Man I wish I had a more complete copy of this talk. The notes taken on it, included in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, are just far too cursory:
“The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but Christ subjected the same in hope–all are subjected to vanity while they travel through the crooked paths and difficulties which surrounded them. Where is the man that is free from vanity? None ever were perfect but Jesus: and why was He perfect? Because He was the Son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man. But notwithstanding their vanity, men look forward with hope (because they are ‘subjected in hope’) to the time of their deliverance.”
I can see that the parenthetical note about men being ‘subjected in hope’ was used by the prophet to refer back to “the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but Christ subjected the same in hope” but it isn’t clear how the two are being related by the prophet in such a brief account.
It is also fascinating that “None ever were perfect but Jesus: and why was He perfect? Because He was the Son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man.“
We all believe “None were ever perfect but Jesus”. But I think that the explanation of why He was perfect here is interesting. It is because Christ was the Son of God and thus his body had some characteristics it inherited from a Father who was not fallen, just as Adam and Eve before the Fall. It was also because Christ “had the fullness of the Spirit”. John the baptist refers to that when he says that the Father didn’t pour out the spirit on Christ by measure as he did on other men.
John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
Last of all, Joseph Smith says Christ was perfect because he had greater power than any man. Joseph Smith refers to “greater power” in a couple of other contexts that appear related.
“In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because he has greater knowledge; and hence he knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.“
Last of all, it isn’t clear from the abbreviated notes we have on this discourse whether Joseph Smith means “how did Christ accomplish being perfect” or whether he is really answering with a fair dose of “what do we mean when we say Christ was perfect”. That is a difference that is worth thinking about, and with our abbreviated account of this discourse, it is very hard to tell what was intended.
But the Holy Ghost can make it perfectly clear to us in time. At some point as we press forward these words must become perfectly clear to us, because at some point we must know enough to have given the discourse ourselves.