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WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. This day was created to make us think about our mothers. I am glad that we have this day. But what I have to say today can help mothers everywhere in the world, whether your country has “Mother’s Day” or not. Every one of us has a mother. Today we should think about her, and thank God for her.
My own mother was very important to me. She died in 1997, but she still lives in my memory and in my thoughts. Churchill once said, “My greatest teacher was my mother.” I could say the same thing. She molded and shaped my thoughts in many ways. She taught me to love books and to enjoy reading them. She taught me that everyone is equal, regardless of their race. Long before Dr. King said it, my mother taught me not to judge a man by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. Her favorite hero was Abraham Lincoln. My last conversation with her was about Lincoln. She said, “He was a wonderful man, Robert! He freed the slaves!” I know they mock him today. But a lot of old Hippies mock everybody, don’t they? I’d like to see any of them do half of what he did! When one of your college professors mocks Lincoln, tell him that! “I’d like to see you do half the good he did!” But be prepared for him to lower your grade!
Mother taught me not to be afraid to ask forgiveness when I was bad. But she also taught me not to be afraid to stand up and speak out against things that are wrong. Someone who knows me well might say, “Why, that’s a description of who you are!” Yes, my mother was my greatest teacher in many important things. She even taught me not to believe in superstitious things, and to beware of religious fads and strange doctrines. Yet my mother always believed in God.
But Mother did not teach me how to become a real Christian. She herself did not become a Christian until she was eighty years old. It was only then that my mother trusted Jesus and was saved and cleansed from all sin by His precious Blood. I will always be thankful that she was saved at eighty. But I wish she had been saved when I was a little boy. I had to wait for many long years before she came to know Jesus Christ Himself. She was a sweet lady, but she was not saved.
If you have been brought to this service by one of your children, you should be very thankful. You should not be angry or upset with them. They brought you here tonight because they love you! They love you so very much that they want you to know Jesus in a new and living way. The greatest gift a child can give his mother is to share Jesus with her.
When I was in college I had to attend all my classes at night. I had a full-time job in the daytime. The last job I had before graduating from college was in the mail room of the Department of Water Resources, in downtown Los Angeles. Part of that job required me to drive out to Palmdale every afternoon to deliver mail from the downtown office. This was before the big freeway was built. It was a long drive back then, up over the mountains and through the desert. In the spring orange poppy flowers and blue Lupins grew along the road. I knew how much my mother loved those wildflowers. Nearly every day I would take an empty Coke bottle with me. I would stop along the road and pick poppies and Lupins and put them in water in the Coke bottle. At night I would take them to Mother. Her eyes were as blue as the Lupins she loved. When I gave her those flowers in an old bottle her face would light up with happiness. Last Friday I went to her grave and put blue flowers on it. I could see her smiling face in my mind.
It seems like a small thing to give a few flowers to your mother. She deserves so much more than that. But the greatest gift of all is to help your mother know Jesus. Jesus is a gift that will bless her for all time and all eternity.
If Mother is not a born again Christian it is partly because she does not know who Jesus is, and why He is all-important. The Pharisees were the best people in Israel. In fact, they were the best people in the whole world. They believed the Bible. They believed in God. They believed in angels. They believed in Satan. They lived clean lives. They had good families. Divorce was almost unheard of among them. They fasted every week, and prayed to God every day. But they were like my sweet mother, in the first eighty years of her life. They did not know Jesus as their Saviour.
Jesus was right there with them. But they did not know Him. I had an uncle named Robert Porter Elliott. Everyone called him Porter. He was a tough old GI, a soldier in World War II and in the Korean War. I lived with him in the same house for about two years. But I was always afraid of him. He hardly ever spoke. He came in from work with a scowl on his face. He didn’t speak – hardly at all. He would sit in a chair alone, reading a book and smoking one cigarette after the other. Then he would go to bed in silence. If you did something wrong, he would bark at you. I was afraid to go near him or even speak to him.
My mother brought Porter and his wife to church with her a few times to hear me preach. This was almost forty years ago when our church first started. Then Porter and his wife stopped coming. A week later I was shocked to see him coming through the door of the church by himself. He started coming every Sunday – all by himself. His wife tried to stop him, but she couldn’t. He said to her, “This is something for me. I want this.” I baptized him that summer in the ocean at Santa Monica. He was as happy as a little boy! I had never seen him like that – not once! Now, for the first time in his life, he was a happy man! I look forward to seeing Uncle Porter in Heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
I told you about my uncle for a reason. I had known him all my life. But I didn’t really know him at all! Underneath his tough soldier’s face was a person I never knew. Could it be that you don’t know Jesus any more than I knew my uncle? Could it be that you have only known about Jesus without really knowing Him as a living person in your life?
That’s how it was with the Pharisees. They knew about Jesus. They knew that He healed the sick. They knew that He raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. They knew He opened the eyes of a man born blind. They knew all those facts about Jesus. But they did not know Jesus Himself.
Jesus asked them, “What think ye of Christ?” They couldn’t answer Him. They stopped trying.
“And no man was able to answer him a word, neither [did anyone dare to] ask him any more questions” (Matthew 22:46, KJV, NASV).
It was not long before they arrested Him. They spit in His face and beat Him with their hands. They dragged Him before the Roman governor. They screamed, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The governor had Him flogged across the back until He was near death. The Roman soldiers pushed a crown made out of thorns onto His head. They made Him carry a cross to the place of execution. They nailed His hands and feet to that wooden cross. They screamed and yelled at Him as He suffered on that cross. And there He died. The Roman centurion fell on his knees before the Cross and said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Tradition tells us that this rough soldier became one of the first Christians. They put His dead body in a tomb and sealed it. They had Roman soldiers guard the tomb. He was dead. They thought they would never again have to deal with the question, “What think ye of Christ?” But on Easter Sunday morning Jesus rose bodily, flesh and bones, from the dead.
Nearly two thousand years have passed. And yet every one of us is still confronted with that question, “What think ye of Christ?” What do you think about Christ?
Some people say he was an impostor. But how could an impostor rise from the dead? Some say He was only a teacher. But how could a teacher rise from the dead? Many people say He was only a prophet. But how could a prophet rise from the dead? The Bible says that the Roman centurion was right. “Truly this was the Son of God.” But, more than that, He is the Son of God – He is the “only begotten Son” of God! He came, He lived, He died on the Cross, He rose bodily from the dead. He did all that to save us from our sins. The Bible says,
“God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).
The Apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). He paid for our sins on the Cross. His Blood can cleanse us from all sin. He is alive right now, on the right hand of God the Father. You can come to Him and trust Him. And when you do, you will be saved. He saved me the moment I trusted Him. He saved my precious mother the moment she trusted Him alone. He saved my uncle Porter the moment he trusted Him. And Jesus will save you the very minute you come to Him and trust Him. An old hymn says it well,
Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now.
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.
(“Only Trust Him” by John H. Stockton, 1813-1877).
You may say, “I do trust Jesus. I have trusted Him all my life.” I would have said the same thing before I was saved. But I was really trusting my own goodness. I was a “good boy” – at least in my own eyes. I tried very hard to be good. And people would say I was good. But my heart told me I was sinful. I was a sinner, and I couldn’t be good enough to please God. But I kept on trusting myself – that I could make myself good enough. But it didn’t work! I had no inner peace, no matter how much good I did! Then one day Jesus came to me and saved me. I trusted Him instead of myself. He cleansed me from all sin with His Holy Blood – and I was saved!
Saved! Saved! My sins are all pardoned,
My guilt is all gone!
Saved! Saved! I am saved by the blood
Of the crucified one!
(“Saved by the Blood” by S. J. Henderson, 1902).
You may not understand it all. You may not know very much about the Bible. But you will be forgiven of all your sin, and you will be saved for all time – and throughout the ages of eternity – the very moment you put your trust in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God! May you trust Him soon! Amen.
(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 22:41-46.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus” (by Charles F. Weigle, 1871-1966).