Easter Sunday Service - April 12th, 2020

The Truth Effect

EASTER SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP – APRIL 12, 2020.
Text: John 18:33-38
Title: The Truth Effect.
Here are just a couple of the difficulties of what we might generically call “the truth”: it isn’t always clear as to what is the truth; there a are lot of contradictory truths out there; society is flooded with attempts to convince the world that one particular truth is the right one; and our own ideas of the truth are changeable, able to be influenced, and even twisted.
In all of human history, we’ve only gathered a little bit of the first fruits of God’s wisdom – only a few fragments of divine truth’s boundless height, breadth, and depth. Yet even these glimpses into God’s realm of truth have impressed upon us how precious it is.
Looking at our text for the morning, consider Pilate. What did he do when confronted by the King of Truth? His reactions are those of the world. First, he tried to “side-step” the truth by putting the fatal decision about He who was truth onto someone else, namely the religious leaders of the day. Hence, I must ask myself where am I side-stepping the truth? Where am I trying to shift responsibility for my own decisions onto someone else? Social responsibility in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is the truth – but even now, the “spin” from all viewpoints has already begun. Pray to God to see the truth, His truth. In this struggle, and in the ones certain to come, pray for His revelation – for our sakes, and the sake of the world. This “side-stepping” often causes me to do some fancy footwork to dance around important matters, even with the good intention of not wanting to hurt or offend. Yet, oftentimes the Truth of God hurts, and it certainly can be offensive. The Lord himself warned of its divisiveness. So, if you are called to stand up for God’s Truth, be armed in all humility.
Pilate then tried his best to escape the truth. He did his best to turn the truth loose for someone else to deal with, by setting a prisoner free. But no one can escape the truth – a personal decision is always required. What do we learn from this? That the truth will set you free – but only so long as you embrace it. We’re in a global pandemic. That’s the truth. When we attempt the futile effort to send the truth away, then, like for Pilate, it only entangles and confuses our lives. Most of us reading this message could not count the times we wanted to send the truth away. We live in a free society with the precious right to elect our political leaders, yet it is so easy to not get around to voting, or to take any active role in our governmental system. That’s sending the truth away. We walk by, embarrassed, on the other side of the street when we see the homeless, hungry, perhaps even drug and alcohol dependent people. That’s sending the truth away. We worry about all the material goods and possessions we don’t have, while there is a world of human need out there. That’s sending the truth away. We are called to make a personal decision for Christ – to embrace Him and live with the Truth – then in spite of our shortcomings, sins, and faults – God will make use of us all, as His vessels of grace.
They say that at the heart of politics is the art of compromise. Pilate was an artful politician, for sure. He didn’t want a populist uprising for killing Jesus – he was aware of the news of this man. He certainly didn’t want his superiors to know that he thought anything other than that
Caesar was King, as threatened by the religious leaders. So, he attempted to satisfy those out for blood by having Jesus scourged. But he discovered, as we must, there is no compromise with the King of Truth! It’s like we’re living in the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. We willingly trade our inheritance for what’s bowl of porridge that may lie behind “Door Number 3”. And then, like some crooked lawyer, we wiggle and squirm to be delivered from the lies of our life and our choices. Where are we compromising with the enemies of Christ? The human psyche is now bombarded by television, radio, movies, magazines, books, newspapers, and an endless stream from social media with consistent, mind and spirit numbing messages – many of which threaten not only sacred Christian values – but the values of human decency, regardless of your faith. This is unprecedented. Has this technology, from the printing press to the smart phone, caused us to become numb to it all? In no realm of life like the realm of the spiritual matters is it ever truer – give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. I must admit, I have retreated my share of inches, and have become desensitized to the corrupt living, and the human toll, taking place all around me. I have compromised with the Lord, and in so doing, I have had Him whipped and scourged by His enemies. Yet, grace be to God, we are healed by His stripes.
Finally, Pilate appeals to the crowds – trying to stir up their emotions and pity. “Shall I crucify your King?” Don’t we appeal to the crowd, as well? Oftentimes pointing to what others are doing and saying in order to justify ourselves. We’re a bit like the child, told that they cannot do something, and the response – “But Mom, Dad, all my friends are doing it.” “But God, all my friends are doing it!” The true discovery, for the sake of your soul, is that the crowds don’t matter – it’s always a personal decision about this matter of the Truth.
In the end, Pilate admitted defeat. He abandoned Jesus to the mob. Now look at Jesus – he who is our answer to “What is Truth?” He is in control. He is in His Kingdom, not of this world, rather within human hearts through the conquest of love. At the conclusion He clearly states His purpose: “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” It is a truth that brings to an end all the half-truths of the world. It is a truth that convicts us that only as the light of God’s truth shines in our lives can we truly “Know Thyself” and “To thine own self be true”. It is a truth that cleanses. That from which springs right relationships with ourselves, others, community, and God. It is a truth that provides the only reliable guide for life. That which gives us something larger to live for. It is a truth that is larger than life – and certainly larger than Pilate, who could only wash his hands in the cold, damning waters of frustration. It is a truth that commits. This is one of the most priceless gifts of faith – God needs you to carry out his most important work. You see, anyone can work when every stroke of his or her hand brings the fruit rattling down from the tree; but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement, led forward only by the power of truth – that requires a heroism with is transcendent. In this current climate, look around with eyes wide open – there are heroes among us. Last of all, it is a truth that conquers! When we set aside the truths of the world – for the King of Truth – Jesus Christ.
Amen