There is a story told of a very eminent University Professor who was called to give evidence as an ‘expert witness’ in a very legally significant case at the High Court. Normally very modest and retiring in regard to his knowledge, he was asked in court why he was qualified to speak on the subject. He replied: ‘I am the world’s single and greatest source of information in this area.’
Outside of the court a friend expressed surprise at his candid and un-characteristic comment, to which he responded: ‘What else could I say? I was under oath!’
The truth has always fascinated mankind; the quest for truth in a dispute or perhaps in a scientific discovery. I’ve always marvelled at the fact that a truth remains a truth whether we understand it, accept it or haven’t even discovered it yet … it still remains the truth. The world is not flat … it’s round, we’re all travelling at approx. 1000 mph right now, 150 people a year are killed by coconuts and a baby’s eyes are the same size now as they will be all their life – the truth remains the same even if we don’t understand it, accept it or know about it yet. So …. What about the ultimate question? Is there a truth to life? Does it exist? If it does, surely, we owe it to ourselves to investigate? Is it there but we just haven’t discovered it yet?
Jesus got into trouble because he said there was a truth, and that he was it!
Billions of people alive on the planet right now can testify to the life changing, life empowering truth of knowing Jesus in their lives. The Bible tells us that God is not hiding and he’s there to be discovered. Paul in our reading, reminds the church in Rome of the truth that God’s Holy Spirit is available to live in every one of us and should we ask him to enter our lives he does and when he does, we become the people we’re truly meant to be. Jesus said that he was life and he had come to bring us life.
I love the line in the Gospel reading where Jesus fills Lazarus with physical life and then tells his friends to ‘let him go’ ; that he should be unfettered to live life with freedom and that we, like him, should not be restricted by the things in life that bind us and limit us like guilt and shame and unforgiveness and separation from God.
In many ways, we are like a hand puppet. On the outside, we can look fine; bright, happy, all the bits there, successful even, but when the reality is investigated, there is nothing substantial on the inside; there is no life.
Jesus said that he had come to fill us with life and when we discover him and ask him into our lives it changes everything. That’s the promise of God on offer; it just requires a decision to be made and when we make it, then just like the puppet and Lazarus we can be filled with new life and be set free to live our lives in the fullness that God intended for us.
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale