Summary: John writes about truth more then any other Biblical writer but what is the truth he writes about?
It was a tough spot to be in, especially for a career politician who had based his entire life on compromise. On one hand he had the crowd to please and in the other hand he held the life of an innocent man. The story is a familiar one, Jesus has been arrested and hauled before Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor of Palestine, and Pilate wasn’t sure what to do with this itinerant preacher from Galilee.
It wasn’t that he was unused to conflict, in fact if you looked at his record he would appear to have thrived on it, and when it wasn’t there he created it. He had been sent there by Rome because Palestine was a political hot potato, some things never change. There was the constant threat of rebellion and terrorism and the Emperor needed someone who wouldn’t be pushed around, and Pilate fit the bill to the t. But this was different, oh sure it was the week of the Passover celebrations and there was bound to be a little trouble. The zealots like to point out that God had delivered the Jewish people from slavery once and it wouldn’t be too much to expect Him to do it again. And then simply because of the nature of the celebrations there would have to be extra troops around Jerusalem, just to keep the peace.
But he never expected anything like this. The high priests who normally viewed Pilate as the Devil personified arrived at his door demanding a favour; this could be interesting and profitable. Having the Jewish religious leaders in his debt certainly had possibilities. And it really wasn’t a difficult request; all he had to do was to order the execution of this man Jesus. There were several already slated for public crucifixion, one more cross wouldn’t be difficult to come up and besides, every once in awhile he ought to look like the good guy.
And it should have been easy, interview the prisoner, grant the high priest request and take the rest of the weekend off. Nothing to it. Except it wasn’t that easy. First there was the prisoner, he was like no-one Pilate had ever met before, there was a presence, a power that Jesus had. He didn’t appear to pose a threat to Rome; Pilate could find no logical reason to have him crucified. He hadn’t called for rebellion, or political overthrow of the government, the guy even told people to pay their taxes. You gotta love that. And then there was the dream. Right in the middle of everything Pilate gets a message from his wife saying, “Leave that innocent man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night.” So now he has an angry mob, an innocent man and an upset wife.
And Jesus wouldn’t defend himself, just kept smiling and talking about knowing the truth, what was it he said in John 18:37 “And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
Truth, truth, Pilate couldn’t contain himself anymore and looked at Jesus and demanded, “What is truth?” That’s the question isn’t it? What is truth?
The dictionary defines truth this way:
truth (trth) noun
1. Conformity to fact or actuality.
2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.
3. Sincerity; integrity.
4. Fidelity to an original or a standard.
5. Reality; actuality.
But there must be more to it than that. What is truth, would we even recognize it if we found it? Winston Churchill said “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”
And how would we recognize it? What does it look like? Owen C. Middelton made this statement “Truth is not beautiful, neither is ugly, Why should it be either? Truth is Truth.” Which kind of adds credence to what Lily Tomlin meant when she said “If truth is beauty, then how come no one has their hair done in a library?”
In the scripture that Bonnie read this morning John says 3 John 4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children live in the truth. And 3 John 8 So we ourselves should support them so that we may become partners with them for the truth.
This is the 25th book of the New Testament and the third letter written by the Apostle John. It was written around the same time as 2 John, that is to say about A.D. 90. And the reasons for this letter was to encourage fellowship with fellow believers. And in this very short letter, it only contains 14 verses the word truth is used five times.
John seems to be very fond of the concept of truth because of the 194 times the word truth is used in the bible 44 of those instances are in John’s writings, which is like 23%, including the story we started with.