what is truth?

The betrayed Jesus stands before Pilate inside the governor's palace, just hours away from His execution. The disciples have vanished and the Jews have accused Him of the vague crime, "evildoing." Pilate stands as mediator, the one who holds the deciding vote, trying to understand these allegations against a Man who doesn't seem to have done any wrong - and yet who doesn't put up any resistance.

He just says, with finality, as if somehow standing here accused is all just part of accomplishing His life purpose,

You say that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.
John 18:37b

To which Pilate answers, in one of the most tragic moments in Scripture, "What is truth?" - and turns away.

Pilate stood where many people have longed to stand, in the very same room as the Jesus who is called the Christ, in the presence of Truth Incarnate - the One who was sent just for this, to testify to the truth. To separate illusion from reality. To tell the world, in no uncertain terms, "This is who I AM" - this is God, this is His character, this is the truth.

And yet Pilate's response to this magnificent claim, a claim that should have changed his life, is flippancy - a flippancy which sums up the response of the world into which Christ was sent, both then and now.

Today, the doubtful spirit of Pilate is everywhere, still dubiously questioning the identity and mission of this Jesus, still asking the question, "What is truth?" - and still not listening for the answer.

We are a generation of questioners who don't actually believe there are answers. We don't say "This is the truth" anymore - we say "Find your truth." Truth, to this generation, is something you possess and shape to make your own, not an objective reality that shapes you. We ask "What is truth?" with the same carelessness as Pilate, not believing for a moment that there's any satisfactory answer - and maybe not even wanting it, if there is.

This generation stands in the presence of Truth Incarnate and dares Him to say there's any such thing.

I think the apostle John, the only gospel-writer to record this pivotal question, was deeply impacted by it. He went on to write three short epistles, each one peppered with that word, truth - each one filled with certainty that the Truth is real, that He can be known, and that He is the only answer.

I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
1 John 2:21-22a

Jesus said that everyone who is of the truth hears His voice. John said that no one who denies that Jesus is Messiah can be of the truth. And they were right - it seems like the Word of God, no matter how well we try to share it, falls often on deaf ears. We try to offer the Answer to people whose backs turn in disbelief the very moment they ask the question, and none of our words have any impact on their direction. It's frustrating... it's heartbreaking.

And I can only imagine the heartbreak Jesus felt in that moment when Pilate walked away.

Yet He doesn't call him back. He doesn't offer a grand theological response. He doesn't try to get the last word.

He just lets him go, spiritually deaf with a mind made up, and saves His voice for those who will hear.


Hallie Liening

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.