When a friend of mine decided to clear out all her Mormon stuff from her home she gave a lot of her accumulated papers to me. One of them was a photocopied page that contained a “Statement by President David O. McKay given in June, 1965 in President McKay’s Hotel Utah apartment to a group of brethren in the Physical Facilities Department of the Church.” According to this, Mr. McKay said,
“Let me assure you, Brethren, that some day you will have a personal Priesthood interview with the Savior, Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which He will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.
“First, He will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife…
“Second, He will…request information about your relationship to each and every child.
“Third, he will want to know what you have personally done with the talents you were given in the pre-existence.
“Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your Church assignments…
“Fifth,…if you were honest in all your dealings.
“Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country and the world.”
All of these are good questions about how one lives life, good things to think about. Yet as I read this, I thought about the biblical accounts we have of Jesus interacting with His people. I can’t seem to recall any “Priesthood interviews” that Jesus conducted while He was walking among us, but there are many examples of Jesus asking His followers personal and probing questions.
Interestingly, virtually every personal question that I found in the books of Matthew and John asked by Jesus (excluding questions found in parables or asked rhetorically of a crowd) loosely fall into 3 categories:
- Questions about personal faith
- Questions about understanding/accepting Jesus’ teachings
- Questions about loving and trusting Jesus Himself
These are some examples:
When the disciples were frightened by the storm that was tossing their boat to and fro Jesus asked, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Jesus asked a similar question of Peter as he tried to walk on water: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31. See also John 1:49-50, 5:6-9, 16:29-33, 20:28-29).
When Jesus met with Nicodemus in private, Jesus explained that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. Addressing Nicodemus’ confusion, Jesus asked, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?… If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:10, 12). After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet He asked, “Do you understand what I have done to you?” (John 13:12. See also John 6:60-69, 14:8-9).
When two blind men begged Jesus to restore their sight, Jesus asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). When Martha was grieving over he brother’s death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26. See also John 9:35-38, 14:10, 20:14-16).
Probably the most well known probing questions Jesus asked in the New Testament are these:
- “But who do you say that I am?” in Matthew 16:15; and
- “Do you love me?” in John 21:15, 16 and 17
Jesus’ personal questions to His followers dovetail perfectly with His teachings. When Jesus was asked to single out the greatest commandment He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). On another occasion Jesus was asked, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” He answered, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:28-29).
While God calls us to serve each other, and honorably serve Him in caring for the responsibilities He’s given us, Jesus’ main concern was–and is–how we respond to Him. Do we have faith in Him (“Why are you afraid”)? Do we seek to understand and accept His teachings (“Do you understand what I have done”)? Do we love and trust Him (“Do you love me”)? This is the personal interview with the Savior we all have ahead of us. May our answers be pleasing in His sight (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.