Summary: When John told the truth against political power (Herod) there were consequences. The same was true for Jesus, his followers. The 'values" of the world does not always appreciate the "truth" God offers in Jesus, "the way, the truth, and the life."
In Jesus Holy Name July 15, 2018
“Truth or Consequences”
Truth or Consequences was the long-running wild & wacky game show (1941 on the radio) 1951-1988 off and on with different game hosts). Contestants were selected from the studio audience. They were brought up on stage and were asked a question. They could either tell the truth when a question was asked, or be forced to pay the consequences, which was to perform a stunt.
On the show, the question was always an intentional trivia question. (Usually an off-the-wall question that no one would be able to answer correctly or a bad joke). They had two seconds before "Beulah the Buzzer" was sounded.
The syndicated Truth or Consequences became the first successful game show.
Ralph Edwards the first host said, "Most of the American people are darned good sports."[ When Bob Barker hosted Truth or Consequences, his sign-off ended with the phrase, "Hoping all your consequences are happy ones."
In our bible story to day John the Baptist told the truth about Herod. The consequences were arrest and a beheading. No, things don’t always work out the way we expect nor the way we had hoped. John the Baptist tells the truth, the consequences to truth telling were a dungeon and death. So, even while we affirm that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… we also must recognize that it may get you ostracized, arrested and killed. Jesus was himself rejected in his home town. (read Matthew 10:17-22)
John the baptizer, however, was uncompromising in speaking the word of God’s truth about marriage to Herod, who had taken up with his brother’s wife. John had to have known that criticizing political authority was no way to get ahead. It could only turn out badly.
“While most of us think we should live happily ever after, in a sinful world life very seldom turns out like we planned, as we had hoped, as we had dreamed. The person of your dreams turns out to be a nightmare; your best friend-forever shows they weren’t your best friend today. The job of a lifetime sends you to the unemployment line. Although you feel fit as a fiddle, the doctor solemnly informs you that your fiddle is sadly out of tune. No in a sinful world life very seldom turns out like you planned, as you hoped, as you dreamed, or as you expected.
Remember the story of the Children of Israel and they escape from Egyptian slavery? They thought they had it made in a shade. A quick stroll through the wilderness and, TADA, they would take possession of the Promised Land. A land flowing with milk and honey. That didn’t work out the way they expected. The stroll turned into 40 years of wilderness wandering in which they complained about food, water, leadership and just about anything people can complain about. Sometimes they looked at each other and said: “You know, things weren’t that bad in Egypt. What are we doing here?” (phrase from Rev. Ken Klaas))
When Jesus asked the disciples to follow Him, it sounded like a wise decision. Be a body guard. Never worry about getting sick. Since fishing and tax-collecting was an iffy proposition, following Jesus seemed like a wise choice. How could you not be overwhelmed by a Fellow who turns water into wine; who heals lepers; gives sight to the blind; mobility to the lame and restores dead people back to life?
In a sinful world life very seldom turns out as you planned, as you had hoped, as you dreamed, as expected. I once thought I’d finish my ministry career in quiet Merced. Vicar Wright thought he would finish his career in law enforcement but now he is leading the ministry in a very small church in Dinuba. Jim never thought he would be preaching funerals, leading worship in a Lutheran church.
In the gospel of Matthew, Matthew tells us that while John is in prison he sent some of his disciples to Jesus and asked: “Are you the Messiah?” It was “the” important question then and remains the important question today. When Jesus took the disciples up a mountain in northern Galilee He asked the disciples: “Who do people think I am?” They said: “Some, like Herod, think you are John the Baptist come back from the dead. Others think you are Elijah or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked: “What about you? Who do you say that I am?”
This was John’s question. “Jesus, I know you are my relative…but are you the long expected Messiah?” Are you the Savior? Has my life of telling the truth
been worth it? Jesus sent this answer back. “Tell John what you see and hear. The dead are raised to life. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The sick are healed.”