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. 2 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? 3 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. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will knowmy Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 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…
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 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. 6 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.”
7 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.
9 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 secretary@CUMCAlliance.org. These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.com . 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.™