I was reading D&C sections 15 & 16, which happen to be identical except for the person to whom they were addressed. Here’s section 15:
1 Hearken, my servant John, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer.
2 For behold, I speak unto you with sharpness and with power, for mine arm is over all the earth.
3 And I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone—
4 For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.
5 Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given you according to my commandments.
6 And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen. (D&C 15)
Section 15 was addressed to John Whitmer, and section 16 was addressed to Peter Whitmer Jr.
When I was reading the two sections together, I thought it was amazing that both revelations were included in the D&C and not just one of them. I began to wonder what instructive purpose was served by that decision. The church could very well have decided that only one was needed. (I know if I had been on the committee selecting revelations to be included, I would have voted for section 16 to be kept out. That shows you how uninspired I am. ;-) )
Verse 3 says “I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone.” This catches our attention and we become curious about what the Lord could say He knew more than anyone about John. And after reading section 16 that duplicates this confidential phrase exactly, I begin to wonder if this choice of words was a form that appealed to Joseph Smith’s mind… but the fact that both sections are there demonstrates that the truth can be repetitive and can even seem boring if we think of it as an entertaining story. It reminds me that it is revelation, since one of those sections could easily have been left out so as to seem more interesting.
For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you….the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. (v4,6)
I know I have often wondered what would be the best thing for me to do in my life, and this counsel—declare repentance--is a great guide. That it is repeated twice to two separate people shows the answer doesn’t change; it is the same for everybody.
I think it is interesting that we get to see that two brothers were wondering the same thing, wondering what would be the best thing for them to do in their lives. Don’t we find ourselves wondering the same thing? Also, since these two revelations tell of sharing something known only between the Lord and them, we see that these brothers hadn’t talked to each other about the questions they had about what would be of most worth for them to do. It reminds us that there are things family members may not know about each other, even while living together. Family members may not know the good desires that each other have.
Another thing these sections show is that the Lord knows what we most want, and listens to our prayers. And He answers them.
And too, the Lord gives the tough answer, even if it is one that will put a lot of responsibility on us. The answer that declaring repentance to people will be of most worth isn’t an easy answer. It is one that requires lifelong commitment and work. I suppose this is what makes it of such great worth.