There is an interesting story in John18:33 and following. Jesus has been arrested, and he was taken to the Roman governor Pilate. The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of treason against the Roman Empire, saying Jesus called himself a king and thus a challenger to the throne. That would definitely pique Pilate’s interest, and he questions Jesus. Read John 18:33-38 to see how their discussion goes.
I want to focus on the line where Jesus’ said that he came to testify to the truth, and everyone on the side of truth listens to him. Pilate responds with the question that so many of us are asking: “What is truth?” It is a question philosophers through the ages have asked, and the answer is not always easy to come by, especially in a world of so much false news.
But Jesus said that everyone on the side of truth listens to him. Are you listening to Jesus? That reminds me of another event in Jesus’ life.
Do you remember the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration? Jesus took his closest disciples, Peter, James and John, up to a mountain to pray. There Jesus’ was miraculously changed in appearance, shining bright white. And guess who shows up? Elijah and Moses, perhaps the two greatest prophets of Israel. Peter is blown away, of course, and he does what he so often does. He lets his emotion carry him, and he tells Jesus, “Let’s build shelters for you all…” and just then, we read that God the Father, interrupts Peter and says, “This is my beloved son, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.”
In other words, God is saying, “Peter, be quiet. Though you have before you Moses and Elijah, listen to Jesus.” We must listen to Jesus.
We find truth in Jesus. Christians must make a practice of seeking truth in Jesus. So let us not engage in detestable practices, trying to gain knowledge and power from them. Steer clear of them. Instead, listen to Jesus.
To listen to him we need to spend time with him! Read the four stories of Jesus’ life, The Gospels. Learn from people who are experts on Jesus.
Read books like Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew. Jesus is surprising. Yancey, in that book, talks about how when he started a careful, close study of Jesus, he was shocked at what he learned. He thought he knew Jesus. Of course, he knew a lot, but through his study, he learned so much more. He found out that he had viewpoints on Jesus that needed correction.
Sometimes we need to be put in our place, like God did with Peter, and not assume that we have listened to Jesus. I can almost guarantee that when you listen to Jesus he will destroy your echo chamber. Jesus is not conservative, or progressive or liberal. Jesus, as he said, has a kingdom is not of this world.
When I was in the Clergy Leadership Program a few years ago, my cohort had pastors from a variety of Christian perspectives. Lutherans, Catholic,Orthodox, and many others. We’d get into theological or biblical discussions regularly, and when some of them started talking, I sometimes didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I realized that I could live in my own echo chamber. They knew Jesus in ways I had never heard about, and I was tempted to think that they were wrong! It was kinda scary. Being in an echo chamber is so comfortable because you are affirmed all the time, and you don’t have to learn or grow or hear that you might be wrong. Those other pastors showed me a Jesus I never knew.
The same thing happens in our local Conestoga Valley Ministerium, when we have Bible study, and I hear what Mennonite or Pentecostal or Brethren pastors have to say. What I have come to find is that those other perspectives are so good for me. I don’t always agree, but many times I do, and in fact have learned that my view of Jesus and his Kingdom was shallow, an echo chamber view, and my view needed to be expanded.
So get out of your echo chamber. Seek to learn new and different views. Especially about Jesus. And find the truth in him alone. Jesus isn’t going to tell you which political party to follow. But you can learn about his Kingdom, and you can learn to apply his kingdom principles to all of life.