When I see a title like this, I tune out.  It usually means someone is going to go on a rant about some specific belief of theirs, whether political, religious, social, or personal.  So why would I risk turning everyone off with a title like this?

Because I believe we are facing just this, a war for truth; not for “a truth” or “your truth” or “my truth”, but for Truth itself.  For decades we’ve discussed how postmodernism is relativising Truth and wondered where it would lead us.  I’ve watched as my youth classes have ever increasingly answered the most basic questions with, “It depends” to the point that it has become a joke among us.  And now I listen to our presidential candidates who say something one day and then say the opposite the next, and then on the third day deny they said either of those things, even when faced with a recording of their own words.  When Truth is no longer consistent, we have lost the ability to communicate.

As Jesus stood before Pilate on the day that He died, they had a conversation about Truth.

 “…The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.  And then he left Him…    – John 18:37

I don’t know about you, but I am on the side of Truth, and I define Truth by Jesus’ words.  The Truth is that we were created for relationship.  The Truth is that when we fight the truth, there are consequences.  The Truth is that Jesus came, fully God and fully Man, to show us the way back to Truth, and then to die in our place, to take on and pay the price for our Truthlessness.  The Truth is that by following Jesus, we can live with Him forever.  This is the Truth, not an opinion.  It won’t change tomorrow because it’s politically convenient.  It won’t ever NOT be the truth, which means we can count on it.

What is Truth, Pilate?  Jesus is the Truth.  If only you’d realized that sooner.

A simple phrase can impart a whole gamut of emotions if shared with those who understand.  If I simply say the phrase, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” I conjure up a plethora of emotions in those who have seen the movie Jaws.  A looming crisis, danger, fear, lack, the permission to try crazy solutions… all from a simple phrase.

On the cross, as Jesus died, He uttered a phrase that did the same for those who heard.  “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  It’s a heart-wrenching cry to be sure, but when you know your Old Testament as the Jews did who heard Him say it, it is packed with so much more.  It is a quote form Ps. 22, and the entirety of this psalm, all it’s emotion, fear, pain, and despair, are packed in to this small reference.  The Psalm says this…

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.

On the cross, Jesus was living out the truth of this Psalm, written 1000 years before Christ was born.  He faced this pain, loss, fear, and loneliness, and He did it for you and me.  He not only died for us, but He faced THIS for us.  What wondrous love is this.

We are having two bathrooms overhauled at our house right now. What was 1.5
baths will soon become 2 baths. This will be a fabulous, daily quality-of-life
improvement. It will be. It will be. My new mantra. Thank You, Lord, for what it will

These improvements are turning into a pretty big project with the moving of
plumbing and walls. All this work has meant having men in and out of my house–
and my bedroom!!–for several weeks now. The whole family is now using one little
guest bathroom downstairs for all of our pottying and bathing needs. You wanna
talk about “First World Problems”? Only ONE bathroom? DOWNstairs? We’re fine.
We are. But this big project has altered our daily routines, and not just the bathroom
kind. I pretty much do all the same things I used to do, but when and where I get
them done has changed. Shifting my routine was difficult for me at first. It turns out
I’m a little more stuck in my ways than I thought. I have a curmudgeonly streak.
Who knew?

These changes have made me notice things I had been overlooking before. It has
given me a new appreciation for our home, for our family. The change in routine has
helped me do some decluttering, too. Discovering junk that hasn’t been touched in
forever that was right under my nose, unnoticed.
I think this is part of the lesson of Lent. A change in routine–it seems most Lenten
practices require an altering of the routine–helps us become aware. We notice the
good, we get rid of some bad; we shift our focus for 40 days. We fight any tendencies
to be a curmudgeon in our following of Christ.

– Julie Dahlberg

I’ve been wronged in my life.  You have, too.  Most all of us have at one point or another.  Someone has said something untrue which caused us grief.  Assumptions have led to broken relationships.  Many of us know the truth of the old saw, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  The disheartening thing is that its a pretty sure thing that we will face it again.  But if this is so, the question becomes “how will you react?”

As Jesus hung upon the cross, the ultimate symbol of unjust punishment, His reaction MUST inform ours.  The only human in history without sin dies a sinner’s death, the only perfect man is charged with every kind of evil.  God Himself is wronged by humankind, and His reaction to it?

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they have done.”

This is not my usual reaction.  When I’m wronged, my reactions move from self-doubt (“maybe they’re right and I’m wrong”) to fear (“what else might happen”) to anger (“how dare they accuse me of that”).  But seldom is my initial reaction that of Jesus: forgiveness.  And so I live this faltering life attempting to grow in my Christlikeness to the point where I can react to personal injustice with forgiveness.  It’s not easy and I’m no where near that yet.  But the act of sanctification, becoming holy and Christlike, is a life-long process, so I cut myself a little slack and continue the journey of learning.

May we all find the humility to forgive our wrong assumptions, then the slights, then the gossip, the lies, and finally the punishments we don’t deserve.

Last Sunday, we read about James and John, the “Sons of Thunder” who were two of Jesus’ disciples.  Immediately after Jesus predicts His own betrayal, torture and death (for the third time), these two come to ask Jesus to grant them power.  “Let us sit at your right and left hands when you begin the revolution,” they say.  Jesus simply asks if they can handle experiencing what He is about to experience.  They blindly proclaim that they can.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, once again but this time silently, Jesus wept.

There were only two people in the gospel who are given the place at Jesus’ right and left sides.  These two men were the criminals on the cross with Jesus.  These two men are the only ones who are said in the gospels to have literally born their crosses.  But their reactions to Jesus are as different as night and day.  The first hurled insults at Jesus as he hung there.  “If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!”  Not a literal cry for mercy; just the meanest thing he could think to hurt Jesus.  It is said that in our deepest darkness our soul is revealed.  The second rebukes the first with a tight bit of logic.  “We are suffering justly, for we deserve this.  But this man hasn’t done anything.  He is innocent. Don’t mock Him, for of the three, He is least deserving.”  It is said that humility is understanding and accepting your true place in the world.  This man recognized both his own guilt and Jesus’ innocence.  Truth, humility, and honor hung there next to Jesus.

And so when he makes one last simple request – “remember me when you come into your kingdom” – Jesus grants it.  I wonder if Jesus was thinking back to the Last Supper He shared with His disciples, a meal where He proclaimed that every time they ate it, they should “remember me”.  I wonder what this echo of His own words just a few days before did for Jesus.  Regardless, Jesus answers, “Honestly, today you will be with Me in paradise.”

Which of these two men most reflects your spirit?  When things get really hard, do you tend toward blame and cursing, or toward humility and truth?

“Jesus, remember me.”