Friday, November 20, 2009

John 18:33-37 - Sermon - The Voice of Truth

John 18:33-37
The Voice of Truth

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
John 1: 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John l4:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”
John 3:21 He who does what is true, comes to the light.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
John 8:31-32 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The word truth shows up in the Gospel of John 14 times. I just shared just 7 of those places. The Gospel of John was written for the Greeks in the Biblical times. If you remember last week we learned that Mark was written for the Jews in the Jewish/Roman war. Luke is known for writing his Gospel for the Gentiles and Matthew wrote his for the Jews. When you place all four together you get four perspectives for four audiences. John is talking to the Greeks. These were the people who put on togas and stood around and talked philosophy all day. The Greeks had come through with some great thinkers like Socrates and Plato. They were on the search for the truth. Then about 400 years after Plato comes the Truth and we know can answer the question that Pilate asks, “What is truth?”

A child goes through a couple stages in life when they learn what truth is. For the beginning of their lives the truth we learn is from our parents. What they know as truth we take as truth. Then there is revolt. Suddenly the child then starts to see what his peers or teachers see as truth and they take that truth over their parent’s truth. We call these children, teenagers. Then as a child matures he learns to take responsibility for the truth he believes in and will accept or reject the truth he has learned.

Another way of putting it is like a person’s allegiance to an ACC team. The child grew up in a household that likes NC State. The child roots with his father and mother for NC State as she grows up. Then Middle School starts to hit and the child finds out that there is Wake Forest, UNC, Duke, VT, Maryland, and all the other schools in the conference. She learns her friends root for other teams and to impress them she starts to root for Wake instead. Then as she grows up goes to college she starts to learn about these schools, their coaches, and their histories. Finally at 25 she makes her pick and starts to root for the team she feels is the best team in the ACC. That is the team she then teaches her children and the cycle starts again.

Whether we know it or not we all ask the question Pilate asks, “What is truth.” We go on a journey in our lives to find out that means for us in our lives. Some people think that only science can give us the truth because they have a method of providing empirical data to support their claims. They prove their hypothesis with facts and thus it has to be truth. Yet do we find truth relevant to life in these scientific truths? Do we find what we need to understand the world around us when proof cannot be found? How do we find truth when a tornado comes by and our house is gone? Where is the truth in telling your kids that your house burned down? Where is the truth in a person’s search to fulfill that hole in their soul the desires something more from life? Science cannot show facts and truths that answers these questions.

We try though. We in this modern world like to think we are so enlightened. In 1991, 65% of the American population agrees that there is no such thing as absolute truth. This makes sense because there is a very popular thought that truth is relative. What I find to be true may not be true for the person next to me. The person next to me sees the world through different eyes and therefore holds different truths than I do. The person next to me may have grown up in a broken home, was sexually abused, got a divorce, and now works in a major corporate company. This person’s world is vastly different than mine, so how could we come to the same realization of what truth is?

What I find funny is that if you claim there is no absolute truth you are claiming an absolute truth. There is a thing called truth out it is just something that takes a while to find. Dave Ramsey says that 98% of truth is still a lie. We have to be searching for the truth because if we are not we are left in a bad spot. If we are not asking Pilate’s question, “What is truth” Paul Tillich says there are two temptations that rear their ugly head.

One is we will claim that we have the truth and don’t need to worry about the question. These are adults who never revolted from their parent’s idea of the truth. They root for NC State because they never even thought there was any need to explore other options. This temptation says can point to many different things as their parent. They can look at the tradition they were brought up in as the proof of their claim to truth. They can look at their church or their nation and say, “This is THE TRUTH, so I don’t need to worry about asking What is Truth.” Yet when we claim to know the ultimate truth we are attempting to be like God. People who are attempting to be like God always get into trouble.

The other temptation is just not to care for the truth. Finding the truth is hard, so some people just don’t want to be bothered with the answer. They are too caught up in their own lives and lies to worry about some philosophical concept like truth. It is like the drunk husband snuck up the stairs quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he'd received in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he'd pulled one over on his wife. When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. "You were drunk last night weren't you!" "No, honey." "Well, if you weren't, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?" All he was interested in was himself, he wanted to stay far away from the truth.

Many people look at what Jesus says and what Christians claim and they simply pass it off as truthiness. This was a phrase coined by Steven Cobert and it is defined as “the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.” Many people are said to spout truthiness. I watched a famous Politian dance around questions on a talk show this week. I have heard pastors give weak arguments and quote scripture wrong to prove their own selfish ambitions and agendas. This falls in line with idea of relative truth, the truth is what I make of it. But that is not truth, that is still lies. The question Pilate asks and the one that plagues us on some level is not “what truth can I get away with.” The question is “What is the truth.” So I stand here today and I ask you, do you want to know the truth? Do you want the truth?

Now in my best Jack Nicholson impression and I yell back at you, “You can’t HANdle the truth.” If you want to know the truth, know Jesus. If you want to understand what truth really is than dive into gospels and ask for the Lord to transform you heart. If you want to see with truth’s eyes, than see the world as God does. That is the part we can’t tend to handle. We can’t handle the fact that as we get closer to the truth we start to change, we are pushed, we are transformed. We can’t handle the fact that the truth loves us for who we are and loves us to not let us stay that way. So we entertain the truth and the we cast it away when it becomes inconvenient, just as Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.

See there are some people who walk around and call themselves Christians spouting that they have the truth. But remember they have fallen into one of those temptation. We see them on the street corner yelling for people to turn away. That if only we followed the 10 Commandments the world would be in a better place. They quote the laws of Leviticus and spew out condemnation on those who go against them. But what they have done is claim Jesus’ teachings as “the truth” and created slaves to the law. They created a list for people to follow and placed people in a role of submission and servitude. They are looking at it backwards. Once again as Paul Tillich said, “Jesus is not the truth because His teachings are true. But His teachings are true because they express the truth which He Himself is.”

Today is Christ the King Sunday. It is the final Sunday of the Christian year and a day that we remind ourselves of the magnitude and majesty of the one who came to save us. Jesus Christ is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, but that doesn’t mean too much to a nation that cut its royal ties in 1776. What does make sense to us is when Jesus looks Pilate, the law of that day, the man who held his life in his hands and he said to him, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Whether you believe it or not Jesus Christ, son of the One True God, is the truth. If you want to find the truth you won’t find the answer listening to me or any other preacher. You won’t find the answers you are searching for by sitting back and hoping that it will come to you. If you want to get a handle on the truth then you have to go out and do it. You have to start to live out the truth.

Jesus Christ is the Truth and the example of love we are to live into. If you want to find truth than look for where truth is linked to love. If someone claims to have truth but then bashes others because they don’t, that is not love and that is not The Truth. If someone doesn’t care about truth and is only concerned for himself, than that is not love and that is not The Truth. If someone is willing to give of themselves for the sake of others, THAN IS LOVE AND THAT IS THE TRUTH. THE TRUTH is found in the boxes we made for CCM; the toys we are donating; the blood we will give, and lives that will be changed because of all this.

If you want to know the truth than start acting on that part of you that desires to share the love that you have felt from God. Start to participate in ways that will bring the Kingdom of God into the life of people around you. You want to know the Truth? Than get out there and love someone.

And all God's people said...Amen.

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