Week of April 1: Jesus came to this world to testify to the truth
By DOREEN SMALLS
Scripture: John 18:28-37
It is often said there are two sides to every story. Specifically in the courtroom, there is the case presented by the defendant’s attorney and there is the case presented by the prosecutor. But I also believe there is another side: the truth. Our truths are sometimes not based on facts but perceptions of our experiences. John’s Gospel clearly depicts Jesus came to testify to the truth. Not only did he testify to the truth, Christ is the Truth.
Jesus’ accusers took him to the headquarters of Pilate, the Roman governor. But they refused to enter the governor’s house because Jewish tradition did not allow them to enter the house of a Gentile because they would be considered ceremonially defiled and would not be allowed to partake in the Passover festivities. It is rather ironic that they were quick to obey the law but they were not concerned about bringing false charges against Jesus.
The religious leaders made certain that Pilate would find Jesus guilty. They asserted that if he were not a criminal, they would not have handed Jesus over to him (John 18:30). While they were not explicit about Jesus’ crimes, they were quite explicit about his punishment. When Pilate advised them to handle situation according to their own law, they complained, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death” (John 18:31).
So, Pilate is given a case in which he is uncertain about the alleged criminal and the crime. If you were in Pilate’s position, what would you do? Have there been times in your life when the “truth” was not really the issue? What did you do? How did you respond?
Are you king?
The Scriptures tell us that Pilate then entered the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33) It is interesting to note that Pilate did not inquire about Jesus’ actions, but rather he inquired about Jesus’ identity. What he has done is a testimony to the more critical truth of who he is.
While Pilate was thinking Jesus was “King of the Jews,” he had no idea how close to the truth he was. What he did not realize was that he had encountered the “King of kings” and the “Lord of lords.”
Jesus’ reply was not one that Pilate expected to receive. He was anticipating a simple yes or no but Jesus did not respond with a definitive statement. Instead, Jesus answered the question with a question. Jesus countered, “Do you ask this on your own or did others tell you about me?” (John 18:34) Why do you suppose Jesus would not answer Pilate? How would you have answered the questions from Jesus point of view?
What have you done?
Pilate asked Jesus yet another essential question, “What have you done?” (John 18:35) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from this world” (John 18:38).
As believers, we understand that Jesus was referring to the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven far outweighs or transcends earthly governments. Jesus in that moment announced the truth about his “ownership of the kingdom of God.”
Pilate then raises another question, “So you are a king?” (John 18:37) Pilate was accurate in his presumption that Jesus was a king. But Jesus did not affirm or deny his status. He simply said, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).
Jesus came to testify to the truth about God’s love. But he was also the truth himself. The truth is that God was, God is and God will always be; and God is love. This is truth is our foundation as Christians and this truth sets us free.
How does this truth help you in your daily life? What other truths do you stand on?