April 5, 2017 – 5th Wednesday in Lent
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read John 18:33 – 38
Grace and peace to you as your stand at the cross in the Truth, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Many news outlets all across the country take on the responsibility of seeking out and measuring the truth or untruth that comes out of the mouths of our politicians. Some of them even have a little meter or graphic that they use to share their findings. These forms of tell what is true or not have been named “Politi-fact” or “Fact-checking.” It’s interesting to see how many lies cross the lips of our politicians.
In December of 2015 the New York Times ran an editorial entitled: All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others. The editorial outlined just how much lying all of the presidential candidates were doing. But it also concluded, “Some politicians have responded to fact-checking journalism by double checking their prepared comments more carefully and giving their campaign ads extra scrutiny. Yes, contrary to the prophecies that truth in politics is doomed, I’m encouraged by the effect that fact-checking is having on some of our politicians and government organizations.”
It’s interesting to see that when politicians know that people are watching they’re facts they at least are little bit more careful about what they say. On the other hand, it makes you wonder about the true character of those who serve in our government. After all, it’s been said that the true measure of someone’s character is what they do when no one is watching. Telling the truth is the foundation upon which a life of good character is built, so what kind of character is being built when we expect our politicians to tell us lies. What kind of character are we proclaiming is acceptable when we accept that our rulers are going to tell us lies?
In the Third Sermon for Holy Week of 1534 Martin Luther paraphrased Jesus’ words before Pilate like this: “Do you want to know what sort of a King I am and what sort of a kingdom I have? Well, let me tell you. My kingdom is called and is a kingdom of truth … an eternal, enduring kingdom in which are found lasting, genuine, eternal blessings.” Jesus stands face to face with a lying politician and tells the ultimate truth. In fact, as Jesus had stated earlier, He is the way, the truth and the life.
We need the truth of Jesus in our lives because when we’re honest with ourselves we know that we lie just as badly as the politicians. We lie to ourselves and to other people. We lie to make ourselves look better. We lie to get ourselves out of sticky situations. We lie to get ahead in this world at times. But every lie that we make is a nail into Jesus’ hands and feet that puts Him on the cross for us. Our imperfection needs to be corrected with Jesus’ perfection. Our lies need to be covered over by the truth of Jesus and He does that for us.
The Psalms tell us, “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and Your law is true” (Psalm 119:142). The greatest truth in this world is the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made Flesh who not only speaks the truth of God’s Word but actually lives it out. He fulfills perfectly every commandment, every law, and every statute ever laid down by God. He is the fulfillment of the Law for us. He carried it out for us because we never could. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us what the Law says. Then He follows it with the words, “…but I say to you.” Jesus says the truth to us because He is the truth.
Since Jesus has carried out God’s perfect Law for us we now live in His kingdom that is filled with blessings that are lasting, genuine and eternal. It all starts with baptism that gives us God’s lasting blessings as one of His children. When we are initiated into God’s kingdom through the water and the Word, the blessing doesn’t just last for a day. It comes to us new every morning. It lasts our whole lives. Thus, the importance of what Martin Luther encourages us to do at the start of our day. He says, “In the morning when you get up, make a sign of the holy cross and say; ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.’” We are to remember our baptism, the perfect life of Jesus is given to us as we were drowned and die in our baptism and then come forth to live before God in righteousness and purity forever because of what Jesus has done for us. Each day of our life begins with a clean slate. Baptism is a blessing that lasts forever and as we remember it we grow in the truth of God’s Word.
Since Jesus has carried out God’s perfect Law for us we are now also given the blessings of God that are genuine, lasting and eternal. When politicians make promises too often people believe them and think that they will get something for nothing. Rarely does a politician make a promise that ends with a genuine gift. But Jesus gives a free gift to us that is absolutely genuine, lasting and eternal. He gives us His very body and blood to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins so that we will be assured of God’s love in our lives. The gift of baptism is the assurance that God has wash away all our sins and sent the Holy Spirit to work in our lives so that we can come to faith and grow in that faith. Then there is no greater genuine gift than the Gift of Jesus’ very body and blood that is given to us so that we may grow in our assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith. This is the one meal in life that is not only free, but also enables us to better live out the requirements of God’s Law as we let the body and blood of Jesus strengthen our faith. Yet when we fail to live the Law perfectly, that very same meal brings God’s genuine forgiveness back to us and the assurance that He is still working in our lives.
Since Jesus has carried out God’s perfect Law for us we are given blessings that are eternal. Politicians love to promise us the world and would love to be able to give us a gift that would last forever, but their promises are mostly empty. Even when they make good on their promises the results are only temporary. Jesus’ words do exactly what they say, they give us the forgiveness of our sins and the assurance of God’s love for us. When He pronounces that we are forgiven, we most certainly are. When He says to our grave, on that last day, that it has to give us up, it most certainly will and we will be with our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit for all eternity.
As Jesus stood in truth before Pontius Pilate He declared by His words and by His life that we who live in His kingdom are blessed. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only one who gives lasting, genuine and eternal blessings. He gives these blessings to us through His Word and Sacraments so that we can live in the assurance of His Forgiveness, love and grace, for it is lasting, genuine and eternal. And that’s the truth that we can live by now and for all eternity. Amen.