What is truth? This question by Pilate showed his philosophy of life and our answer to this question reveals much about us as well.
“37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” John 18:37-38
When Pilate heard Jesus speak of truth, he asked, “What is truth?” It wasn’t really a question as much as it was a statement. He said this to justify himself. He went to the mob, pronounced Jesus innocent and then had him beaten and crucified. Pilate had the idea that truth is relative. For him it was “truth” that Jesus was innocent, but also “truth” that the mob wouldn’t be pleased unless they tasted blood. So Pilate washed his hands and took the easiest way out of the conflict. This view of relative truth is very dangerous. If all truth changes from person to person, then there is no objective standard of morality or justice. Therefore there is no safety or right way for any of us.
The Mob’s Truth
The mob thought Jesus was worthy of execution. Of course, he didn’t deserve this at all. Even today the will and beliefs of the majority, or the noisy minority, seem to be regarded as truth. This truth relies on opinion polls and those who are in power. Issues such as abortion, homosexuality, war, and social services are decided by “community standards.” A history of civilization shows this path leads to destruction.
Jesus had already answered the question, “What is truth?” before Pilate asked it: “I have come into the world to bear witness of the truth; everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” John 18:37. Jesus is the voice of truth. But very few people give credit to absolute truth like that—truth that applies to everyone.
But this truth applies to the identity of God, John 1:14 and to the way of salvation, John 14:6. People in power and people with public sway may tell you different, but listen to the truth. It is the truth that sets us free, John 8:32.