The fact is that we live in a unique time in American history. A country that was originally founded with Christian morals and values has reached a point where God’s Word is no longer at the center of the belief system of most people. I would also argue that at no other time in American history has our country been so gravely divided along countless issues. These issues are also exacerbated by the innumerable amount of “labels” we place on each other such as…conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans…as you know, the list goes on and on. In John 18:33-37, John highlights a similar time of sunder and labeling during Jesus’ time on earth.
In verse 33, Pilate, presiding over Jesus’ sentencing, tries to cast the label of “King of the Jews” onto Jesus. Jesus deflects the title (label) and asks Pilate, “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?“ Jesus goes on to explain that His kingdom is not of this world. Eagerly wanting to apply a label of judgment to Jesus, Pilate promptly replies, “You are a king, then!”
Similarly, today’s news media outlets assign labels and develop narratives for those not agreeing with their opinions or agendas; oftentimes as a way of intentionally sowing division and hatred. Conversely, stated in John 13:34, Jesus gave us a new commandment to live by. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In our daily lives, we don’t need to necessarily concur with everyone around us; however, despite their viewpoint, opinion, or label, Jesus decrees that we “must” love them.
In verse 37, Jesus says, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” In John, 14:6, Jesus also says, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” The “side of truth” is the “side of Jesus.” Moreover, John begins his gospel record stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Biblical scholars refer to John’s reference of the “Word” as Jesus. Suffice it to say, if we want to be on the “side of truth” in any matter, mirror that matter back to Scripture to find the truth indeed.
- Are our opinions and beliefs formed by testing them against the “truth,” the Word of God, or are we blindly responding to labels developed and cast by others?
- Commanded by Jesus, do you still love those around you that may be “labeled” differently from yourself?
by Morrice Blackwell