Earlier today I was thinking about certain truths that I’ve had to face up to as I’ve gotten older. Just the fact that I’m getting older is one of those facts. The attending degeneration of my aging body is another one of those facts. (Yes, a simple strain in the back is enough to turn me morose.) And as I was turning over the phrase “face the truth” in my mind, a scene from the life of Jesus came to my mind.
It was the night of his betrayal. He had finished praying in the garden with his disciples and was admonishing them for their weakness when Judas and a mob showed up. According to John, Jesus asked the mob who they had come for. They replied “Jesus of Nazareth” and then something strange happened. Jesus said, “I am he” and the mob “drew back and fell to the ground.” Why? What did Jesus say that drove back an armed mob and caused them to fall to the ground?
There’s a good theological answer to that, but I won’t attempt to give it…today. I think the reason that this scene came to my mind is because it sort of mirrors what happens whenever people have to face truth, particularly difficult truths about ourselves.
We go charging about convinced and intent just like the mob in the garden that night. Then, like them, we come face to face with truth and it knocks us back on our heels, or even flat on our backs. And then, we must choose. Do we get up and continue our charge, even more convinced and intent or do we approach the truth and embrace it, learn to deal with it on its own terms? Wasn’t that the mob’s choice: to continue with their plans to arrest Jesus and drag him before the rulers for a bogus trial or to admit that they were in the presence of “I am” and learn from Him what to do with The Truth they were face to face with?
No, really. This is how my brain works sometimes…