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Pilate -- Judge on Trial

(John 18:31-38; 19:12-16)

Lesson 8 -- first quarter 2003
January 19, 2003

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Can you answer his question?

"What is truth?" asked Pilate. I suspect it was more a cynical question than a searching one. No doubt he had seen plenty of assaults on the truth in the name of politics, religion, or personal convenience. And he knew this whole affair with Jesus was one more travesty of truth and justice, this time brought on by leaders of this Jewish religion that professed a unique connection to truth and godliness. Yes, I'm quite certain Pilate felt very cynical about the matter. Even so, how would you answer his question? What is truth, anyway? We could say truth is the absence of deceit, guile, and deception. We could also say truth manifests itself in honesty, sincerity, and genuineness. But what did Jesus have to say about truth? Well, it appears Pilate didn't wait for His answer, but Jesus had addressed the issue not long before His encounter with Pilate.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Jesus established Himself as the ultimate definition of truth. Any definition and understanding of truth that disregards Jesus will fall short of . . . truth! That is one reason why a Christian would no more turn his back on the truth than he would turn away from Jesus.

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Ultimately, God is the sole source of truth. He owns truth because He is truth. Thus everything He says is truth. Not only is God's spoken and written Word truth, His Living Word is also truth. And Who is that Living Truth? Jesus. So now we have made our way back to John 14:6 -- "I am . . . the truth"!

In our day when deception has become so common and refined . . . and so deceptive, we risk great peril if we lower our guard. I am convinced deception will become more and more difficult to detect. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 24:24. Listen to Him here: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." How shall we make sure we do not end up among the deceived? Know Jesus! Know His Word! If what you hear does not measure up to Jesus, do not accept it. We must accept and live in the assurance of Jesus' promises, one of which is this: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

Out of this world

We take John 18:36 as a foundational verse for explaining why we believe and practice non-participation in civil affairs and pursuits. Jesus clearly declared, "My kingdom is not of this world . . . now is my kingdom not from hence." So we stay out of politics, law enforcement, and the military. Is that all the farther out of the world God expects His people to be? No! Note a few more identifying characteristics of those who belong to the kingdom of Jesus.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2). Christians have no business allowing the world to shape their values and their minds, nor their goals and ambitions, nor their thoughts and their speech.

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). No Christian should love (live for) anything that pertains to the other kingdom. Rather we are commanded to set our "affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). Jesus put it this way at least once, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20).

I challenge you to search your Bible for other practical, liveable demonstrations of the Christian's distinctions in and from the world.

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