Viewpoint: “What Think Ye of Christ?”

  From the Church News

  • 1 November 2013

At some point each one of us will need to answer the question Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).

“In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with His words on our lips, His spirit in our hearts, and His teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality.” —President Thomas S. Monson

A story, or parable, is told of three men who were met by a gracious host who calmed them during their process of making the transition from mortality to the next life.

Each man in turn found himself responding to questions that had somehow formed in his mind and heart: “What do you think of Jesus Christ? Do you know Him?”

The first man answered that he had not participated in religious activity; there seemed to be too much formalism, too much hypocrisy, too little real religion. Nor had he sought to learn of Him and follow His teachings. The man said he had been a good husband and father, a good citizen, active in his community, and a man of integrity. But, as he stood before his host, he realized he had missed the central purpose of life and had let the world distract him from what he should have been seeking. He felt gratitude when he was received into a circumstance where he could begin to learn what he needed to know.

The second man had a shorter interview. Recognizing the importance of the questions, he said he had been a soldier for Christ, a crusader for Him in business, and a spokesman for Him in industry. Instead of being grateful, he was crestfallen when he was ushered into a circumstance where he too could begin to learn what he needed to know.

The third man, coming into the presence of his host, felt an overwhelming sense of warmth and wonder. Understanding the questions, he tearfully looked into the loving eyes of his host. He then fell to his knees at His feet and worshipped Him. (See Marion D. Hanks, “Willing to Receive,” Apr. 1980 general conference.)

This parable teaches that at some point each one of us will need to answer the question Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).

Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I … am?

“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

“And Simon Peter [the senior Apostle] answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16).

Elder Robert D. Hales, one of the Lord’s modern-day Apostles, wrote:

“Many profess to be Christians and yet do not believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, indeed, the eldest son of God the Father. Men are willing to follow some of His teachings but do not recognize the divine, eternal purpose and the significance of His life to all mankind.

“ ‘What think ye of Christ?’ and ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ These were questions asked by Jesus to make people think, so that He might teach them who He was, that they might use their own agency, come to their own conclusions and commitments, follow Him, and gain a testimony that He is the Son of God, our Redeemer” (“What Think Ye of Christ,” New Era, Dec. 2004, 5).

Another Apostle of this dispensation, Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004), said that however the world ignores or responds to the question “What think ye of Christ?” it is “the reverberating and the great question! Can we answer with both our lives and our tongues, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’? (Matt. 16:16.) Until we can, whatever else we say and do will, in the end, make little difference” (“Answer Me,” Oct. 1988 general conference).

In a later general conference, Elder Maxwell said: “For many moderns, sad to say, the query ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (Matt. 22:42) would be answered, ‘I really don’t think of Him at all!’

“Consider three examples of how honorable people in the Church keep back a portion and thus prevent greater consecration (see Acts 5:1–4).

“A sister gives commendable, visible civic service. Yet even with her good image in the community, she remains a comparative stranger to Jesus’ holy temples and His holy scriptures, two vital dimensions of discipleship. But she could have Christ’s image in her countenance (see Alma 5:14).

“An honorable father, dutifully involved in the cares of his family, is less than kind and gentle with individual family members. Though a comparative stranger to Jesus’ gentleness and kindness, which we are instructed to emulate, a little more effort by this father would make such a large difference.

“Consider the returned missionary, skills polished while serving an honorable mission, striving earnestly for success in his career. Busy, he ends up in a posture of some accommodation with the world. Thus he forgoes building up the kingdom first and instead builds up himself. A small course correction now would make a large, even destinational, difference for him later on” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Oct. 1995 general conference).

After Jesus had given some “hard sayings,” many of His disciples “went back, and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:66–67).

The way to know Jesus Christ is to “walk” with Him or follow in His footsteps.

President Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said: “We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.

“In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality” (“The Paths Jesus Walked,” Apr. 1974 general conference).

May we always “walk” with Him so that we can readily answer His question, “What think ye of Christ?”