Summary: The lies are subtle, and they go deep down. They are rooted in painful experiences of hurt, of rejection, and the antidote is to discover what God’s truth says to those lies, and to hear that truth speak to those experiences.
Turning Towards Truth
April 9, 2006 (Palm Sunday) John 18:28-38
Today is Palm Sunday, where we celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, where the people welcomed Him and celebrated Him as a King, singing hosanna’s, laying palms and even their cloaks on the ground for His donkey to walk over. It is a high point, a time of joy. But it is short-lived. This acknowledgement of Jesus as a king by the people leads, later on in the week, to this conversation between Jesus and Pilate. From John 18:28-38:
“the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"
30"If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."
31Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."
"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. 32This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
38"What is truth?" Pilate asked.” (John 18:28-38).
This year, as we have walked towards Easter, we have focused our theme of repentance around the idea of turning towards: we have turned towards forgiveness, towards joy, towards love. My hope and prayer has been that these good things would be so attractive, so desirable, that we would be motivated to turn away from our sin, and live in the goodness of the things of God. This morning, I want to pick up Pilate’s question, and reflect together on turning towards truth.
What Is Truth?
At the end of this exchange about whether Jesus is claiming to be a king or not, which is a fascinating conversation, Jesus says, “for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (vs. 37). It is a little cryptic… what does Jesus mean? Pilate’s question sort of makes sense after hearing Jesus say that, we might wonder also: what is this “truth” that Jesus is testifying to?
The answer becomes clear after Jesus dies and is resurrected. The truth is simply this, and I’ll borrow Paul’s words from Rom 5:8: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The “truth” that Jesus is speaking of is that God loves humanity – deeply, permanently, steadfastly, perfectly. The truth is that the love of God is so strong for humanity that Jesus would come and die for our sin, so that our relationship of love with God could be restored.