As you prepare for worship, you may want to read the following texts:
John 18, John 6
This is the second worship in our series responding to   The Passion of the Christ  . We will explore Pilate's famous question - "What is Truth?"

The Passion of the Christ
Order of Worship and Discipleship:

(John 18:28-40)
Jesus as Teacher/Revealer/Reconciler

Pilate – I’ve met him before. He’s as familiar as me. He can convince himself that he has contributed to the construction of the world he occupies, but somehow he doesn’t feel at home in it. There are moments when he recognizes that that is just a veneer covering the reality that he’s just another part of the huge, cosmic system. That the world he thought he constructed is just an illusion.

Pilate is a truth seeker. He’s looking for something real and with substance. Something that reveals the mystery of the universe.

We are truth-seekers. We ache not for truth, but the truth.

And that’s how the lie spreads like a virus. Finally, there are so many different ways of perceiving the world, that we cannot see or hear clearly anymore and suddenly it strikes us – Everything we call our world and home is an illusion, a subtle distortion of the truth. We live in a virtual reality – which amounts to an illusion; an imitation of the truth.

But what if there is no true reality? When Pilate asks, what is truth? He may be asking with hope that this bruised man in the chains with the Galilean accent might actually be able to reveal it – and he may also be making a statement with his question that there really isn’t such a thing as truth. The only truth is that which we make for ourselves.

This is all because of the lie – the illusion – the veil, the cataract that clouds our vision. God’s love – his good news, is this – he restores our sight so we can recognize the truth. He restores our sight by reconciling us. So the separation into our own personal truth is transformed by relationship

  1. This truth is more than just a set of propositions, laws, and intellectual arguments. Some might say, "Well, it’s in the good book!" Sure, the Bible reveals truth, but it does more than just boil it down to five principles. It records a story. It is the witness of a God yearning for his children to come home. They’re in a far country full of empty lies.
  2. Telling the truth is important – but since we’ve been lied to so much we need more than just a telling. Have you ever tried to teach a child how to do something simply by telling them. Children don’t always read instruction books. I can remember buying Wyatt his first Lego toy. He was frustrated because he couldn’t put it together. He was frustrated and had Lego pieces scattered everywhere. He didn’t like the Lego. It’s broken! There’s a piece missing. I showed him in the book. That didn’t make any sense. The pictures in the book are 2-d and these Legos are 3-d. So, I finally said, "Let me show you how to do it." I got down on the floor and picked up the pieces and with my hands and his hands working together I helped him build his Lego. Here I was, a grown man sitting on the floor playing with Legos. But I showed Wyatt how to do Legos and now he can build anything at all!
  3. In the beginning, God told us how to be human. But we saw things differently and now there’s a mess. God gave us the instruction book, but it was true, but it was 2-d and we’re 3-d. So God came down into our world. He appeared to us as a man. And Jesus was God here to show us how to do human.
  4. Truth isn’t discovered in a fact or formula. Truth isn’t discovered in a legal courtroom, a legislative assembly, or a scientific laboratory. Truth isn’t even discovered through meditation, prayer, or by coming to church – unless one encounters Jesus Christ. For truth is revealed in a person – Jesus. And truth is discovered in a relationship with him. And our discovery begins if we see the world like Jesus. Then we are on our way home.

The Gospel cannot be reduced to a formula like E=mc2. No offense to other religions, but the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot even be reduced to a confession such as "Namu amida butsu" or "There is one God and Mohammed is his prophet." There just isn’t an equivalent to that in Christianity – but haven’t we tried? I understand how it’s helpful to condense biblical teaching to four spiritual laws or even five steps of salvation. But reducing the gospel truth down to a formula like that apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ misses the truth. Jesus didn’t come among us to amend the instructions and simply announce that there’s an easier take on the 10 Commandments that reduces it to two. In his words, "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

Jesus is the truth – He IS the way, the truth, and the life. John 8:32- Jesus’ disciples know the truth and the truth has set them free. The truth they know is more than fact – it’s a person. And a reunion with the Father, the restoration of our home-world, comes through a relationship with Jesus. And our confession, repentance, and baptism are not simply religious obligations we’d better perform if we want to be secure in the next life. In John’s gospel, Jesus uses a rather unique image to describe himself – a door. "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." – John 10:9. In baptism, we unite with Jesus – there’s relationship. It’s the loose plank in the fence through which we can escape the false world of the lie and enter into the kingdom or truth.

Jesus invites us. Not to sign up for an exemption from hell. Not to the big house in the sky where we all float around like wisps of smoke. Not even to our evolution to divine beings (trying to become gods is what got us into this mess!) – but Jesus uncovers the mystery and casts light on the illusion – he shows us the door – he shows us the way home - he invites us into his life – even now. He calls us to be born again into the new humanity (John 3). He shows us what it means to be truly human. Jesus is truth.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 14 March 2004

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