George Orwell once said, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” But this was not some new revelation (maybe to him) because Plato said many centuries before Orwell these words, “No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.”
Seems like that is still true today. Truthtellers are silenced, cancelled, threatened, fired from jobs, jailed, censored, labeled as crazy heretics – or worse, called racists, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, (even if not white skinned) – or whatever negative label currently in vogue will do the most damage. Truthtellers witness what happens to others who attempt to ask questions or to tell what they have experienced personally and they are scared into silence. The risk of speaking out any truth is too great. The price is too high.
I think Benjamin Franklin would disagree, however. He said in a letter, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I believe “temporary” to be the operative word in that statement. Any safety purchased by silence and acquiescence is only temporary at best. But the resulting loss of liberty is permanent. And that loss is passed on to future generations. Temporary safety comes at a high cost – a cost with no reward and dire consequences.
How are we so easily tricked into believing what is not true? Sometimes even in the face of our own experience which contradicts the lie and reveals the truth, we still choose to believe the lie. Which is unfortunate because as Voltaire said in the 1700’s, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” That’s the whole point of propaganda, isn’t it? To make us believe the lie and act accordingly.
In John 8:32 I read these words of Jesus,
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Truth and freedom are inextricably linked together. Without truth – there is no freedom. This is the age old struggle – the battle between truth and lies, still being played out today. John 8:44 clearly exposes the leader of those opposing truth. Jesus identifies truth’s enemy when He speaks to the people, giving them a kind of “if the shoe fits” description to help them understand,
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
In contrast, Jesus says this about Himself in John 14:6,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus is the truth! And the truth sets us free! (John 8:32) No wonder John 8:36 tells me,
“So if the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Jesus, being truth, came to proclaim truth, to proclaim the truth of the gospel to a hurting, desperate world. And just like Plato would have predicted, Jesus was hated because people did not want to hear the truth. They preferred a lie. Paul confirms this about people of every age throughout human history saying,
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator -.” (Romans 1:25)
No one has been more hated than Jesus was in His day. The people’s hate for Jesus was so extreme that it led them to crucify Him on a cross. They did this because they did not believe the truth of Jesus’s identity, but instead believed the lies those in power put forth about Him. (kind of proves Voltaire’s point doesn’t it? – if you can get the masses of people to believe certain lies, you can control their behavior and get them to act, committing atrocities)
The Jewish people had been waiting for a Messiah to come for centuries. Their own Torah perfectly predicted His coming and His identity, but when He actually came, they preferred the lies of their current culture to the truth of their own scriptures, such as Isaiah, and to the truth of their own experience as they heard Jesus preach in their synagogues and on the hillsides and saw the miracles He did. They believed the lie rather than what they saw with their own eyes.
Jesus upset the current power structure in the church. The chief priests, Pharisees and scribes were in charge and had a lucrative deal going, what with all the money they collected from the masses for sacrifices and other offerings they required of the people. Jesus had come to set people free – free from the burden of their sin which held them captive. His death also set them free from the continual obligations of bringing sacrifices and offerings into the temple because He, Himself, had paid their price, forgiven their sins and made them right with God.
The Jewish religious leaders couldn’t let this happen. If people had direct access to God through His Son, Jesus and through His gift of the Holy Spirit, then the priests, the Pharisees, all the religious leaders, would be out of a job. They would lose their position, power, influence, prestige and income. They could not let this happen. They had to convince the people that Jesus was not who He claimed to be. They needed to accuse Him of something, anything. Never mind that it wasn’t true. A lie would serve their purpose better than the truth.
“And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.’ ” (Mark 3:22)
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ ” (Luke 5:21)
“Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” (Mark 3:6)
The truth of who Jesus is had to be suppressed and a lie had to be created to take truth’s place. Why such fear of One who had come to redeem and restore mankind? Evil, greed and lust for power (or to stay in power) were certainly at work in the events that took place. They tried unceasingly to find fault with Jesus – like when Jesus healed a man’s hand on the Sabbath. Here’s how that went down –
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched Him closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. . . . He (Jesus) . . . said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ The man did so, and his hand was completely restored. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.” (Luke 6:7-11)
So the people in power were plotting the death of Jesus. In order to turn the masses against Him, they needed to discredit Him by spreading lies (today we call that disinformation). Eventually they were successful in getting Jesus crucified on a cross. But they weren’t successful in keeping Him in the tomb. Jesus rose three days later and those in power have been doing damage control ever since. Still the truth has survived to this day. That’s because His word is truth and in Matthew 24:35 I read what Jesus said,
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”
So truth will outlive the lie and truth will triumph over the lie eventually. But we’re not there yet. How I wish we were! I can be tricked by a lie if I don’t know the truth. Fortunately, Jesus gave His disciples and us this promise,
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
so I don’t have to rely on my own reasoning, my Heavenly Father will teach me with His word, which is truth – He will guide me by His Spirit, which is truth and He will lead me into all truth. Then truly I will be free.
“Then I will know the truth, and the truth will set me free.” (John 8:32)
sincerely, Grace Day