“Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
“Yes, “said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’ As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation. What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke Him with many questions. They wanted to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him.Luke 11:45-54
Before we get into detail in this section, I want to address the issue of being meek and mild or forthright and firm. M & Ms or F & Fs. Of course you will go for M&Ms every time, won’t you? They taste much better. I don’t know what F&Fs are. I have had a number of responses to the last Gem, mainly picking up on the idea of gentle Jesus, meek and mild or the Jesus who confronts people and upsets them. Those who try to speak the truth in love are condemned for it. Are we to follow in His footsteps or not? Which persona of Jesus do we follow? The harsh confrontative Jesus or the gentle One? Those who try to speak the truth tell me of being castigated for it. So Ian, what do I do?
- Is it allowable to speak to others like Jesus did?
- WWJD ?
- Is it permissible for us follow suit?
- Should we be nice and gentle always?
The short answers to these questions are: Yes, Yes, No. Jesus always approached people with dignity. He never condemned people who were caught in sin. He always condemned the sin but never the person. The Bible tells us (through John 1:14 among others) that Jesus was/is full of grace and truth. I have shared this concept before, in sermons and other places. Christ is the perfection of Grace [hesed] and Truth [emeth]. Moses asked, “Show me your glory, your goodness.” John wrote we have all seen his glory. Does Jesus have a glow, a little halo? No, He has the same glory as God demonstrated to Moses.I.e. So much that God had to protect Moses from the intensity of the glory. There will be no sun in heaven, just Christ. The glory of the Son of God is like the radiance of the sun. The combination of Grace and Truth in Christ is the full force of that glory. I think the combination of grace and truth is so powerful, it would make you fall to your knees. Jesus cannot be one or the other; He is both and. . . We seem to only be able to show Grace or Truth. It is the combination that is life-giving and which manifests the Glory and the Presence of God.
Christ cannot soft-pedal the truth. The truth is either the truth or it is not. “You desire truth in the innermost parts.” Ps 52:6.
The following are notes from The Spirit of Truth by Arthur Katz and Paul Volk which I have had stored on my computer since I read the book over 30 years ago. I share them with you now because I think that Katz and Volk have captured something powerful here. Their comments are highly impactful. You may need to read them through a number of times to digest them.
Truth that is not the whole truth is not truth at all. To decide to tolerate one deceit is to violate the whole truth. . . The man who embraces most of the truth is not necessarily any closer to the truth than the one who affirms none of it. In fact he may be further from it. . . We want to speak truths but not be true. To possess truth but not to obey it. By confining truth to a small verbal, doctrinal part of our lives we condemn ourselves to being fragmented and full of internal opposition and contradictions, which is to say we condemn ourselves to being untrue. . .
Will 65% truth do? Truth is absolute, and something is either the whole truth or it is not truth at all. To slow down and barely slide through a stop sign is not a ninety percent obedience, it is a 100% failure to stop. . . We can refuse to love truth. Such a refusal does not consist of a singular, all-at-once act. It is rather the cumulative effect of a lifetime of choosing lies and half-truths, of preferring comfort over truth. . . . The light of truths merely known and professed but not walked in is not sufficient to dispel the shadows cast from within by the relativism and pragmatism by which we are living.(no page numbers because these are a pot pourri of quotes.)
If Peter needed Paul to confront him, we would be very foolish to think that we don’t stand in need of someone to confront us too. Hence, to speak the Truth in Love is paramount. This is why Christ always spoke the truth. Because it is the Truth that will set you free. So Christ always spoke the Truth but motivated by Love and Grace. Always! The hard part for us is in getting the combination right, or even having any grace and love mixed in there. However we still need to speak the Truth. At heart, Christ’s desire was for the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law is for them to understand, stop their pretence and repent. But they refused. The longer they refused, the more forthright and blunt (or sharp) Jesus’ comments became. We can start dialoguing with someone and mix more grace than truth hoping that the mixture of Grace will win them over. Don’t you know it is the kindness of God (hesed) that leads you to repentance (Rom 2:4)? But if the person we are talking with refuses to respond then our input needs to become more pointed and sharp in order to bring them to their senses. This is what Christ is doing. The pharisees have got themselves so locked into their pretence and lack of repentance that Christ had to shake them out of it. Being nice and gentle and meek and mild was not going to do it. It is like that with us at times and the people we relate to. The gentle approach can work with some but others needs the “heavy hand” in order to win them over or break through their deceit.
To say, “I love truth,” yet to want to be less than wholly true, is itself a contradiction. When the inner and outer life have been brought into unity it always shows. This is truth. What we need to do is frankly ask ourselves to what extent our love is in truth, or to what degree it is judgement and condemnation and lacking in love. The world is waiting to see the reality of Grace and Truth in us. Generally, when they see or feel the reality of Grace mixed with Truth they will respond. However, in the case of the Pharisees, they had for so long lived with deception, devoid of truth, that it was no longer possible for them to respond to Grace. Hence, Jesus had to add stronger doses of Truth. When you speak the truth in love make sure it is for the right reasons and with the right spirit.
To speak the truth you must demonstrate truth and grace. Just like with medicine, the expertise lies in getting the mix right.Anon
Jesus spoke the Truth strongly, in order to be able to affect the release of the person from untruth. That is the ultimate goal, the winning of their souls.Anon
Truth is not very popular, that is why it is easier to talk about it than to walk in it.Ian Vail
We are called to speak theTruth in Love; to be Grace and Truth. Ask the Master Physician for help you with the balance between the two.Ian Vail