I love to participate in a good debate. When I’m in the right mood, the topic doesn’t even matter. Like the other day when I somehow ended up in a heated discussion over Spam and the definition of the word tangent. I launched into an elaborate discourse that wove intricate circles through miles of linguistic terrain in a manner sure to baffle even the most adept navigator. I was rather pleased with my performance, but despite the maze of rabbit holes I repeatedly laid down, my friend kept coming back to the one tiny flaw in my otherwise airtight opening statement.
I think that means she won, but I won’t ever tell her that.
Truth is hard to argue with, but that doesn’t stop me – or many others – from trying. In today’s culture it’s very much in vogue to not only argue with truth, but to argue whether truth even exists. As the saying goes, if you ask five experts the same question, you’re likely to get at least seven different answers.
Jesus said something very different. He claimed not only to speak truth, but to be truth (John 14:6).
People of His day tried to joust with Him, too. There was the time when spies were sent to verbally trap Him by asking whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus saw through that ploy, giving them a succinct answer that ended the discussion and amazed everyone within hearing (Luke 20).
Another time the Jews demanded that Jesus tell them plainly whether He was the Messiah, but Jesus wasn’t interested in fruitless, insincere discussions. Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.” (John 10:25)
Jesus carried himself different from other men. He did not speak like the other teachers spoke; He spoke as one who had authority. He did not debate to prove His points or to enjoy the thrill of the verbal competition. He spoke to spread the message of truth to those who would receive it.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
There were critics in Jesus’ day who debated who He was, just as there are critics today. But Jesus has never been interested in a debate simply for the sake of a debate.
Instead, Jesus engages with those who come with sincere questions and with those who come to test all things to see if they are true. He is willing to answer questions, explain parables, and provide evidence. To the doubting Thomases, to the Nicodemuses, and to the large crowds of today, Jesus still speaks through the words recorded in the Bible. These words were written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name (John 20:31).
You can try to debate it, but you might be better served to simply listen, question, and consider.
“I did tell you,” Jesus said.