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WHAT  THINK  YE  OF  CHRIST ?

Scripture Text: Matthew 22:41,42  "While the Pharisees were gathered together, 
Jesus asked them, 'What think ye of Christ?  Whose son is He?'  They say 
unto Him, 'The son of David'."

Insofar as eternity is concerned, it makes no difference what we think of the world political and religious leaders, the world social and economic problems, the PLO, CIA, FBI, IRA, OPEC, the UN, or the local PTA.  Nor does it make much difference what we think of the Protestants, Catholics, Jews or the Muslims.  However, our soul's eternal destiny will definitely be determined by how we honestly respond to this question---"What think ye of Christ?"

Many of you will concede that He was a great teacher.  Even at the tender age of 12 He was in the synagogue asking and answering the questions of the learned men of His day.  Later on, in Mark 1:21,22 we read, "on the Sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes."  Even Nicodemus,the leading Pharisee, said to the Lord Jesus Christ in John 3:2, "We know that Thou art a teacher come from God." Yes, Jesus Christ was a great teacher, but---"What think ye of Christ?"

Is there anyone who would doubt that He was a great preacher?  If so, then let me take you to the well-known "Sermon on the Mount", of which we read in Matthew chapters 5,6 and 7, and let us listen, along with the other multitudes of people, as He expresses those words of wisdom, life and love that fell from His gentle lips.  Friend, you may talk about the preachers of today and yesteryear, but I would rather sit and listen at the feet of Jesus Christ for 5 minutes than to spend a lifetime listening to Dwight Moody, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Harry Ironside, Charles Stanley and Billy Graham.  Yes, Jesus Christ was a great preacher, but---"What think ye of Christ?"

Is there any question in your mind regarding the fact that Jesus Christ was a great physician?  If so, then let me remind you of how many times He healed the sick, cured the lepers, cast out demons, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, voice to the dumb, and even raised the dead.  Friend, there was no such thing as an incurable disease with the Lord Jesus Christ, and though He was the greatest preacher and physician who ever lived, He never preached a funeral service.  Yes, Jesus Christ was a great physician, but---"What think ye of Christ?"

Would anyone doubt that Jesus Christ was a great comforter?  If so, then turn to John's Gospel chapter 11, and look into that little home in Bethany, and watch as He binds up the wounded hearts of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, had died.  Friend, Jesus Christ was a husband to the widow, a father to the fatherless, and a friend to those who had no friends.  He was "the friend that sticketh closer than a brother."(Proverbs 18:24)  Yes, Jesus Christ was a great comforter, but----"What think ye of Christ?"

Now let's be honest about it, Friend.  Surely, you'll have to admit that Jesus Christ was a great teacher, a great preacher, a great physician and a great comforter; but now let's see if He was truly whom He professed to be---the Son of God, the Saviour of sinners.

Imagine, if you will, a courtroom scene as we call the various witnesses to the stand and ask them what they thought of Christ.  And I think it is only fair that we be impartial by asking for the testimony of those who knew Him best, both His enemies and His friends.

First of all, we'll call to the stand one of the Pharisees who hated Him, persecuted Him, cursed Him, and finally crucified Him.  Tell us, Sir-"What think ye of Christ?"  His answer comes forth in Luke 15:2, "This Man receiveth sinners".  Mr. Pharisee, that's the reason I love Him!  If He hadn't received sinners I'd be on my way to Hell today, or perhaps already there.  I'd be doomed and damned to a lost eternity.  Surely, you have more than that to charge Him with.  When He was being crucified, did you not shout in Luke 23:35- "He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God"?  Well Mr. Pharisee, for once you've told the truth.  Yes, He died to save others, but He could not save Himself, and others too.  He was the Just One dying for we, the unjust, so that He might bring us back into a new and proper relationship with our Creator, and His Father, God.  In  I John 4:14, we're told that "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Our next witness is Caiaphas, the chief priest and president of the Sanhedrin at the mock trial of Christ.  Tell us Caiaphas-"What think ye of Christ?"  Caiaphas accuses Him of being a blasphemer because Jesus Christ said in Luke 22:69-"Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven."  Poor Caiaphas, little did you know that what He said was true; for He was, and is, the Son of God, and He is sitting at the right hand of power, and someday soon, perhaps today, He will come forth in the clouds of Heaven to receive from the world His own, those who have accepted Him as their own and personal Saviour.  Remove Him from the right hand of God, and I'm left without a Great High Priest, a Mediator, an Advocate, and an Intercessor.  Take away the promise of His coming again, and I am, of all men, most miserable. But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Now we'll call Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea, to the stand and we'll ask him-"What think ye of Christ?"  Friend, three times over in Luke chapter 23, in verses 4,14 and 22, Pilate had to admit that he "could find no fault, nor cause of death, in this Man." But as Pilate stands there amidst the roaring mob, we see a messenger elbowing his way up to Pilate and handed him a note.  Pilate tears open the note, and with a pale face and trembling hands he reads these words-"Have thou nothing to do with this Just Man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him."  Now who wrote those words of warning and testimony?  It was none other than Pilate's wife.  Judge Pilate says that he could "find no fault in Him", and his wife says that Jesus Christ is a "Just Man".  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Let us call Judas Iscariot, a former disciple of Christ, to take the witness stand.  Tell me, Judas-"What think ye of Christ?"  You knew Him so well, and you were so trusted by the other disciples that you were in charge of their limited finances.  You saw Jesus Christ perform those many miracles, and you were there in Bethany when He called forth Lazarus from the grave, four days after his death.  Judas, it was you who led the soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane that fateful night, and then you betrayed Him with a kiss.  Yes, for 30 pieces of silver you sold Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

We ask Judas again,-"What think ye of Christ?"  Judas hangs his head in shame and refuses to answer, but in Matthew 27:3,4 we're told that he returned to the chief priests and elders to express his remorse by throwing the 30 pieces of silver to the floor and shouting-"I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood."  Friend, that is the testimony of the man who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ!  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

The next witness is the Centurion who was in charge of the soldiers at the crucifixion of Christ.  He was the one who gave the orders for the nails to be driven into the hands and feet of Christ.  He was the one who was assigned the task of carrying out the order of death.  He heard what Jesus Christ said while on the cross, and he watched Him suffer, bleed and die that agonizing death of crucifixion.  Tell me, Centurion-"What think ye of Christ?"  The centurion smites his breast and cries aloud in Mark 15:39-"Truly this Man was the Son of God."  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

If we were to call to the witness stand the repentant thief who was crucified with another thief on each side of Jesus Christ, we would read in Luke 23:41 what he would say in response to the question-"What think ye of Christ?"  Here's what he said-"we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss."  Yes, that one thief thought well of Christ.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

If it were possible to call the demons to the stand, and ask them-"What think ye of Christ?"  Do you know what they would say?  In Mark 5:7, we hear these words from the unclean spirit-"Jesus Thou Son of the most high God."  Again in Luke 4:34, we hear these words-"I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God."  Yes, the very demons believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  Friend, perhaps you think that you'll be in Heaven because you believe in one God; but we're told that even the demons believe in one God, yet they'll never be in Heaven.  We read these words in James 2:19-"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and tremble."  Yes, they not only believed in one God, but they also trembled!  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Now then, let's call to the stand some who were friends of the Lord Jesus Christ and, very briefly, we'll hear their responses to the question-"What think ye of Christ?"

First, we'll call to the witness stand, the "prince of preachers", John the Baptist.  His preaching was so powerful that he drew all Jerusalem and Judea into the wilderness to hear him.  We ask him-"What think ye of Christ?"  And in John 1:29 we read, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."  In verse 34 of that same chapter, John declares, "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."  That's what the forerunner had to say about the work and person of Jesus Christ.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

In that John chapter 1 we read of another man who had an opinion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his name was Nathaniel.  He was the one who questioned, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?"  Philip then took him to meet Jesus Christ and after being in His presence for a very few moments, we hear Nathaniel declare, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel." Yes, that's what Nathaniel thought of Jesus Christ.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Let's call as our next witness, Martha, a sister of Mary and Lazarus, three people whom the Lord loved very much.  You recall reading in John 11:3-5 of how Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus Christ saying, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.  When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."  Later on in John chapter 11, Jesus Christ reveals the glorious truth of resurrection, and we hear Martha exclaim in verse 27, "Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."  Following the subsequent resurrection of Lazarus from the grave , can you imagine the gratitude that filled the hearts of Mary, Martha and Lazarus that day?  Yes, they thought very highly of Jesus Christ!  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

The next witness is the Apostle Peter who was with the Lord Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and who was also with Him that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  This is the same Peter who denied Him with a curse, but Peter did know Him, didn't he?  In Matthew 16:15,16  the Lord asked the disciples, "whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."  On the Day of Pentecost it was Peter who declared, "God hath made this same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."  In Acts 4:12, Peter was addressing the Sanhedrin when he made that all-exclusive statement of divine truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ - "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

So highly did Peter think of Jesus Christ, that when the day of his own martyrdom came about, Peter requested to be crucified upside down.  He didn't even feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Our next witness is the beloved Disciple John.  He seemed to know more about Jesus Christ than any other mere man.  Matthew presents Christ as the Sovereign; Mark presents Him as the Servant; Luke presents Him as the Son of Man; but John takes up his pen, and with one bold stroke, he settles forever the question of His Divinity.  John tells us at the start of his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God."  Then in verse 14 of John chapter 1 we read, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."  

Later on in John 20:31 we read, "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."  Yes, John had so many good things to say about the person, purpose, power, passion and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Another witness we could call would be the Ethiopian eunuch, of whom we read in Acts chapter 8.  He was sitting in a chariot which was taking him from Jerusalem back to his home in Ethiopia.  The man was also reading from the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53 when the Holy Spirit motivated Philip, the evangelist, to join the eunuch and to explain the prophecies concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.  In verse 37, the eunuch boldly declares, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  He was then immediately and totally immersed in a nearby body of water, and then we read "and he went on his way rejoicing."  He, like every true Christian, was very happy because his soul was saved, and he was now on his way to Heaven.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

If we called Thomas, the so-called "Doubting Disciple", to the stand, what would he say?  He was the one who didn't believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, and had appeared before them.  When the Lord appeared again about a week later, He asked Thomas to place his finger into His nail-scarred hand, and to put his hand into the wounded side of the Lord.  It was then that Thomas answered and said unto Him, "My Lord, and my God."  Thomas had no more doubts after that.  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Still another witness comes forth, the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, a devout Jew and fervent persecutor of Christians.  He was saved one day while on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians.  My, what a change took place in his life after the interview he had with his "Lord."  In verse 11 we read that he prayed; in verse 18 he was baptized; and in verse 20 we're told, "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."  In Galatians 2:20 Paul testified, "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."  And he had a lot more to say about his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!  But tell me, Friend---"What think ye of Christ?"

Now let's leave the realm of earth and let's ask the Angels in Heaven what they think of Christ.  They saw Him in the bosom of the Father before the dawn of creation, and before the morning stars sang together, He was there.  They saw Him leave the throne above and come down to be born of a virgin, and cradled in a manger.  It was the Angel Gabriel who brought this message to the virgin called Mary in Luke 1:35, "That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."  It was also an angel that told the shepherds in Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."  But tell me, Friend--"What think ye of Christ?"

With the highest possible degree of reverence, we call another  witness to the stand, and it is GOD.  In Proverbs 8:30 we're told that in a past eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ was "daily His delight".  When Jesus Christ came up out of the waters of baptism in the river Jordan, we hear God's voice from Heaven declare in Matthew 3:17, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." Friend, if God is well pleased with His Son, then why shouldn't we be pleased too?

On the Mount of Transfiguration, in Matthew 17:5, we again hear the voice of God say, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; HEAR YE HIM."

Since God admonishes us to "Hear Ye Him", let's listen to what Jesus Christ says in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  Friend, there is no salvation for your soul apart from you having faith in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for you at Calvary's cross.  Look at it logically, as well as scripturally.  If you and I could be saved by our so-called "good works", "religious rituals", ethics, morals, culture, education, or anything else that would either merit or inherit eternal bliss in Heaven, then please answer this question - "Why did the Lord Jesus Christ die that shameful, painful, cursed, and ignominious death of Calvary's cross?"

The word of God makes it very clear in Ephesians 2:8,9  where we're told - "FOR  BY  GRACE  ARE  YE  SAVED  THROUGH  FAITH;  AND THAT  NOT OF  YOURSELVES:  IT  IS  THE  GIFT  OF  GOD:  NOT  OF  WORKS  LEST  ANY  MAN  SHOULD  BOAST."

That brings us to the last person to be called to the witness stand, and guess who that is -- Y-O-U !  Yes, YOU are on the witness stand today, whether you realize it or not.  And YOU must take a position either FOR or AGAINST the Lord Jesus Christ.  Neutral, you cannot be!  In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, "I call Heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

Friend, your soul's eternal destiny will be determined by how you honestly answer this very solemn question - "What think ye of Christ?"  So Friend, I plead with you, in love for your soul, and in view of eternity, to acknowledge that you're the sinner for whom the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, then simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour, and according to God, Who cannot lie, you'll be saved for time - and, thank God, you'll be saved for all eternity.  AND  REMEMBER,  MY FRIEND,  THIS  IS  FOR  ETERNITY!

Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk