Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and tells them they would be doing the same thing.
Judas betrays Jesus.
Jesus is arrested.
Jesus is taken to the high priest Caiaphas.
Peter denies Jesus three times and the cock crows.
Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.
There is a subtle movement that is taking place in this part of the story?
It is not only a change in physical locations as Jesus is moved from Caiaphas’ headquarters to Pilate’s headquarters but all of a sudden the problem of Jesus shifts from the religious arena into the civil arena.
Jesus is no longer just a private religious problem for the Jewish leadership, he is about to become a public problem for Pilate.
The truth of Jesus’ identity as God’s son and Messiah and His purpose to save the world through His death is about to be fully revealed.
At first Pilate is reluctant.
Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”
What is Pilate to do? It is early in the morning. Has he had his morning coffee? Is he thinking to himself, what a way to start the day, why can’t the Jews just deal with this guy on their own?
So he goes back into the safety of his headquarters and summons Jesus and we get to sit in on the interrogation. As I listen to this conversation I wonder who is actually interrogating who.
Pilate, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
Pilate, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus, “My kingdom is not from this world.
Pilate, “So you are a king?”
Jesus, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate, “What is truth?”
Good question Pilate. But does Pilate, or do we, really want to know the answer to his question?
The truth I hold dear and the truth you hold dear is always filtered through the lens of our own bias and context. This was certainly the case with Pilate and it also happens to us. This is why what I think is the truth and what you think is the truth may be different and then when people fail to communicate and listen to one another, well, you know what happens then right.
I could be wrong here but Pilate sounds lost to me. He sounds like a man without direction or purpose. A man wondering about the value of his life, looking deep into his own soul and clearly seeing just how empty it is in there.
What is truth he asks? Is it Rome, is it the power of the sword, or is it the power to make decisions about someone else’s life at the same time wondering about the kinds of decisions made about my own life.
What is truth in your own life?
How do you answer the question?
Is truth determined for you by who you are, what kind of work you do, what is going on in your family, the cable news feed you watch, or your family of origin?
What is the truth of your life and can you or will you honestly answer that question?
This is when the truth can be hard and challenging.
I wonder if this is what Jesus wants us to do when he says for this I can into the world to testify to the truth. The truth about God and the truth about our own lives and the human condition.
Have you ever had the experience at some point in time in your life when you have benefited from another person telling you the truth about you? You know, people who actually care enough about you to tell you the truth of your life or your actions or your choices. Particularly when those things are less than helpful to how you are living your life?
It is the easiest thing in the world to accept the false perceptions of ourselves and of others and it is one of the hardest things in the world to see the truth about ourselves and others, especially when that truth involves sacrifice or a need to change.
The truth is that we are in need of a savior.
The truth is that our lives are broken, we are sinners and we are under God’s judgment because of that sin.
Jesus answers Pilate’s question when he declares – For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
Truth is standing right in front of us. Truth is not an ideology, it is not a way of life, it is not set of ideals or standards, and it is not an institution. It is a person. It is the one who says, I am the way and the truth and the life.
Do we see him?
Do we hear him as he calls our name?
Do we know him?
Truth is the one who says, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me and they follow me and I give them eternal life.”
21 times in John’s gospel the word truth is used, often by Jesus. And it is also interesting in John’s gospel that Satan, the devil is called the father of lies in chapter 8. The same chapter where Jesus says, “and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
What is truth? The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.
This is the answer to Pilate’s good question.
This is the answer to our sin and the deceit in our own lives.
This is the way of the cross which is the place where Jesus is finally and fully revealed to the world.
For it is only when we see the truth of our lives and the sin of our lives that we are finally ready to know the truth of God’s answer to our sin, Jesus.
For truly God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but will have eternal life.
This is Jesus and He is the truth that sets us free.
Thanks be to God. Amen