One thing that sets Jesus apart from other great historical figures is that he always told the truth.
There were occasions when he refused to answer a question that was asked with malicious intent, but he was never deceitful.
Think of some of the famous people in the world today: politicians, celebrities, sports stars, actors, singers, and so on.
How many of them could you describe as being mostly truthful?
How many of them do you think would lose power or money or popularity if they started telling the truth about what they really thought or how they really lived?
Jesus always told the truth about himself, about God and about what was inside human hearts.
Unfortunately by doing so he made a lot of enemies. Why? Because some people he spoke to couldn’t bear someone who was able to see into their heart and expose their true character to the world.
Many of the people he met were initially supportive of a man who looked as if he might be the answer to God’s promise to free his people from oppression. They were expecting God to send them a strong military leader, like their great king David of old, who would destroy the occupying armies of the Roman Empire and establish a powerful, independent Jewish nation.
After witnessing Jesus performing a public miracle, many of them were convinced the time for action had come:
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:14–15)
Jesus walked away from them. Why? Because there was an even deadlier, more oppressive force than the Roman Empire, one which needed to be destroyed in order for them to be free.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. “ (John 8:31–34)
What is sin? Sin is an act or an attitude which is in opposition to God.
What does it mean to be a slave to sin? It means a way of life in which our thoughts and our words and our actions prioritise our own pleasure or survival at the expense of others or at the expense of God’s instructions on how we ought to live.
Anybody who is a slave to sin cannot be a part of God’s family.
This was the truth Jesus needed to tell these people and this was what made them hate him. On this occasion the conversation ended like this:
At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:59)
Here is a question for anyone who considers themselves a Christian today: are you willing to open your heart to Jesus’ words and example, compare yourself to him, and admit to yourself where you fall short?
The message of hope Jesus brought us is an indescribably wonderful opportunity, but only those who are willing to expose every dark corner of their mind and heart to the light of God’s truth can be a part of it.
One of the early Christian leaders put it like this:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12–13)
Jesus himself said:
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen.” (Luke 8:16–18)
A Christian must tell the truth not only to others, but to God and also to him/herself.
Is that something you can do?