WRF Member D. Clair Davis Urges Us To "Tell the Truth About Jesus"
Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, and the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.
So runs the account of the Roman historian Tacitus. The "most mischievous superstition" was that Jesus claimed to be God when the Roman culture demanded that only the Emperor could be.
Our little world today can find some room for Jesus—but only because it doesn't take him seriously. It mumbles, "glad it works for you." But what can our world do with Jesus when he rejects being compartmentalized? If he says that he is the way, the truth, the life? Then it bellows, "hate crime," fiercer than "most mischievous superstition." That's when we want to cave and stop talking about him.
God has commanded us that when someone is accused we must tell the truth about him and not "bear false witness against him." We cut that back and say it's about gossip etc. but it's really courtroom talk where a life is at stake. See Jesus' trial in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 23 and John 19 and see what you find, where "miscarriage of justice" is massive understatement. The witnesses lie about what Jesus said and cancel each other out, but the judges keep at it till they get testimony they like. Pilate doesn't see any credible charge, but when the accusers yell at him that they'll tell the emperor how disloyal he is, then he gives in too.
Jesus was crucified by lying witnesses and biased judges. That tells us what our world is like, from the beginning. God had been very clear, eat anything except from this tree, but Satan muddies the words, "God couldn't really have said that, or maybe he's selfish and doesn't want you to be like him if you do." Eve trusts him instead of the Lord and the world was changed. Satan and his followers have been lying for a long time now. That makes our choices harder, there's always Truth out there but with it so many lies. False witness against God himself! That's life or death for us, just as it was for Adam and Eve.
But then God raised Jesus from the dead! The Father showed the world that it was Jesus who told the truth while surrounded by all those liars. They took his life away and the Father gave it back to him! Then it became totally clear who was telling the truth. Proverbs 14:25, "a truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful."
At his trial Jesus said very little, and no one there spoke in his favor—but his case was compelling. He had given that earlier in John 8. Hear him out speaking in his own defense, telling us why others don't take seriously his own words:
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.
Jesus pleads the authority of his Father and his own credibility. The issue is about more than what is true; it is also about where the way to freedom is—it is knowing who Jesus is that sets you free! The accusers have been much too trivial and small in their big talk—it's what does God the Father say, that's what's important. The accusers didn't really have a passion for anything meaningful, they just wanted to dump Jesus. The only way they make sense is that they live out their sinful hearts. But one thing they got right—it's all about how you see Jesus, one way or the other.
There's the most important truth there will ever be: who is Jesus? Satan has lost the war but he keeps on lying and so does the culture we live in, and we keep on hearing. We can be trivial about him too, "wretched man that I am." He shaped our lives to be this, "take up your cross daily and follow me," and that we don't want to hear. We too can pull apart truth and freedom and make them casual and small. But our Jesus invites us into his courtroom and pushes us to be clear about him, one way or the other—but the way to life and freedom with him is how he directs us to live. Who is Jesus, does he have a right to be heard? Who is Jesus, is it how you feel today, or is he your Savior and Lord? Those lies about him, so fashionable and sophisticated, what will you do with them?
A place to begin is Colossians 2: 6-10:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
Why did you stop believing the lies and turned to him instead? Just keep it up now, "so walk in him." That sophisticated culture all around you, just call it what it is, empty deceit, human tradition, elemental spirits of the world. It's all about Jesus again and again, but all about you too. You are full of Jesus since you've been filled with him, the head of all authority.
In that courtroom, we vote, “NO;” Jesus is who he says he is. We battle repeating all those lies against him, by the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. He is our Way, our Truth, our Life. Isn't God so kind?