Posts Tagged ‘truth’

Ruth 3:1-18 (Part 3 of 3)
Ruth Follows Naomi’s Plan

Sometimes in our lives when we look back on the person that we were before we came to know Jesus Christ as our Savior, we go “wow, how could I have been that kind of person!” How could I have been that kind of person and think that it was OK to be that kind of person. I grew up in the church. I heard the gospel. I knew the Bible stories, in general. My dad was a preacher. So, it wasn’t like I was a person who did not grow up knowing right from wrong, moral from immoral, and so on. But growing up in a parsonage does not guarantee that you will be immediately a follower of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I was not necessarily a bad kid or bad seed. I was just a regular kid. I did well in school. Rarely got in trouble. I was just one of those kids that was a good student but wasn’t a nerd. I was a kid who danced on the edge of getting in trouble with parents and teachers on occasion. My trouble in life was always feeling less than. My trouble was always feeling like an outsider. My trouble was always feeling like the guy who got to the party but just went the party was about over. Never felt like I was in the know.

It was these feelings of being an outsider, a step behind, late to the party, catching a trend just when everyone has moved on to the next trend that kind of defined my pre-salvation days. I was always trying to fit in. I was an approval seeker. I wanted validation that I belong and that I matter to other people. It is still something I struggle with even after salvation but not like in my pre-salvation days. In those pre-salvation days, I would do whatever it took to win approval of others to the point of committing sins that grieve my own soul now. My moral compass fell off the table and broke into pieces over the years. And my word became worthless as I shucked and jived so as to keep all the people happy in my life from who I desired approval. My finances were a shambles from all of that too. So my word meant nothing when it came to financial matters and certainly my creditors probably felt my word meant nothing. My self-image of myself as a decent, moral person was far different from my daily practices of situational ethics. Then, there comes a day when you look at yourself in the mirror and say who have you become. There was a time when people thought you were a good kid and respected you for being a young man of your word. Now, look at you. You would lie to save your ass in a minute. You would lie to get out of trouble. You would lie to make yourself seem more important than you are. Looking in the mirror, who is this man? I don’t know him anymore. He acts as though there is no judgment because he lives according to his own gospel which is not the canonical Gospel of Mark. The ends justified the means for this guy looking in the mirror.

When I look back at the man I had become in the months and weeks before I accepted Christ as my Savior, I didn’t think of myself as a desperate sinner in need of a Savior. I thought I had become something that I didn’t wanna be but I thought I was still good enough to get in heaven if God made a few exceptions for me. I thought I was good enough to get in if God look at my good deeds vs. my bad ones. I figured that being a martyr in my divorce, trying to keep two families happy (my exwife and my daughters on one hand, and my second wife and her boys on the other) and feeling like a martyr in that, working hard, etc. All that would make up for my moral failures and my situational ethics. It was not until that play that night at Abundant Life Church in December 2001 where my life was lived out in a play right before my eyes on the stage at church. The central character thought the same kind of mindset. It wasn’t until he spent 30 minutes in hell during that one hour play that he realized that his sins no matter how small are enough to sentence him to eternity there. No matter the good deeds we do to make up for our bad ones, our sins prevent us from living with our Father in heaven in eternity. That was the final mirror in my face. The Holy Spirit broke my soul that night. Since then, it has been a long and winding road and a difficult job for the Holy Spirit to sanctify me and He still has a ton of work to do.

However, one thing that is important to me now is my word. I want to keep my word even if costs me something. I want to do what the Bible says is right no matter if it costs me something or not. I desire to please God in this way. I want to be a person who honors his commitments. I want to be a person who is known to tell the truth. I want to be a person that is known to have integrity. I want to a person that will give the cashier at the Wal-Mart the money back when she mistakenly gives me too much change. I want to be a person who does not try to return goods that I broke and pass it off as defective goods. I want to be a person of honor. In many ways, I am getting better at that each day because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my soul. I look back at the man I was before salvation and I am disgusted at him. In the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, when I look back even in the years after salvation, I am disgusted by the man I was a the day of my salvation. I am disgusted by the man I was 10 years ago and even 5 years ago. I know too that as I progress deeper in my walk with Christ that the man that I am right now will disgust me in 10 years. As we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit wins battles with the sins and habits and thoughts that we think are OK right now. Over time, though, the Holy Spirit shines the light of God on those things in our lives that are not holy. It takes a lifetime for the Holy Spirit to do this and He does not have his final victory over our ego-driven selfishness until we arrive in heaven and join our Savior there. As a Christ follower, sometimes we really do need to sit down and think about the person we used to be compared to now and marvel at the work, the tireless work, of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Are you not disgusted by the person you used to be before Christ, about the person you were just after salvation, and the person you were just a few short years ago? It’s funny how we think we are at the apex of our spiritual maturity until the Holy Spirit shines the light on something that we thought was acceptable all along til then.

Let us always remember who we used to be before Jesus Christ. Let us remember who we are now and where we will be in just a few short years down the right. We are a work in progress under the construction of the master remodeler, the Holy Spirit.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage for the second of three times that we will write about it – how Boaz and Naomi had reputations as being trustworthy and upright people to the point that people took them at their word (when they said something you could trust it like gold in the bank). Let’s read the passage together for the last time this morning, Ruth 3:1-18, before we move on:
3 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops[a] of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he[b] returned to the town.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

In this passage, we see that, as a foreigner, Ruth may have thought that Naomi’s advice was odd. However, Ruth followed the advice because she knew Naomi was kind, trustworthy, and filled with integrity. Each of us knows a parent, an older friend, or relative who is always looking out for our best interests. Be willing to listen to the advice of a person who is older and wiser than you are. The experience and knowledge of such a person can be invaluable. And then there was Boaz. Naomi knew that Boaz would follow through on his promise at once. He obviously had a reputation for keeping his word and would not rest until his task was completed. Such reliable people stand out in any age and/or culture. Do others regard you as one who will do what you say? Keeping your word and following through on assignments should be high on anyone’s priority list. Building a reputation of trustworthiness takes many years but losing your reputation can take just minutes.

I want to be like Naomi and Boaz. I want people to be able to trust what I say. I want to be a person who says what he means and means what he says. If I make a promise to you, you should be able to bank on that promise. I want to be that guy who is seen as one who has integrity. I want most of all to be an honorable representative of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I want the person that I am on Sunday morning to be the same person who, when given the opportunity to do something unethical, will do what is right even if it costs my success or advancement according to earthly treasures. I want to be a guy like Boaz where it is known that I will not rest until I have kept my promise. I want to be a person like Naomi where, even if you think my advice is strange or odd, you will follow it anyway because you consider me a completely trustworthy source. I want to continually look back at my life and see growth in Christlikeness. I want to be a big kid Christian someday. I want to be like Christ. I also want to remember what that man in the mirror looked like in the months before salvation back in 2001. I never want to be that man again. I want to be God’s man. Again, as I said just a second ago, it is my desire more than anything else to be an honorable, trustworthy, reputable, representative ambassador of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I don’t ever, never, never, never, never, ever want to go back to being the man that stared in the mirror in 2001 and had that meltdown moment of horror at the person that I had become. Thank God for my salvation. Thank God for the joy that I have found there. Thank God for the Holy Spirit and His kicking my butt around these last 16 years. Thank God!

 

Amen and Amen.

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Deuteronomy 17:2-13

Requirement for Several Witnesses

I remember watching the movie, “All the President’s Men”, in which Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman portrayed the real life reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate scandal and subsequent cover-up that brought down the Nixon presidency. Back in those days, newspapers were king. In those days, there was no instant news. There was no CNN. There was no Fox News. There was no instant social media. Newspapers would come out once a day (though some papers had afternoon editions) and pretty much every household subscribed to the newspapers. In those days, newspapers had the luxury of time. Because of that luxury, newspapers had the tradition of verifying news stories from multiple sources. It was expected and required. It was also a good thing. It was in that atmosphere that Woodward and Bernstein broke open all the illegal activities conducted by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (or CREEP, as was its acronym). As part of the process, each and every story they wrote about the scandal, they had to verify their original sources with multiple corroborative sources. The White House could say that the stories were not true but the evidence of corroborative sources was so overwhelming that the stories had traction. With each revelation that was corroborated and corroborated again, the nails began to be placed in the coffin of what was the presidency of Richard Nixon. The evidence was so overwhelming that President Nixon resigned his office in August 1974 right in the middle of his second term as President.

 

Fast forward to today, we have cell phone videos. We have Instagram. We have 24 hour news cycles on television. We have instant access to what’s going on in the world. Is it necessarily a good thing? I begin to wonder. Now, there is no time for newspapers, television stations, networks, etc. to verify news sources to corroborate a story as being true. We see it. We form and opinion. We report it. There is such a fundamental breakdown in journalistic standards in our nation and the rest of the world that we no longer can trust what we see and read as news. It used to be that the news providers would police themselves with what they called journalistic standards where by their own professional integrity that they would only report what they knew and had verified to be true. No longer is that true. We the news consumer must determine for ourselves what is true and what is not. Now, the news outlets seem to be outlets for whatever political agenda that their news agency supports. CNN is known to be quite liberal. Fox News is known to be quite conservative, for example. You can watch the same news event on each of these international news outlets and come away thinking very different things. Even the news agencies, once the bastions of impartiality and “just the facts” have become part of the polarized political landscape in which we live.

 

We the general public are to blame as well. We take our cell phone videos and stir up millions with our selective reporting of news events. We also knee jerk react to what we see. We do not expect that the truth will prevail anymore. We form our opinions and react to the news regardless of what the facts of the situation truly are. Police shootings are automatically the fault of the police and the facts of the case are no longer a relevant thing, only the spin that we put on things is relevant. We manage our own truth now. Journalistic standards are no longer necessary only political spin is. It is a reflection of the fact that we no longer care about absolute truth anymore as a society. We makes me happy is my truth. What makes you happy is your truth. We no longer care or believe that there are absolute truths in life. As a result, the media is a reflection of our society. We only read and listen and watch those news agencies that support our brand of the truth.

 

This morning as I was reading this passage, I thought about how tough it was for Woodward and Bernstein to crack open the Watergate scandal (so much so that it required a two hour movie to summarize it) and how different today’s knee-jerk journalism is from that. How we go about determining the truth today is far from biblical and that’s what came to mind when I read Deuteronomy 17:2-13. Let’s read it now, together:

 

2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the Lord your God will choose. 9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

 

In this passage, we see that a person was not put to death on the testimony of one witness. On the witness of two or three, a man or woman could be condemned and then sentenced to death. This process protected the rights of the accused person two ways. First, by requiring several witnesses, it prevented an angry individual from stirring up a mob mentality with false testimony. Second, by requiring the accusers to participate in the execution of the court’s judgment, it made them think twice about accusing someone in an unjust manner.

 

Shouldn’t we be that way as Christians in the world in which we live. We must discern the real truth from political spin. We must have the discernment not to participate in mob mentalities. We must have the discernment not to be ready to stone those who do not believe in the same manner that we do until we have corroborated the facts. We are commanded by the Bible not too quick to judge. It is upon this basis that our court systems were developed. It was under this basis that all of our system of government was built so as to prevent the mob from destroying our country just because they believe something to be true when the truth might be something different. We may hate our court systems for letting criminals go free over technicalities. But I think it was Benjamin Franklin that said that it is better for a 100 criminals to go free than for 1 innocent man to go to prison. We have become a nation that no longer cares about the truth. The truth is what I frame it as. Let us not be participants in this mentality and let us as Christians lead to way in changing our nation into a nation that seeks the absolute truth and not just our version of it. Absolute truth comes from God and everything else is just opinion.

 

We must not be a people who participate in knee jerk reactions and opinions taken as truth. We, of all people, should seek truth, the absolute truth. We should be the ones that seek it and find it. We are children of God who have been given the benefit of the doubt. We were actually rightfully convicted by our sin and condemned to the death known as hell if it were not for the action of Jesus Christ to take our punishment for us. We were redeemed and set free from our punishment. Therefore, it is biblical for us, to seek the truth and not join the mob just because the mob is large. Jesus was crucified as part of God’s plan but on the human side of things, He was crucified by public opinion. We must have discernment and a willingness to find the truth and corroborate it. We must not join the bandwagon because everyone else is. We must stand for the truth. We must seek it. We must find it. We must not be the like mob that crucified Jesus unjustly. We must honor Jesus by seeking truth always, not just that which is easy – following the mob’s perception of truth, their spin of the truth. We must be willing to stand up for what is right and true even if the media spins the truth, even if the mob determines its own truth.

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 5:20

You Shall Not Bear False Witness

“Quid es veritas?” is the question that Pontius Pilate asks of Jesus during their private interview during Jesus’ trial. What is truth? Pontius Pilate founds himself in the middle of a political powder keg. He knew the truth to be that Jesus was guilty of no crime against the Roman Empire. Yet, at the same time, he risks all out rebellion incited by the Jewish religious leaders if he does not condemn Jesus. Truth, objective truth, became a casualty that day in Jerusalem some 1,986 years ago (as most biblical scholars believe that Jesus died around 30 AD). Truth became fluid that day. Truth became whatever was the most political advantageous or least damaging. Although it was part of God’s redemptive plan and he was not caught unaware by any of the actions of the people involved, but Jesus’ earthly conviction and sentence of death by scourge and crucifixion is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in human history. The truth was cast aside for what was politically expedient.

 

The Jewish religious establishment wanted Jesus out of the way for several reasons. Jesus was a threat to the status quo. He had directly called them out on their misguided leadership of the people where their rules and regulations had so far twisted Scripture that you could not recognize it anymore. He was causing the common man to question Jewish leadership integrity. Jesus was saying that their time was done and that a new era had begun where He was the central figure and not them. With Jesus’ large following among the people, he was also a threat to the détente that existed between the Jewish religious elite and the Roman overlords. The Romans would let Israel rule its own internal affairs as long as commerce, taxes, and the peace was uninterrupted. They feared a Roman crackdown if Jesus became a larger and larger political force. Jesus’ rhetoric was that of the truth of God and it was getting everybody stirred up either for or against Jesus. For the Jewish establishment, Jesus was a problem of growing proportions on many levels. It did not matter that He was speaking the objective truth of God. He was a threat to the commerce of the Jewish temple system. He was a threat to the political power that they had carved out for themselves with the Romans. He was a threat to centuries of tradition that had developed around the Jewish faith of which they were the arbiters of what was right and wrong. He was a threat to the social order of Israel of which they were the top dogs. In this way, to them, Jesus was a rabble-rousing revolutionary that threatened to change their whole world. In this sense, the truth did not matter. Truth became a political casualty to them.

 

To Pontius Pilate, losing control of Jerusalem and of Judea was something he did not want. He did not want to have to call to Rome for more troops for a backwater district of the empire. The Jewish leaders deftly backed him into a corner by turning Jesus’ crime into one against the state of Rome by declaring that Jesus had said He was the king of the Jews. Now, it became an issue of whether Pilate was loyal to Caesar. Pilate saw his governorship in Judea as either his way up the food chain in the Roman hierarchy or his way to political oblivion. If he did well in the frustrating province of Judea, he could step up to more wealthy and more peaceful districts. If he allowed Judea to descend into anarchy requiring a large deployment of troops and much bloodshed to re-establish Roman control, he would be finished as district governor and would be relegated to an even lower post, imprisonment, or death. This was a critical moment for Pontius Pilate. He had to do whatever was necessary to maintain the status quo, the peace, the flow of Roman taxes, and the peace. At this moment, the truth did not matter. The truth was a casualty.

 

What is truth? Pontius Pilate did not know how profound his simple statement was those 2,000 years ago. When you analyze Jesus’ trial and crucifixion from a purely historio-political standpoint, it does not sound too different from the world in which we live today. Recently, I read some statistics recently that are alarming. In his sermon, “The Face of Deception” (see http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-faces-of-deception-the-ninth-commandment-timothy-peck-sermon-on-commandments-testimony-32711), Pastor Tim Peck states,

 

“The 1992 book The Day America Told the Truth found that 91% of us lie routinely about things we consider trivial. 86% of children regularly lie to their parents. 65% of married people lie to their spouses regularly. We lie about our weight, our income, our grade point average, our work experience, our age, even how many fish we caught during our last vacation. We hate it when people are dishonest to us, but most of us can’t resist being dishonest to other people.”

 

It was the trial of Jesus Christ and how things have not changed and may have actually gotten even worse today is what I thought about when I read today’s passage/verse, Deuteronomy 5:20, which reads as follows:

 

20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

 

We live now in a day and age where there seems to be no objective truth. Your truth and your reality may be different from mine. What works for you, what is truth for you is OK as long as it does not infringe upon what I perceive as the truth. We condemn our politicians for being politically expedient but they are simply a product of the culture in which we live. Truth is shapable. Truth is a sound bite. Truth is a video recorded on a cell phone. Truth is what I declare it to be. Truth is who gets to the media outlet first. Truth is what serves my or my group’s political ends. Truth is what serves the interest of protected groups. It does not matter the objective truth of a situation. What matters is how the situation plays into the generalized narrative of the culture. For example, shout racism and truth can be damned. Play the race card and regardless of the actual truth of a situation, those who are the targets of the racism claim are vilified and crucified by the press and those who are shouting the loudest.

 

Another example is that Christians are condemned for believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. We live in a world where all roads lead to heaven. All religions can be right and true at the same time. They are all after the same thing, right? All of us getting to heaven, right? It does not matter what avenue you choose. You do not even have to choose an avenue also. How can all these things be true at the same time. There can only be one truth. Jesus cannot be just a prophet to some and the Son of the Living God, God in the flesh, the one and only way to the Father all at the same time. Either Jesus, as CS Lewis said, is liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. There is no middle ground. We cannot be at one with the universe by achieving a higher level of consciousness as Hinduism and Buddhism would claim and be basically sinful by nature and in need of an intervening Savior as Christianity claims. We cannot achieve heaven through good works as Islam claims and be saved by grace only as Christianity claims. We cannot be good enough and what works for you may not work for me as humanism claims and be wholly condemned before God without Jesus at the same time. We cannot believe that God does not exist and have the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ at the same time.

 

Saying that the truth is in the eye of the beholder does not make universal truth any less universal. I am betting my eternity on the fact that there is one truth and it is found through Jesus Christ. If we believe that there are universal truths and those truths are expounded in God’s Word, then, we are measured by it and not what is politically expedient. The truth is the truth and it will always be true regardless of whether I want the truth to be what I want it to be. The truth has existence outside of my perception. The truth comes from God and is independent of what I think. Therefore, I believe God to be the arbiter of truth and not me, and not the media, and not the culture, and not who is shouting the loudest. I believe that God’s Word gives us objective truth standards by which He measures us. And we have been found wanting. It is only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ that we are not condemned by the objective truth of God, by His absolute and unchanging moral standards, by His holiness and purity compared to our lying rags of existence that we are in the absence of Jesus Christ.

 

So how do we apply these high-minded ideals to our daily lives? Yes, we are sinners and we have the propensity to twist the truth to our advantage. Yes, we are liars, thieves, and cheats by nature. The takeaway to me is that truth is independent of me and it comes from God. I must live my life as if I do not fashion the truth myself. I must live as though the truth is that I will be on the wrong side of truth at times. I must accept the consequences of violating God’s truth and not try to minimize its impact on me. I must live to guard the truth even when the truth is not popular. God is truth and we must honor God with living our lives in truth and spirit. When we believe that truth is from God and not from our perception, it makes God’s Word the guiding force in our lives in whole and not just in the parts that we like. When we believe that the truth is independent of us and that it is from God, we strive for truthfulness when it comes to our dealings with others. When we believe that truth is concrete, absolute, and independent and that God’s Word is His truth, then, we must believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. If that is then true, then, we should be moved to tears and to action to a world that believes that all roads lead to heaven and any belief system will get you there. If there is absolute truth and that it comes from God and Jesus said that the only way to the Father is through Him, then, we have urgent work to do.

 

Quid es veritas? What is truth? Truth is from God and God says that we are sinners by nature and that we fail when it comes to our relationship with Him and with others. The truth is that we are condemned by the truth. The truth is that we need Jesus Christ as the living expression of God’s truth. The truth is that we need to be covered in the truth and the mercy of Jesus Christ. The truth is that is truth is what our existence is all about!

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 9:43-45 — Have you ever had someone tell you something that is boldly and utterly true, but you refused to believe it. You refuse to believe it until it’s too late or that what was said actually came true. There was a time in my past that I refused to believe that someone I used to be married to was simply manipulating me to get what they wanted. There were people that I cut out of my life just to make this person happy. Everyone saw it. People would tell me the truth about it but I refused to listen. Many of us have gone through this in their lives. There is someone that we are so in love with that we refuse to see how they manipulate us into getting what they want and that they are only in it for “what’s in it for me.” We refuse to see that they beat us down emotionally. We refuse to see that we are different people when we are with them just to make them happy. We refuse to see that we are like a cat on a hot tin roof in our lives just because we are trying to please someone else. People corner us and tell us the truth about these toxic type of relationships but we refuse to believe the truth that is being told to us.

I think the disciples were kind of like us in this passage. They had this idea of what the Messiah was supposed to be. Thus, what Jesus was telling them; they did not want to believe it. I am not comparing Jesus to bad relationships as I mention above but I do mention the illustration to prove a point. Sometimes what we have in our mind is not the truth and when people show us the truth we refuse to believe it. To the Jews of the first century, the Messiah had been built into this conquering mighty warrior that would come and finally throw off the shackles of occupation and restore Israel to its former military and political glory not seen since the days of Solomon and David. The people of Israel had suffered through be conquered by the dynasty of the day for hundreds and hundreds of years. First, the Assyrians take the northern kingdom. The Babylonians take the southern kingdom. The Persians then conquer the Babylonians. The Greeks under Alexander the Great conquer everyone. Then come the Romans. The Jews had so many nation’s footprints on their backs they needed a scorecard to keep up with which was which. They were tired of occupation. Thus, they took the Messiah of Scripture and twisted it into the truth that they wanted. They wanted a real conquering hero that would lift the chains of oppression. They wanted a kick-ass Messiah that would drive the Romans out and re-establish David’s kingdom. Jesus tells them to read Scripture. He tells them that He, the Messiah, the Son of Man (as foretold by Daniel), must be betrayed, suffer and die.

This was the truth of Scripture but they refused to believe it. It did not jibe with the truth that they had fashioned in their head. They wanted satisfaction now in this life. They wanted revenge. It was the Israelite mentality that seethed below the surface. The truth of the Messiah from Scripture was something different. Jesus was being contradictory to popular belief but He was not being contradictory to Scripture. All the prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament are of a suffering servant who would give His life for the sins of His people. Jesus was to be slain as a sacrifice for our sin. He was not to be a military leader to drive the Romans out to meet the current needs of the Israelites. He came to save the entire world from itself. He came to save souls for eternity. He came to reconcile us to God. But that was not what the disciples knew from the myths that their society had created in their heads about the Messiah. They did not understand the truth that Jesus was telling them. According to Don Schwager, the disciples were “like a person who might receive a bad verdict from the doctor and then refuse to ask further questions, they, too, didn’t want to know any more. How often do we reject what we do not wish to see?”

How often do we hear God’s Word and refuse to believe it? How often do we read God’s Word and rationalize away why it does not apply to us? How often do we pick and choose what we will believe from the Bible and fashion our own belief system that fits with what we want? How often do we bastardize God’s Word into saying what we want it to say? How often do we ascribe something to the Bible that’s not even in there? We are like me in past relationships that I refused to see the reality of even when it was brought up to my face. I fashioned the truth to justify my situation. I refused to see. I was blinded by my own desires. I was blinded by my desire to be in a relationship so much so that I refused to see the truth that I knew was real. As Christ followers, we need to understand and obey all Scripture. It is timeless truth. It will always be true. The things we may fashion as beliefs may change but God’s Word is unchanging. Sometimes, it cuts like a knife through us. Sometimes, God speaks the truth to us through the tough comments of friends. In these sometimes, we must see and understand. We must accept the truth. We must comply with the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes, we must hear the verdict and accept the changes that we must make in our attitudes, lifestyle, and previously held stubbornly self-centered beliefs. Like the battered woman who has the courage to break free from an abusive husband because she finally sees the truth of the situation, we too must accept the truth of God’s Word and not fashion it into what we want it to be.

Father, help us to be better students of your Word. Help us to see it as all of it applying to us not just the easy and good parts. Help us to see your truth and change our attitudes and behaviors to comply with your will. Help us not to fashion you and your Word into what we want it to be. Help us not to make you into what we want you to be. Help us remember that we are here to give you glory and not the other way around. Help us to see our relationship with you in the right perspective. Help us to seek out your truth and not our own. Amen.