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March 13, 2024

“What Is Truth?”

Passage: John 18:37-38

Many in this world use a certain philosophy in an attempt to free their minds of guilt. That philosophy is “It’s your truth that matters.” This philosophy is dangerous. It allows people to define their system of beliefs however they see fit. This philosophy allows for a long range spectrum, which ranges anywhere from following the strictness of manmade morals defined by a cult to having no scruples and morals but simply following your instincts by indulging in everything you want for if that’s your truth, go for it.

Pontius Pilate believed that same philosophy of this sinful world as shown by his asking of the question, “what is truth?”
This question is asked rhetorically as if it were a fact of life. “What is truth…what does that word even mean, really?” But what makes Pilate’s asking of the question unique from all others is that it was much more insulting and ridiculous because of the one to whom he asks the question. Pilate offers this trite and unholy question, the question “what is truth?” to the very answer to that question, the King, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Jesus said quite plainly, “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life.” And so tonight, we will answer Pilate’s and the world’s question, “What is Truth?” by pointing to the One who came to bear witness of the truth as He hangs on the cross to provide the answer.

(we pray…)

So, how does one answer the question, “what is truth?” To answer the whole question briefly, I’d put it this way: Truth is right and wrong as defined by God Almighty in His Holy Word—The Bible. In this way God tells us what to do and what not to do, and He expects perfect perfection. The specifics of God’s code of right and wrong, also known as His law, can be boiled down to ten commandments, and even further, two great commandments—Love God and Love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus, the truth bringer, teaches us this very thing. And so, that seems simple, right? A divine and transient being defines for sentient humanity what is right and wrong. But what is it about Pilate and others who still ask the question even though the answer, Jesus and His Word, are explaining it to them? The baffling ignorance of Pilate and the sinful world in which we live can be explained by the words of St. Paul in Romans 1, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” How much of the world can be lumped into this description of Paul’s? All of it…there’s a reason this world along with Pilate asks such a stupid question, so stupid that it’s downright rebellious, “What is truth?” They know…their conscience has in part shown them, but they ignored—excusing their sinfulness “your beautiful as you are” or accusing, “the church is trying to bring you down!”

But we could go all night pointing out the cedar trees worth of beams sticking out of Pilate’s hedonistic eyes, and out of the eyes of all who kill in a disgruntled psychosis, rape in burning lust, take for themselves a spouse of their own sex, or even change their own gender out of dissatisfaction. Let us for a moment ask about us though. Tonight, let’s ask the question ourselves, “What is truth?” Tell me that there hasn’t once been a time in your life where you listened to an authority figure instead of God, or followed your reason over God, or felt your emotions and thought they were more meaningful than God…Have you never once looked at God’s truth, the absolute truth, and said, “I’d rather do something else” or “that doesn’t apply to me in this situation,” even though your conscience or, better yet, God’s Word was screaming at you correctly that it does…What is truth to you? Are we really going to be like Pilate and, when recalling the Word of God which bears witness to God’s truth, say in blatant childish stupidity,“what is truth?”

Here's the truth then: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And truth has consequences: you don’t comply, you will die…and die eternally as the wrath of God almighty burns…

Truth doesn’t sound very comforting, does it? It’s not mean to, at least not this part of the truth. This part is meant to show you your guiltiness and the price you have to pay—to rend you to your knees that you may hear the other half of the truth. As you lay there on your knees, hear this side of the truth, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” They are not mystical, but practical. These words are your innocence plea and your salvation from eternal punishment. The One who spoke these words to you is the One who is rightfully a King who has come to save you. He is also a Prophet, who came to testify the truth that He has come to save all people from the sins they have committed against God’s truth. And He is a Priest, who will provide the very sacrifice that ratifies His prophetic words and puts into action His Kingly salvation of our souls.

So, what is truth? Jesus. How so? I thought God’s code of right and wrong was truth. Yes, for Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the Law of Moses, that is the Law of God, but fulfill it.” Jesus, God and Man, kept this code of right and wrong perfectly. He is the truth. And so, what does that have to do with you? Well, this truth and all its principles was lived by Jesus on your behalf, and its perfect record was imputed to you. As Jesus progressed towards Calvary, He endured much to make this record your own. He was mocked by an eye-rolling King Herod, whom Jesus never once gave into his childish demands for magic tricks. Jesus endured mistrial by the morally bankrupt Pontius Pilate who showed his lack of principles by letting an insurrectionist go free instead of the innocent embodiment of the truth. Jesus endured a doctrinally shallow populous who, after being fed false teaching by the pharisees, shouted for the Jesus’ death by crucifixion. And Finally, as Jesus dragged the wooden cross which coarsely pressed into his lacerations, upon reaching the top of Golgotha, had His hands and feet nailed into the cross. And all this He endured for you…He had people mocking Him, baiting Him to come down from the cross. He had a heinous criminal beside Him challenge His Messiahship by asking Him to come down from the cross and save Him too. All this happened to the truth, just as it goes on today. But here, the truth, Jesus Christ, endured this all for you. Here is where He traded his perfect life for your sin filled life. Here Jesus, the truth, gave you His life of perfect obedience to God’s Law and the merit it deserves in exchange for the punishment of hell on the cross which your life deserves. There on that cross Jesus took on the abandonment of His Father. There on that cross He endured the bone breaking, lung crushing, pain of punishment that you deserved. And so, this is the truth: Jesus died for you. Jesus lived for You. Jesus is the truth for you.

Now, back to the tormenting world in which walk, the world that screams so foolishly, “What is truth?” and “It’s your truth that matters,” where can we turn for truth and answers in this world? The answer is Jesus. As we saw, Jesus is our truth, and Jesus even preached truth on the pulpit of the cross as He died for you. When Jesus saw you abandoning the truth, making your desires your supposed truth rather than God’s Word, Jesus took your punishment on the cross, and looking down on all the people who nailed the truth to the cross and laughed at it, He asked “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And when you’re wondering, questioning the truth of God’s Word, if He will take away your most vexing problems, remember that Jesus in His dying breaths took care of His mother by providing for her a caretaker. Just like with Mary and John, He had your best interests in mind, even your physical interests while dying on the cross.

And when your life is close to end, look to the truth as your access to Christ’s Kingdom just like the criminal on the cross did, for Christ died on the cross to speak the same truth to you, “today you will be with me in paradise.” And He did this so that you don’t have to ask yourself on your deathbed, “What is truth?” for you already know the answer.

And if abandonment has made you bitter and has served as the reason and self-approval for your sinful life, Jesus took the punishment those sins deserved, asking God why He forsook Him—the answer being obvious: to save you.

And finally, with the guilt racked by your awareness for having abandoned God’s truth, know that you no longer need to live in despair, for Jesus said the greatest truth of all, “It is finished.” He saved you. He drank His victory hyssop sponge, requesting it with a quick “I thirst.” And knowing all things were done, He said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He spoke this last truth, teaching you to say the same with confidence on your deathbeds. For the Father will take your spirit and body into glory, for the truth, Jesus, made it happen and promised it.

So, what is truth? It’s not a hard question. The truth is Jesus. Amen.