What is Truth?
During Jesus’ journey to the cross, Pilate, the Roman governor, posed a profound question to Jesus: 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:38. We aren’t sure exactly what Pilate meant with his question, but there is no doubt that Jesus had already answered it when He said: 37 …In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37
In a world that seems very confused about truth these days, Jesus made clear for us that He testifies to the truth and that He is the truth. (John 14:7). The word “truth” in the language of the New Testament (Greek) is aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.”
Truth involves at least two key elements… First, truth always involves “telling it like it is.” The renowned and highly influential 13th century philosopher, Thomas Aquinas said: "It is the task of the philosopher to make distinctions." Today, some people are very reluctant to make distinctions, even regarding the simplest of truths.
Secondly, truth always corresponds to reality. Some skeptics of truth argue that those who embrace truth are narrow-minded. But truth is by definition is “narrow”. Is a math teacher narrow minded for saying 2 plus 2 is 4?
The reality is, truth exists. It is not hidden. In fact, it is available for all the world to see and know. In the context of Pilate’s question: The Truth is a person… The Truth is the Way and the Life… The Truth is the Son of God and the Savior of the World. The Truth is Jesus Christ!
This week, as we reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross, and the sacrifice He made for us there; let’s not be confused for a moment about the Truth. The only question that really remains is: what is our response to the Truth (Jesus Christ)?
In John 18-19, we see a number of people who all respond to Jesus, to the Truth, in various ways. You and I can respond to Truth in any of these ways; and in fact we do and sometimes in different ways throughout our lives. In these chapters, we see eight responses to the truth. I’ll give you four here and encourage you to listen to the message for more details and the other four responses.
1) Betray the Truth. Judas betrayed the Truth. (John 18:2-3)
It always blows my mind that one of Jesus very own disciples actually betrayed Him. But it seems pretty clear that Judas never really believed; there was no evident fruit in His life. In fact, we know, as the treasurer for the disciples, he often took advantage of that and stole from their treasury. He also never referred to Jesus as Lord, like the other disciples, calling Him only Rabbi. Bottom line, Judas seemed far more concerned about himself than about following Jesus. Judas was driven not by obedience and honor, but by self-centeredness and greed. For Judas, sin would win. He betrayed the Truth, likely because He never accepted the Truth.
If you haven’t acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are betraying Him too because you aren’t listening to Him. If you are a believer, when you sin, you betray Him, for the same reason. As believers, when we sin in any way, we betray the Truth. (Romans 6:1-2)
2) Defend the Truth. Peter defended the Truth. (John 18:10)
Jesus’ disciples wanted to defend Him. They didn’t want Him to be arrested by the high priest’s weapon-baring thugs. If you know anything about Peter, you can’t be surprised that he is the first one to draw his sword.
If you’re a committed Christ-Follower, like Peter, there will be times when you will be compelled to defend the Truth. This was not the right time for Peter to do that because what was about to happen was all part of God’s plan. But in your life, you may be in a position to defend Christ to others. Are you prepared to do that? Do you know His Word? Can you defend Him in a way not that is offensive and repelling, but in a way that is attractive and compelling? I think Peter learned a valuable lesson in this encounter because later he would write in his epistle:
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15. Are you prepared to defend the Truth?
3) Deny the Truth. Ironically, just minutes after he defended the Truth, Peter denied the Truth. (John 18:26-27)
The soldiers and Jewish leaders arrested Jesus in the Garden and took Him before a series of officials for what amounted to mock trials. Peter followed Jesus and stood nearby where Jesus was questioned. But during the night, on three occasions, he denied he was a disciple of Jesus or that he even knew him. One minute Peter is ready to go to battle for Jesus; the next he is unwilling to admit he even knows Him. Why?
We might ask ourselves the same question. Let’s be brutally honest. How many of us could sadly be described at times as Sunday Saints then, Monday A’ints? At Watermark, we’re all about making an impression and leaving a mark for Jesus Christ, every single day. We don’t want to deny the truth, we want to live the truth!
4) Reject the Truth. The Jewish Leaders rejected the Truth. (John 18:14)
We know that Jesus never pulled any punches when it came to calling out the Jewish religious leaders, for their cold, callous and heartless religious rituals. They had it in for him for Him because they were threatened by Him. (Matthew 26:59)
Many people choose to reject the Truth today, because in the words of that great theologian, Jack Nicholson, They “can’t handle the truth.” They don’t want to accept the truth about their own sin and their need for a Savior. They don’t want to give up control of their lives to Him as Lord. They don’t want Him to dwell in their hearts, with their deepest desires. Like the religious leaders in His time, some today are threatened by Jesus, so they reject the Truth. What about you?
For much more, click here to listen to: Light in the Darkness - Part 15 - Responses to the Truth.