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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cantate
“All the Truth”
St. John 16.5-15
19 May 2019
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
+ In the Name of Jesus +
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in all the truth…” (John 16.13)
Truth is defined by one trusted Bible dictionary as the quality of being in accord with what is true, such as truthfulness, dependability, or uprightness. Truth is also the actual state of things, an actual event in history, or a reality.
“Truth” is also the content of what is true: “the truth” – like Jack Nicholson cried out to Tom Cruise in the movie A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!” Mostly the Bible “truth” to mean the content of Christianity as being the ultimate truth. “Sanctify them in the truth,” prays our Lord, “your word is truth.” (Jn. 17.17) The Psalmist says, “Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is truth.”
“All the truth” which Jesus says the Holy Spirit will lead Jesus’ disciples to is that which is necessary to be saved. That truth is found in the Spirit-inspired prophetic and apostolic Scriptures. These Scriptures point to and find their meaning in Christ Himself, who is called by the Gospel of John the very Word of God incarnate, “the Word made flesh” whose glory is seen, full of grace and truth. Jesus is righteousness itself, goodness, dependability, and truthfulness. As He says of Himself, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14.6)
So for the Holy Spirit to guide us as Jesus’ disciples in “all the truth” is to keep us on the way of God’s Word, to lead us to Jesus and to help us to follow where He leads and on the way He leads us – which is to be within and guided by the truth of His Word, His Law and His Gospel.
Now the world and the devil who battles all men spiritually tries to sell you that there is no absolute truth – that there are many ways and many truths and you choose your own way and your own truth, whatever you define truth as is true. This is the biggest gleaming lie of modern times from the devil, to say that each person believes defines truth for his or her self.
We see this clearly this week in the storm surrounding the passage of the anti-abortion law by the state of Alabama. Those on the pro-abortion side have lost their minds defending what they have to know is indefensible, the murder of unborn children. They literally have said anything to ignore the truth about children in the womb – but they have defined their own reality, their own version of the truth, as if the baby in the womb is somehow not really human, not worthy of life.
Another example is the man from South Bend who is attempting to run for president. He is openly homosexual. He claims that he is Christian and that his “god” is okay with his brand of sexual immorality. Again, he has been fooled into defining for himself his own version of the truth, and ignoring the truth of the clear word of God.
These examples are not the only guilty parties in this. We participate in defining our own truth no matter what the sin is that we participate in. The devil tempts us to define truth away from God’s Word and to take action on our impulses and lusts and desires. When the devil tempts us into or small shame and vice, when we sin against God and neighbor in thought, word, and deed, we are attempting to redefine truth away from Christ and His Word.
The holy Scriptures are the judge of all things. The Word rejects, curses, and condemns everything that the world undertakes, concludes, and ordains that is of its own mind and reason apart from God’s Word – if it is not built on the foundation of God’s Word, no matter what this world constructs, no matter how it may gleam and glisten, it is a false, misleading dream devoid of truth. It will eventually be overturned. It will be like the house built upon the sand. When the mighty storm of God’s judgment comes, great will be its fall. Whatever is not built on the rock of Christ and His truth is pure sin and damnation.
There is absolute, certain truth. Today on the fifth Sunday of Easter we prayed that God would make the minds of His faithful to be of one will – to be led “in all truth” by the Holy Spirit – to love what He has commanded and desire what He has promised. This is to love and desire Jesus and His Word. For there is the way to heaven, the way to the Father, the way to real and everlasting life.
There is no better time to be led into all the truth than Easter season, for when the cry rings out “Christ is risen – He is risen indeed, Alleluia!” we confess to the world the truth that all things our Lord Jesus teaches us in His Word, all His commands and promises, are absolutely and finally true above and beyond anything else – because indeed, Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.
If Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins. We are found to be misrepresenting God, St. Paul says, because the apostles have testified (to the death!) about God that that the truth is that He indeed raised Christ after He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. If Christ has not been raised, then the apostles’ preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are most in need of mercy, says Paul, if we have put all hope in a Christ who has not been raised. (1 Cor. 15.14-19)
But in fact, the truth is that Christ has been raised from the dead, He is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. The apostles have delivered to us this truth: That Christ, obeying His Father’s will perfectly for our sake, died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared alive to Peter, and to the twelve, to five hundred brothers at one time, to James His half-brother, to all the apostles, to Paul on the road to Damascus, changing the church’s biggest persecutor into its biggest confessor of the truth about Christ. (1 Cor. 15.3-9)
To know all the truth about God is to know the truth about how God comes to us and saves us from the lies and schemes of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. God’s truth is not a mathematical problem for us to figure out, it’s not like a jigsaw puzzle that we must put together. He isn’t a philosophical riddle for us to solve. We don’t figure him out. He shows himself to us and reveals all things to us openly through the Spirit of truth.
This sort of truth telling is done when someone loves another unconditionally. The love of our heavenly Father is the love that sent His Son to suffer and die for us. To know the Son and His love for us is to know Him in his suffering and death, because in dying for us He washed away our sin and took God’s anger away. To know the Holy Spirit and His love for us is to know him as he glorifies Christ by taking what is Christ’s and declaring it to us, which is to direct us to the suffering and death of Christ on the cross for our salvation and His glorious resurrection from the dead for our justification, our “not guilty” before the Father on Jesus’ account.
This is the center of all truth. The Father told the Son to go. The Son in loving obedience went. The Spirit directs the Church to Him. You and all believers are born from above where the Holy Spirit joins you to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The power of Holy Baptism is the power of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him and His work on the world’s behalf.
Christ has indeed made plentiful provision for His Church with the blessed truth of His divine Word. We have the gift of Holy Scripture being accessible to us, read and preached to us openly. We have the true doctrine explicated for us and for our children in the Catechism – the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Our Father, the Daily Prayers, the Table of Duties, along with true Christian ceremonies and rites that deliver the grace and mercy of Jesus: Holy Baptism, the Absolution, and the Sacrament of Christ’s holy body and blood.
“[The Spirit of truth] will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you,” promises Jesus. (Jn 16.14) In Christ, we know and can joyfully handle all the truth. In that truth is the way to heaven and eternal life. While you are on the way in Jesus and His truth, the Holy Spirit, whom Christ has given to you in your Baptism, strengthens you in the faith, sustains you in all trials, recalls and explains for you Christ’s words, and so guides you and finally brings you to the heavenly fatherland of eternal life. Thanks be to God.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +