“What is truth?” Famously asked by Pilate and now frequently asked some two thousand years later, this is a question of utmost importance. When it comes to religion, today the prevailing attitudes tend to either be relativistic or apathetic. That is, truth is what you want it to be if you want it at all! When Pilate asks “what is truth?” he himself fluffs off truth as being unimportant. As Jesus stands before him with a crowd of angry religious leaders looking for a death sentence, truth is whatever will work. Keeping the religious leaders in their place is important, so taking on the case of Jesus rather than simply calling for a swift sentence will work. Truth is that Pilate rules in these parts. Keeping the people happy is important, so allowing a prisoner free during the festival will work. Truth is, Roman occupation is good for you. Keeping rebellion down is important so the power of crucifixion will work. Truth is, Rome holds the power of life and death, and Pilate holds such power over Jesus. Or does he?
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear:fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5 NRSV)
Who really has the power over death here, Pilate or Jesus? What is truth? What is really true here?
And so we live our lives according to what works. Being busy works. Toys and distractions work. Money and possessions work. Entertainment works. And it all works so well that apathy and relativism can seem satisfying enough in religious matters. And we get to the end of life without stopping to ask: “what is truth? What is really true?”
We were shaken from apathy and relativism toward truth when Type 1 diabetes entered our family. Each finger poke is a reality check. Each drop of blood holds truth. When the blood sugar goes low, dangerously so sometimes, you don’t respond with a fluffy statement like Pilate’s “what is truth?” No. You recognize that your child needs sugar. There is no room for relativism or apathy toward the truth. The blood speaks truth, you hear the truth and you follow through with a decision. Love demands that you grab something sweet. The blood of Jesus Christ holds truth. It speaks of God’s love, God’s grace. He takes your place under judgement. He gives you His righteousness and His Spirit. Have you heard the truth and followed through with a decision? Have you grabbed hold of something sweet?
So which is it? Is Pilate the one with power over life and death, or is it Jesus? Jesus stands before Pilate awaiting his decision. And he stands before you now awaiting yours.