In our postmodern era, some have asserted that truth is all relative to one’s perspective. Yet it is our perspective that is relative, not truth. How I experience the taste and feel of water is my perspective, not whether water exists. How people perceive and experience racism or other “isms” varies dramatically based on our upbringing, social standing, the color of our skin and host of other factors, but there is no disputing that racism exists.
And truth is personified in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus who lived, died, was resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of God the Creator as King of Kings.
At the end of this momentous exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate that we hear about in our Gospel lesson today; an exchange that takes place, we might remember, not long before Jesus’ death; at the end of this momentous exchange Jesus says to Pilot,
You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
The next line of the Gospel is left out of today’s reading. The next line, when Pilot, in response to Jesus saying he has been sent to the world to testify to the truth and everyone who belongs to the truth listens to his voice, says, “What is truth?”
What is truth?
What is truth?
Truth is the opposite of a lie. As when a parent asks a child to “tell the truth now.” In this sense, truth is a practice to be taught and learned throughout life.
Truth is the absence of making things sound better than they are. As when a biographer tries to frame someone’s life story in a candid, vividly painted portrait that includes the warts and failures and shortcomings as well as the victories. In this sense truth is more powerful as it reveals imperfections alongside triumphs and strengths.
The prophet Daniel tells us, “See Jesus is coming with the clouds around him!”
The writer of Revelation tells us “See, Jesus is coming before the Ancient One who is God and Jesus will be given glory and kingship forevermore.”
Hearing these evocative images describing Jesus, one might imagine our Savior will reign on high with a kind of pure perfection beyond the reach of humanity. And that is true. Yet the fullness of the truth of this Jesus who is our Savior forevermore is even more fantastic, more wonderful.
To these images of majestic glory amidst heavenly hosts we must add the image of Jesus the suffering Servant. Jesus, who we heard just a few weeks ago, took off his towel and washed the disciples feet before the Last Supper; Jesus who reminded the disciples and us that if we would be great we must tend to the least and the lost and the weary; Jesus, who willingly gave up his life so that we might have new and resurrected life through Jesus’ presence, transforming the substance of our beings.
So the truth is that Jesus reigns in glory on high AND Jesus suffers alongside us here on earth.
So the truth is that Jesus is Sovereign of Sovereigns AND Jesus humbled himself to become human and die and rise again so as to be fully Immanuel, fully God-with-us.
This Immanuel is God-with-us, helping Good News Lutheran Church on San Antonio support refugees crossing the border, fleeing violence and this Immanuel is God-with-us here at Redeemer as we collect items for the SCC Food Pantry and an adopted family for Christmas.
This is the Jesus upon whom the Church is built and upon whom our lives are built. This is the story of Jesus revealed through Church in the world, for all those who need it.
Today is Christ the King Sunday, a day when we celebrate that though Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, nevertheless by grace through Christ the kingdom is seeking to break into this world with love and mercy. This, my friends, is the truth.