The moment of truth had come.
The Savior, after proclaiming His divinity, had seen many of His disciples abandon Him.
He had told them, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever" (John 6:51), and added that "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:65.)
Maybe those who "walked no more with him" (John 6:66) were comfortable only thinking of the Savior as a great teacher and not as the Son of God and the Redeemer of all mankind.
So, it was under those circumstances that Jesus turned to the twelve and asked them, "Will ye also go away?" (John 6:67.)
The answer given by Simon Peter is as instructive as it is profound:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:68-69.)
That response is as true today as it was when the Savior walked the earth. It particularly is noteworthy to reflect on it this day, the start of the 171st Annual General Conference.
What a marvelous opportunity for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all others who wish to listen to be able to receive instruction from the Lord Jesus Christ through His servants.
How blessed are members of the Church of Jesus Christ in today's world to be able to hear the counsel of living prophets and apostles and other Church leaders during these extraordinary semiannual gatherings.
Because of the wonders of modern technology, this divine counsel can be repeated often via various recording devices. And, of course, the written reports will appear in the May issue of Ensign.
In addition, there will be a comprehensive summary in next week's Church News and full texts of the conference talks will be posted online. (deseretnews.com.)
As the Lord noted in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, "whether it be by my voice or the voice of my servants it is the same."
And His servants will utter the words that the Lord would have us hear at this particular time, for it is His Church.
As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated during the opening session of the April 1998 general conference:
"We are met to worship the Lord, to declare His divinity and His living reality. We are met to reaffirm our love for Him and our knowledge of His love for us.
"And so, my beloved brothers and sisters, let us rejoice together now as we celebrate with appreciation the wondrous doctrines and practices which have come as a gift from the Lord in this most glorious time of His work. This is the Easter season, when we remember His glorious resurrection, of which we bear witness. Let us ever be grateful for these most precious gifts and privileges and act well our part as those who love the Lord. I invite you to listen to the words which will go forth from this pulpit, to be delivered by those who have been called as your servants."
Appropriately, some of the 170th Semiannual General Conference last October focused on the magnificent new Conference Center. What President Hinckley proclaimed about the Conference Center not only reaffirmed prophecy but showed how it applied to our day:
"As I contemplate this marvelous structure, adjacent to the temple, there comes to mind the great prophetic utterance of Isaiah:
" 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
" 'And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' (Isaiah 2:2-3.)
"I believe that prophecy applies to the historic and wonderful Salt Lake Temple. But I believe also that it is related to this magnificent hall. For it is from this pulpit that the law of God shall go forth, together with the word and testimony of the Lord," President Hinckley said.
The words that are spoken at general conference by President Hinckley and other servants of the Lord will likewise enrich the hearts and souls of all who are willing to heed them.
These words won't be based on the whims of man but on what the Lord would have us hear at this particular time.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Church and the Lord is directing it. That testimony will be reaffirmed many times during conference sessions.