2008-03-28 - Truth versus Meaning
John 8:31 (NIV) 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."
Suppose you ask me to tell you about my wife. I might tell you these facts. She has brown hair, green eyes, is about my height and is two months older than myself. I have told you the truth about her, and you can chose to believe these truths. But do you really know her any better than before I answered your question?
I could have answered you with, "I think she is the most wonderful woman in the world! She has long, flowing brown hair and sparkling green eyes that smile. She captures my heart."
Do you see the difference in the answers? The first is simply truth, while the second is the meaning behind the truth.
In our attempt to understand the Bible and the character of Jesus, I often wonder if we are only looking at the truths, and not the meaning that goes along with the truth. Years of breaking the Bible down into systems - and our quest to understand the mysteries of Christ - have we lost the meaning? We study, diagram, chart, create systems, dissect words, look for hidden meanings, rely on commentaries and so forth. Have we reduced the Bible to just a book of truths? Don't get me wrong; I firmly believe the Bible holds the truth for everything, but are we looking so hard at the truth, that we miss the actual meaning behind the truth?
The Bible is more than a book of truth. It is a book of meaning, and when you really get down to it, is simply a love story.
Jesus is more than systematic theology has made of Him. The other day, to a group of people who asked about Jesus, I caught myself saying the following truths: Jesus was the fully God and fully man. He was born of the Virgin Mary; he died on a cross for our sins, rose again, and then ascended back to Heaven.
I spoke the truth, but failed to explain the meaning behind these truths. I believe Jesus is saying the same thing in the verse today. As He said, you believe me (you know the truth), but if hold to my teachings (understand the meaning) then you really are my disciples.
Perhaps a more meaningful answer to what is Jesus all about would be that He loves you so much, that He came down from Heaven, made Himself just like you, and experienced all the suffering and joys you experience. Then He died a brutal death on a cross for you, defeated death, rose again and appeared to more than 500 people - and ascended back to Heaven, to wait for his disciples to arrive and then live enveloped in that unconditional and indescribable love He has for us, with which He built our eternal house.
Now that has meaning.