I can picture the scene. Pilate standing there in a cloud of semi-arrogance. Probably somewhere in his palace under the watch of Roman guards. For that time period and culture, he was among the elite of the elite. He was on top of the world, even though we know historically that he was a little undone about having the territory that included Jerusalem. Yet, he had power and ability. He was intelligent and effective. He was wealthy and he was respected. But for some reason, on this particular day, when this man named Jesus was dragged in before him, Pilate asked the question: “What is truth?”
Today, as we read this account and look back over some 2,000 years of history since Pilate asked the God-man, we can be sure it one of the deepest philosophical questions that a man, or a woman, can ask. For me personally, it is the deepest of the philosophical or religious questions – if you want to title it as such. What is truth? Or better yet, Who is truth?
Pilate had a problem as he contemplated the question and the answer. I am sure he thought, “These Jews keep bringing this man to be crucified, but I can’t find a reason to do it. At the same time, I have to keep the peace in order to get promoted to a better territory. If Caesar finds out these uproars between the Jews and Romans is systemic, I may be demoted or fired.” I can almost see the battle raging in Pilate as I read the passage in the NT. He was trying to find a path that would please everyone, honor Caesar, and catapult his own career. Now, let me ask you one question (just one): Does that sound familiar?
For 20 centuries, mankind has debated, argued, and sought further evidence for “truth.” Some have to see it. Others must receive continued reinforcement. Experimentation. Academia. Knowledge. Reason. All are ways and means through which people seek and define “their” truth. Like Pilate, for some it is purely relative. We know this from multiple surveys, polls, and data that continually comes in from organizations that spend time and money to conduct scientific studies each year: Barna, U.S. News & World Report, Pulpit & Pew, Gallop, etc. Over the past 10, 20, and 30 year periods we know that truth has become more relative and less absolute.
On that day, when Jesus was before Pilate, it seems that Pilate was inquiring about absolute truth. I get the feeling he was done with the same old, make it up as you go and feel, truth. Pilate had Truth standing right beside him. I sense that he knew that, and from the Word, I believe it is equally evident that he decided to do nothing about it that day. He was interested to the point of asking Jesus, but unwilling to engage in actually receiving the Truth into his own life. My, how that sounds familiar today. It’s almost epidemic. I can say that because I know from past experience what it is like to be hungry and thirsty on the inside while maintaining a lukewarm and distant acceptance of His Truth. But we really only fool ourselves. God is not a half truth and He doesn’t mandate a half-hearted response. To Him, whether we like it or not, it is all or nothing. He states: “Be hot or cold” and “Decide this day who you will serve.”
Philosophical theories of truth often attempt to answer the “nature question”: What is the nature of truth? Properly stated, it should be: What is the nature of Jesus Christ? People look to the stars or to textbooks and theories for truth, but they are focused on creation instead of the Creator. Some look inside themselves to find truth, but given our sinful nature, that’s like looking in an oil drum for drinking water. In the worst cases, people look toward unholy spirits for guidance. There is no shortage of supply here. But Jesus clearly said that He is “the truth,” not “a truth,” and followed it with “no man comes to the Father but by me.” The question that trumps all questions is this: Is Jesus Who He said He is – is He truth; or, is He merely a liar? In my own life it is settled and determined: He is Truth, and in Him is all Truth.
Paul warned all who believed (and would believe): “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8).
Truth, according to the world, is relative or unobtainable. That is why the pursuit continues, why new “religions” are processed, and why so many institutions seek answers to life’s deepest questions. Jesus, however, is an absolute. He is present and he is faithful. He is the only way. Any other “path” to truth leads to destruction and broken promises. But when you know The Truth, He will set you free, and if the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed!
Be blessed in His Truth,