“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”
What is real? We understand what is around us with our five senses. We have learned to know the shape and use of many things. You’re sitting on a couch or in your chair because you know they are real. But there is a limit to what we can know and not everything is measured by what we can see. You came here tonight (today) for another truth: the truth you know from the Bible—God’s Word.
As we’ve contended this Lent, Satan wants you to question that truth. And he has an ally in his campaign against Jesus and against his followers. The world around us also challenges us to question what God tells us in the Bible. Our warrior, Jesus, faced the world’s question about what is real and true. He defended the truth because he knows that you and I depend on it. Jesus faced Satan’s ally, the world.
That means, the world we live in…it’s one where God’s own truth is under attack.
And when Jesus stood before Pilate and answered his questions, he framed up the situation just that way, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Did you catch it? He said, “on the side of truth”? He’s taking sides! On one side is the truth; on the other side is the lie. On that side is the liar, Satan, and he has an ally, the unbelieving world.
The world around us accepts Satan’s lies and challenges anyone who does not agree with it. It pretends to have answers to all the big questions of life, but they are really nonsense. The world in which we live is damaged and sinful. Its people parade ungodly ideas as the solutions to all the things that are wrong in the world. It pays no mind to that the problems have remained generation after generation. And it thinks Jesus and his Word are foolishness. But that shouldn’t surprise us. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The world wants nothing to do with Jesus. And sometimes I’ve given into its lies – taking them as true. In the things I see in movies, read in books, hear in music, see in the news – I find lifestyles and values that go against God’s Word. Those influences cause me to let down my guard at times. Too often they convey that life is based in what we feel instead of what’s real. “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Our world says that it is whatever you want it to be. Far too often, we don’t catch it or we give in. And we don’t always faithfully assess and avoid the ways this ungodly world seeks to undermine and even destroy God’s truth and our need for Jesus.
John went on to write, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17). We are designed for something far better and far bigger than just this earth: we are designed to be in an eternal relationship with our Creator, our Savior, our faith-giving God! But Satan and the world want to keep our minds on what passes away and not on the truth about sin, death, and our need for salvation.
Jesus calmly and strongly faced all the enemy voices. He spoke the truth. You just heard him tell Pilate: “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).
Pilate didn’t accept Jesus’ framing of things. “What is truth?” he asked. I don’t think he didn’t know. He just knew the words of his world. Most of his truth was whatever came from the point of the spear. He found no big answers. Just lots of compromises. Trapped in a world of lies, Pilate couldn’t even recognize the truth when he was staring it in the face.
- Our hero is the truth.
Jesus had told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Jesus is the truth. In other words, he is the only way to understand reality—what is real and true. He’s the only way we can possibly make sense of life.
Everybody has questions about reality. What can I know and how can I know it? How can I ever understand suffering and evil? Who am I? Why am I here? What can I hope? The world, of course, has millions of answers to those questions. The world loves “your truth” and “my truth” as though there isn’t any at all… But its guesses and wishes and “I thinks” all fail the test. They still leave us in sin and death and terrible hell – they don’t remove sins guilt. They don’t secure a relationship with the almighty God.
Jesus always spoke with complete authority. He often said, “Truly, I tell you . . .” or “Amen, Amen”. He was certain about truth: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31,32).
In other words, God’s Word, the Bible, holds everything we need to know for life, to live freely without guilt and death’s curse—without the fear of God’s punishment—and, especially, to live forever free in eternity. That’s because every word in the Bible, in one way or another, points to Jesus Christ. And he’s significant. Our world is broken. People hate. Nature kills. Storms damage. Death stalks us all. I think, say, and do the evil I know I shouldn’t. You fail far too often to do the good you should. Many have tried to come up with something to fix this mess. All have failed. But Jesus Christ has not! Not ever! He succeeded.
The Son of God came into this world with sparkling, pure, holy life to tell us the truth and to be the truth that would battle sin, death, Satan, and a world that hates him. Throughout his entire life he remained holy so that he could trade his life for ours at the place of God’s judgment. At the cross he made that payment. When he walked out of the tomb alive he secured the victory. This is the truth that we believe, confess, and hold dear because it means the solution for the world’s sin and for our own personal sin. Our truth-telling Jesus gives us the certain conviction that he will take all those who trust him to live with him in heaven. This is the only reality there is.
His promise puts everything else into perspective. It gives us a worldview that is bigger than our eyes can see or what we can know. It’s an amazing window into eternity! We see reality—eternal reality—in the cross and the love of God for us sinners. And that truth has changed us. We are on Jesus’ side, the side of truth. As a child of God through faith in our Savior Jesus, you have this great promise: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He battles for us.
- He shares the truth through us.
And that’s particularly necessary to know, because our warrior Jesus calls us to be warriors of this truth in this world. We don’t use swords or guns as Peter tried to do in the Garden of Gethsemane. St. Paul tells us how to wage our battles against Satan and the world: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4).
The weapon he gives us is his own powerful Word. The Word has changed us. We have a Christ-centered common sense and faith to use that Word well so we can bear witness to the hope and joy we have in Jesus. Our great privilege is to grow deeply in Christ through his Word, to live with consciences that are bound by that precious, good Word, and then to show and share the beautiful faith he has given us. In fact, that was Jesus’ prayer for his disciples during Holy Week, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).
My friends: continue to use these opportunities to equip yourself and your family to be confident of the real truth! Jesus has overcome the world and given you the treasure of his truth. With patience and prayer, kindness and gentleness, confidence and peace, live and work in God’s marvelous truth. Especially at this time of crisis and difficulty and fear, show your hope and the comfort in God’s love. And be ready to share it. Amen.