Was Pontius Pilate Searching for Truth?

In our post-modern era, the question of truth is always a topical issue. One can understand the reason given the fading influence of religion in our society. When religion does get attention, it is often to dissect its basic tenets and embrace the unthinkable.

Nothing seems to be sacrosanct anymore and this gives rise to moral relativism, which deems what may be true to me is fiction to the other person. In the years gone by, there would be outrage if a movie portrayed Jesus in a negative way or questions about His divinity, resurrection or whether He’s coming again. Nowadays, Christianity is like a defeated boxer; it takes all the punches and beatings without fighting back with words. Christianity abides by its Master’s advice of “turning the other cheek.”

The downside to this attitude of trying to ignore the distractions, and rightly so, is the distortion, misrepresentation, and misapplication of biblical principles as fundamental as truth. Humanity wants to set its own standards for morality, inclusive of truth, a step it has no authority to take because it is not inherent in its nature to define what is right or wrong. No matter the philosophical arguments humanity wants to put forth, the Divine is the sole authority to define truth. The fullness of time will prove that. The carnal mind, which is enmity against God (Romans 8:7), cannot see that now, hence all the rumblings, theories, and conjectures questioning His existence or His divine attributes.

Jesus Christ prayed to the Father for the disciples that they might not only be kept from evil, but be made holy or justified by His blood, which was about to be shed for the sins of the world.  Jesus used the opportunity to explain what is truth. He wanted them to understand because much falsehood was circulating at the time. He was about to be taken before Pontius Pilate and His claim of being the Son of God, the Messiah was in question.

Interestingly, as the Christ appeared before Pontius Pilate, something occurred to the Roman leader. He had been hearing and seeing the charges and counter charges about Jesus being “the King of the Jews,” claiming to be the “I AM,” and that He knew Abraham, and so for a few seconds of his life, the Roman ruler sought something from Jesus. He wanted to know what is truth.

Let’s recapture the scene when Jesus was taken before Pontius Pilate in John 18. We know Pilate admitted he could find no fault with Jesus, but the Roman ruler was seeking answers to questions regarding truth.

Pilate’s first question about truth: Verse 33 “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? (emphasis mine throughout the dialogue).

Jesus did not give him a definitive answer. “Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Verse 34.

Yet another question in two-parts in verse 35 “Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

When a question is asked in most cases it is to get an answer, a truthful answer. Pilate was seeking truth and Jesus gave the answers. Note this fundamental truth that the Christ gave to Pilate. Verse 36  “ Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Pilate, still not satisfied with the truth,” asked another question. Verse 37 “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?

Jesus kept coming with the answers – the pure, unaltered, truth. “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Pilate finally made it abundantly clear his intentions. Verse 38. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.”

Jesus had been telling Pilate the truth all along, but he was not listening! To prove clearly that he was not listening note the latter part of verse 38 “And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews.”

Pilate walked away from the most fundamental answer he was seeking from Jesus who had declared earlier to his followers “…thy word is truth,” (John 17:17).

Pilate’s behaviour is typical of what happens in our society today. Many are seeking truth, but when they learn the truth from the Word of God they refuse to believe it. They would rather embrace heresies, traditions, and concoctions of man rather than accepting the true Word of God.

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