When Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor in Jerusalem, he was on trial on account of the accusation of the Jews that he had said he was the king of the Jews. This charge was calculated to bring the wrath of Rome to bear on him since the Roman authorities would kill anyone who was perceived as a source of agitation against their totalitarian rule. The Jewish authorities wanted Jesus dead because they saw him as a threat to their position and power also.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:34). In response Jesus asked him, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” In essence Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew. How do you expect me to know about your internal disputes? Your own people and the chief priests have delivered you to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered him…
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38).
When Jesus acknowledges that he has a kingdom Pilate takes this as admission to the accusations of the Jews. “So you are a king?” Jesus said that he came into the world to bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth listens to his voice. Pilate responded with that oft repeated question, “What is truth?”
Pilate’s question seems to me to be the words of a cynical, hardened unbeliever not a sincere truth seeker. I do not see that he asked this question out of any desire to know what truth is. He would not have recognized truth if it leaped up and bit him! The fact is that truth was standing before this callous Roman ruler at the moment he asked that question.
What truth was it that Jesus had come to bear witness to? What truth was it that Pilate had missed? What is the greatest truth of all? What is the fundamental, foundational truth on which all that is true is based? Is it not the truth that God is?
The Bible does not present arguments for the existence of God – it begins with the subject of his being assumed. “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1). When Jesus came into the world, John, one of his biographers began his account of his life with several strong assertions about who he was.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-5, 14).
“Word” (from the Greek, logos) as used by John here means the underlying, foundational reason for the existence of all things. He is the ultimate truth. All creation depends on him as the foundation truth of all existence.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17).
When Jesus walked the earth during his time here among men he did works that let people know who he was. When he asked his disciples who men said he was they told him that opinion was divided as to his identity but when he asked them, Peter replied; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).
How important is this truth? It is so important that believers in Jesus are built together on this foundational, bedrock truth.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18).
This is the truth without which no one can be saved.
The difference between us,” Jesus said to them, “is that you come from below and I am from above. You belong to this world but I do not. That is why I told you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24 (PHILLIPS).
This was the truth Peter preached on Pentecost.
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36).
This truth of God’s existence as expressed in and through the person of Jesus of Nazareth is the single fundamental truth on which all other truth depends. This truth is primary, not derived. It does not depend on any other factors. All other truth derives from this single, primary truth. Ultimate truth – Bible truth – is not a body of doctrines about Jesus, but Jesus himself. All doctrine that is true derives from his being and his life. While Bible doctrine is true, it is derived from him and depends on him for its truth. Doctrine about the church, worship, etc., can inform us about how to respond to him, but doctrine is necessarily secondary and derivative. This does not mean that doctrine is unnecessary, but emphasizes that it must be measured by its relationship to him as the primary truth. In other words we must believe IN him and because of him believe and obey the doctrine that derives from him and points to him.
The truth of which we speak is that alone which can provide a secure basis for life. Build your life on any other foundation and suffer the consequences of building on an insecure foundation.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Everyone is building their spiritual house. The security of that construction depends on the foundation upon which is is built. The sense of the parable is commonly misunderstood. The emphasis is upon where the foundations of the respective houses were as well as the material on which they were built. That house built on sand was in a location where sand was found – in the bottom of the dry stream beds where when the rainy season came the rampaging waters would wash the house away. The house built on the rock was in a location where the floods could not wash it away because the foundation was immovable. Only the ultimate truth of the person of Jesus who is the Son of God provides that kind of security for our lives.