In 2004 I was accused of lying. Our pastor was out of town. A few weeks before he left, he had told me that he was going on a trip to City A. It never came up again. Unbeknownst to me, those plans changed. Instead of going to City A, he went to City B to candidate/interview for a different church. The weekend did not change, only the place and reason for the trip. And when that weekend came, I simply told the church he was on a trip to City A and would be back next weekend. A few weeks later when he announced his resignation, I was suddenly thrown under the bus, by some, for lying for him.
Did I lie? No. Did some people perceive me as a liar? Yes. Thankfully, once our pastor was aware of the accusations, he stood up before the church and cleared things up.
Truth is liberating. It helps us live without fear. It helps us know where we stand. It clears up misunderstanding. It sheds light on areas of darkness, revealing things concealed from sight. That’s what we need to seek in light of the problem before us here.
Did Jesus lie? Read this.
Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. (John 7:6-10)
Many point to this as a blatant example of how Jesus could not be perfect. He tells his brothers one thing, but then turns around and does another. Liar, liar!
But did he lie? Here’s the complications at hand. The King James translation of the Bible reads, “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast;” Many modern translations do not include the word yet because the earliest manuscripts do not contain it in the writing, and a general rule of translating is that the earliest documents are probably the most accurate documents since they are closer to the authoring of the original. The King James is translated from a newer manuscript than many modern translations, therefore the argument is that it may not be the most word-for-word accurate translation one could read.
[KJV lovers, that does not mean it isn’t a faithful translation, hold your fire! I grew up on KJV and it has a special place in my heart.]
But let’s be honest. If you want to see a lie here, you’ll see a lie. The truth is what Jesus said was in response to what his brothers said to him. His brothers taunted him to come with them and make a public spectacle of himself because they did not yet believe (John 7:5). Put his remarks in context. He was not going to go with his brothers in the way that they wanted him to go. In that sense, he was not going. Put it in terms of his mission. He only does what he sees the Father doing (John 5:19). Since his work and ministry were completely Holy Spirit led, perhaps the Spirit had not yet revealed to him that he was to go. In either sense, Jesus’ words and actions have fully integrity.
My words and actions had full integrity when I was accused of lying. What did I do?
I remained silent.
Nothing I could say would exonerate me. Someone else from outside of me had to do the work of exoneration. In this case, Jesus worked through my pastor to clear things up. You see, when accusations come, they are usually formed from a perception of truth, not the actual truth. That’s why when Satan whispers in your ear:
- Good fathers don’t raise kids who do that.
- Good husbands don’t lie to their spouses.
- Good wives don’t have cheating husbands.
- Good mothers don’t have kids with behavior issues.
It stings because every accusation starts with a perception of truth. And if we’re not careful, the perception can dominate and the actual truth will be concealed from our sight. People believe what they want to believe about Jesus, regardless of the actual truth because their perception is more important to them. People believe what they want to believe about themselves regardless of the actual truth because the self-image they have constructed for themselves is more important.
Wisdom discerns the perception from the actual. We should do that when we read the Word. We should do that when we read people. We should do that when we read ourselves. Ask the Holy Spirit for the discernment necessary to see the actual truth in all things as you walk through every day.
It will liberate you.