Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Is Truth?

22 November 2009/Christ the King – John 18:33-37
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland

Christ The King

Our edit of the conversation between Jesus and Pilate in the Fourth Gospel stops just short of what I have always thought to be the money line.

Jesus says, “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.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

This is undoubtedly the most peculiar Sunday of the Christian Year – Christ the King Sunday. It challenges all notions we have about Kings as well as all notions we have about “the truth.”

We tend to think of truth in terms of assertions or facts to which we can give or withhold our assent. We think of truth as ideas, notions, assertions, verifiable facts.

“The term [truth] has no single definition about which a majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree, and various theories and views of truth continue to be debated.” Thank you, Wikipedia!

We are those people, however, who hold fast to a peculiar notion without which there is no such thing as Christian Faith: we believe “truth” to be a flesh and blood person named Jesus. And further we believe this flesh and blood person to be God.

Jesus says as much later in John: I Am …the truth…

As I tell the girls in my classroom, whenever the words “I Am” are written in the Bible they can only point to one thing: the ultimate reality of God. For when Moses asks the voice in the burning bush who it is that is sending him to confront Pharaoh, the answer is quite simply, “I Am….tell him I Am sent you.”

So when Jesus says, “I Am,” the reader knowledgeable of scripture hears the voice from the bush speaking from a new place – and that place is a flesh and blood person like you and like me. So to know Jesus is to know Truth – to know Truth is to know Jesus as the voice from the burning bush.

We try to gussy it all up and make bold assertions about our knowledge of and the nature of God, but in the end we are left with the simple assertion that Truth is a man.

And when we say this man is King, we do not mean a king like any other king we have every read about or known. Truth, the man, says his kingdom is not of this world. He says he has no armies to command to protect him. He tells those of his followers who would pick up weapons to defend him to put them down.
Not once does he utter words like, “Off with his head,” or “Send him to the dungeon,” or “Annex his property to mine,” or “Foreclose on his farm today.”

Jesus wrote no books and yet is considered a teacher for all the ages.
He had no servants, yet people called him master.
He had no army yet kings feared him.
He came as God incarnate, yet he is seen on his knees washing his disciple’s feet.
He was buried in a tomb, yet he is as alive today as he was 2,000 years ago.
He says we will do the things he does, and greater things than these.

What is truth?

Jesus is our idea of Truth. Jesus is our idea of a King.

A day such as this means to ask us: Are we ready to know the truth?

Are we ready to serve such a King?

Are we doing the things he did? Are we doing greater things than he did?

The Letter of James writes, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.”

This is how we are called to honor our king – by becoming the first fruits of all God created.

May we honor this calling in all that we do and all that we say.

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