What is Truth- John 18:33-38

In this passage, John describes Jesus’ appearance before and interaction with the Roman governor Pilate, which concludes with Pilate’s very famous question “What is truth?”. We will examine this passage here, for in it Jesus tells us something very important about just what truth is and about our relation to it. We begin in verse 33, in which Pilate summoned Jesus before him and asked Him a question, asking Him “Are you the king of the Jews?”. Jesus, as He commonly does, answers Pilate’s question with another question, responding “Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?”. It may seem that Jesus here is the one on trial, but we will soon see that it is Pilate who is really on “trial” here, for Jesus is about to give him the opportunity to reflect on what truth really is and to change his mind about some things (more on that later). Jesus here begins His examination of Pilate by asking Him if the conclusion that Jesus was a king was his own or if he got it from someone else, did he himself conclude Jesus was a king or did the Jewish leaders tell him? Pilate then answers, saying he is not a Jew (so Jesus is not his king) and that it was the Jewish leaders who handed Jesus over to Pilate. Jesus then answers Pilate, in verse 36, by saying “My kingdom is not of this world”. It is commonly concluded here that by the use of the word “of” here, Jesus means His kingdom is from another place, as seen in NIV translation that “My kingdom is from another place”. But the word “of” here does not necessarily refer to a place, but may also refer to a source or origin, as seen in Jesus command to be “in the world but not of it”. Also, the phrase translated “from another place” is the Greek ouk enteuthen, which could just as properly be translated as “not of this cause”. The idea being put forth here is not necessarily that Jesus kingdom is from somewhere else, but that it is of a different order, it is a different kind of kingdom, with a different kind of king and a different kind of kingship. Jesus not only is a king, Jesus also has a king, as He is about to tell Pilate. Pilate then concludes that Jesus is a king (verse 37), to which Jesus responds literally “you are saying that I am king, but unto this I have become and unto this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth”. So just what is happening here? Pilate has been talking about kings here, and Jesus answers him by talking about truth, why? Jesus here is “redefining” king for Pilate. Jesus was a king who was part of a kingdom, His king is the one who is “the truth”, His king is His source of truth, and He has come to bear witness to His king, which is why He was before Pilate to begin with. Jesus here makes a connection between the ideas of king and truth, that truth is something but also someone, and that the someone stands behind the something. There is such a thing as truth because there is someone (God) who is the truth, and our “king” is whoever or whatever is our source of truth. Jesus confirms this by concluding that “everyone who is of (note the use of “of” here) the truth hears my voice”, that all who accept His king (God the Father) as the truth will hear, understand and accept Him. Jesus here is telling Pilate that truth is a choice and He is giving Pilate the chance to choose who his king will be, who his truth will be, Caesar or God. So this encounter between Jesus and Pilate reveals to us something very profound about human nature and the way we all operate; that each of us “choose” what truth is, that each one of us choose what we will accept as true or reject as baloney or nonsense, and that our king (or god) is the one who tells us what is true. This is not to say that all truth is relative and there are no absolutes (more on that in the next post), but merely to say that each of us decide what we will accept as true or reject as false, and that our choice shapes the direction of our entire lives and our destinies. Just as with Pilate, each of us must choose who our “”king” is, we must choose whether we will accept Jesus as “the truth” (and consequently as our king) or look to someone or something else as our “king”, our truth. This choice then ultimately determines the course of our daily lives and also our eternal destiny. May we all choose Jesus as “the truth” and our king, hearing His voice and looking to Him as our source of truth, rather than, as Pilate does, looking to someone or something else.

No Comments Biblical Psychology  //  Gospels and Acts  //  Jesus Christ  //  Salvation and Redemption  //  Scripture and Truth

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