While baby Jesus might have looked and acted like other human babies, He was more than just a human baby. He was God Himself. God the Father had sent Jesus, God the Son, not to do away with everything He said in the Old Testament, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). In other words, He came to be the physical representation and embodiment of God’s Word (John 1). He is and was the Word, the Truth of God.
What is Truth?
Truth. We know that Jesus embodied it but what exactly is it? Let’s look at it a bit, shall we? Truth is simple and complicated at the same time. Many things are true: Snow is white, trees are wooden, and stars twinkle, to name a few. Every true thing on earth involves finiteness, things that will fail at some point no matter what. But the truth, the truth of God’s word, is an infinite truth. It always has been and always will be.
When people fail to find the truth that never fails, it is no wonder they get disillusioned with life. The story of Pontius Pilate is a perfect example of that. The biblically recorded encounter between Jesus and Pilate took place in either A.D. 30 or 33. In particular, among the Gospel accounts, the book of John provides some interesting details about the conversation between Pilate and Jesus. If you read between the lines, the conversation reveals that Pilate was tense and a bit disillusioned at the time. This disillusionment is highlighted by the last exchange. Here it is in all of its glory:
“Pilate, therefore, said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest I am the king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth, Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?”
That was the very last thing he said to Jesus. It was obviously a rhetorical question. This was a question that he didn’t really think there was a good answer too. It also highlights his disillusionment and stress. It is easy to see why if you look at his political standing. Let’s start with the current Roman Emperor of that time: Tiberius. Tiberius became the emperor of the Roman Empire in 14 A.D. In 26 A.D. he temporarily semi-retired to an island named Capri, leaving a man named Sejanus as his co-regent in charge of controlling the affairs of Rome in his absence. Sejanus instituted an anti-Semitism rule and Pilate, his appointee to Judea, carried it out. And as prefect of Judea, he was positioned to do so.
But Sejanus’ run as the top dog came to a hard end. In 31 A.D., two years prior to Jesus’ trial, Sejanus was executed for attempting to seize complete power. For the next two years, a witch hunt of sorts went down in which all who might have been his co-conspirator were sought for execution. Pilate would have been in a very tenuous position at this point and would not have wanted to do anything politically that would stir the already troubled waters.
In addition, Tiberius’ was already on the alert where Israel was concerned. He had realized the falsehood of many of Sejanus’ claims against the Jews and therefore ordered that their persecution cease.
Poor Pilate. Poor confused, disillusioned Pilate. That which he had considered truth was either dead or dying. And so, disgruntled, Pilate had asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
The search for truth has become a self-centered pastime. Many people are looking for the comfortable, most desirable thing to be “truth” for them. Whatever is personally most desirable is true to many.
So what exactly is truth? Many non-Christians will say that truth is whatever one thinks it is, that it’s completely subjective and different from person to person (relativism). Some of them will say that all is truth, that nothing is untrue. In other words, truth is found inside ourselves and we can only rely on ourselves for the truth while at the same time accepting as equally valid the beliefs of others.
Believing the Truest Truth in the Universe
Our believing or not believing in something does not make it either true or not true. It is still either one of these things no matter what. But it is still important that we do believe in the truth, particularly the truth of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that we recognize that He is the Truth, the most important truth in the universe.
When we say believing in and on the Truth of Jesus, it needs to be more than just a casual acceptance of the fact of Him. And it is a belief that needs to equate to a full, 100% acceptance in every situation for the rest of your life. This is not like saying you kind of believe something, but admitting that you don’t really know if it’s true or not. The Truth of Jesus demands that our belief takes the opposite extreme, that we know that He is the truth as surely as we know that snow is white.
The Truth of Jesus is infinitely important because it is an eternally saving truth. Those who have not heard and accepted the Truth, aren’t entirely reliable sources. They might be smart people as far as worldly matters, but not having the one Truth with them is a pretty big deal. Pilate’s problem was that he looked for truth in the form of Sejanus, a guy who was all able ambition and power. When this false truth failed, Pilate despaired of any truth at all. What a pity that he didn’t listen more closely to Jesus, God incarnate.
In the preceding verse, Christ had told him that He had come into the world to tell the truth, that all who heard Him heard the truth. Pilate clearly didn’t follow up his rhetorical question with any investigation into the matter, because he apparently ended things without any hope. Three years later Pilate was relieved of his position. Tradition says that shortly after returning to Rome he killed himself.
Christianity was not founded by a fallen man but by Jesus the God-Man, the God who existed before the beginning, the God who created all mankind and all the universe. This is the Truth that came to earth on that night over 2000 years ago.
(Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in Spring 2007 issue of Clear Living for Randall House Publications.)