Embellishing the Truth

25/12/12 | Posted by HughB

I imagine that most of us aren’t really that interested in what journalists have called ‘Plebgate’ but it has certainly managed to outlast other news items, which frankly are more deserving of column inches.

Initially the story seemed pretty straight forward but three months later on it is still bubbling away because it would appear that one or more people have been rather creative with the facts. And as I write this the Police Commissioner has had to interrupt his Christmas break amid MPs’ claims of victimisation and police corruption. I do wonder if this story would still have been in the news if everyone had stuck to the actual facts and not resorted to ‘gilding the lily’.

And while this story may be important for those involved, for most of us, the truth in this case doesn’t really matter. We already knew that some MPs let out the occasional profanity and that, like all human organisations, the police has a few bad apples. I doubt very much if the incident will change our attitudes towards either.

But in matters of faith the truth does matter.

 A True Likeness?

At Christmas we celebrate that the Virgin Mary gave birth to a baby who had an ‘X’ and ‘Y’ chromosome like any other male. He was fully God and fully human and yet we have tended to make him fully God but superhuman.

At Christmas we sing that the “little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes” (yeah, right!) and “through all his wondrous childhood he would honour and obey” (what about the time at the Temple in Luke 2:41-49?). We create nativity scenes which demonstrate that even in the pains of labour, Mary managed to dust, vacuum-clean and sterilise the stable and even steam clean the animals!

Film portrayals of Jesus have him so otherworldly that he stands out a mile from everyone and in so many paintings he’s easily identified by the halo and the ‘whiter than white’ robes. And yet Scripture records that those who had grown up with Jesus refused to believe that he was the Messiah:

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).

He lived nearly thirty years amongst them without giving them any hint of his deity. Even though he was sinless and fully God, for those three decades his life was also very ordinary.

And that matters!

If we make Jesus superhuman, it gives us an excuse. We can applaud the way Jesus responded to situations and admire his teaching but claim that we can’t honestly be expected to follow his example because, well, Jesus wasn’t like us. But God never meant to give us that get-out clause.

Jesus is more than the Saviour of the World.

I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

He demonstrated to us the way to live a truly human life and challenged us to follow him.

And as our supreme example he doesn’t need any embellishment.


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