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Dangerous truth…unstoppable love

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Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 11, 2018

John 18:28-40 and Psalm 145:10-13

In the passage Darolyn read today, John the Gospel writer has recorded what happened just before Jesus was crucified. The discussion that took place was in fact, probably the last personal conversation that Jesus had with anyone before his impending death. In this exchange between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, we see two men with opposing agendas.

Pilate comes across as one who is agitated at having been placed in the middle of what he sees as a religious dispute between Jews.  His sarcasm and short answers reveal this irritation.  Jesus, on the other hand, uses this conversation to reveal his true identity to Pilate. When asked if He is really the King of the Jews, Jesus pulls no punches, but responds slowly and thoughtfully in the affirmative.

Then Jesus tells Pilate that his mission in coming to this world was that of going to the cross. He knew early on that He would be dying to bear witness to the truth. At this point, Pilate asks a question born out of pure cynicism.  He asks Jesus, “What is truth?” This was a rhetorical question. Pilate did not really want an answer, and he did not wait around to receive one.  In essence, he was telling Jesus, “What is true for You may not be true for me!  You say ‘to-may-to’, I say, ‘to-mah-toe’. Don’t talk to me about truth for truth cannot really be known!”   So, Pilate threw away a glorious opportunity to come to know the truth for himself.  He looked truth in the face, refused to see it and walked away, forever lost in his ignorance!

But truth can be a dangerous thing.  Where did “truth” put Jesus a short time later?  Let us ponder that today.

Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world. Certainly that is accurate. But what happens when we try to follow his ways in this world? It definitely has some dangerous elements.  In the early years after Jesus’ life on earth, many Christians were simply martyred and they lost their lives for professing their faith in Jesus Christ. And even today, we see many destructive circumstances around the world with incidents like ISIS being broadcast openly.  Christian believers strive to be like Jesus; their goal is self-sacrificing service and humility. But this is so very much at odds with many world leaders, hungry for power.  And for those riddled with lies and deceit.

That’s how it was with Pilate in our story today. He placed trust in his earthly position. His truth was that his position automatically made him superior to others. Because of his earthly power, people bowed down to him. But Jesus lets Pilate know that his assignment was from his Father in heaven. It was certainly not an earthly power.  Truth declared “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”  If the truth be told, freedom isn’t in the hands of humans but rather in a personal relationship with Jesus. Pilate represented “truth as the things of this world,” but Christ in stark contrast represented “truth as the things of God.”  I ask you today that same burning question “Is your truth based on the Word of God or the things of this world?”

I know I’m preaching to the choir here…  there is no need to ask you where your “truth” lies.  You have seen that Jesus’ whole identity, his words, his works, his dying and rising, his breathing of the Spirit upon his followers, every single piece of Jesus’ life was the embodiment of that simple, mind-blowing truth. This makes Jesus’ kingship unlike any other. He doesn’t act like a regular king! Most kings make laws and decrees, fight wars, make treaties, order ordinary people around, and act as the kingdom’s ultimate judge, jury, and executioner. But according to John’s Gospel, what Jesus does is reveal the perfect light, utter love.

This is the next point I want to make today, this love is unstoppable.  Yes Jesus’ love and life gets thwarted and He is sent to the cross. Fortunately, we aren’t at the scene grieving the loss of such an extraordinary man. Fortunately we know the rest of the story, love was thwarted but then God’s love, in the end, conquers all. This love is truly unstoppable.

How do we follow Christ and live in Christ-like ways?  How can we share or be part of this unstoppable love? It can be very difficult because we may become objects of ridicule to those who want to live like the dominant culture. It’s often much easier to conform than to ‘be different’. If we instead make choices to live as God intended, what would that look like?

  • we can practise humility in our “Me-focused” society especially with all the pressures of social media
  • we can speak of things you know to be true instead of getting caught up in gossip or things you don’t know to be completely accurate
  • how about supporting our leaders and our bosses, instead of always always finding the negative? Or start using constructive criticism rather than harsh judgements?
  • In marriage, choose to love and live in harmony. Here’s a popular question you can ask yourself in this regard: “Is it better to always be right or is it better to get along?”
  • in families, build important values in children rather than succumbing to society’s norms and pressures.
  • strive to see the good in people, rather than their shortcomings

We are called to live out the unstoppable love of Christ. There will be times when this love will get thwarted, almost endangered, and those are the times when we needn’t shy away from our convictions, God’s spirit will enable us to follow through.

 

Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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