The gospel of John powerfully associates truth with Jesus. In each of today's texts a lesson is clearly evident about the association between Jesus and truth. Consider this lesson from two perspectives. First, if you know Jesus, he introduces you to truth. Second, if you know truth, it introduces you to Jesus. Jesus and truth are inseparable.
What truth is considered? Truth from Jesus is truth about God's nature [which involves all spiritual matters]. Truth from Jesus is truth about our human natures. Truth from Jesus is truth about human nature moving toward divine nature in the human's desire to be reconciled to God.
One aspect of God's eternal nature is truth. Humans must understand truth is essential to God's character and integrity. Truth is a part of God's nature, God's being. Because truth forms a part of God's divine nature (in the same manner that love forms a part of His divine nature, 1 John 4:8), God cannot lie (see Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 6:18). He cannot lie for at least two reasons: (a) truth is a part of His nature, and (b) there is no evil in Him. Because God cannot lie, we place faith in Him--we rely on His word and trust His promises.
Jesus is presented repeatedly as God's son. The son reflects the glorious nature of his Father. The Father whose nature includes truth cannot be represented by a son who is deceitful. If the son represents the Father, the son must have truth as a part of his nature. There must be an essential link between the son and truth.
The special link between Jesus and truth makes our association with Jesus a demanding challenge. Truth is not a natural part of our nature. Humanity was deceived by evil. Satan knows our preferences in thoughts [and deeds] and uses our desires to create deceptions. Whereas God cannot lie, we can [and do!]. Even when we are committed to truthfulness, we find it challenging [even difficult!] to be truthful when truthfulness is personally costly. Fear often motivates us to forsake truth. Therefore, Jesus' link to truth and our proneness to deception often creates a crisis for us.
Why? Consider Jesus' illustration in his discussion with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21). Jesus used the contrast between light [that which comes from God] and darkness [that which comes from evil]. Those who follow him are to be light in order to reflect the glory of God in the godless world filled with darkness (Matthew 5:14-16). Humanity likes evil and the temporary pleasures that evil's deceptions provide. Humanity does not wish to understand (a) that it has been deceived or (b) that our deception results in consequences. Humanity has learned to cherish darkness. Darkness does not require self-examination. In darkness, we can believe anything we choose to imagine about ourselves. Thus light is not welcome because it forces us to see and acknowledge reality about ourselves. Light sent from God (a) forces us to see ourselves for who and what we really are and (b) forces us to see God for Who and What He really is. Therefore, when Jesus came shining light in our darkness, those who loved evil resented Jesus! Why? They feared exposure! (See John 3:20, 21.) Only the person who wishes to escape the deception of evil welcomes the exposure produced by light.
Consider the gospel of John's emphasis on the relationship between Jesus and truth. Begin with John 1:14. The preexistent Word assumed human form in the flesh. The preexistent Word lived as a human (also see Philippians 2:5-11). This human had glory, but the objective of his glory was to reveal and stress the glory of the Father. Two things would fill the physical existence of this glorious human who accurately reflected the Father: grace and truth. Through Jesus, humanity could see God's grace. Through Jesus, humanity could see God's truth.
One of Jesus' conscious objectives was to reveal the truth about God's nature and purposes in a religious society which was confident they knew God's nature and understood His purposes. Read John 8:31-59. Note this was spoken to the Jews who believed on him [not to unbelieving Jews!] Note being disciples necessitated continuing in his word. Note continuing in his word [teachings] would result in knowing truth. Note knowing truth would result in freedom.
These who believed in Jesus were highly insulted by the suggestion that they were not free. They were so offended that these who believed (a) called Jesus a Samaritan and demon (verse 48) and (b) attempted to kill him (verse 59). Jesus challenged them to see the truth about God and about themselves.
The last night of his life, Jesus stressed that he and truth were synonymous--inseparable (John 14:6).
In one of his final trials prior to death by crucifixion, Jesus told Pilate that he came into this world to "testify to the truth" and declared, "Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice" (see John 18:37). Pilate did not understand.
Little has changed through the ages. We allow our marvelous technological development to deceive us into believing that humanity has changed. People who accept God's existence, including us, cling to preconceived convictions about God's nature and God's purposes before they study God's nature. Those people, including us, cling to the conviction that they serve God's priorities and purposes before learning what God's priorities and purposes are. Rarely does anyone say, "Jesus, teach me about God and teach me about myself. You embody truth. You are the way to God. You fully and clearly know what I need to understand. Help me open my heart. Help me open my mind. Give me the strength not to fear your light. Shine your light in my life so I can be your disciple instead of being content to claim to be your disciple. Help me be freed by God's truth instead of thinking I am free when I am not."
It is much too easy to assume we know God, assume we follow Jesus, and assume we know God's purposes in our lives. It is easier to assume than it is to allow Jesus the truth to shine his light in our lives. It is easier to assume than it is to open our eyes to God and self. It is much too easy to assume that truth is all about doctrine. It is much too easy to assume that God's purposes are fully served by advocating "correct" doctrine to the exclusion of godly character and integrity. It is much too easy to assume that we are reflecting God's concerns when we are actually pursuing our interests.
It is hard to allow Jesus the truth to open our eyes to God and to ourselves. It is hard, but it is worth the effort!
For thought: Why is it hard to allow Jesus to be the truth when he tells us things like John 4:23; 5:39,40; or 12:46-50?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 11
previous page | table of contents | next lesson