In the Garden of Your Mind
Mister Rogers Remixed | Garden of Your Mind | PBS Digital Studios
31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
\ ˈtrüth \
plural truths\ ˈtrüt͟hz , ˈtrüths \
Definition of truth
1: the body of real things, events, and facts : ACTUALITY
2: the state of being the case : FACT
3: often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality
b: a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true of
c: the body of true statements and propositions
2a: the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
b: chiefly British : TRUE sense 2
c: fidelity to an original or to a standard
3a: sincerity in action, character, and utterance
barchaic : FIDELITY, CONSTANCY
4capitalized, Christian Science : GOD
: in accordance with fact : ACTUALLY
Original Word: ἀλήθεια, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (al-ay'-thi-a)
Usage: truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness.
225 alḗtheia (from 227 /alēthḗs, "true to fact") – properly, truth (true to fact), reality.
[In ancient Greek culture, 225 (alḗtheia) was synonymous for "reality" as the opposite of illusion, i.e. fact.]
In Hebrew the word truth is Emet/Amet. The word is spelled Alpeh/Mem/Tav (אמת). The numerical value for this word is 441. The word translates as “truth” 92 times, “true” 18 times, “truly” seven times, “right” three times, “faithfully” twice, “assured” once, “assuredly” once, “establishment” once, “faithful” once, “sure” once, and “verity” once. 1 firmness, faithfulness, truth. 1a sureness, reliability. 1b stability, continuance.
While that gives us a little more revelation, it is still not concrete. It is not until we look at the actual letters that make up the word that we get the meaning of truth. We find out that truth is not antiquated or fulfilled. We find that truth was, is, and is to come.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. ... How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!
- Autobiographical dictation, 2 December 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 (University of California Press, 2013)
“If you Please GOD, It Does not Matter Whom You Displease. If You Displease GOD, It really Does not Matter Whom You Please.”
The scripture of Jesus going to the Feast of Booths, John chapters 8 and 9, contains an immense amount of spiritual significance - I’m talking about information and direction that can alter one’s perception of theology and belief drastically. I heard a quote referenced just yesterday in a show that I was watching with my wife. It was a quote from Thomas Merton, who was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion: “Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” ― Thomas Merton
I typically teach each year on Palm Sunday. It is one of my favorite lessons to teach, and I am always moved by the children waving the palm branches and shouting Hosanna! I won’t go too far down this path, but the fact that Jesus chose the Feast of Booths to utter the statement, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” carries with it such depth. God does not do things by accident and there is meaning in and around and through all that He does and says - the setting, the timing, the participants.
Chapter 7 begins with a bit of a conundrum, as Jesus says one thing, yet he does another:
5For not even his brothers believed in him. 6Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
10But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.
So, did Jesus lie? I’ll let you wrestle with that one - I have been for years. But know this, truth will force you to wrestle with your greatest antagonist, yourself. If it does not challenge and destroy and tear at the fibers of your preconceived notions and safe space ideologies, then I may have some shocking news for you - you aren’t encountering truth, and if you are, then you aren’t paying attention to it or you are outright rejecting that truth.
Jesus, now front and center at the temple in mid-feast is laying down some truth bombs that is eviscerating well-held beliefs, and traditions, and speculations, and rumors:
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Where’s all that judge not lest you be judged yourself Jesus at? I’ll let you wrestle with that one - I have been for years. Here Jesus is establishing authority - not in himself or his actions - not even in scripture necessarily, but in His Father:
“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
So caught up in the moment, and the excitement, and in the speculation - even hope and desperation I’m sure were present - the people ask if this can be the promised Messiah, the saviour that they have been waiting for for thousands of years. They as much as ask him bluntly - and where does Jesus direct them?
So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”
And just so that you know that you are not off the hook - who in here can tell me how important it is to know scripture, to read these words, these stories, these teachings?
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
And in the vast wisdom and counsel of inference, speculation, and knee-jerk reactionary thinking - Jesus is attacked and mocked with the very scripture that tells of his coming. Even Nicodemus cannot calm the crowd that calls for his arrest:
Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
We’re so good, aren’t we? There used to be a worship song or a Christian artist song about if Jesus showed up at your church, would you let him in? If freedom presented itself to us, would we gladly accept it?
We are fat and happy as Americans. We are cognitively lazy. Our moral compass is set to spin cycle and we conveniently call out and condemn others for the very things that define our secret selves.
Do you ever notice how the people that are the most vocal about others' offenses are often the ones with the most skeletons in their closet?
Politicians, doctors, priests, pastors, police officers, teachers, business leaders, non-profit board members - there’s always some story about how they’ve been grooming children for horrific crimes, they’ve been embezzling money from state funds, they used their non-profit as a tax shelter and on and on and on the story goes.
We’ve become obsessed with shoving FACTS and DATA and SCIENCE down each others throats in - THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH - and when those articles or those statistics change 6 months later - we don’t care enough about our integrity to backtrack the hurtful hateful garbage we’ve spewed at one another. We are literally watching the titles of articles being edited from 6 months to a year ago to match up with the new information that is constantly barraging our conscious and subconscious realities. We’re enslaved to the lies that we live - imprisoned by the truth that would shine light on the darkness of our secret selves.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
We’re going to cruise through about 25 verses right here, but you’ll be ok, I give you my word. Listen to Jesus here direct the conversation where? - right back to God. Jesus establishes his stand against darkness in God alone. He does not trust in the things of the world, in the things of man, in the things that can be altered and changed and twisted to play with some sick need for control and power - GOD IS POWER!
So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
21So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
And we come to the apex and culmination of this teaching - the scripture and words of Jesus that started this teaching off.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
Jesus does not mince words here - he calls those attacking him children of the devil. You see, you can be bold and forceful in the defense of the real truth - not democrat or republican, not conservative or liberal, not even you whacky libertarians out there. We need to speak what we have learned from our Father - and since no one has seen the Father save the Son - we need to speak what the Father taught the Son to share with us.
If you're living in darkness - if you struggle with hypocrisy - if you don’t know what is true anymore - if you’re enslaved today in your secret self - the Truth will set you free.
I Love this country - I Love the people - I Love the church - but if I don’t Love God and put him first, none of matters.
“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.”
― Thomas Merton
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