“What is truth?” asked Pilate in his now-famous question to Jesus at His trial.
Commentators, preachers, and philosophers have discussed and debated Pilate’s motive behind the question. Was he sincere? Just jesting? Responding cynically? Barclay suggested “he asked the question wistfully and wearily.” Obviously, we will never know.
But we do know this. The Roman Procurator is faced with the most difficult decision of his life. He’s in the presence of an innocent man. And he knows it.
In these ten verses, Pilate asks six questions trying to find some way to release Jesus. It’s apparent Pilate didn’t understand Jesus, His kingdom, His kingship or the nature of spiritual Truth. Yet, after talking to Jesus, he concludes, “I find no fault in Him at all.”
This is somewhat remarkable because history records that Pilate was a cruel man. Tactless. Stubborn. Censorious. Demanding. Self-justifying. Tyrannical. And disrespectful of religion. Pilate was everything that Jesus wasn’t.
However, Pilate ultimately took the course of least resistance under the pressure of the people. He was afraid of losing favor with the Emperor and being branded a traitor. He was a pragmatist and governed with self-interest. Crucifying Christ was expedient. And, he was self-deceived as he tried to pass the buck and shift blame to the Jews alone.
“What is truth?” You wonder if Pilate ever thought about that conversion and question again. Especially after the resurrection.
Ironically he stood before the One who was the epitome of Truth. Jesus had proclaimed just hours earlier, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6).
“What is truth?” sarcastically questions our unbelieving world today. Religiously speaking most folks think that truth is difficult to define. Elusive. Relative. And highly individualistic. People say, “Well, that’s my truth.” As if truth is ambiguous and subjective.
The conservative Columnist, Cal Thomas, has often observed that our society “is a falling away from the notion of objective Truth.” In one column he wrote, “our social fabric is coming apart because few will articulate Truth for fear of being branded a bigot.”
This is something gospel preachers have been saying for years. And sadly, we are seeing this more and more among those claiming to be Christians.
Spiritual lives are being shattered, and souls stand in jeopardy because of failure to believe, embrace and stand for Truth.
Of course, the religious division in the world contributes to this problem. If those claiming to love Jesus and believe in the Bible, can’t agree, how can anyone else know what is truth?
The answer lies in moving away from the creeds of men, the doctrines of denominations, and the opinions of popular preachers, and returning to the simplicity of God’s Word. His revealed Truth.
It also demands that we subjugate our own personal feelings. What seems right and reasonable to us may well be wrong in God’s eyes. Too often, however, we’re only looking for what pleases us. C. S. Lewis expressed it this way: “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”
The Bible speaks plainly about sin, salvation, and sanctification. It is our guide to Christian living. To morality and ethics. To experience a personal relationship with God. And to direct us home to heaven.
What is Truth? Jesus forever answered the question in His prayer to the Father prior to his arrest. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman