Can You Handle the Truth?

John Hill

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. – John 18:38a

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31b-32

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

The tension had to be thick.  An angry mob was outside that night and they wanted blood.  Inside stood Pilate with Jesus, who had been falsely accused and arrested, and Pilate knew that the vicious crowd expected him to serve up a guilty verdict and send Jesus to the cross.  Several times Pilate tried with no success to quiet the mob and beg them to re-think their rash decision.  To make matters worse, Jesus wasn’t helping him by hardly speaking, even when he was asked questions which were intended to give the prisoner a way of escape from the rage going on outside Pilate’s door.  And all of this during Israel’s highest holy celebration: the Passover.

“What is truth?”  That was Pilate’s final question after speaking to Jesus and learning that Jesus came into the world to, “testify to the truth.”  The question was intended to be rhetorical; partly because Pilate knew that Jesus might very well not answer, and partly because Pilate didn’t expect that there was an answer.

For Pilate the truth was about information and leverage.  He worked for Rome and they were used to rewriting truth through force and coercion.  For Rome, truth didn’t matter as much as power; and whoever held the power determined the truth.  And at the moment of his question, Pilate estimated that he had the power and he couldn’t understand why this Nazarene who stood before him didn’t seem to grasp that reality.

And when Pilate asked Jesus if He understood that it was Pilate who had the power to set Him free, Jesus told Pilate that he actually had no power at all.  Jesus’ answer revealed that he had a deeper understanding about truth and freedom than Pilate ever could.  Jesus knew that the truth to which He was to testify was not a system of facts, or information, or even a thing; but a person.

And Jesus revealed who that person is earlier in His ministry when He boldly proclaimed, “I am the truth…”

So what’s the point?  Try this: Jesus also said during His ministry that, “the truth will set you free.”

Well if Jesus is the truth, and freedom only comes through knowing the truth, then He is the only One who can set us free from the issues of life.  In addition, no matter how enslaving an issue may seem, through Jesus there is a way out, a way over, or a way through…even the harshest of situations.  That is why Jesus was not worried about Pilate and that is why He understood that Pilate did not have ultimate power over Him even though it may have seemed like it. Jesus was most free when the world considered Him to be at His weakest.

Maybe you are wondering, “How can I know that kind of freedom?”  “How can I feel strength even when I am weak or vulnerable?”

You have to know the truth which means knowing the person of Jesus.  And the path to knowing Him, according to His own words is to, “hold to [His] teachings.”  In other words, the more we live obediently to the teachings of Jesus, the more we become His disciples.  And the more we incorporate His ways, the more we will know Him (the truth) and the more we will be free from the bondage of life because only He has the power to free us.

So the next time you are struggling with a trial in life, ask yourself, “Am I pursuing Jesus, who is the truth, and living obediently to His teachings?  Or am I relying on my own strength to solve this issue?”  Because as you grow closer to Him, you will also become more and more free from the trappings of this world.

Don’t make the same mistake as Pilate who claimed he wanted to know the truth; yet he couldn’t recognize it even though He was staring him right in the face.

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