Vacation Bible School (VBS) June 26-30, 2017

Vacation Bible School (VBS) will be June 26-30, 2017 from 9:00am – 12:00 Noon. This year we will be traveling to Camp Kilimanjaro, where the kids will join us on an epic expedition through the Proverbs, where they will hear, see, touch, feel, and even smell the wisdom from God. Hands on service projects and many other activities will help kids experience a VBS adventure like no other! Registration begins next Sunday, May 7th for children age 3 (with one year preschool experience) through completed 6th grade. Cost is $8.00 per child May 7-May 22; $15.00 May 22-June 15 and $25.00 after June 15. Volunteers are also needed. If you have completed 7th grade, you can help in the classroom or work with crafts, music or recreation. Contact: the John McMillan Church office with questions. (412-833-4704).

Click here to Register



New Leadership Positions Available ,

The Christmas Affair is in renewal.  After 25 years, the Christmas Affair Team would like to pass the torch to different capable hands.  Their faithful giving of time and talent has made this ministry a success and they are asking for replacements to fill areas of responsibility. The current leaders will use 2017 as a mentoring year, providing their experience to guide others toward a successful mission outreach again.

If you are interested in joining this team in a leadership position or want to learn more about this year’s Christmas Affair, please come to an informational meeting on May 17 at 7:00.



World Vision Friday April 21, 2017

On Friday, April 21, a group of volunteers from JMPC will go to World Vision in Cranberry. We will meet & leave the church around 8am, work from 9am until noon and then grab a bite of lunch before returning to church. This is a great opportunity to help others around the world. The sign up sheet is in the Narthex or contact Carolyn Brow for more information. We need 10-15 volunteers



Remember me! Thoughts on untimely forgiveness.

Luke 23: 32-43

32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.  34Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ 38There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ 40But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

It was St. Patrick’s Day this week.

And so I listened to an interview of Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, the leader of Corrymeela, a peace and reconciliation organization in Northern Ireland.

Before I begin the lesson on this scripture, I want to share that poem.

It’s called “Neither I Nor the Poets I Love”.

“Neither I nor the poets I love found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit.

But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.

So every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to.

There, I greet God in my own disorder.

I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble.

I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus.

I recognize and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story.

I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own love, my own body.

I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day.

I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.

I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.

I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.

Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.

Hello.”

What I hear in this poem is that universal craving we all have that God will take notice of us.

That we can pray and that God is listening to us.

And we greet that God in our own disorder.

Our own disorder.

I like that line.

Our chaos.

Our choices.

Our desires.

Our troubles.

Our distractions.

Our privileges.

Our burdens.

Our uncertainties.

Our self-images.

Our hope to become part of better world.

Our bewilderment with Jesus.

All the things that confuse us and skew our world view and blind us to the truth.

And then my favorite line:

I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.

Isn’t that what we need?

A God who is greater than the God we pray to?

I think so.

You might now be thinking, “What on earth does that have to do with today’s scripture?”

That is a very good question.

But for some reason this poem resonated with me and I decided it has a lot to do with our scripture.

Let me set the stage for Luke’s dramatic presentation.

There is a huge cast of characters.

Jesus is crucified.

Roman soldiers who carry out the death sentence, cast lots for Jesus clothes, and mock his “kingship”.

Who put a banner over Jesus’ head saying sarcastically, “This is the King of the Jews”.

Jewish leaders who scoff at Jesus.

Unidentified people who rubberneck.

A criminal who derides Jesus.

A criminal who defends Jesus.

And Jesus.

Whose speaking part is relatively small.

Jesus gets only two lines.

The first comes immediately after he is nailed to the cross.

‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’

The second is his response to the criminal.

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

We will start with Jesus second line.

Let’s remember that part of the story.

Criminal #1 derides Jesus.

Blasphemes him.

Criminal #2 scolds #1.

“You are about to be judged!

You should be very afraid.

You and I are getting what we deserve!

But his man is not.

He is innocent.”

And then he turns to Jesus and simply asks to be remembered when Jesus comes in to his kingdom.

To be remembered.

That is all the solace he wants.

To know that Jesus will remember him will allow him to die in peace.

It is a prayer.

It reminds us of Psalm 25: 7:

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

And that reminds me of Ó Tuama’s line:

I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet.

The criminal’s prayer.

“Jesus, I not only accept you as a king, but I pray you are more of a king that I can imagine.

A king who can remember the things I did that were honorable.

Tell me you will and I can die in peace.”

And then Jesus speaks.

“Today I will not only remember you, you will be in my kingdom.

It’s called Paradise.

It’s where God is.”

Jesus being Jesus.

This is the way I read and understand Luke’s story.

Ask and you will receive.

Knock and the door will be answered.

But there are those who don’t much like this interpretation.

It is … well … challenging.

Here is what some say:

“Here is a guy who lived as he pleased – a criminal – that led to his execution.

He, at the very last minute, says a few kind words to Jesus … and he is in!

Meanwhile, we have been lifelong Christians, baptized and confirmed, at church as often as we can, contributors to cause.

This guy has done none of those things!

And he gets the same treatment we get!

What’s with that?

That is a bit … well … irritating, unfair even.”

But Jesus tells us a parable about that.

Matthew 20: 1-16

20‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborer’s for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborer’s for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; 4and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” 7They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the laborer’s and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” 13But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

Jesus is just being consistent.

He has said it will be this way and so it is.

Consistent with that, this guy is in.

But … so are we.

That is good news.

We could end there.

But there are others in our cast we need to deal with.

Romans.

Rubberneckers.

Jewish leaders.

What about them?

Which brings us back to Jesus’ first line.

‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’

People torturing him and humiliating him.

People mocking, scoffing, glaring, teasing, deriding.

What are they saying?

‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!

‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’

‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’

They all say the same thing.

“Prove to us that you are who you claim to be!”

When I think on these people, I am struck again by Ó Tuama’s poem.

These people are confronting their disordered lives and directing their anxiety with the future at this bewildering Jesus.

This Jesus who claims to have power and authority, but will not do what they want him to do.

Could this be a prayer of some kind?

You know, the kind of prayer we all pray when we need God to do something and we don’t see it happening?

A shaking of a fist at God because we are not receiving relief from our own disorder?

Is this a prayer they feel like is not being heard?

“Save yourself so we can believe and be comforted!”

Is that how Jesus heard it?

Maybe.

Because Jesus then prays for them.

Jesus asks God to forgive them because they don’t know what it is they are doing.

They are being saved as they speak.

They just don’t know it.

Their lives are too disordered.

Maybe Jesus is dealing with a bunch of folks living their disordered lives and who want some shalom.

Some wholeness.

Some hope.

If Jesus comes down from the cross … well … that would fill the bill.

But it’s not happening.

And Jesus is Jesus.

“Father forgive them …”

This becomes just one more story about Jesus and forgiveness.

Stories of Jesus forgiving folks who don’t deserve it fill the New Testament.

In Luke, we hear of the forgiveness given to the Prodigal Son.

We also hear about the search for the one lost sheep.

And the celebrations and gratitude after each.

And these folks, whether they knew it or not, were asking for just that.

To be forgiven and welcomed.

To be searched for and found.

To believe God was listening.

It would be unlike Jesus not to give them what they wanted.

Only Jesus knew what was going on here was for their good!

They don’t know what they are doing.

And so he prays for them.

Now if you had a problem with the repentant criminal getting saved at the last minute, you might find Jesu prayer a bit more … irritating.

No kind words from these people!

Venom, vitriol, viciousness.

And Jesus prays for their forgiveness.

I think it is a fair assumption that they get it.

Just like the repentant criminal.

How can that happen?

Because we have a God who is a greater God than the God we pray to.

We have a God who gives more grace than the grace we pray for.

Which is a good thing.

We have all sinned and fallen short.

We all have mocked, scoffed and derided.

But the words of Jesus we hear today give us comfort and hope.

His grace is, like Ó Tuama’s hope for God, greater than the grace we pray for.

And the more abundant that grace is, the more likely it will pour on people who surprise us!

Even scoffers.

Even mockers.

Even criminals.

Even us.

That is the good news.

Thanks be to God.



Good Friday Service 6:00 PM Inter Active Service

THE 6PM SERVICE FOR GOOD FRIDAY will be a more interactive service.  We will be thinking and praying through the Easter story while carrying crosses up the hill.  You are also welcome to walk next to those carrying the crosses.  This service will help you engage in the story by physically encountering the cross.  We will meet in the JMPC parking lot at 6 and then go down the hill.  We hope to see you there.



What Have I Done? Thoughts on Judas

Matthew 27: 1-10

27When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ 5Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. 6But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ 7After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’

I found a website this week called Saints’ Names for Boys.

By the way, there is also such a list for girls.

In the boys list there are dozens of names listed for those folks who want their son to have the name of someone who has done great things for the faith and even has a feast day to celebrate.

As I looked at the list of boys’ names, I saw Peter, James and John.

I saw the names of every one of the original 12 disciples … but one.

I did not see “Judas”.

I have never met anyone named Judas.

I suspect that even the most Biblically illiterate person, and even those who are not Christian, know not to name their son “Judas”.

The betrayer of Jesus!

The name Judas is a synonym for betrayal, treachery, treason!

To be a “Judas” is to have done something unforgivable.

Dante puts Judas in the furthest reaches of hell – as far as one can get from God.

Calvin rejects the idea that Judas really repented and believes his suicide was just the beginning of his suffering!

There are not even any references to Judas in the lectionary!

No one wants to preach about Judas!

But I wonder … does Judas deserve this reputation?

What do we know about Judas?

Judas was one of the original disciples of Jesus.

That means that Jesus chose him.

Judas spent three years following Jesus.

He heard Jesus teach.

He saw Jesus perform miracles.

Jesus sent the 12 out to preach the coming of the kingdom.

He gave each of them power to drive out unclean spirits and heal.

Judas was one of them.

Matthew reports no difficulties with Judas until Jesus came to Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.

We do hear about problems with Peter, right?

He wanted to prevent Jesus from going to Jerusalem.

Jesus rebukes Peter.

Peter would live with Jesus on the mountain of the transfiguration … again preventing Jesus from going to Jerusalem.

God Rebukes Peter!

Then there are James and John?

What is most important to them?

The coming Kingdom of God?

Nope.

They want the seats of power at Jesus’ side.

Jesus rebukes them.

And it gets worse.

All the disciples abandon Jesus as soon as he is arrested.

Peter denies even knowing Jesus three times!

Which brings us to Judas.

He, for reasons we are not told, agrees with the chief priests of the Temple, to deliver Jesus to them for 30 pieces of silver.

What was Judas’ motivation?

There are many theories, but in Matthew we are simply told he did it for the money.

So Judas brings the Temple Guards to arrest Jesus.

Off to the Sanhedrin and then off to Pilate.

There is little hope that Jesus will survive.

And so Judas is heartsick.

He repents.

And does the kind of thing that repentant people do!

Judas tries to undo what he has done.

He goes to the temple priests and elders and recants.

He returns the 30 pieces of silver.

He tries to make it right!

But it is too late.

Jesus dies.

And Judas becomes history’s most famous unforgiven.

So is that the lesson?

Betraying God for money is unforgivable?

We can point at Judas and say at least we did not betray our Lord for money and feel good about ourselves?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

We need to look deeper.

First, what did Judas actually cause to happen?

Only what was inevitable.

Remember what Jesus told his disciples?

Jesus [told] his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Going to the cross was the plan.

Judas is the only disciple who did anything to move the plan along!

Some of the more eccentric fringes of the early church even praised Judas as the greatest of the Apostles because he helped Jesus’ plan come to fruition.

If Jesus plan was inevitable, why look on Judas as beyond redemption?

Well Jesus says something pretty dire at the Last Supper.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;* 21and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me. … 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’

Sounds like a curse!

A curse on Judas.

But look at Peter.

He denied Jesus three times.

What did Jesus say about that sort of thing?

32 ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Sounds like a curse, too.

A curse on Peter.

But we do not consign Peter to the eternal fire!

He is a saint and we name our children after him.

And Peter knew exactly what he was doing.

But it is not entirely clear Judas knew what he was doing.

Listen to this bit of conversation between Jesus and Judas after Jesus tells his disciples he is about to be betrayed.

25Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’

Do you hear Judas?

He does not seem to think that what he is betraying Jesus.

But then … when he sees Jesus suffer …

Then Judas knew what Jesus meant when he said that it would have been better if he had never been born.

Remorse to the point of despair and self-destruction.

Whether deserved or not.

Peter, who did everything he could to prevent Jesus from carrying out the plan and who then denied even knowing Jesus three times, wept bitterly over his betrayal.

Judas hanged himself.

What if Judas had waited?

What if Judas had seen the resurrected Jesus?

Might there have been a story about Jesus asking Judas if he loved Jesus?

Might there have been a commission to Judas to do something for Jesus’ sheep?

Might Judas have understood his part of the plan?

That it was good he had been born?

Maybe.

So why then do we believe that what Judas did was unforgivable?

All this seems … well … not like Jesus.

Karl Barth thought about Judas a bit differently and says this:

‘Was it not Judas, the sinner without equal, who offered himself at the decisive moment to carry out the will of God, not in spite of his unparalleled sin, but in it? There is nothing here to venerate, nor is there anything to despise. There is place only for the recognition and adoration and magnifying of God.’

Judas was part of the plan.

God took a sinful man and used him to consummate the salvation of all humanity!

That is the kind of thing God does.

This seems to me to be obvious.

So why do we condemn Judas while venerating all the rest?

Maybe we shouldn’t.

Maybe we should find the grace of God in this story.

For Judas.

For us.

Dan Migliore, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary says this:

… [T]he gospel proclaims that God’s grace is greater than our sin, no matter how atrocious. Was the sin of Judas infinitely worse than the abandonment of Jesus by the disciples during his passion and crucifixion? Was it worse than the threefold denial of Jesus by Peter? Had they not betrayed their Lord? Must we assume the forgiveness of sins is categorically ruled out in the case of Judas. Did Jesus not also die for him?

Scripture does not answer these questions about Judas specifically.

That is why we must leave it to God to judge and condemn – or forgive.

I am comfortable with that.

Because it is the God who loved the world so much that he sent his son to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins!

You know – our betrayals and denials.

Because maybe we can’t say that “at least we have never done anything like Judas”, right?

But I get comfort in the fact that Peter was forgiven which means, to me, Judas was, too.

And if Judas is forgiven, so am I.



What is Truth? Thoughts on … well … what is true?

John 18: 28-38

28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ 30They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ 31Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ 32(This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ 38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.

For the past year or so, we have been enthralled with what we might think is a new thing.

“Fake news”

The term is most often used to describe fabricated stories about someone with the intent of discrediting or humiliating that person.

Fake news is an interesting term.

But a good one.

And it is not new.

It has always been a political tool.

Here are some examples.

In 1800, the Federalists wanted John Adams re-elected president over his Republican opponent Thomas Jefferson.

One of their tactics?

They claimed Jefferson was dead.

In a country where there was no television or radio and where the only news was what was in the few papers, that was a hard piece of “fake news” for the Republicans to overcome in some places.

But at least those who actually saw Jefferson walking and talking would be convinced it was not true.

But what about these?

In 1844, Henry Clay’s Whig party accused Democrat James K. Polk of being a slave trader.

Their evidence?

Quotes form a completely faked excerpt from a book.

Not to be outdone, Democrats claimed that Henry Clay broke all 10 of the commandments.

Their evidence?

The details were “too disgusting to appear in public print.”

Polk and Clay were in the unenviable position of trying to prove a fabricated accusation false.

And it is hard to prove a negative.

But the voters had to rely on the information presented, much of which was conflicting and uncertain.

The truth was virtually impossible to know.

But a vote was required there was ab election at an end.

That is how the political system works.

From time immemorial.

People making things up so that they can get and keep power.

Truth is defined as what expedient.

So in politics (and in most other contexts) truth is defined as whatever supports your chosen narrative.

The one that gets you what you want.

Which is why folks say that truth is relative.

Or worse, unknowable.

Or even worse, irrelevant.

And when truth becomes irrelevant, there is confusion and anxiety.

No foundation for our lives.

No true north that guides.

There is just espediency.

Which brings us to Jesus and Pilate.

Truth is under attack.

Politically.

What has happened?

The Temple authorities, The High Priest and the Sanhedrin have been given the civil authority over all Jews in Judea by Rome.

Nice Job.

Lots of power.

Pretty lucrative.

Now they have a problem.

Jesus has been teaching in the Temple for several days and basically telling people that the Temple authorities are hypocrites.

He is challenging their power.

He is proclaiming the Kingdom of God and seeking people to seek it.

And Jesus putting all that power at risk.

What better way for that risk to be eliminated than by having Jesus executed as a common criminal?

So they have him arrested sent off to Pilate who has the authority to have Jesus killed.

But they had to make something up that would be grounds for death.

Something expedient.

A bit of fake news.

Jesus claims to be king of the Jews.

That is a direct challenge to Caesar!

That became their truth.

And they know their audience.

Pilate!

A vicious and cruel man who has been appointed Prefect of Judea.

The next best thing to being a king!

Pilate had the power and the authority to order a death sentence.

And he did it a lot.

Nice Job.

Lots of power.

Pretty lucrative.

And here come these troublesome Jews raising a fuss over this Jesus.

Now Pilate has a political problem.

His most important responsibility was to maintain law and order.

There had always been conflict and trouble in Judea.

His job, if he wanted to keep it, required that trouble be dealt with harshly.

But there was also conflict between Pilate and the Temple Sanhedrin.

He could not keep his power by becoming their executioner.

So here was a chance, maybe, for Pilate to put them in their place.

They wanted Jesus dead.

He was going to say no.

So he looked for a way to do just that.

And found one.

Jesus did not claim to be king of the Jews.

He made no claim that challenged Caesar.

He claimed only to have come to testify to the truth.

To which Pilate responded with his most famous question:

What is truth?

A rhetorical question.

Pilate knew what truth was.

The story that go you what you wanted.

And Pilate wanted to show he was in charge, not the Temple people.

Pilate then went out to give the Jews his news.

No enemy of Caesar here!

No evidence whatsoever.

But then something happened that changed everything.

The Temple authorities told Pilate that if he did not rid Judea of this dangerous Jesus – the one challenging the authority of the emperor – they would make sure Caesar would hear of it.

So much for Pilate’s plan.

He needed a new expedient narrative.

He needed a bit of fake news, himself!

A reason to do what the Sanhedrin wanted.

AHA!

Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews.

A threat!

But wait, didn’t he just say the opposite?

No matter, the facts change to meet the new threat.

That was the truth of the day.

Off to the cross.

Here we have Jesus sandwiched between people to whom truth was – irrelevant.

And so Jesus was irrelevant.

His death was of no significance.

That kind of thinking makes me pretty anxious.

Is there anything that we can rely on to have some comfort and security and peace?

Is there truth we can believe?

Well Jesus claimed to have come to testify to the truth.

Earlier in John Jesus claimed to be the truth.

If truth means something to us, Jesus means something to us.

It means that in him we find truth.

A home base.

So what is truth?

Emilie Townes, Associate Dean of Yale Divinity School, gives this analysis.

There are two kinds of truth.

Intellectual truth which is the empirical kind.

Something we can learn from the scientific method or factual investigation.

This is what we are talking about in our class on the early church.

In order to understand the development of Christianity, we need to know some facts.

And to get those facts, we need to do some investigating.

Some research.

Find out what we can know and what makes our faith reasonable.

Then there is revealed truth.

Truth revealed by God.

John McArthur describes revealed truth this way:

Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. … Truth is the self-expression of God.

That is Jesus.

The mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.

The self-expression of God.

The truth revealed.

Truth is something we experience.

In both cases, fake news can gain influence when there is blind acceptance without insight or investigation.

Truth survives analysis.

It can be verified or refuted.

But it can never be considered irrelevant.

The way to analyze empirical truth is to fact check … that is the term of the day.

The way to analyze revealed truth is to live it.

Townes says this about the distinction between them:

Though important in helping establish and maintain social norms, intellectual truth does not fill all of our needs. We are compelled to go beyond merely understanding and making sense and order in our world. We must seek to know God and live as active witnesses on this journey into God. Jesus life and mission is a model of this for us. In Jesus, we learn that truth is a stimulant for faithful living and witness, rather than contemplation. It is something we do.

Revealed truth is something we do …

And we do it by living the Jesus way.

Choosing to seek to know God.

Choosing to live as witnesses to his grace and desire for us.

Choosing to do what Jesus teaches:

Love God.

Love each other.

In anxious times, we can find peace in that.

There will always be politics.

And there will always be fake news.

What is expedient.

But Jesus is revealed truth.

The kind of thing that allows us to have peace.

To know that we have a God who loves us despite our political nature.

How do we live like that?

Eugene Peterson says this:

To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us. To follow Jesus means … ways doing things … derivative FROM Jesus, formed by the influence of Jesus. … The way we talk, the way we use our influence, the way we treat one another, the way we raise our children, the way we read, the way we worship, the way we vote, the way we garden, the way we ski, the way we feel, the way we eat.  … And on and on, endlessly, the various and accumulated “ways and means” that characterize our way of life.

So when I read this I ask myself, “Does my life look like Jesus?”

Living that way is not easy.

It is never expedient.

And it certainly is not political.

It is the Jesus way.

And that is the truth.