Archive for April 2nd, 2007

What is Truth?

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Today’s scripture: John 18:28-38a (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

The first thing I noticed in this passage was so sadly familiar — a group of intensely religious leaders, who, for “religious reasons” didn’t want to enter Pilate’s house because it would make them unclean and unable to eat the Passover meal. They’ve decided to rationalize the fact they’re trying to get an innocent man killed. How often we still see things like this today.

I think of white supremists — believing the Bible backs them up — who have harmed countless men, women and children. I think of anti-gay organizations who spread lies and hatefulness in their messages, encouraging violence, all the while thinking themselves righteous Christians. Or even zealous patriots, so angry with the Dixie Chicks because of their comments during a concert, that they would teach their children to hate their music and deride them outside performance venues. It’s amazing how twisted values can become when we lose sight of the Truth.

But reading a little further, I see that these leaders are so angry with Jesus, they decide he has to be killed a very specific way. Jewish law before the Romans came said they could carry out mob executions like stoning, burning, slaying (by sword), or strangulation (Sanhedrin 7-1). (And if you recall, there were a few times earlier in His ministry when mobs approached Jesus to try to attack Him and failed.)

No, they wanted Jesus killed in such a humiliating way that His followers would surely abandon Him after death, because it would show he had gone against even God and was cursed (as it says in Deuteronomy, “…he who is hanged is accursed of God…” (Deut 21:23)). So, they needed the Romans to do it, since they would surely crucify him, as was a usual Roman execution custom at the time.

Yet even in the end, we can see Jesus still seeking connections with others and finding opportunities to share His message. So, when Pilate asks Him if he’s the King of the Jews, instead of answering, he seeks to understand where Pilate is coming from; why he’s asking what he’s asking. When Jesus realizes that Pilate is concerned if there’s any threat to the Roman Empire, he explains that His kingdom is “not of this world.”

Note that He doesn’t say it’s “not in this world.” What’s the difference? Jesus says earlier in the Gospels that the Kingdom of God is in each one of us — therefore, as we are on Earth, we have the opportunity to bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven. However, it’s not of this world, meaning that it is not born from or ruled by money, greed, the desire for power, and political influence.

Thought and prayer for the day: Pilate asks “What is truth?” God, may we seek and find Truth in You and Your Son, today and every day, that we might bring the Kingdom of Heaven to those around us, through our words and actions.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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