Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
In my studies of Martin Luther’s life and experiences as a bit of Christian history that just grabs my attention, I notice that there is in fact quite a bit about what Luther went through that was unique. But at the same time, there is much, sadly way too much that he went through that parallels the Church today 493 years later. But then again, Luther sought nothing more than what Pontius Pilate wanted himself.
As I shared this Sunday in my sermon, ‘those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it’ (a quote often accredited to Winston Churchill, but more likely first coined by Spanish poet and novelist George Santayana). What I’m seeing today is that the struggle that so often lies within the heart of man, to know truth; and that since truth is true, that we therefore have to believe it and ergo live by it, is being replaced by a different ‘truth’. Why? Because they do not know their history, Christian or otherwise.
A wise commentator once said that with regards to the Christian religion, if it is new, it is not a revelation. And if it is truly a revelation it is not true. I sit here typing this, telling you that I have proudly used the works of hundreds of authors and pastors and preachers who came before me in my messages. In every occasion where I have had the privilege to contact the actual author of the material I am reading or studying, they have all gladly given permission for me to use their material. That’s the way it is. I shared with my wife just a few weeks ago that there is no message that have shared, or ever will share about the bible that has not already been shared or taught by someone before me. But at this point I digress in my thinking. If this really is true, that the bible is the bible, that all the messages have already been shared, and that those who do know history are less likely to repeat it, then why are we repeating so many mistakes in the church today? Grave mistakes that have been made before and seemingly will be made again every couple of generations.
The answer to that question is truth. Which brought me again to today’s verse.
I have a strange heart perhaps, in that I find Pontius Pilate a pitiable creature. My heart aches for Pilate each and every time I read or recount that story in scripture of Jesus standing before him. It almost brings me to tears just thinking of the man himself, and how his personal ambitions allowed him to get to a station in life where he was faced with the folly of his pride: Agree with the crowd and do what is best for Rome and save my job, title, glory and my own skin, OR, go with what I know in my heart to be true. One action meant condemning an innocent man to death so that he might live out his life in peace. The other meant a life eternal if he had only allowed himself to act on his conscience.
First let me say that Pilate’s decision failed. His intent in allowing an innocent man to die was so that he might live out his life in peace. This did not happen. A peaceful life was an eventuality that escaped Pilate all together as he was stripped of his honor and title and wealth, sent to live in relative obscurity with the rest of the Roman poor only to (according to tradition) take his own life after years of being riddled and eventually driven mad by his own conscience. So by making the decision that he thought was right, he turned his back on what was really true.
Pilate asked about truth. The irony is that Truth stood right before him in the form of a fleshly man who was yet fully God. We have all heard the saying something like this, “you wouldn’t know truth is it looked you in the eye!” Where do you think that bit of wisdom originated? Pilate literally had TRUTH standing before him, and asked, “What is truth?” Most people will teach that Pilate asked facetiously. But what if he didn’t? A good case can be built that he did ask with sincerity. He pronounced the man innocent three times, and turned him over to others for treatment and release twice. His wife warned him to have nothing to do with the man.
Someone once said, and we have all heard, “the truth hurts”. Well that may be true when the truth brings conviction. But real truth beings with it salvation. And like truth, salvation can be had in only one place, the heart of Jesus Christ. The question is not do you know the truth. The question is what do you do with the truth? The demons know and tremble, yet they are not saved. Satan lived in the presence of God, and yet a special place has been built for him, Hell.
Truth is not something we wax philosophical about. Truth is not something we debate. Truth is the Way. Truth is the Life. Truth is Jesus; and Jesus is the Word. His Word is Truth, and we best know it. Study God’s word. Know truth. Know Jesus, and allow Him to set you free from a world of lies that seeks to destroy you. Join Pilate in asking, “What is Truth”, but unlike Pilate, ACT on it!
If you do not have a quality bible teaching church that you are attending at least weekly. Find one near you and get plugged in. You eternity depends on it.