Do I Lie?

Do I Lie?

May 07, 2023*

By Pastor John Partridge

John 14:1-14              Acts 7:55-60               1 Peter 2:2-10

During the fourth season of the television situation comedy, The Office, one member of the team refused to participate during a staff brainstorming session and clearly said “No” when asked to do so. When the office manager pressed him further for his participation, he angrily shouted “Did I stutter?” That line has since become an often-repeated internet meme applied to all sorts of other situations. We can relate to his frustration.

We are sometimes dumbfounded by the way that the people around us aren’t listening, or left speechless because, despite spending time with us, act as if they don’t know us at all. In those moments our brain is churning and our reaction is much like “Did I stutter?” We wonder how we could have spent so many hours, or years, with that friend, that coworker, or that family member, and somehow, they missed understanding something about us that we thought should have been pretty obvious.

These can be those moments when we just stop, stare, and think, “Are you serious right now?”

Just before the words of today’s reading from the gospel of John, Jesus had told his disciples that he was leaving, and where he was going they could not follow but would follow later. The disciples are distressed. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

We usually read past that quickly and barely notice it. It doesn’t seem like much. But Jesus responds to the distress of Peter and the other disciples as if they have completely missed something important that he’s been trying to tell them for three years, which, if we’re honest, seemed to happen with some regularity.

But with that in mind, we join the story in John 14:1-14, where we hear Jesus say…

14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will knowmy Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus says, “…if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” And it is as if he is saying, ‘Did I stutter?’ ‘Do I lie?’ Haven’t you been with me for the last three years? Don’t you know you I am and what I represent? Would I ever be the kind of person that tells you that I am going to do something, that I wasn’t going to do? By now, after three years of ministry together, Jesus seems to have expected that the disciples would… trust.

This entire conversation is like that. Philip wants Jesus to show them the Father, but Jesus insists that showing them the Father is exactly what he’s been doing for the last three years. “Don’t you know me, Philip? Even after I have been among you for such a long time?” By now you know me. And because you know me, you know my father.

Most of us can weigh in on that from our own experience. Of the people in this room, there is Pastor Chris, my wife Patti, and maybe one or two others who met my father. But I would be willing to bet, that on the day that you meet him on the other side of glory, you will not be surprised. If you know me, you already know a lot about my father.

What Jesus is saying is, ‘You already know me. What you need to do now is to trust me and to believe in me.”

Not long afterwards, perhaps three to six months later, that is exactly what Stephen is doing. Stephen is not a disciple, at least, not one of the twelve disciples, but he has heard the good news of Jesus Christ, he has trusted Jesus, put his faith in Jesus, and Acts 6:8 says, “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” But for doing good, for performing signs and wonders, probably healing the sick and casting out demons, and other things that the religious leaders couldn’t do, he gets arrested, put on trial, and condemned to death.  And at his trial the Sanhedrin ask him if there is truth to the accusations against him, and rather than defend himself, he preaches the truth and confronts them with the reality that they are responsible for the murder of Jesus but also for enabling his resurrection. They’re so furious that they rush outside to execute Stephen by stoning, in Acts 7:55-60.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen trusted, then he believed, and then he testified to the truth regardless of the cost.

But what should we do?

We have not been in the presence of Jesus, or his disciples. We do not yet have the faith to heal the sick and rarely have the opportunity to cast out demons. What should we do? That is exactly the question that Peter seems to be answering in his letter to the followers of Jesus Christ in Asia minor in 1 Peter 2:2-10 when he says…

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual houseto be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”


“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter says, “crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”

“Crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”

Crave pure spiritual milk.

Think about that.

Peter says, start small. You don’t start working in your profession and expect to start as the CEO. You start at the bottom and work your way up. You don’t start life by collecting your pension. You begin at the beginning. You start small, but you are expected to grow and to mature. You are being built into a spiritual house.  You aren’t there yet, but you are under construction and sometimes construction is messy. You are being built into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood so that you can offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the cornerstone of our church and everything that we do. But while some people will build on that cornerstone, others will only be able to trip over it. It’s the same stone but they stumble because they refuse to obey the instructions that came with it.

You are under construction but even in the messiness of the building process, you are already a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.

First you trust.

After you trust, then you believe.

After you believe, then you testify.

And after you testify, then you build.

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation.

Jesus said so. And if you doubt him, you might just hear him ask…

… Did I stutter?         

… “Do I lie?”

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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page.  Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio.  Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you.  Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601.  These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership.  You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at  These messages can also be found online at .  All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

What Are *You* Building?

“What Are You Building?”
November 15, 2015
By John Partridge

Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:4-20                  Hebrews 10:19-25                       Mark 13:1-8

We often hear investment advisers and construction companies tell us that we should invest and that we should be building. But if we should invest, or if we should build, are often entirely the wrong questions.

Every day, we invest.

Every day we build.

The question isn’t if, the question is what.

You may remember me telling this story before, but a little more than fifteen years ago, I was happily employed as an engineer. Patti and I had already felt God’s call on our lives, but we did not yet have any idea what, or when, that call might be. But my contentment took a hit right around September 11th, 2001. It may have started a little before that, but it was surely shaken afterwards. Before that time I thought I wanted to be an engineer for the rest of my career, buy a little farm in the country, and retire. But after that, something began to nag at me. I still liked what I did and most days I would gladly do it again, but something had changed. I realized that while I really liked seeing the things that we designed and built, and while it was a great feeling to see those things leave the factory on the back of a truck, and to see them installed, something bothered me. I began to think about permanence. Almost all of the things that we were building replaced something old. A new furnace replaced an old one. A new control system replaced an old one. And no matter how ingenious or how brilliant our designs were, so were the designs of another engineer thirty years earlier. Fast forward another twenty or thirty years and some other engineer would tear out the things that we had made and melt them down for scrap. So I began to think about what I was building.

What difference was I making?

Forty, fifty, or a hundred years from now, what difference would my life make?

That question eventually led me here. But it is also a question that comes to us in today’s scriptures. We begin in 1 Samuel 1:4-20, with the story of Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel…

4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” [because “Samuel,” in Hebrew, sounds like the word that means, “heard by God.”]

There is an interesting difference between the two wives of Elkanah. Hannah, who has no children, is charming and beautiful, and adored by her husband. So obvious is his preference for her that his other wife, Peninnah, deliberately antagonizes her so that she cannot enjoy herself at the feast. Peninnah does this even though God has blessed her with many children and has given none to Hannah. Hannah’s character is revealed as she turns to the lord in prayer instead of retaliating in any way.

Despite her childlessness, Hannah had been building a tender spirit and a strong faith and trust in God.

And so, in due time, God uses Hannah, to raise up a great prophet for Israel.

And then in Mark 13:1-8, Jesus has something to say to his disciples about the things that God is building. What Jesus has to say was both unexpected and unsettling for those that heard it.

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

As Jesus and his disciples leave the Temple, his friends excitedly point to the greatness of the Temple that Herod had built. Some of the largest stones were, at that time, visible as you traveled along the walkway outside of the Temple and those stones have, in modern times, been unearthed by archaeologists. We have a good idea what they were talking about, and in fact, the chances are good that we are looking at exactly the same stones that Peter, James, John and Andrew were looking at. The largest of these is nearly twelve feet tall, 14 to 16 feet thick, 45 feet long, and likely weighs over 570 tons. Even if the estimate of its thickness is incorrect and it was only five feet thick like many of the other stones, it would still weigh more than 175 tons. Herod’s temple was, absolutely, one of the single most amazing construction projects in the known world and is still studied today by architects, builders, engineers, historians, archaeologists, and others because of its beauty and incredible feats of engineering.

The Temple was designed to point to an awesome God, inspire awe, and to remind everyone of the power of King Herod.

But Jesus isn’t impressed.

Jesus tells his friends that a day is coming when the Temple will be destroyed and the stones will be thrown down. As impressive as the Temple was, the building that they were looking at was not the end.

God was building something better.

Jesus wanted his disciples to know that a church building, no matter how impressive, is not the church.

God is building something better.

A great clue to what God is building can be seen in Hebrews 10:19-25.

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

What words did you hear in all of that?

I heard words like hope, confidence, forgiven, open, washed, faithful, good deeds, encouragement, and love. Not one of those things sounds like a church building, or a temple, or cars, or houses, or machines. But every single one of them has everything to do with people.

And in the end, that is one of the reasons that I’m here today and not an engineer. The things that we build will be gone in a decade or two, but the people that we build last much longer, and when we build families, they can endure for generation after generation.

But you don’t have to be a pastor to invest in people.

You don’t have to be a pastor to build people up.

Investing and building people is the mission of our church every minute, of every day, of every week, of every year.

The Temple that Jesus and his friends were looking at, as impressive as it was, wasn’t what was important.

The Temple wasn’t the church.

This building isn’t the church.

We are the church.

And our mission is to find, love, rescue, invest in, and build people and families.

And that, is how we can do work that will last for generations on earth, and for eternity in heaven.

The church has never been about building things.

The church has always been about building people.

What are you building?

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