Martyrdom showed Christlike love

To understand the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, it is necessary to understand what Jesus Christ said to the Twelve: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13.)

That was the message of Keith W. Perkins at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Mormon History Symposium.Brother Perkins reviewed the events of the Prophet being warned to flee to the West. Joseph, Hyrum, Willard Richards and Porter Rockwell started West, arriving in Montrose, Iowa. However, he returned to Nauvoo when some accused him of cowardliness. Joseph Smith said, "If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself."

"I believe it was in Montrose when the Prophet knew he must seal his testimony," Brother Perkins remarked. "From that moment on nothing could deter him from going to Carthage, though he had been warned numerous times that if he went there he would be killed."

Brother Perkins detailed the last few days of the Prophet and Hyrum in Carthage Jail, and especially the last few minutes of their lives. The mob attacked the jail and rushed upstairs to kill Joseph. Hyrum was shot first and died. John Taylor went to the window thinking there might be friends outside. But in attempting to jump out the window, he too was shot. Ironically, a shot from outside the window which should have killed him hit his watch. The blow knocked him back into the room which undoubtedly saved his life.

"Now there were only two men who had not been shot: Willard Richards and the Prophet," Brother Perkins said. "I believe at that moment Joseph Smith made a deliberate decision. He would give his life for his friends. If Willard Richards was going to be saved he would have to give his life. He deliberately walked to the window through which Elder Taylor had been shot when he too was shot. He cried out, `O Lord, my God!' as he fell from the window."

Brother Perkins disputed the notion that Joseph was giving a Masonic distress signal, but rather, said he feels Joseph was addressing the Lord as did the Savior at the time of His death.

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