“I am …the truth,” said Jesus.
Why Jesus? This was the question that whispered in my heart at the beginning of advent.
Why Jesus? Because Jesus.
Because Jesus was Plan A all along, and not a knee-jerk reaction or retaliation against sin by an offended God.
Because Jesus is “the way”, meaning the destination, direction and drive towards right relationship (and eternity) with God.
And because Jesus is The Truth personified.
If Jesus is any less than The Truth then should we just scrap Christmas altogether?
If he is less than The Truth then perhaps we can go on worshipping our own ideas, material possessions or that twig laying on the ground.
I am the way, the truth and the life.
Jesus’ statement in John 14 stands as a trifecta claiming both his authorship and authority over the trio of humanity’s most pressing questions: Who am I, why am I here, where am I going?
It was only a few hours after he encouraged Thomas and the disciples in the upper room with these words (see John 14-18) that Judas betrayed him, the Jews arrested him, and Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, awaiting his decision on whether he would be condemned to death or allowed a Roman-declared free pass. Realizing their limits (they could not execute anyone), the Jewish leaders who had had Jesus arrested sent him to Pilate. Pilate was given the governorship over the region of Judea, and he’d been an oppressive leader, raiding the temple coffers of gold to fund his building plans.
“Pilate summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priest who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?”
Pilate made four attempts to reason with the determined Jewish leaders to convince them that Jesus was guilty of no crime punishable by crucifixion. Finally, they manipulated Pilate with the political pressure of aligning with someone who was clearly undermining Caesar and Pilate relented. (See John 18)
Pilate was guided by a cynic’s definition of truth. To him, truth could be rooted in public majority, visible evidence or morality. His standard of truth constantly shifted beneath him. Truth, in Pilate’s world, was subjectively based on Caesar’s whims, the empire itself, the ideals of his society (and, the need to save his own neck!), and perhaps his own ambitious goals.
Truth, to Pilate was malleable. Truth, to Jesus, was not only unremittingly solid, but also, and objectively, himself.
In the midst of his trial before Pilate, Jesus himself tells us why “he’s the reason for the season” and why Christmas carries any import at all:
For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. (John 18:37)
Truth. What is truth? Whether the question is posed in earnestness or cynically, it demands to asked and demands to be answered. Jesus’ answer is clear: we are asking the wrong question.
We ask what is truth when we should be asking who is truth.
The problem of truth has been wrestled for centuries by philosophers. Poets and great thinkers have written miles of text about truth. “Can truth preclude the existence of a God?” ask atheists and naturalists. “Does truth matter?” asks the cynic. “Who cares? Just give me presents and sugar cookies!” declares the distracted and materialistic modernist.
But the most irritating thing about the problem of truth is that it just won’t go away!
Sometimes our children lie to us. We take great pains to get to the bottom of the situation and sit them down and say, “Tell me the truth!” Often, (parents, you get this, right?) the testimonies of our children conflict and we can never determine what happened or who broke the toy or stole the money, but we can’t pass it off as unimportant because the fact remains that something did happen and there is evidence to prove it. The broken toy is the proof, but the broken communication and the damaged relationship (lack of trust) is the issue on our hearts. We want the truth to be confessed, but moreover, we want the truth to become what guides them to confess it.
Truth is a problem and Jesus was correct in stating, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Wherever we look for truth in justice, in progress, in politics, in philosophy, in science, in religion we are faced with The Truth. Then there is the incontrovertible proof of a life, a marriage, a community transformed from dying and awful to living, thriving and beautiful by the revelatory and powerful truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ…but we’ll save that for another day. Sadly, those who deny that truth can be ascertained apart from the admission of a real, powerful and creative God are left with the annoying evidence of their own existence—they themselves are thinking, breathing, reasoning evidences of something. But what. Or rather, whom?
Merry Christmas, says Jesus, I give you truth. I give you the answer to every question. I give you the problem of choice.
Pilate chose to give Jesus up. He chose compromise and crucifixion. What do we choose?
“There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”
Wow! Discussing a heady matter like this is beyond my abilities, I confess. I lack so much in brainpower. But I had fun researching ideas and thoughts and if you want to read more about the moral argument for theism, the biblical (and controversial) definition of truth, and the archeological evidences that revealed in the 1960s that Pilate indeed existed (outside of the proof of biblical narrative) and the mystery metals in the coinage of Pilate that hinted at his dabblings (along with the high priest Caiaphas) in a possible usurpation of the Roman throne, you can follow these links and stretch your mind a bit. And of course, here’s today’s image in .pdf: I am the truth
I just love God and his word and the depths of his truth that will always confound us and set us free.