“….I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” John 18: 37
(Note: I have faith in Jesus as a great prophet who loved his religious tradition. At the same time, I abhor acts of violence against Jews perpetrated by hateful and ignorant Christians who label all Jewish people as “Christ-Killers.” This Good Friday I will be repenting the recent killing of three people at two Jewish community centers near Kansas City, Kansas USA, and I will ask for conversion of heart for all of God’s people.)
Michelangelo’s resurrected Jesus leaps out of the tomb just as he tumbled out of Mary’s womb: a clean and unhindered human. This Friday many will hear the evangelist John tell the story of his passion once again. Jesus stands before Pilate and Caiaphas in the eye of a storm powered by fear. The power of truth lives in the spaces between his scant words: “I am.” “YOU say that I am a king.” “Why ask?” “I testify to the truth.” “I thirst.” “It is finished.”
At the end he substitutes the vulnerable silence of the manger for the strength in his few words truth. As we read Jesus’ responses, we can feel power emanate from his truth that is contemplated and lived. His experience is not unlike Martin Luther’s, “Here I stand, for I cannot do otherwise,” or Thomas a Becket’s “It is not given me to win you over, Henry; it is simply given me to say no.” Jesus is the unmoved mover, speaking sparingly but powerfully from the eye of the storm: “Here is the truth. I know it because I live it.” It proves to be too much for the power mongers.
And what of us? How does the witness of Jesus speak to us from John’s gospel on this Good Friday? Love truth. Seek it. Preach it. Preach it from the spaces between our eloquent words, where human traffickers and immigration officials, and yes, even legislators, will be confounded by its power. Only when we recognize truth, live it and preach it, does it belong to us and we to it.
John 19-19:42 New Revised Standard Version: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+18%3A1-19%3A42&version=NRSV
Photo Credit: “The Risen Christ” Michelangelo ca. 1513 black chalk drawing Collection The British Musiem, London, England