What Is Truth?
John 18:37-38a (ESV) -- Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
Have you ever debated with someone about whether or not something is true? Kids do it every day. Adults do it too. Politicians debate, theologians debate, scientists debate, all arguing over what is true.
Our passage today takes us into the question of truth. Jesus is standing before Pilate, answering his questions about claims to kingship. Jesus’ response not only addresses those questions but takes it into the subject of truth. We read, “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’”
Pilate doesn't seek clarity about "not of this world" but fixates on Jesus' mention of a kingdom. He says, "So you are a king?" Jesus answers, "You say that I am a king." This is a strangely worded translation here. Jesus' response is an affirmation. It would be rendered in English, "You affirm the truth" or "Your declaration is correct" or "You speak truthfully." Jesus affirms his statement. Then He goes on to describe that His purpose as king and of coming into the world was to bear witness to the truth.
What does He mean? He means He has come into the world to bear witness about reality. He testifies to who God is. He tells us who man is. He comes to share the gospel. He comes to speak about things to come. He embodies the truth. All truth is God's truth. All true things are true because God made the world to function that way.
Jesus goes on to say that everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice. Anyone really of the truth will listen to the voice of truth. To turn from Him is to turn from the truth. Pilate's response is flippant and cynical: "What is truth?" It's not inquisitive or seeking. It is arrogant and dismissive. But it is still a fantastic question. It is a question that many ask in the same way as Pilate, dismissing truth as something they can bend to their wills. Others are seeking and wanting the truth. And Jesus makes it clear to us that it is found in Him alone.
Seek the truth today in Christ. All who are of the truth listen to His voice.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why is the subject of truth so important?
- What does Pilate’s response indicate about the culture of Rome?
- How should a passage like today challenge us in our walk with God?
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