May 06

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To the person who reads the New Testament, the words which serve as the subject of this article, will be identified immediately, as the question which Pontius Pilate asked Jesus. Truth is the desire of all honest people, no matter the field. Whether the subject is justice, science, math, or religion, the honest person is one who seeks truth and nothing but the truth! Of course, to the dishonest person, truth means nothing at all. As such a person is only interested in what will serve him best! The difference between the honest and the dishonest is clearly seen when it comes to truth; and asking the question “what is truth?”
However, we are continually surprised to see the dishonest person. You see, to the honest person, it seems so simple, to be a person who only desires truth; that to be confronted with a person who deals in dishonesty! Just look around at the number of churches, a number which continues to grow. Yet, every one of them will “shout” to the whole world, we are the church which Jesus said: “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18)! To the honest person, it takes no time at all, to see the answer cannot be truth!
The world, and many religious people, stand with Pilate in asking: What is truth?” Have you studied the context of Pilate’s question? The verse reads: “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38). More than likely there is much said between Pilate and Jesus which the Holy Spirit did not record; but we have all we need to know, in accordance with the wisdom of God. Keep in mind as this is read, after Pilate had asked his question, John wrote that: “he went out again unto the Jews.” Did he give Jesus time to answer, or does his actions reveal a lack of interest in truth; if so he may have simply just asked a question? In the life of Pilate truth was not all that important, as his first interest was in keeping his power! Nevertheless, it is time to look at the context.
Starting with verse twenty-eight of John chapter eighteen, we learn that the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate after taking him to Caiaphas, who was high priest according to the Romans, as the Romans had removed Annas, who would have been the high priest according to the law of Moses; but was not the high priest recognized by Roman authority, as they had appointed Caiphas. The Jews were covering all “bases” as their first desire and intent was to have Jesus crucified. Therefore, they were trying to appease both their countryman and the Romans! The Jews having delivered Jesus to Pilate, who asked: “What accusation bring ye against this man?” (verse 29). Not surprising, the Jews answer: “They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee” (verse 30). They were putting themselves forward as “honest!” Honesty was not on their mind! Pilate replied: “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law” (verse 31). Naturally they had an answer, which also reveals a real lack of interest in “truth;” as they said: “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” They were showing their own dishonesty; as they would murder Stephen (Acts 8:58), but now they desired the Romans to do their evil deed!
Pilate calls Jesus into the “judgment hall;” and his first question: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” (verse 33). This reveals that he had some knowledge of what was going on among the Jews. After more talk, Pilate asked: “what hast thou done?” (verse 35). This appears to be a natural question, as in fact, the Jews had brought Jesus to Pilate with the expressed purpose to have him put to death! Jesus’ answer is most revealing as to the nature of his kingdom: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (verse 36). This caused Pilate to ask another question: “Art thou a king then?” (verse 37). Jesus replies: “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (verse 37). It is here that Pilate questioned: “What is truth?” (verse 38).
Pilate came face to face with “truth,” but his desire was to keep his power; and by doing so, reveals a truth that many, like Pilate, do not desire to hear and to take action upon: “truth!” So, he appeals to a “custom:” by saying: “ye have a custom” (verse 39). My friends, “customs” must never trump “truth!”
“Truth” is the foundation upon which the church that Jesus said: “I will build” stands! It is truth, truth obeyed, that saves (John 8:32). So, where do you stand, upon “truth,” or do you appeal to some “custom?”

— Frank R. Williams

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