Truth is Both Frightening and Freeing
As you read through the gospels it is fascinating to see the reactions people had to Jesus and his teachings. One of the most intriguing to me occurs in John 18, right before Jesus is crucified. In this encounter, Jesus is talking with Pilate and he says in verse 37,You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.
Then Pilate responds,What is truth?
This is not just a question for back then, but is an ever pressing question now. What is truth? How can we be so sure? How can Christianity claim to be the truth? These and many more are definitely valid questions. They are questions we take seriously at CrossPointe. I hope this continues to characterize us as a church. That we are welcoming to those with doubts, questions and fears.
But there is something in this passage that stands out to me, and something I think we all need to hear. Pilate goes philosophical when he is confronted with the very personal Jesus. I’m not so sure Pilate really even desires an answer to his question. I think he’s hiding behind the question. Fearful of the implications for his life if he were to declare Jesus the true and right king. I’m actually quite sympathetic to Pilate at this point. Seriously, think about it for a moment from Pilate’s perspective. He has everything. He has power. He has money. He has social standing. Yet if he would embrace Jesus as the true king, what does that do to his standing? His identity would begin to crumble. His perceived sense of security would be shattered. I believe this is why so many today go philosophical with the questions about Christianity. We get afraid of what it would look like to actually let Jesus rule and reign in our lives. We like being king. We like building our identity on our achievements…particularly if you have had some “success” in this world. We can’t imagine living any other way.
After this question Pilate goes back out to the angry crowd and professes that he finds no blame in Jesus. It’s like he doesn’t want to embrace Jesus but he also doesn’t mind him. This is very popular today. Let’s just keep him around. We like a Jesus we can sort of dabble with. It’s the proclaiming him king that we don’t want to deal with.
I believe the key to discovering truth is to realize this is our story. We want to be king. We want to rule and reign. Here’s the kicker…we like Pilate are not passive observers, but we sent Jesus to his death. I don’t like to think about that, but it’s true. Yet the beauty of the truth of Christianity is that Jesus went willingly in our place. Until we see that, until we encounter that experientially, we will always default to rationalistic, philosophical questions.
Truth is much more than philosophical, though it includes that, it is also personal. It is embodied in the person and work of Jesus. When Jesus declared in John 14:6 that he is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one gets to the Father but through Him, he was showing us both the exclusivity of Christianity but also it’s inclusivity. Why the inclusivity? Because he is truth embodied and that truth went and died in our place, regardless of what we’ve done, to offer us grace and forgiveness. No other “truth” out there can offer us that. No philosophical system or other religion has a God who actually becomes one of us and suffers for us in our place. So yes we embrace an exclusive truth, that is also radically inclusive, a truth we know cognitively and experientially as Jesus.
At CrossPointe this is what we want so desperately for people to get – not to win any arguments, but so that people will find the one Truth that will bring the freedom we all desire.