Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Is Truth?

The message by Tina Ness on Sunday 28 Nov in our 9:00 Traditions service, from John 18.31-38 (no audio available):

There Pilate is standing before Jesus, the Son of God – one who just said He came into the world to testify to the truth and Pilate asks that question – “What is truth?”

What is Truth?

This is the question that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus of Nazareth about 2,000 years ago.  He does not accept the charges of "the Jews" but neither will he listen to the voice of Jesus. He does not recognize truth. 

Had he not been listening to any of the teachings of Jesus?
Has he not seen all that Jesus had done in ministry – on the streets and in the sanctuary?

The lame to walk.  The blind to see.  The lost found.  His love abound.

 His offering of peace that passes understanding.

Pilate’s response is tragic. What is truth?

It is phrased as a question, but it is really an admission of complete cynicism. He does not ask, “What is the truth?” Such a question would indicate that Pilate believes in truth but does not know what the truth is.


The question, “What is truth?”, is a completely different matter. It is as though Pilate had said, “Truth?

You don’t mean to tell me that you believe there is such a thing as truth, do you?

Truth is whatever you want it to be.”


Here, it is as though Pilate has finally come to the point of giving up knowing anything to be absolutely true.

Here is the challenge to Pilate—to accept Jesus’ teaching as truth.


TRUTH -- Is that not what is needed – then as it is now?


This was the purpose for His incarnation; this was His mission in life—to testify to the truth –

I believe, as a servant and as a King.


Because of the season, Pilate must bear the burden of responsibility for dealing with the Jews and for determining the fate (humanly speaking, of course) of Jesus.


Jesus claims to be the source of truth. Pilate has come to doubt that there is such a thing as absolute truth. And so Pilate’s actions are guided by the principle of political correctness.

He does not do what is right. He has already come to the realization that Jesus is innocent. And if this is not enough, Pilate’s wife will send him the message that Jesus is much more than innocent, He is righteous.  Pilate had to follow legal format.


And so it is that Pilate opts to do what is “politically correct,” even though it is morally wrong. Pilate decides to act out of expedience, handing Jesus over to those who are crying for His blood.


As it was, Pilate had godly truth standing in front of him, but he was so distracted by playing the game of keeping his post and keeping the peace that he missed it.

Jesus, the gospels tell us — is the way, the truth and the life. That’s the truth that Pilate missed. It may be that we, too, miss this truth when we become so pressured by difficult choices that we forget, or never notice, that Christ is standing within us, beside us and among us as he told us he would.

Pilate wasn’t listening to the truth – Are you?


The Jews thought they knew the truth.  When Pilate asked them to indicate what formal charges they wish to press against Jesus, they responded

   “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you” (verse 30). 


Otherwise, “you can trust us ‘cause we know the truth.”


Pilate is “caught between a rock and a hard place.” hoping to be able to resolve this crisis in a way that does not anger the Jews, and yet does not give them what they demand either.


Should he yield to the truth presented by the Jews or should he

       Yield to the One who has testified to truth his whole life long.


Pilate is virtually forced to explore this charge further, and so he asks Jesus directly whether or not He is the “King of the Jews.”


Jesus does not keep quiet, as He does before the Jews and Herod.


Neither does Jesus deny the charge.

Jesus is not seeking to defend Himself, but rather to probe the heart of Pilate.


Could it be that He responds that way because He knows His purpose and role

as a servant King?


… as the one willing to sacrifice His life for the good of His Kingdom?


…for salvation of all humankind?


Jesus does not deny that He is the “King of the Jews


Jesus replies in a way that clearly indicates this is true: “You say that I am a King …


The Lord’s meaning is therefore something like this:

“You are absolutely right that I am a King!”


A humble King indeed!


And He goes on to say that His kingdom is “not from this world.”  Take a look.


His “kingdom” is centered around revelation, not revolution;


around truth, not treason.


Jesus was a teacher, not a traitor.


"Jesus' kingship begins with the opening verse of the gospel of John:

   'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' (1:1)."


Brian Stoffregen at CrossMarks Christian Resources says

"It may be that the most important aspect of declaring Christ as King,

is not our understanding of Jesus' lordship -- who he is and what he does;

but our life with each other under that lordship."


How do we live under Christ’s Lordship?


How do we respond to truth revealed to us in scripture?


How do we respond to truth testified to us in the life and death of Jesus Christ?


How do we witness to that truth in Christ?


Did you – did we -- affirm truth when we sat down at our Thanksgiving table on Thursday:

God's love is continually in our midst,

God's forgiveness is eternally available,

God's peace pours out in an unending stream,

God's joy can fill up all the cracked and imperfect corners of our lives.
Jesus is the King of Kings, and Lord of lords.


Were you Christ-like – truth living - while shopping on Friday?

Especially while others were pushing and pulling to get the best deal or the last item on the shelf – seemingly ignorant of your presence or your desires.


Is there a way that you participate in mission in the United States and around the world – to honor God – above and beyond the usual?


Today we recognize and receive the World Thank Offering. The offering is an opportunity for individuals, United Methodist Women, to respond to God’s abundance and grace with spontaneous gifts of gratitude. This Thank Offering has been collected, through the year, in

a special church shaped container so that a portion of God’s blessings will be shared with others.  These donations are used in the total program of mission carried on through the women’s division -- mission in the United States and around the world. These donations are above and beyond the many others that the United Methodist Women offer thru the year.


Today we bring the Christian year to a conclusion. In the church’s calendar, today is Christ the King Sunday.  Christ the King Sunday is about the Lordship of Christ.


In the words of the Revelation to John, he is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.”

So, on Christ the King Sunday we think about and honor Jesus.  A Servant and King!


He came upon this earth to establish the Kingdom of God, an alternative to the kingdom of Herod – or any other earthly king or kingdom.


Jesus lays down his life, and the power comes to him as a gift from God -- he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, Paul writes, therefore God has highly exalted him.


The self-emptying life of Jesus is a life given for others.

He spoke not of the love of power but the power of love.


And he clearly gave his presence, his spirit, his authority, to his disciples, to spread his influence, his teachings, his goodness upon this earth until he comes again.


Here these words from Jesus, after He washed His disciples feet – after He took the servant role of washing feet—


Read John 13: 12-17   He told them that they would be blessed if they did as He did – took on the servant role.


All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him, as recorded at the close of Matthew’s gospel.


And Paul writing to the Philippians, says: 

“Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father” (2:11).


And so on Christ the King Sunday, we magnify the Lord, and are called upon to be a part

of establishing the kingdom of God upon the earth, as His children and servants in His Kingdom.

To follow Jesus is to profess him as Lord.


To believe that he is Lord of all is to honor and glorify him, above all else, and above all other rulers and authorities.


Jesus used His power for the common good.  How do you use your power?


If we are doing the work of Jesus, we do it in the way of Jesus.

And so leadership in the way of Jesus is always servant leadership.


                        Why?  Because that is Christ-like.


And so the whole Christian story moves toward a climax, just as our lives do.

It is not about being great, it is about serving.



I may not be able to do much, but I’ll do it the best I can.


It is not clear to me why Pilate’s question about truth to Jesus rang so loud to me – but it did.


Perhaps it is because truth is such a powerful weapon – it can condemn and it can free.


After I suffered a head injury, 12 years ago, the truth was clear that I was not equipped to continue ministry as an ordained pastor.  The injury to my brain, limited my ability to fulfill all the necessary duties and responsibilities of a pastor. My heart was broken.


Another truth, maybe not as revealing or obvious, is that I love God more than I did before.  God rescued me from death and I want to serve Him with all that I have. 


The truth was that my ordination as pastor was taken away, but my desire to serve was not.


I enjoy preaching now more than when I did it every Sunday.


I am present and free to serve the Lord.  As a result of my head injury, I feel like I can reach deeper into another’s illness and pain, offering prayer and comfort, because I was once closer to it.


It breaks my heart that Pilate chose the law over the Lord! 


I pray that the law will never limit me in my love and service to my Savior – the great and almighty servant and King.



Churchill is recorded saying:

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”



How are you giving and living for the Lord?                              


How are you serving in His Kingdom?

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