The KEY Witness
“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. 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.”” (John 18:37 ESV)
My oldest granddaughter turned 16 in December and, just this week, received her “learners permit.” That event caused me some concern, not because she’s a bad driver but because it reminded me of my early days of driving. There’s a valid reason why insurance companies charge higher rates for young male drivers. When I was 16 my younger brother broke his arm during football practice and had to be taken to our local small town doctor’s office to have his arm set and put in a cast. I was working in the school counselor’s office when I heard and walked the few blocks to the doctor’s office to check on him. My father had arrived and was with my brother, so I asked if I could take the car and drive across town (probably less than a mile) to go get my paycheck from working. Dad handed me the keys and I took off…
The town where we lived was divided by a set of railroad tracks that were always quite busy. As I left the doctor’s office, a train had just passed through and traffic at the Main Street intersection was very busy and backed up. People were frustrated from waiting on the train and in a hurry. As I approached the intersection, I was going slowly because traffic in front of me had become congested. I was just a little over halfway through the intersection when the light changed and I saw cars start moving towards me. I tried to get out of the intersection but was clipped in the right rear by one of those cars and was spun completely around.
I tell you this story because when the police arrived and started taking down accident information and witness accounts, they were receiving conflicting views and stories. I maintained that the light was green when I entered the intersection but turned yellow and then red while I was still in the intersection because of the traffic congestion. The person who hit me maintained that I ran the red light and that’s why she collided with my car. We ended up in court with a jury trying to determine fault and financial liability. We each presented our view of the accident and even had witnesses that supported our view. But, in the end, the jury couldn’t decide who was right and who was wrong and finally decided we would each pay for our own damages. In essence, a no fault decision as to responsibility and liability. The jury couldn’t determine the truth so we both won or lost, depending on your view or financial liability in the matter.
Sort of like our culture’s view of truth… conflicting views and beliefs. So, the court of public opinion has determined that all truth must be relative. Truth depends on your perspective or viewpoint and nobody is fully right, so all of us are right (and wrong). Sort of. If truth can’t be determined, then whatever you believe is truth for you and whatever I believe is truth for me. The idea of absolute truth is now considered to be the epitome of arrogance and intolerance. And if there’s anything we won’t tolerate, it’s intolerance.
Last week, I felt like I didn’t give this “key witness” statement of Jesus enough attention, so I want to revisit it this week. I want you to try and wrap your head around that statement and begin to let the implications of it sink in. Now, my skull is a bit thick and it takes a little longer for some of these things to penetrate so I’m going to approach this simply and slowly. The entire REASON and PURPOSE for the incarnation of the Son of God is to bear witness to the truth. Don’t think I’m just trying to be dramatic here. Those aren’t my words, they are Christ’s: “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.” Based on that statement, I can tell you that our modern view of truth is simply WRONG!
The easy approach to this problem is to simply declare our culture wrong and that we and our beliefs are right, enough said. But, that doesn’t really resolve the problem, it simply shuts down communication and any opportunity for resolution. Most folks, regardless of their religious background or preferences, will admit that Jesus and his actions were incredibly powerful. But, what they miss is that the purpose of His life was to bear witness to the truth. So, I want to spend a few minutes looking at how Jesus witness to the truth is so powerful and is so far greater than any other witness as to not even be comparable. I want to briefly look at three ways Jesus’ witnesses to the truth…
First, His witness to the truth is in His words. The teachings of Christ are powerful and effective. During a trial, a witness will be called upon to take the witness stand and to do so under an oath that the words they are about to speak will be “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Under the penalty of law, the words they speak as a witness must be truthful or they can be charged with and, potentially, convicted of perjury. Don’t take the witness stand unless you’re willing to speak the truth.
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:47-50 ESV)
When a witness takes the stand to testify, the jury is charged with listening to their testimony and then evaluating the truthfulness of their statements based on the evidence provided and the general reliability of the witness. In other words, does their testimony match up with the facts as we know them and does their account of the story and their credibility seem reliable? Let’s ask that question of Christ’s testimony. Do His words bear the marks of truth? While we don’t have room in today’s post to review all of the reasons, the message of Jesus regarding our sinful condition and God’s plan of redemption match up with the facts of life as we know them and have experienced them. What He says about us, our needs and our lives appears to be true based on our experiences.
Second, His witness to the truth is in what He did and how He lived. Jesus’ actions and lifestyle was consistent with what He said and taught. Jesus didn’t make moral demands and have high expectations of His followers and then live a private life of greediness, drunkenness, sexual perversion and violence. His actions were consistent with His teachings and His purpose was fully revealed in His substitutionary death. He had continually taught that His purpose was to give His life as a ransom for the people…
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
The Son of God did NOT come to be served, but to serve and to give. So, do His actions represent the truth? Let me answer this by posing a different question. Have you ever experienced a sense of grief, frustration, or even despair when you hear of a parent who has abused or neglected their own child? Why? Because we believe, deep down in our souls, that a parent should be willing to do whatever is necessary to protect and care for his or her child. The greater gives himself for the lesser. That’s also why we believe a king or a general should be at the forefront of the battle, leading the charge. So, do Jesus’ actions represent the truth? Yes, He gives himself for His children. The King leads the charge against the enemy of sin and death. His actions demonstrate the truth.
Finally, the threat of harm doesn’t affect His witness of the truth. One of the most effective methods of destroying witness testimony is through intimidation. If you can intimidate the witness with the threat of harm or even death, then the witness may recant or refuse to testify. If the truth is a threat to our own health or safety then we may be willing to ignore or deny the truth to protect ourselves or our family. We readily recognize that the threats against Jesus didn’t cause Him to back down from the truth. He knew the likely outcome of his trial before Pilate, and He was ready to “drink the cup the Father had given him.” Why? Because He knew the outcome, the RESURRECTION! He could embrace the cross because He was certain of the resurrection.
Now, I want you and me to grasp that same truth. Jesus told Pilate, “everyone who is of the truth, listens to my voice.” Those who are of the truth, those who seek real truth and not relative truth, will listen to His voice. Relative truth is a perversion, a lie. It is taking the truth and bending or reshaping it just enough to make it fit my desires and my will. We live in a world that wants to take the teachings of Christ and bend them just enough to fit their own desires and their own will. That’s not hearing the truth, that’s making up your own truth.
The danger is that we don’t often realize we’ve bent the truth to fit our own desires. We read it or hear it and then imperceptibly change it to fit our wants and wishes. Sometimes it is blatant and obvious, but most of the time it isn’t. For example, we read that God desires to bless us and give us the desires of our heart and we translate that into financial blessings and perfect health. But that’s not what God promises. That’s a false gospel. We read that God is love and then mistranslate that into “love is god” and we let our sexual appetites and desires lead us into sexual perversion and disobedience. That’s a false gospel.
So, what is the truth of Jesus message? That we are sinners in desperate need of salvation and are unable to save ourselves. Our moral goodness is like filthy rags in God’s sight. We need a savior, and Jesus, God’s only Son, came to bring us back to God. He died in our place and for our sin, and His resurrection guarantees us eternal life when we place our trust in Him and what He has done on our behalf. He’s the KEY witness of God’s love and grace. Do you believe His Witness of the Truth? Trust Him today…