GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, YOUR SUFFERING SERVANT
TEXT: John 18: 37,38
Dearly Beloved By Jesus:
I’m sure you’ve heard the radio spot where an inquisitive child keeps asking his father: “Why?” The dad patiently explains that he needs a wrench to take off an oil filter. The boy asks: “Why?” Then he responds: “To replace it with a new filter.” “Why?” “To keep the car running as the old oil will wear it out?” “Why?” And so it goes until the father catches on and they both end up giggling. Curiosity is the middle name of children, and adults…..
Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, had questions, too. His most famous one is in our text: “What is truth?” Pilate’s problem wasn’t in asking the wrong question, it was in not accepting the right answer.
Earlier that Maundy Thursday night, Jesus had given his answer to the disciples, “I am…truth.”—As in: “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” He didn’t say: “I am truthful.” Of course, He was and is. The sinless Son of God cannot lie. Likewise, He did not say: “I am truthful,” as the prophet and apostles did that. They were His mouthpieces. No, Jesus is much, much more. He is truth itself. Let’s listen in and learn more as we consider:
NAMES OF WONDROUS LOVE—THE TRUTH
By late Thursday evening the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, had already passed sentence. Jesus must die. They didn’t have authority to carry out punishment for a capital crime, so they had to go and beg the Romans for authority to do so. Thus, on early Friday morning they are off the Pilate’s palace for a hearing. But what accusation could they make to convince Pilate? The charge of religious blasphemy that they had manufactured would not sway Pilate. New charges must be manufactured. So we read: “We found this man subverting the nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
The Jewish accusers knew Pilate would have to investigate this charge. No Roman ruler could abide a threat to Rome. So Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you a king, then?” The answer: “I am a king. In fact, for this reasons I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” This precipitates Pilate’s jaded question: “What is truth?” Ah, Pilate doesn’t believe in absolute truth, especially religious truth. His culture had abandoned faith in religion and morality. It laughed at the old Roman “gods” and paid more attention to dreams and astrology. (Recall Pilate’s wife and her dream.) Pilate was a pagan skeptic, a practical agnostic. Thus his belief: there is no truth.
Does this sound familiar? It should. It describes our culture today to a “T.” Our post modern culture, our universities, many of our “churches” across America—they all denigrate truth. They teach: “Truth changes with each generation.” “Truth is relative.” So we have the “Big Bang” theory to describe creation. We have the “noble” concept that we all came from worms or worse taught in science class. We have marriage and family life redefined by homosexual lifestyles and/or “open” marriages. We have no absolute standard or behavior taught anywhere outside God’s Church which restrains immoral behavior or even calls it: immoral. How often have you heard: “What might be right for one can be wrong for another?” Or, “Who am I to judge?” Both really are saying: “There is no truth.”
However, we know the correct answer to Pilate’s question. By God’s grace, most of us have known Godly truth from little on. We’ve known Jesus Christ as our Savior. We’ve known He will never lead us into sin. We’ve known that standing up for the truth was worth His life and it’s worth ours, too.
Jesus answered Pilate’s question even before he asked it. “I came into the world to testify to the truth.” Truth was standing before Pilate that very day. Truth was staring him in the eye. Truth is God’s Son. And truth always confronts us in the person of Jesus. He shows us who and what we really are: “Sinners who are lost, condemned creatures, bound by our ego and our pride.” And He also shows us what we can become: “forgiven, righteous saints, made whole by God’s grace.”
Jesus is God’s living word of salvation. He is truth in person! In mathematics we’d say: “Jesus = Truth, or Jesus = Salvation.” He is truth in action. He stepped from eternity into time and space, clothed His divinity in humanity, slept in a cradle, suffered on a cross, shed His blood as the God-man to make Himself the truth of our salvation. If you want to know how you are saved, look to Jesus, He is the Truth—of your salvation. If you want to talk about how humans are saved, talk about Jesus alone. The “truths” the world advances we can live without. But we cannot live without Jesus, not here on earth and certainly not in the hereafter in heaven.
Pilate totally flubbed his chance to learn the truth that Good Friday. He had truth standing before him and he closed his ears to it. Tonight Truth stands before your hearing. Remember when Jesus said: “My Word is truth.”? Remember John writing: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us…And we have seen His glory…full of grace and truth.”? Tonight you’ve come to hear God’s Word. That means you’ve been listening to Jesus, the Truth. How do you feel, knowing something that the rest of the world says is impossible to know? I know how I feel.—Liberated! Free! The shackles of sin and the fears of doubt have been removed by the Truth! Yes, as the Truth says: “If you hold to my teachings you are really my disciples and then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!” “Free at last, free at last, thank God I’m free at last! Amen