be discouraged when it comes, even in violent forms. The danger lies not so much in our own peculiarity as in the disposition of many of our people to court popularity at all costs, as if it were something devoutly to be wished for." (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 340.)
John 15:20 If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you
"The trials [the Saints] have had to pass through shall work together for their good and prepare them for the society of those who have come up out of great tribulation, washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Marvel not then if you are persecuted, but remember the words of the Savior, 'The servant is not above his Lord; if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also,' and that all the afflictions through which the Saints have to pass are in fulfillment of the words of the prophets which have spoken since the world began. . . . Afflictions, persecutions, imprisonments, and deaths we must expect according to the scriptures" (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 139.)
John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin
"Someone might ask, 'Why did the Savior contend with the priests, who were so encrusted with priestcraft and selfishness? Why not just ignore them?' Jesus surely would have had less trouble if he had not spoken so openly to his enemies in their wickedness. We need to consider that he had no enemies except for the gospel's sake. It was his righteousness and his true doctrine that made them angry. If he had not corrected them, those wicked persons could have charged him with negligence on the day of judgment. But as he did challenge them, they are left without excuse, as he said: 'If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin' (John 15:22).
"Jesus would not be the Redeemer if he had failed to rebuke the rebellious people among whom he lived. One of his basic responsibilities was to testify against sin and wickedness. He had to mark the way for all to see. To fail to speak harshly against sin would be interpreted by the people as condoning it." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 258.)