What Think Ye of Christ?
Message by: Leroy Surface

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?  And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.  Matthew 22:41-46

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:15-16

“What think ye of Christ?”  This is the question Jesus asked of the Pharisees less than one week before His death on the cross.  We notice He did not say, “What think ye of me?”  He well knew what they thought of Him.  The entirety of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew is devoted to Jesus’ condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees, which he gave that same day.  The Pharisees hated Jesus and plotted his death, while all the time they “longed” for “Christ, The Messiah,” to come and deliver Israel from their enemies.  To us who believe, “Jesus” and “Christ” are synonymous terms and should never be separated in our understanding.  To the Pharisee, however, there was no connection at all between Jesus, and Christ, or, as it is in the Hebrew, The Messiah.  The Pharisee, just as the modern Jew of today does, longed for the appearing of Messiah.  They had mental pictures of how it would be “when Messiah comes,” and Jesus did not fit in any of them.  Some days before, Jesus had asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13-14)  They answered, “Some say John the Baptist.  Some say Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  Jesus knew there were others who said He was a “devil,” and  that He cast out devils by the “prince of devils” (Matthew 9:34).  On the occasion of our text today, however, Jesus is asking the question, not concerning Himself, but concerning Messiah, “whose son is he?”  Their answer was simply, “The Son of David.”

“The Son of David” was a title reserved for and given only to the Jewish Messiah.  Oh how angry the scribes and Pharisees became when they heard the cry of the sick, lame, and the blind, calling to Jesus, “thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Just the previous day Jesus had driven the moneychangers out of the Temple. Afterwards the sick, the blind, and the lame came into the Temple and Jesus healed them.  The little children cried to Jesus, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  The chief priests and scribes were “sore displeased.”  “Hearest thou what these say,” they demanded of Jesus?  “Yes,” He answered, “have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”  Earlier the same day Jesus had entered into Jerusalem riding on a young donkey as the multitudes spread palm leaves in his path and worshiped, crying “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  As the “praise” of the people was “perfected,” even so the “hatred” of the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees was “perfected” against Jesus.  They were plotting His death even as Jesus asked them the question, “What think ye of Christ?

“Whose Son is He?”

We must understand at this point in the message, that “Christ” and “Messiah” are synonymous.  “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah,” which is the Hebrew word for “The Anointed One.”  The Jews do not believe that their Messiah, whom they long for, is the Son of God.  Several years ago, probably in the eighties, some in the Jewish community were placing ads in the newspaper and even purchasing billboard ads declaring, “Messiah is coming soon!”  I remember the excitement that was stirred in many Christians because they thought even the Jews were looking for the second coming of Jesus.  They were not.  The man whom many Jews thought was their Messiah was an old Rabbi in New York.  They waited for him to declare that he was, in fact, “The Messiah.”  He had never claimed, to my knowledge, that he was “Messiah,” but neither would he deny it when questioned.  The old Rabbi finally passed from this life as the manner of all men is, without shaming himself with a “messianic” claim.  Israel still prays for their Messiah to come.  They believe him to be a direct descendant of David, hence the title “The Son of David.”  He will be their deliverer; he will deliver them from their enemies.  He will bring peace on earth.  He will bring an “end to sin.”  The Kingdom of God will be established in Jerusalem where he will rule with righteousness for the meek of the earth.  The government will be on his shoulders, and will bring a cessation of all war and strife.  We could go on and on.  The parallels between what the Jew believes “The Messiah” will bring, and what the Christian believes Jesus will do at His return are many because we both look to and believe the same prophets.  Yet, for all the similarities, we are not looking for the same event.  The Christian looks for the second coming of Jesus Christ to rule with His saints for a thousand years.  We know that He is the Son of God; that He sits even now at the right hand of God, and will continue there until the day of His glorious second appearing.  The Jew, on the other hand, has waited another two thousand years for the “promise” to be fulfilled to them.  It has been two thousand years during which they have suffered hatred and rejection by the nations as no other people in the history of this planet, but they yet pray for, and patiently wait for the appearing of their Messiah.  They do not look for the “Son of God,” but for the “Son of David.”  They look for a “man” that will solve all their problems as a nation.

Something over thirty years ago “Calvary Outreach Church” was located in Houston just off the corner of Jensen Dr. and Hurley St.  On day, as we were doing some remodeling on the church building, the manager of a shoe store next door to the church came to see me.  I saw the tears in his eyes as he began to speak to me.  “I have been watching this church,” he said.  “I have watched the lives of the people, and I know there is something different about them.  I want to be saved.  I want to have what I see in the people of this church.”  My, you can imagine how it thrilled me to hear this.  Here was a man of the world that had seen the difference that Jesus makes in the believer.  He wanted what he saw.  I had never seen a man any more sincere than this man was.  I placed my arm on his shoulder and said, “Let’s just go into the church, down to the altar, and God will save you.”  The tears increased to a flood down his face.  I felt the presence of almighty God.  Here was a soul that was about to be snatched from the clutches of the devil.  As we walked down the aisle of that church, I told him to simply repent and ask God’s forgiveness, and to receive Jesus as his saviour.  Suddenly he stopped walking.  “Can’t God save me?” he asked.  “Of course God can save you.  He will save you just as soon as you repent and believe upon His Son Jesus.”  “I’m much to intelligent to believe that” he said.  “Believe what,” I responded.  “I’m to intelligent to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” he answered.  “You must believe that Jesus is the Son of God or you can’t be saved,” I told him.  “Why can’t God save me?  I want God to save me, He’s God, can’t He do everything,” was his cry as the tears poured down his face.  Again I say I had never seen anyone any more sincere in my lifetime, but I had to tell him, as much as it broke my heart to tell him, that God Almighty Himself could not save his soul without His Son Jesus Christ.  Nothing could convince this man.  There was no reason to pray.  One of the hardest things I have suffered in this life was to see that man sadly walk away, hopeless and lost.  I could do nothing.  “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?”

A number of years passed.  There was a man who worked for me on a maintenance contract I had in those days.  He was a good worker, profitable to the business, but he was also an alcoholic.  He was not the kind that had to drink every day.  In fact, he would “swear off” of alcohol repeatedly, but about every six weeks or two months he would just disappear for about a week.  During that time he would never see a sober moment until his money ran out.  When he returned he would be very repentant, swearing that if he had just one more chance he would never drink again.  This man was more than just an employee to me, he was also kin, and someone I knew and loved like a brother.  One day, after he had been gone for about a week, he called me on the phone.  Could I come get him?  “What’s the problem,” I asked?  He was in a bar in downtown Houston.  He was afraid to come out on the streets because the police would arrest him for public intoxication if they saw him.  I drove downtown, went into the bar and brought him out.  As we drove to my place I saw that he was sorrowful for the condition he was in, so I took the occasion to talk to him about his need for salvation.  “You need to pray to God for deliverance” I began.  “Leroy,” he responded, “I pray everyday.  There is never a day that goes by that I don’t pray to God to help me quit this drinking.”  “I don’t understand that,” I said, “Jesus promised that anything we would ask in his name, He would do it if we simply believed.”  As he answered, I knew I was hearing from that same spirit of unbelief that had destroyed another soul years before.  “I’m far too intelligent a man to believe that” he said.  “What do you mean,” I asked?  “I’m to intelligent to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”  I was shocked.  This man had been raised in Sunday school.  He had sung the sweet children’s songs about Jesus.  Now, a man in his early thirties, bound by sin and Satan, he was “far too intelligent” to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  I didn’t see him much after that.  He has passed from this life, a victim of cancer.  The “preacher” said he was ready; I do hope he was.  “What think ye of Christ?  Whose son is he?”

What Think Ye?

The answer the Pharisees gave Jesus was simply, “The son of David.”  Jesus brought their attention to Psalms 110:1, saying, “How then doth David in spirit call him Lord?”  The scripture tells us that from that time no one dared to ask Jesus further questions.  The Pharisees knew that many among the multitudes believed that Jesus was the “messiah, the son of David.”  They knew that Jesus had repeatedly answered to the title, “thou son of David,” by healing the sick, the lame, and the blind.  Even though Jesus’ favorite title for himself was “the son of man,” the implication given in His questions concerning whose son Christ is, was that He was much more.  “If Christ is the son of David, why does David call Him Lord?”  Somehow the Pharisees knew that Jesus was speaking of himself. 

Only weeks before, Jesus had clearly asked his disciples “Who do you say that I am?”  It was Peter that answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Oh how blessed Peter was to have this knowledge.  No one had told him who Jesus was.  Jesus said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).  Others had told Peter that Jesus was John the Baptist; some had said that He was Elijah; still others, Jeremiah.  The issue is not what others think, but what do you as an individual think.  Peter knew who Jesus was.  The Father in heaven had revealed it to him. 

The Pharisees were looking for “Christ” to come, and He was standing in their midst.  They did not know who Christ was.  To them He was still a mystical figure yet to come.  Many different things were believed about “Christ,” whoever He would be.  Reason might tell them that Christ is more than the Son of David if they simply believe what David himself said.  Reason may change your thinking about mystical future events, but it could never convince these Pharisees that this Jesus of Nazareth was in fact their Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, and their Lord.  Nothing short of a revelation from Heaven could ever persuade them of this.  Less than a week later the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Saducees would come together to try this Jesus of Nazareth in court for blasphemy.  The question at the trial; “Art thou the Son of God?”

It was seventeen years ago that I first met “Mary.”  She visited our church because she had heard that someone had been “delivered” from drugs at a revival meeting.  She had been both an alcoholic and drug addict for over twenty years.  Mary was a woman in her mid thirties at the time.  I soon discovered that she was not only “addicted” to alcohol and drugs, but she was also “possessed” by a demonic spirit.  Mary could not even “say” the name of Jesus.  Before praying for her deliverance, I had told her to lift up her hands and ask Jesus to save and deliver her.  “Just call on Jesus,” I told her.  When I urged her on to simply say “Jesus,” I saw a physical transformation take place.  She first began to choke, then her throat swelled and became hard, and she went into a trance, like a statue, for about ten minutes.  During the weeks that followed numerous witnesses saw this unclean spirit take control of her.  It would speak through her, sometimes threatening to destroy her life.  Sometimes it would be so vicious as to physically attack me as I prayed.  In every case however, simply to speak to it in the name of Jesus would bind its activity, but we were unable to cast it out of her at that time.  After a few months Mary moved out of state to care for her dying mother.  It was five or six years before Mary moved back to our area and once again attended our church.  She had been in several “counseling centers” for her drug and alcohol problem.  She was very “religious.”  Her salvation had been confirmed in the “Christian” counseling centers as well as in local churches in her hometown.  She was going to Heaven; she only had a “problem” to work through.  Mary still could not “say” the name of Jesus.  One day I asked her, “Who is the Son of God,” and she answered, “Christ.”  “Why can’t you say Jesus,” I asked her?  “I just can’t see that” was her answer.  I soon discovered that Mary had other problems.  She didn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  She didn’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.  She read it continually, for hours a day, but to her, it was just a “book.”  During the five or six years Mary was out of state, I had begun to preach the “cross” and the “blood” of Jesus; that Jesus died on the cross to free us from sin, and to sanctify us entirely by His blood.  I purposed that I would never “wrestle” with a devil again if this gospel were true.  One day Mary came to me with her Bible and said, “What you are preaching is in this book.”  I asked her if she was ready to believe and be saved.  She answered, “No, but if this book is the word of God, then you are preaching the truth.” 

It was in August 1993 that Mary moved back to our area and came to church.  She came to every service and argued continually that it could not be the way I was preaching.  She knew she was saved; she only had a problem.  During a period of less than four months, all her “confidence” was swept away.  She lost all hope and became suicidal.  It was the “gospel” of Jesus Christ that tore down every prop, and took every false hope from her.  We prayed continuously for Mary for a several week period when it appeared the “adversary” would be able to destroy her.  It was one week before Christmas, 1993 that Mary came to see us one day.  “Leroy,” she said, “something happened while you were preaching yesterday.”  “What happened, Mary?”  “I don’t know, it felt physical, but I don’t believe it was.”  “What happened, Mary,” I asked again.  “You were preaching just like you always do,” she said, “when suddenly something leapt inside me, and I knew that I believed.”  I was suspicious.  Mary had been in the altar before, but in this service there had not been an altar call given.  “What did you believe, Mary?”  She answered, beginning with these words, “I knew that I believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God…” Suddenly I believed.  I looked at Sister Surface, and the tears were already flowing down her cheeks.  Never in the seven years we had known Mary had she been able to speak of Jesus Christ.  We knew she was free from Satan’s bondage.  “I knew that I believed that He died for my sins,” she continued, “and arose from the dead the third day.  I know that my old man was crucified with Him, and I am quickened with him in His resurrection.  I know that I am saved, and I know that I am free.”  Her first statement of faith was like a doctrinal statement.  We wept and rejoiced together for some time.  Every demonic spirit had fled.  Every addiction was broken.  For all the years I had known Mary previously her language had been “street language,” every sentence filled with vulgar four letter words.  She could not even cover it up at any time.  Such total bondage to Satan I had never seen, but from the moment she believed, never again did anything “unclean” come from her lips.  Mary became one of the brightest lights and witnesses for Jesus Christ I have ever known.  No one escaped Mary.  She carried the “gospel” everywhere she went until the Lord took her home in October of 2001.  She knew she was dying within twelve hours of her death.  For whatever reason her body simply began to shut down.  Two by two her family and friends were allowed to see Mary for the last time.  Many of them did not know Jesus, but to all who came she preached the gospel until within twenty minutes of her death.  Her smile filled the room; she was going home with the one who died for her.  Her pastor in northern Michigan was the last to see her.  Her encouragement to him was, “You must preach the gospel.  They must hear the gospel.”  He said, after her death, “I hope that I can die the way she died.”  Let me say this.  Anyone who “believes what she believed, will also die as she died.”  Death has no sting for those who know the truth that makes free.  “What think ye of Christ?”

Jesus Christ, The Son of God

Three crosses stand at the place called “Golgotha.”  What a horrible place it is.  The meaning of the Aramaic word “Golgotha” is “skull,” or, “The place of a skull.”  In the Greek of the New Testament it is called “Calvary.”  It was there that the Roman government executed condemned murderers and thieves by “crucifixion.”  It was there that Jesus Christ, the Son of God suffered and died between two thieves.  Matthew 27:40 tells us those that passed by reviled him, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  Satan had used this tactic three and a half years before in the wilderness, seeking to destroy him; “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from thence (from the pinnacle of the Temple).”  Now he “tempted” Jesus to save Himself.  In either case there would have been no redemption for man. 

Those that taunted Jesus to come down from the cross if he was the Son of God did raise a good issue that must be answered.  If Jesus was just another man, we know why he was on the cross.  He was convicted of blasphemy, and sentenced to death.  He was not only tied, but also nailed to the cross.  No man ever escaped the death of the cross.  Even an innocent man, falsely accused and condemned (as Jesus was) could not save himself from the cross.  The “taunters” thought they further proved that Jesus was not the Son of God.  Surely, if He were the Son of God, He would come down from the cross.  Even the chief priests, scribes and elders said they would believe Him if He would come down from the cross (Matthew 27:42).  Surely this was reason enough for Jesus to “prove” who He was, if He was the Son of God.  In fact, every “believer” should answer this question for their own sakes; “If Jesus was the Son of God, why was He on that cross between two thieves?”  If you can correctly answer this question, you will know the truth of the gospel that frees the believer from sin. 

The most frequent answer I receive if I ask “believers” why Jesus died on the cross is this; “Jesus died on the cross to show how much He loved us.”  This answer, although common, is not sufficient.  Do you that are parents love your children?  Of course you do.  You would probably say “even enough to die for them.”  If I were to tell you to “show” them how much you loved them, would you go out and “kill” yourself.  Of course not!  It would serve no purpose to do so.  Neither would Jesus.  In John 10:17-18, Jesus was speaking of His physical “life” when He said, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.”  In that Jesus is the Son of God, Pilate could not take His life.  Not even the powerful Roman army could have taken His life.  Jesus told Peter, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54).  Why didn’t Jesus call for the angels to deliver Him if He is the Son of God?  There must have been a “purpose,” beyond a “show” of love, and there was.

If the sufferings and death of Jesus were only a “show” of love to us, it would have done nothing whatever for those He died for.  We would still be in our sin, but the “intent” of His death would be that we would see how much He loved us and determine to love and live for Him.  This, in fact, is as much as many see in the “purpose” of Calvary.  The truth is, there was no other way to redeem us.  Had there been another way, Jesus would have taken it, but there was no other way.  In Matthew 26:39, Jesus was speaking of the “cursed” death of the cross when He prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  There was no other way.  The “cross” was the Father’s “will” for Jesus, and the issue at hand was our redemption.  In Hebrews 10:9 it is revealed that Jesus told His Father, “Lo, I come to do thy ‘will’ O God.”  The next verse, Hebrews 10:10 continues, “By the which ‘will’ we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus’ death at Calvary was far more than a “show of love;” it was for our “justification,” and our “sanctification.”  He took our sin in his own body and nailed it to the cross.  “What think ye of Christ?”

Jesus Christ is Lord

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11

If the “son of man,” Jesus of Nazareth, is also “The Son of God,” then it is obvious that He is also “The Lord” of both Heaven and earth.  Paul begins his letter to the Romans this way; “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-4).  Let us check the main points of this scripture.  “God’s Son…Jesus Christ…our Lord…made of the seed of David…declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead.”  It’s all there!  The resurrection proves it!  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  God has made Him to be both “Lord” and “Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Paul tells us in our text that it is because Jesus “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” that God “hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.”  Listen closely to this “word” from God that was given through the prophet Isaiah.

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.  I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.  Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.  In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory. Isaiah 45:22-25

Everything God “swore by Himself,” He has invested in the “name” of 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” (Acts 4:12).  “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). 

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12

Jesus Christ is Lord!  It is to Him that every knee shall bow.  Paul said, according to the text, “of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”  You will notice, however, the word “things” is in italics every time it is used.  This means it was not in the original translation.  Paul was not speaking of “things.”  What he actually said was this; “…at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth…” It is so! 

In Heaven: all the holy angels “bow” before Jesus.  Michael, Gabriel, the Cherubims, the Seraphims; they all bow their knees to Jesus and confess with their tongues that He is Lord.  It is with great joy that they worship around His throne.  Only God the Father is the exception (I Corinthians 15:27), for it is to His glory that every knee bows to the name of Jesus. 

Under the earth: the spiritual abode of fallen angels.  Notice it is “at the name of Jesus” that they bow.  They do not willingly do so, but Jesus Christ is Lord!  They must bow their knee at His name.  He has already conquered them at Calvary.  He is the victor.  He “always causeth us to triumph” over them in all things (II Corinthians 2:14) and always gives the victory (I Corinthians 15:57) when holy men and women of God speak in His precious name.  They not only bow their knee, but they must also confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord.

In earth:  I have saved this portion until last, because it is “in earth” that we find the only “being” with free will, and that is man.  In this life, God will never force man to bow before Jesus Christ and confess that He is Lord.  Yet, God has sworn by Himself that “every” knee shall bow.  If that unconditional surrender is not made in this life, there yet remains the judgment day when every man will give account to God.  The Apostle John spoke of that “judgment” as follows.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15

What an awful day that will be, when every man, both small and great, will stand before God.  The horror of that day is beyond description.  The scripture says, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  Such is the end of all who refuse the Saviour, Jesus Christ, in this lifetime.  Vast multitudes of people who have refused to bow their knee to Jesus in this life, will bow, and their tongues will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This will be their last action before being cast alive into the lake of fire.

Mohammad said in the Koran, “Say, if God had a son, I would be the first to bow and worship him.”  Look for it!  Mohammad will bow before Jesus Christ at the judgment, and his tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Sadly, it will be too late for Mohammad.  There may be sincere Muslims reading this message.  Mohammad told you to “say” the same thing; “If God had a son, I will be the first to bow and worship him.”  Do it now, in this life.  If Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He will reveal Himself to you if you will call on His name.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Bow before Him in this life, and confess before men that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Every knee shall bow at the name of Jesus, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  “What think ye of Christ?  Whose Son is He?”

“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.”