Counter Culture: TRUTH
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me? The Words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”
What had he just done.
Peter looked around. Thousands and thousands of pupils were now focused solely on him. The roar of the crowds chatter faded away. Everyone was waiting to hear what he had to say.
Peter wasn’t used to this. He was a fisherman. He was used to time on a quiet lake in the calm air. Peaceful. Warm. The occasional splash of a nearby jump. There wasn’t anyone else there besides his brother Andrew and his good friends James and John. On the lake, he certainly didn’t have to make any speeches other than the occasional mock speech he made to the salmon about how he had a good life and was now about to join the Great Frying Pan in the Sky.
Now Peter was in the center of Jerusalem. Now he was surrounded by strangers from strange cultures all over the Middle East – Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Judeans, Cappadoccians, Pontians, Asians, Phyrgians, Pamphylians, Egyptians and Romans. Now he was to make a speech.
What would he do? If he wanted to make the speech go well, he’d have to be very careful with his words. He could mention Jesus – sure, but he’d want to quickly acknowledge the sun god – Ra out of respect for the Egyptians there. Then, he’d need to talk about Artemis – the fertility goddess – in order to appease the Corinthian traders in town. Then, he’d need to make sure that they were all placed on equal footing as the Greek gods Zeus, Ares and Poseidon, while interspersing the names Jupiter, Mars, and Neptune for all those Romans who were present. All while not forgetting those Jews – they didn’t like to hear much about sin, so --- his big finish could be – “Jesus is the Messiah – and I think, it’s just my opinion, and you may think differently—that you didn’t treat him the best all the time.”
Yes. Peter could go that route. He could send everyone home happy. He could tell them that they all had different religions which were all utterly opposed to one another, but they all lead to God eventually…so…Raise your glasses and “Coexist!” That was the world’s definition of TRUTH!
That speech certainly had a happy ending. But…it didn’t seem right. Afterall, he’d been a disciple to Jesus. A man who didn’t accept the world’s definition of truth. A man whose definition was strange. A man whose definition was CounterCultural.
The more he thought about it, the more Jesus’ definition was echoing throughout his cerebrum:
"Peter, I am the Truth."
This morning we’re continuing our series called CounterCultural by taking a look at that counter cultural statement from Jesus. In a culture where truth is whatever you want the truth to be or whatever you feel the truth should be, and who is anyone to ever disagree with you, Jesus spoke to the most divisive truth of all -- Religion. And he wasn’t so wishy washy.
Take a look at that. It’s from John 14:6. Jesus’ disciples had just asked him to show them the way to God. Jesus responded, “I am… the Truth…No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
I. The Truth is The Truth.
Here’s the first thing take note of. The Truth is the Truth. Notice the definite article on Jesus’ predicate nominative. I am THE Truth. He didn’t say “I am a truth.” He didn’t say, “I one of the truths.” He didn’t say, “I feel like I am the truth. If you feel that way too, gnarly dude.”
The definite article is one letter in Greek and it is a very important letter. It means that Jesus considered himself to be THE only Truth and THE only way to know God.
In April, we had Pastor’s Conference in Philadelphia. One of the first things that we did when we were there was to drive directly downtown to get some Philly Cheese Steak. Have you ever been there? Literally, when you get downtown, you run into Geno’s--an awesome Philly name. It smells delicious. The moment you open up your car door, the smell of thick, roasted, peppery meat fills your nostrils. There’s a sign next to the window that says “Best Cheesesteak in Philly” and you believe it. You ordered a ½ pound sandwich. Wolf it down and smile. It's delicious.
Then, you look across the street. In bright neon, obnoxious, flashing light is a sign: “Pat’s – Best Cheesesteak in Philly.” So, you do your civic duty. You loosen your belt and you order another ½ pounder.
Which is true? Which is better? It’s really subjective, isn’t it? Subjective means that it is your opinion. When it comes to subjective truth, the truth can literally be whatever you want it to be.
But that’s not the kind of truth that Jesus was speaking about here. Jesus isn’t saying “I think I’m the best god.” He isn’t saying, “My words are pretty valid.”
Jesus said, “I am the truth.”
That’s not subjective truth, but objective truth. It’s not opinion, but fact. Objective truth is truth because it is the truth. My hair is brown. I have two eyes. The colors of the new Pentecost banners are red --- it’s still red, no matter how much you’d like it to be purple polka dotted. It’s red.
The problem is that society has confused objective truth with subjective truth.
Take the Common Core Curriculum. I don’t know a lot about it. But I read an eye opening article a while back. It examined the way that children were taught TRUTH and OPINION. In the article were real examples from a Scantron test where students were given a statement and then they had to mark if the statement was FACT or OPINION.
Let’s see how you do.
Fact or Opinion. It’s wrong to cheat on a test. – Did you say Fact? That’s wrong. Morality is only an opinion.
Fact or Opinion. Lying is wrong. – Did you say Fact again? How foolish that’s your opinion.
Fact or Opinion. All men are created equal. – The correct answer is opinion. Popular, yes. But not fact. Only opinion.
Or course-- and this is my question-- if the creators of the Scantron are saying that those statements are Opinions, then how do we know it’s Fact? Isn’t that just their opinion?
Objective truth is fact. Whether it’s the color of my hair of whether or stealing is wrong. Objective truth is truth for all people of all time. It isn’t determined by popular vote, emotional response, or moral majority.
Jesus statement is objective. He is THE TRUTH. His Words are the Truth. The Bible is The Truth. Jesus as God is The Truth.
II. The Truth Excludes Opposing Truths.
The second thing builds off of the first. Since the truth is the truth, it excludes any truth that’s opposes it. Notice what it says, “opposing truth.” If they aren’t in opposition, then they can certainly coexist but be true. For instance, I might say “This bag of Doritos is Cheesy” and you might say, “It is also Triangular.” Fair enough. We can coexist. They are not opposed to one another. They can both be true.
But if the two truths oppose one another, then one of the truths is not true.
For example, my dog Clay. My dog clay is a dog. I put a picture of him up there for ya’ll to confirm. His species is Canine.
Now what if I said, “Clay is a human.” That’s not true. Clay can’t be both canine and human no matter how much he wants it to be true – The fact that he is a dog nullifies the fact that he is a human and makes it not true.
With me so far?
Jesus just said that He is the Truth. Since Jesus is the Truth and the true way to God the Father, then any religion that claims to have the truth and yet speaks a different truth, necessitates that one of the truths is wrong!
· “There is God.” “There isn’t God.” Those aren’t both true. One is and one isn’t.
· “Jesus is God.” “Allah is God.” It’s not just a cultural thing. One is true; the other is false.
· “Christianity is the true way to God.” “Buddhism is the truest way to God.” There are no superlatives in contradicting statements.
· “God and I are cool because Jesus died for me.” and “God and I are cool because I’m not that bad of a sinner." These are mutually opposed statements. Someone is wrong.
In Jesus’ own words, who is he suggesting is wrong?
“I am the Truth…No one comes to the Father except through me.”
III. The Truth has been Substantiated.
Immediately, you need to be asking the question of any religion you stumble across – “How do I trust you? How do I know that what you are speaking is the truth?”
You could ask that question about other religious leaders. Mohammed would tell you “Because I went up on a mountain, received a vision, and I told you so.” Joseph Smith would tell you, “Because I went into the woods, picked up a pair of sunglasses that only I could use, and read a language that only I could know.” Buddha would tell you, “Because…don’t you just feel it, man?”
What would Jesus tell you? How would he defend the truth?
11 “Believe me when I tell you that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe based on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”
Jesus didn’t do these miracles in the forest by themselves. He didn’t do these miracles in a showroom at Vegas. He did these in his own backyard.
He did them in plain sight of tens of thousands of people:
· He made the blind man – who had been blinds for decades and who was known by thousands of people who had walked by him and heard his cry for “alms” --- Jesus made him see!
· He fed almost 10,000 people with just a 5 loaves of bread and two loaves of fish. Not only did their eyes see it, but their stomachs felt it! Their bellies attested to it: Jesus is God!
· He died. Then, he came back to life. He didn’t appear once. He didn’t appear twice. He didn’t appear to one person or two people. Or even just his disciples. He appeared to over 500 people, at many times, in various places – friends and foes alike!
Jesus did things that only God can do, to validate that he was the True God!
This is key for you. Because now others truths that he spoke about you are also true:
· You are children of God through faith.
· Whoever believes in Him will be saved
· In Jesus, we become the righteousness of God.
IV. Speaking The Truth Is Loving
Even so you now know what the Truth is understand that the world doesn’t care. Our world seems to have this idea that if you have the truth, the most loving thing for you to do is to keep your mouth shut!
Is that really the loving thing though? Is it really loving to have the truth and not share it?
We just got our Precious Lambs picture back. On the day they were taken it was a windy day, and right before we were all lined up, Julianna looked at my hair and grimaced. It was stringy. It was mussed up. She lifted her hand and tried to brush it out of my face.
But, I’ll confess something, in my own sinful nature, I got upset: “Leave it alone. It’s find. You’re embarrassing me.”
Now that we’ve gotten the pictures back…it turns out, I embarrassed me.
Speaking the truth is loving when it comes to mussed up hair. Even if the person gets upset, it’s loving!
If your child started climbing the side of the lion cage at the zoo would you shout, “Get down from there!” Or politely whisper to your neighbor, “I don’t dare shout at her. If she wants to climb the cage and play with the vicious tigers, I would be stifling her creativity and who she is as a human being if I stopped her.”
I hope you’d do the former!
May the same be true for the message of Jesus. Scripture says “Speak the truth in love.” Nowhere do you ever hear Jesus saying, “Don’t speak the truth.” Nowhere does Jesus say, “Speak the truths that are convenient.” Nowhere does Jesus say, “Speak the truth unless it hurts someone’s feelings.”
Jesus doesn’t care about feelings. Jesus cares about eternal souls.
You do the same. Courageously explain to your coworkers why the Bible is the truth. Tell your unbelieving spouse why you are concerned for his soul. Boldly tell your children, “They believe something different. It’s not the truth. We believe Jesus. Jesus is the truth.”
You aren’t being unloving for caring that your children hear the truth! Not at all.
In fact, you’re being just like Peter.
Let’s get back to that Pentecost scene. Peter took a breath. Then Peter spoke the truth:
He didn’t care if it seemed strange: “This is what was spoken about in the Prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.' " (2:16-18)
He didn’t care if it offended: “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (2:22-23)
He didn’t care if it was exclusive: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (2:38)
He simply cared that they knew the truth and were saved. “Save yourselves from this wicked and corrupt generation.”
And you know what happened? Peter didn’t get beat up. He wasn’t thrown in prison. He didn’t get called a fool – not on Pentecost.
41 "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
Praise God for the Truth. The Truth is Powerful. Amen.
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