Before reading this sermon, please watch the short movie clip from the 1998 film: "the Matrix"" which can be found at: The Matrix - Red Pill Blue Pill - YouTube
I want to talk to you about the difference between truth and certainty. The Gospel of John talks a lot about truth. John mentions it over and over and for John, truth is all about revelation of the Father by Jesus. Truth is revealed, unveiled. It is not some secret knowledge that needs to be given, it is a mystery slowly being revealed, not a secret.
You have to remember that in the time that the new Testament was being written there was a group called “Gnostics”. Now gnosis is the Greek word meaning knowledge. The Gnostics were great speakers, they could whip people up with Grand language, and they believed that there was this secret knowledge, and once you were on the inside, once you had this secret knowledge, that was all you needed.
Not so for John, who talks not just about knowledge, but knowledge of the truth.
Jesus has not just told them about his Father, but you can see from the first line of the prayer: I have revealed you to those whom you gave me.
Then we have these wonderful words about being in the world but not of the world.
This is why I wanted to show you the clip that we saw from the 1998 film: the Matrix. There is an unreal world all around, pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. Once we know the truth, once we, as he says in the movie, take the red pill, we cannot go back to seeing the world as we once did. We know the truth. Christianity is a lot like this.
There is a whole series of books written about the Christian theology of the Matrix movies.
When Morpheus tells Neo about the prison that we are born into, he uses the word “bondage”. How much is this like the language we use talking about original sin. He even says that you can’t be told about what the Matrix is, you need to see it for yourself. In other words, just like in John’s gospel, it needs to be revealed to you!
We as Christians are involved in a search for truth. At the end of this reading for today, Jesus prays for his disciples, asking that his Father makes them “Holy in your truth, your word is truth.” So I other words: The search for truth is the search for Jesus.
Now in John 1, John says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. He is talking about Jesus here. Jesus himself, in John 14, says, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
So Jesus is the truth, in the word is truth, Jesus is the word of God. He is the living word. It is all about Jesus.
But you might think, wait, I thought the bible was the word of God? And you would be right. The bible is the word of God, given to human beings, and it forms the only source and norm for all matters of doctrine and practice. We say that in our Lutheran confessions. We say that at the start of Synods. We say that the bible is inerrant, and we even have debates over that means. Does that mean that it is perfect, with no mistakes anywhere? I know from my Greek and Hebrew language studies that it not the case. The bible we have now has been translated and transliterated, and there are changes and mistakes. But that’s okay.
I can get up at the start of Synod and say that the bible is inerrant, because for me that doesn’t mean every dot on every I and cross on every t is perfect. For me, it means that the bible is true.
In your word is truth.
And why is the bible true? Because it points to Jesus who is the TRUTH with a capital T. As Luther said about why the bible is holy? “because it is the cradle in which Jesus is found”.
It’s all about Jesus.
Human councils got together to decide early on which books would be in the bible, what we call the “canon” of scripture, and which books would not. And do you know what one of the most important criteria was about which books made it in? they pointed to Jesus. They were Christocentric.
But now I want to talk to you for a minute about something else that I have seen in some people. And it is something that worries me. It is not a search for truth. It is a search for certainty.
We, as a Lutheran church are involved in dialogues with other churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican church, etc.
We are involved in the search for truth. Now if you are looking for truth, you are willing to listen to the other, and even to change your mind on somethings if necessary, because if you are wrong, you can be corrected, and then you have found truth. And then you share with them, and they are willing to listen to you.
But if you are looking for certainty, you will not be willing to even listen to the point of view of the other, as you are CERTAIN that there is nothing that you can learn from them. This is a big danger in any church, and it presents as a big danger to us this year as we move forward towards our general synod.
There are many things of which we will never be certain this side of heaven. How can Jesus be truly human and truly God? How can Jesus body and blood be there in, with and under the bread and wine? Our human mind can not even comprehend how these things can be, but that does not mean that they aren’t! It is one of the things I love about our theology that we resist the human need to explain everything, and there are just some things that we call articles of faith, places where we just have to be comfortable with not knowing it all.
Trust in Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith, and in the Father whom Jesus has revealed to us. And be okay with not being certain about everything. I mean, if you knew everything, you would be God, wouldn’t you? Wasn’t that the first temptation? To be like God?
The last words of the Matrix clip are the words of Jesus himself, and I love that they are in there: Do you remember what they were? : Follow me.
Don’t follow a need for certainty, which becomes about me and how certain I am. Follow our Lord Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.