Under the cloud of darkness, the traitor Judas has lead the Roman soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. The soldiers then take Him to Caiaphas, the high priest (Matthew 26:57). The Sanhedrin (the religious hierarchy of Israel) had assembled. In spite of being forbidden by the law of Moses, the Jews hold a night trial to pronounce judgement upon Jesus.
Now, as we turn to John's account in Chapter 18, we see the Jews have one remaining hurdle to cross. Since Judea was occupied by Rome, only the Romans could execute someone. The Jewish hatred of the Romans, at least in this instance, is surpassed by their hatred for Jesus. They must get Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor, and convince him to issue a death warrant. Jewish complicity with the Romans was unheard of, but it fulfills their purpose here.
As we read the account beginning in verse 28 we find Jesus and Pilate face to face. In John's account, Pilate asked Jesus five (5) questions. The questioning begins along the line of the charge they have brought against the Savior. They have accused Him of being an insurrectionist, a rebel against Rome, the leader of a rebellion awaiting the right moment to commence.
Obviously, Pilate sees through the false charges. Jesus is no threat to Rome. But Pilate's fourth question brings us to the heart of our discussion.
"Art thou a king then?" (verse 37). At this point, he turns from the mob's accusation to his own personal inquisitiveness. Are you a king?
Jesus replies, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born (note that) and for this cause (reason) came I into the world. May I pause for a moment and say that no other human being could truthfully make this statement. No human being is pre-existent ----No one but Jesus.
Jesus continues "To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.
And then comes Pilate's fifth (5th) and final question in verse 38 "What is truth? "These questions launches us into this discussion of truth.
II) The Definition of Truth.
The question as Pilate stood before Jesus(that's really the way it was) soon progressed from a trumped up political charge to the subject of truth. Not politics, nor philosophy, but truth.
So, to get to the heart of the passage and any study of truth for that matter, we must come up with a workable definition for the idea of truth. Even Pilate wanted a definition. More about Pilate's question next time.
Let me give you a simple definition of truth. The word is "alethia" in the Greek text. The word appears as a noun, or a verb, sometimes as an adjective and even as an adverb according to Vine's Word Study. I would simply define truth as reality stated with nothing hidden. I think that would describe what Jesus means. Truth is indeed reality stated regardless where it occurs. Reality is truth.
An illustration will help. Suppose you have one apple and a friend gives you another apple, you then have two (2) apples. That is what we would call a mathematical truth. One plus one equal two regardless of language, culture, circumstances. Anywhere and everywhere on this planet this is true. We would call that fact TRUTH.
In fact we would call this Absolute Truth. It is not abstract nor debatable. I have two apples. That is a fact, that is Truth.
We would also call this Objective Truth. You might say the guy has three apples, but if he has two friends with him and all three are hungry, then someone won't get an apple, unless you share. That is not subjective, it is Objective. One and one equal two.
You and I did not come up with the concept of truth. Before you were born one plus one equaled two. That was true before you got here, while you are here and will be true long after you are gone.
If you hold to Jesus' use of the word truth, He means that Truth is reality revealed, with nothing hidden. Truth is absolute and objective.
III) The Origination of Truth.
Pilate ask, "What is truth?" He was not only asking for a definition from Jesus, his question implies another vital thought. Where does truth originate?
Where does truth originate? It depends on who you ask, right? Regardless of your answer or lack thereof, I hold to a basic premise that truth must originate somewhere. Back to the apples for a moment. Someone had to determine that one apple plus another one gives you two. Who came up with that? Did Johnny Appleseed come up with that? Nope, it wasn't Johnny.
You could ask another question involving apples. If an apple fell from a tree and hit Isaac Newton on the noggin, what caused the gravitational force that caused an object of weight to descend downward? Newton didn't cause it. But the fact of gravity is Truth, and it had to originate somewhere.
What about morality? Man is a complex being. He is unlike all other species in that he has a built conscience. Standard equipment for all human beings. You may not have a GPS Navigation system in your vehicle, but you do have a moral barometer or compass built into the essence of your being. That fact separates man from all others of the created order. Where did the concept of right and wrong originate?
There is an indisputable, universal moral sense of right and wrong. By their actions, many demonstrate that their view of such is woefully skewered and warped. But that does not change the fact that in each of use, there is a sense of right and wrong. Where did that originate?
I contend that all truth has a supernatural beginning. Truth is outside the material realm, the natural realm and the moral realm. It must begin with God. He is the only source of truth and there is no other logical explanation when you really think about it.
All truth that man has discovered (regardless of the realm) is from the hand of God. Period!!!!!
I have often done business with people for years without meeting them face to face. There have been times when I have been privileged to put a name and a voice with a face. It is a unique human experience for the most part. The ancient Name and Voice of Truth has a face as well. His name is Jesus. And as He tells Pilate "I came..........that I should bear witness unto the truth."
He is the truth. He is "the way, the truth and the life." All truth originates with Him.
IV) The Possession of Truth.
Ponce de Leon came to America searching for the mythical "Fountain of Youth." We know he never found it in Florida or anywhere else on the planet. It does not exist.
There are many today that tell us that Truth ----that which is absolute and objective----does not exist. How foolish to make that assertion . Unlike the fountain that de Leon never found, truth does exist. It exists in the one who is its author.
Jesus proclaims to Pilate "Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice." Our Lord affirms that people can possess Truth. Just as sheep hear and heed the voice of their shepherd, everyone that possesses truth hears and heeds the voice of the Lord Jesus.
Are you "of the truth" ? That is the question that begs to be asked! I think most would agree that Pilate missed his opportunity to possess the truth for himself. History records nothing of him coming to Christ at a later date. For all we know he never was counted among those "of the truth." Are you counted among that group today?
Can you answer the question Pilate asked "What is Truth"? If you are "of the truth" you can. You are of the truth if you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord. If you can't answer that question truthfully, ackowledge that you are a sinner in the sight of God and ask Jesus to forgive you of this state. Surrender your life to Him by faith. You will be "of the truth" because you possess the Truth. Simple, isn't it?
We will come back to our study of truth next month. I hope you can honestly say I possess the Truth. After all, truth is reality revealed; all truth originates with God and His truth can be possessed.
All truth resides in Jesus. Amen!!!!