“The High Price of Truth” Mark 6:14-29
The 8th Sunday after Pentecost (B) 7/8/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL
They are the foundation of any solid relationship. And the closer the relationship, the more important, critical and essential they are. Be it in a marriage, in the life of a family, certainly in a church family, and any lasting friendship.
I am speaking about the elements of trust and truth. Over the past several weeks in our worship services and the sermons preached, we have been considering one’s trust in the Lord and now in the Gospel text before us, it is all about having and living in God’s Truth.
The fact of the matter is… as with so many other things in our life… the issue really is black and white… very clear cut. Not that you would know it by the world, our society and prevailing culture.
Simply put – there is truth and there are lies. The one, singular… truth… the other, plural… lies… and many of them. As there are countless shades of gray, so there are countless shades of lies… with none of them being true white. In one way or another, they are off color, tainted and tinted.
Holy Scripture makes it clear that Truth with a capital “T” emanates solely from the Lord our God and is so poignantly seen in the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, He who is the Way… the Truth… and the Life. All singular… one Way, one Truth, one Life all found in one Savior, our Savior and all the possession of those who follow Him and confess Him… those in Whom Christ dwells richly and fully.
They… we… have the truth in Jesus. The question is… what do we do with it? What have we done with it? With the Truth? That which, from a worldly point of view can be so inconvenient and so easily avoided. But to do so, is to avoid Christ… to deny Christ… He who is Truth incarnate.
John the Baptist, along with almost every other person in the region at that time, knew full well that Herod Antipas conveniently divorcing his wife to marry Herodias, the wife of his half-brother, Philip, was against God will, God’s Law.
Oh, but it gets better! You see, both Philip and Herod Antipas were sons of Herod the Great and Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great. So yes, Herodias married two of her uncles.
This is something you would see on the Maury Povich show. A show that is totally focused on the sick and the sordid… that which is rapidly becoming and in many ways already is, the acceptable and allowed… the condoned. A world that revels and revolves around lies… is built on lies.
And each of us knows this all too well as we are aware of individuals engaged in actions, in lifestyles and living arrangements that are an affront to the Lord our God… to His will… to His ways. Yes, some are strangers, but many others are close acquaintances and even members of our own family and circle of friends. People living outside of God’s Word and will.
Given the fact that Herod was in a powerful position, the vast majority of people said nothing out of fear. And we still see this happen, but more likely, it is out of the fear of losing someone, of not having them like us, love us, associate with us.
And so we are willing to live a lie, to perpetuate a lie… the lie that what someone, what others are doing… is fine… that it is ok. And we say this, give this impression maybe not in so many words or no words at all. We simply let it be. That says enough.
Dear brothers and sisters, your silence, my silence, our silence in matters where the truth of God’s Word is at stake… where it is being trampled underfoot and totally obliterated… is tantamount to our consent of the same… our condoning of the same.
There is no middle ground… no shades of gray. You and I either speak the truth, live the truth of Jesus Christ… that which we find in Holy Scripture… or we live with and are complicit with the lies promulgated by sin, Satan and this world of ours.
Lies regarding the existence of God. Lies regarding how we and all creation came into being. Lies regarding the role of parents and the individual responsibilities of mother and fathers. Lies regarding the killing of unborn children or the advantages of assisted suicide. Lies regarding one’s sexuality and sexual behavior. Lies regarding marriage and unholy unions and relationships. Lies regarding coveting and stealing… and the list is literally unending.
When you come right down to it, do you know what really stands in the way of speaking the truth, living in the truth of God’s Word, God’s way? it is the sinful self and selfishness… self-centeredness. That of others, but us as well… at times… too many times.
Why? Because dismissing the truth allows US to live OUR life as WE see fit. And overlooking the truth as to what others are doing takes away for US any potential conflict and grief, any potential emotional or physical pain so that WE can supposedly live in peace… which is a joke. A big, fat lie.
You want to know the Truth? Yes, there is a high cost to be paid for living it, for speaking it, for standing up for it. John the Baptist is proof of that as are countless other martyrs and those who right now, this very minute, are paying that high price and then some… all for the truth found in God’s Word.
But above all this, you and I need only look to the cross and see the highest price ever paid for the Truth, by He who is the Truth, so that we can have the Truth. The Truth that all of our sins, all of the times we have failed to be faithful witnesses of God’s Word, God’s will… are gone, forgiven, blotted out with the precious blood of Jesus and that we have a new start, a fresh start in Christ
We have the Truth that even though we will suffer for the Truth, He… Jesus.. will sustain us through it all, strengthen us through it all by means of His Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments so that we can go on, continue on in the Truth, live the Truth even though it will always be inconvenient and unpopular.
We have the Truth that whatever suffering or heartache we face, it will all be gone so very soon, in the blink of an eye as Christ comes to take us and all the faithful to be with Him in heaven where peace and joy, love and tranquility never end.
And that, my friends, is the Truth! Amen.