Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Spirit Of Truth Will Guide You To The Whole Truth

During his missionary voyage in Achaia, Macedonia and Attica, Paul speaks to pagan Greeks in a very different language than he uses in preaching to the children of Abraham, his fellow Jews. Yet, Jewish people in Greece at this time don’t speak Hebrew, they speak Greek! What is truly amazing is not that Paul is a polyglot – that he is fluent in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. It is his ability to speak to country folk and city dwellers, merchants and buyers, aristocrats and slaves in their own vernacular.

Today, while strolling through the Areopagus, the public square and market place of Athens, Paul notices a shrine different from all the other shines. There are monuments to Zeus, Athena, Aphrodite and the other denizens of the Greek pantheon; there are similar shrines to the deities of Rome, and of the peoples of western Asia, eastern Europe and northern Africa who come to the market to sell and to buy. But this shrine is dedicated “To an Unknown God”.
Paul makes this shrine to an anonymous deity to introduce the mystery of Christ Jesus to pagan ears. At the same time, he acknowledges the deity all genuine religions and philosophies have in common, for there is one God, who created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and in whom “we live and move and have our being.” Speaking to the heart and soul of his listeners, Paul sets in place the cornerstone of faith in Christ, his resurrection from the dead. Some of them shake their heads and walk away. Some say, “Come back some other time”. Some listen, and become believers.

Preaching and teaching the truth about God is on Jesus’ mind today, as well. His disciples have much more to learn, but they’re not ready to hear it yet. But he is about to return to the Father, and they will be taught by the Spirit of truth, who will share the fullness of truth with them. The Spirit will inform them of what is coming in the future. He will not be speaking on his own, since his source with be Jesus, and what Jesus has received from the Father. The Spirit of Truth will guide the disciples of Jesus in the truth.

One reason the disciples are not yet ready to hear the whole truth at this the Seder supper is an event about to take place later that night and on the next day: the arrest, trial, crucifixion and death of their Teacher. Never mind any consideration of his resurrection and ascension, or the coming of the Spirit. At the time, they could not have perceived Jesus of Nazareth as different from the prophets who came before him: a remarkably learned and holy man.
When people of any generation, from theirs to ours, consider Jesus without the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit that is the only conclusion they can come to: He is a remarkable man. Since the time of the Apostles, and especially during the last three centuries: from Voltaire and Rousseau, to Kant and Freud, to Russell and Marx, the opinions range from “dealer of opium to the people, on the left to “a remarkable man”, on the right.

Without the guidance of the Spirit, the sincere study of the teachings of Jesus would gain a disciple, at best, a place among the Pharisees. It is the Spirit alone that can open our minds to the mind of "the man from Nazareth."

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