The atmosphere is charged with angry excitement. Under heavy guard, Jesus has been brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Jealous national leaders are accusing Him of treason against the Roman emperor and pushing Pilate to condemn Him to death. A mob has followed Jesus to His trial, also clamoring loudly for a guilty verdict.
It’s still early, and Pilate would love to quickly sign a death warrant and get back to his rest, but something stops him. Jesus is so unlike other prisoners, although He’s been mostly silent in the trial so far. Pilate decides to personally question Him in a quieter setting.
After having the prisoner moved to an empty room, Pilate comes straight to the point—the charges against Jesus:
“Are You the King of the Jews?” he demands.
Jesus’ answer is unexpectedly personal:
“Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” He responds.
Pilate isn’t willing to share any inner convictions. He brushes off the question sarcastically:
“Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
Again, Jesus’ answer is unexpected, offering Pilate another opening to move beyond the superficial:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Perhaps there is a surprised pause as Pilate digests this, and perhaps his next question is genuinely curious:
“Are You a king then?”
“You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
He’s looking at Pilate without fear or defiance, longing to save him from what he’s about to do.
Another pause from Pilate, perhaps. Is his heart drawn to Jesus? We can’t hear the tone of his next question. It could be sarcastic again, but Pilate lives in a world of political intrigue, posturing, and lies. Perhaps in his heart he’s weary of all that, and he’s now more like a disciple thirsting for answers from a respected teacher. Jesus may have broken through to a real desire to know.
“What is truth?” Pilate asks.
But he doesn’t wait for an answer. If only he had. Instead, the demands from outside abruptly draw his attention back to an escalating situation.1
The interview is over, but the question remains hanging in the air: What is truth? Let’s see what the Bible can tell us.
2. How does God describe His own character?
Exodus 34:6, 7 And the Lord passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”
The mixture of perfect love and perfect justice in God’s character is its beauty and strength. He’s neither sentimental nor vindictive. His love is deep and steady, and His justice is fair and dependable. He forgives, but He doesn’t remove the consequences of sin. (That’s what’s meant by visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children.) If He did, we wouldn’t realize how vicious sin is. Instead, He suffers with us, offering strength and comfort. In mercy, He has borne the worst consequence of our sins Himself (2 Cor. 5:19), and He finds ways to bring blessings from sin’s fallout. He’s entirely good and self-giving, and He’s in the process of putting an end to evil forever.
3. Who helps us see what God the Father is like?
John 14:9, 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father; …The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
4. What picture of God did Jesus give?
Mark 3:1‒5 And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they [the Pharisees] watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
This encounter perfectly illustrates how Jesus showed God’s compassion for those who needed help and His anger and grief over hard-heartedness. In this incident, Jesus demonstrated the heart of God’s law—a law based on His character of selfless kindness.
It was Satan, a powerful fallen angel, who spoke through the serpent. See Revelation 12:9. Notice how he implies that God is a selfish, power-hungry liar. But who was really the liar?
2. What does Jesus call Satan?
John 8:44 He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
3. What warning does the Bible give about Satan?
1 Peter 5:8, 9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Satan wants us to believe his lies and disobey God, whom he hates. The Bible calls disobeying God’s law of love and life “sin.” 1 John 3:4. Satan works to tempt us to sin like a hungry lion stalking its prey.He knows sin separates us from God and causes permanent death. Isa. 59:2; Rom. 6:23. Through that, he can hurt God because God loves us.
The Bible is a library of the words spoken or inspired by God. It tells us about Jesus.
2. Who helps us find and understand truth?
John 16:13, 14 [Jesus speaking] However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth.” He is the Third Person of the Godhead who helps us to understand and live by God’s truth. He also helps us detect and avoid Satan’s lies.
3. What did Jesus tell us to do to know truth and freedom?
John 8:31, 32 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Abiding in Jesus’ word means staying in and habitually studying and obeying His words as found in the Bible.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
2 Corinthians 5:16‒18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to combat Satan’s lies and show us the truth about God the Father. He also came to make a way for us to come back to God. Jesus’ life and death make it possible for us to be forgiven for our sins and become new people. Thus, God brings us back to a close relationship with Himself. We find the way to a new, joyful life by following a Person who is the truth. Jesus both speaks and lives truth. He—the Truth—sets us free!
2. What does Jesus set us free from?
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Jesus sets us free from three enormous problems we’re helpless to escape by ourselves. He sets us free from sin and its resulting destruction to live without self-centeredness forever. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins so that our old life can “die” with Him too. With Jesus, we can start again and be a different kind of person. He sets us free from our old, broken selves to become kind, giving, and joyful. These wonderful freedoms can be ours if we give our life to Jesus.
Truth is found in Jesus. His words and actions show us the truth about God the Father, Satan, and ourselves. His death pays for our sins, setting us free to live forever and become new people through Him. The Holy Spirit will help us to personally find and experience these truths as we study the Bible.
I choose to search for God’s truth in the Bible, asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. I want to see Jesus more clearly and experience a changed life.
All verses used are taken from the NKJV Bible.
Dialogue taken from John 18:34‒38, NKJV.