Monday, March 30, 2009

You Can't Handle the Truth - Lent 34

Meanwhile - continuing our walk through Christ's last hours before his death - Jesus was dragged into a "Kangaroo Court" so that his accusers could yell at him and try to justify their actions. John picks up the story in chapter 18 and verses 19-45:
  • One of the officials nearby struck Jesus in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded. "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" (John 18:22-23)
Jesus spoke the truth, and that is exactly why he was hit in the face. The official merely did what many nervous people tend to do when they are confronted with the truth - he lashed out. There was no way that anyone on the scene could articulate anything that Jesus had done that was wrong... and so there was nothing else do do but to hit him.

When I worked in the classroom I knew a lot of children who responded just like that. Unfortunately, I know a bunch of adults like that too. The high priest's officials stamped their feet, they raised their voices, and they lashed out because they couldn't even try to bully the Master without him turning it into some kind of a lesson.

Because there is no antidote to the truth, just as there is no darkness that can possibly eradicate light. Jesus stood in what had become a dark place, and the light of his incisive truth was simply too much for them to deal with.

When questioned, Jesus immediately reminded them about the openness in his ministry, and openness is inherent to light and truth. "I taught in the synagogues or at the temple," he said. "I said nothing in secret."

Jesus pointed out that everything about his ministry was open, available to inspection; it was a truth evidenced by the throngs of people who were always welcome and always encouraged to ask questions. Even when Christ was teaching his close-knit group of disciples there was often a fair crowd gathered, looking on, just to listen and to learn.

There was a fair crowd of people at my church yesterday morning, somewhere between 375 and 400, and I am sure that some of us there were a little like the high priest's officials. You know what I mean; too much light tends to make us nervous, and we want to either find fault with Jesus or just thrash around in our frustration, trying hard to be mad about something so that we can avoid dealing with God's kind of truth.

Jesus understands. "Please tell me what it is that is wrong?" But at the same time he is not willing to let us off the hook. No, it's too important for that, and things have gone too far for that kind of a graceful exit! His truth is designed to expose our lie, and his light illuminates our need for the kind of grace God always has in mind.

Annas (the priest) passed up his opportunity to learn from the Savior, and he sent him on his way to the cross. There is always the possibility that we will do the same thing....

PRAYER: Please don't let us off the hook either, Lord. Expose our need with the light of your truth and heal us with your grace. Amen.

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