Questioning the truthEaster 5 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 14, 2017
Psalm 146:1-10, Acts 6:1-9; 7:2, 51-60, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14

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What is truth?  We live in an era with more access to information than ever before.  Time was that if you were in a disagreement with someone about whether or not something was true you would have to wait until you got to the library to look it up in the encyclopedia or something to try to determine the facts.  Now you can just whip out your smart phone and Google the answer.  Except now there is a question as to whether or not you can believe what you read online.  What is truth?  What is fake news?  What is real news?  What is the source?  Can I trust Wikipedia?  Can I trust Snopes?  Can I trust CNN?  Can I trust Fox News?  What is truth?

This is not a new question.  Pontius Pilate famously asks this question, John 18:37-38 (ESV) 37 Then Pilate said to [Jesus], “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” …[1]

What is truth?

In our Gospel reading today Jesus is with the disciples in the upper room on Maundy Thursday.  He is teaching them about what is going to happen.  He has washed their feet, he has given them the command to love one another, he has told Peter that he will deny Jesus three times before the rooster crows.

The disciples have heard Jesus predict again and again that he will be arrested and killed and rise again, and after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the opposition against increased greatly and it is no secret that the religious leaders are looking to kill Him.

Jesus tries to comfort his disciples by telling them what will happen.  Despite the current tensions, in the end everything is going to be good.

John 14:1-4 (ESV) 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[2]

No matter what happens, Jesus is coming back for His followers to take them to God the Father.  Not right away, but Jesus will be back.  Where Jesus is you will be too.  And you know the way.

John is not kind to the disciples.  He records throughout the Gospel of John that the disciples are pretty thickheaded; they don’t understand what Jesus is trying to teach them.  John 14:5 (ESV) 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”[3]

John 14:6 (ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.[4]

The disciples have Jesus right with them teaching them, but they do not understand.  They are not too different from us.  We have the whole story.  We have the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection and still we struggle with the truth.

Like the disciples, we struggle because we so desperately want to cling to what we can see; what we can touch and feel; what we think we can understand.  We are so enamored with the things of this life.  We are so in love with the things of this world that we can lose focus on the truth.

We can get caught in monkey traps.  It is said that in order to catch a monkey you put a banana or other fruit into a jar chained to a post with an opening large enough for the monkey’s open hand to go in, but not come out when he makes a fist.  The monkey reaches in and grabs the banana, but can’t get his hand out while holding onto the banana.  The monkey will not let go of the banana in order to get free.

Jesus is the truth that transcends the terrestrial.  Jesus is the truth that is greater than anything in this earthly life.  Jesus is the truth that is greater than life.

How many things in life threaten to be a monkey trap for you?  What sin do you just want to hold onto instead of letting it go?  In your life, how are you pursuing momentary pleasure instead of God’s will?  There is a great temptation to hold on tightly to a sinful situation rather than let go and be free.  We are so in love with the things of this life.  This is what we understand.  This is what we can hold onto.  We hold tightly to the things of this world, but the truth is not found in anything we can grasp.

What is truth?  Jesus is truth.

Let go of the sin you cling to and cling to the truth; cling to Jesus.  Jesus is truth.  Jesus is on the cross for the forgiveness for those sins.  The truth of Jesus is more important than life.  Jesus is truth.  Jesus on the cross for you is truth.  We know God the Father through Jesus.  The Holy Spirit dwells in you to give you faith in Jesus.  Jesus is the truth.  As you look at the cross, what letter does it look like?  “T”.  “T” for truth.  Jesus is the truth that transcends the terrestrial.  Jesus is the truth that is greater than anything in this earthly life.  Jesus is the truth that is greater than life.

We see this clearly in our first reading with the account of Stephan.  The truth of Jesus is greater than life and the truth can get you killed.  Stephen speaks the truth, Acts 7:51-53 (ESV) 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” [5]

Stephen spoke the truth.  The people did not like the truth.  They were holding on too tightly to the things of this world, their rules and positions and authority.  They did not like the truth and had to stop it.  And so they stopped it by throwing rocks at Stephen until he was silent.  They stoned Stephen to death to stop him from speaking the truth.  But the truth is greater than life.

The crowd threw stones at Stephen because Stephen was testifying about Jesus, the living stone.  The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.  And on that cornerstone of truth you, yourselves are being built up as a spiritual house.

One of those present at the stoning of Stephen is Saul who is zealous to silence the truth about Jesus until the truth about Jesus is revealed to him and he lets go of the things of this world and becomes the greatest missionary of all time bringing the truth of Jesus to the world.  The truth is greater than life.  You pledged this is true at your confirmation; to remain faithful, and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from Jesus.

What is truth?  Jesus is truth.

The truth of Jesus is an eternal truth; anything we cling to in this life is only temporary.  Jesus is the way to eternal life.  So let go of trying to understand eternity with a limited, earthly knowledge.  Seek the truth in Jesus.

As a baptized child of God you live life in the joy of knowing the eternal truth that Jesus loves you.  You live in sacrificial love for one another.  Today we remember the sacrificial love of mothers for their children.  The sacrificial love of a mother is an amazing thing.  A mother will do anything for her child.  A mother will lay down her life for her child.  The love of a good mother is a picture of the kind of love Christ has for you.  A mother’s earthly love is a small picture of Christ’s eternal, perfect love.

What is truth?  Jesus is the truth.  Ponder the rock-solid truth of Jesus giving Himself for you.  Let go of all the earthly things you think are so important and lose yourself in the truth of Jesus.

Jesus is the cornerstone.

Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the truth.  Jesus is the life.

Amen

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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