Summary: What is truth?
Among Bible stories it is iconic – one of those moments that captures the attention of the reader because it resonates with us; one of those things that we have all wrestled with. In fact, it is a moment so pregnant with relevance that for a moment we are tempted to actually empathize with the antagonist in the story.
Jesus is standing before Pilate, bound and a little bruised by the beating he received at the hands of the Sanhedrin. Pilate wants nothing to do with the affairs of these squabbling Jews, but they insist – intimating that the peasant carpenter is a rival to Caesar. Pilate takes Jesus and asks him if this is true.
Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
What is truth?
You know, that is one of the things that I appreciate most about the Scriptures – though they are ancient, written thousands of years ago, they are so incredibly contemporary. In an age where people constantly call for relevance and application, the Word of God – the inscribed revelation of the God written by authors who were inspired and moved by the Spirit of God – is just as relevant as it was the day it was written. For those who would say that the Bible is just an old Jewish book, outdated and flawed, I would ask this one question: who said “What is truth?” Because they might be stunned to realize that it was high level bureaucrat of the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. If there is any question that characterizes the spirit of our age – the way we think as a society it is “What is truth?”
The numbers bear this out, as we heard in the sermon that began this series. In case you don’t remember, let me read just one of the quotes for you again,
In 2002, “…pollster George Barna documented that only 22 percent of adults and 6 percent of teens affirmed the notion of moral absolutes. Among Christian youth, the numbers were only slightly higher with one out of ten born-again teenagers holding to an unchanging moral truth. This means that the majority of today's generation has taken to heart the predominant moral philosophy of our day: moral relativism.”
Think about that just for a second – of the general population, only 22 percent of adults affirm the notion of moral absolutes. In other words, only about 1 in 5 adults say there is some kind of fixed moral standard that applies to everyone. Consider the implications – in the prevailing culture, our children are being bombarded with the message that morality is what they say it is – it is a personal choice. There is no outside authority, no cosmic or natural law that establishes a baseline behavior for all to follow. Our kids are being taught that they are their own moral authority – they get to choose what is right and what is wrong for them. And… and this is the real kicker… and they must be tolerant of every other person’s behaviors and moral decisions because only that person can decide what is right or wrong for them. This message has become so pervasive that within the general culture only 6% of teens say there is some notion of moral absolutes. Tease that statistic out to measure only Christian youth – those who make some firm claim of being born again and who are regularly involved in the life of their church – and the percentage only jumps to 10%; 1 in 10 Christian youth.
In this kind of moral relativism there is no place for truth. What ends up happening, then, is that we create a generation of Pilate’s all asking “What is truth?” We raise up a generation that is morally adrift; a generation without shame and little restraint that produces record numbers of single-parent households. And every statistic our social sciences have been able to gather reveal how devastating this trend is to our society as a whole. When we have no standard to appeal to everyone does what seems right in their own eyes – and I have to tell you, our eyes are not that good. In fact, Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-20 says,