Each Sunday, if not every day of our lives, we’re confronted with a question. It’s the same question a judge asked almost 2,000 years ago. An accused man stood before him and declared, “... I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37 NIV) The judge responded, “What is truth?...” (John 18:38 NIV)
Unfortunately, the record we have does not preserve the tone of voice with which the judge asked that question.
He might have asked the question as a scoffer. “What is truth? I couldn’t care less what the truth is, whatever truth may be.”
He might have asked the question with the bemused chuckle of a pragmatist. “What is truth? Truth is a fine ideal and all that, but we live in the real world. Don’t you realize that this trial has nothing to do with truth?”
He might have asked the question as an incredulous skeptic. “What is truth? You’re claiming to be the truth? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
He might have asked the question because he was confused. “What is truth? Huh? Come again? I don’t get it. I don’t follow what you’re trying to tell me.”
Or, he may have asked the question from honest doubt. “What is truth? I really wish I knew what is going on here.”
From the world’s point of view it was Jesus who was on trial before Pilate that day but, in reality, it was Pilate who was on trial. The Truth was standing in front of him in the person of Jesus Christ. Pilate’s destiny depended on how he answered the question that he, himself, had asked. How would he respond to the truth? Would he accept it, or would he turn away from it? We know the short-term answer because we know the outcome of the trial. Pilate rejected the truth. He turned Jesus over to be crucified. Did Pilate ever have the chance to change his answer to the question? We don’t know. Some say that Pilate eventually became a Christian, a follower of the man he had condemned to death. Others say that as a result of rejecting the truth that day, Pilate went insane. We don’t know.
The more important question is how we are going to answer what Pilate asked. How are we going to respond to the truth? What are we going to do with Jesus? Jesus said, “...I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) In light of what Jesus said, our relationship to God depends on how we choose to answer Pilate’s question about truth.
In a sense, every Sunday we are on trial, as Pilate was, when we contemplate the communion. The bread represents Jesus’ body. The juice represents His blood. The truth stood before Pilate in the person of Jesus. The truth is before us in the emblems which represent Jesus. What will we do with the truth? How will we respond to it? Will we accept or reject?
Today please think carefully before you take the emblems. If you really accept Jesus as the Truth, the Way and the Life, then take the emblems with joy. But if you aren’t willing to accept Him as the Truth, then the only honest thing to do is not participate.
What is truth?