John 18:28-38: “What is Truth?”

Read: John 18:28-40

After Caiaphas did not produce a case against Jesus, Caiaphas passes the buck and sends Jesus before Pilate who is in the Praetorium, a Roman guard tower adjacent the temple. Apparently, entering the Praetorium would make one unclean because the Jews saw the Romans as unclean. Jesus died before the Passover, and the priests wanted to observe the Passover. Pilate asks why Jesus was brought to him, and the guards do not answer the question rather just says that if he was not an evildoer, they would not have brought him to Pilate. The truth of the matter was that they had no charges to bring against Jesus, rather they wanted him to die so they brought him to Pilate under false pretenses. John notes that this was to fulfill the kind of death that he would die (John 12:33). Jesus says that he “would be lifted up from the earth”, an allusion to John 3:14 and to the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus was to be “lifted up” on a cross (in the manner the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness) at the hands of Gentiles rather than stoned to death by the Jews. Jesus would die by hands of the Jews and the Gentiles and for the Jews and the Gentiles alike. And through this, Jesus would draw all men to himself. (John 12:32).

Pilate was obviously under pressure, so he enters the Praetorium and summons Jesus. Pilate was probably well aware of who Jesus was, as he asks him a question concerning Jesus’ kingship. People had ascribed kingship to Jesus or wanted to make Jesus king on a number of occasions (John 1:49, John 6:15, John 12:13). In Jesus’ day, there were a number of rabble-rousers looking to win back the Jewish independence from Rome. Anyone claiming to be a king or anyone who was likened to a king would have reached the ears of the ones in power, and in this case, it was the Romans. This was probably what prompted Pilate’s question. Jesus asks if someone had told him about this or if he had asked it on his own initiative. Pilate does not answer the question, rather simply asks what Jesus had done because the priests had brought Jesus to him. They obviously had not presented a case against him.

Jesus then answers both Pilate’s questions concerning his kingship and what he had done. Jesus says his kingdom was not of the world and that he had come into the world to testify concerning the truth. Jesus himself said that he was the truth on a number of occasions in John (John 1:14, John 1:17, John 5:33, John 8:31-32, John 8:44-46, John 14:6). Pilate asks a precarious question, “What is truth?” What Pilate intended by this questions is not certain, but in light of what was going on, Pilate probably suspected that the dodgy answers of the guards indicated that Jesus truly was innocent and that the Jews really were not concerned about the truth. For this reason, he was willing to let Jesus go. But even Pilate was not concerned with the truth, as he sought to appease the crowds by letting a robber go in the place of an innocent man.

Just about everyone alive will claim to believe the truth, but not everyone will believe the truth when it forces them to change something they do not want to change. For this reason, people will change how they see truth or just outright lie to suit their purposes. Jesus was perceived as a threat by the priests. It seems that Pilate saw through the nonsense as there was not case against him brought to bear, but even he did not have the gall to stop it. In any case though, Jesus knew that his purpose was to be the innocent sacrifice that would be lifted up by the hands of Jews and Gentiles for Jews and Gentiles. Through the sins of the Jews and Gentiles at hand, Jesus would provide a way for all people to be reconciled to God and in this Jesus would draw all men to himself! Christians should be concerned about the truth because the truth is the source of salvation. If one does not have the truth, then one does not have salvation. Christians should work with God in helping people realize that they desperately need the truth!

Lord, I see the truth! Help other to see the truth and know!