Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.” (John 18:37-38)
Jesus does not operate like anyone else. He is clear about who he is. He understands why he exists. He knows what he is trying to accomplish. He has the ability to stay the course under pressure. These are all admirable if you like what he is up to. They are annoying if you are trying to get him to crack under pressure.
This text can lead to a number of insights. It can help us reflect on staying true to our calling when the costs are high. It can help us understand that what Jesus is all about is much bigger than the kingdoms of this world in which we live (all small potatoes compared to the kingdom of God).
But perhaps in today’s world, no insight is more helpful than the claim that Jesus makes about truth. He makes truth something different than we usually do. Truth is more than a proposition – more than the right ideas. Truth is something we belong to. It claims us. It possesses us. It takes us in. Truth, while it includes accurate information, is a place in which we ground our lives and in so doing live knowing that we belong to God.
That means that truth is really about relationships first. We tend to believe things that people we trust tell us. We tend to doubt things that people we don’t trust tell us. It is possible that the info from our non-trusted source is actually correct and the person we trust is wrong. But we don’t start with that assumption. In today’s world of “fake news” we don’t even entertain that notion. We write off some sources immediately, living in a bubble of our own making and in the process, cutting ourselves off from not only the information but the people as well.
Jesus tries to establish himself as the basis for connecting with the truth. As we belong to him, we belong to the truth. All who belong to him are connected to the same deeper truth that is the basis for life and for our shared lives together.
Sadly, Christians seem to have lost much of this. We spend more time and energy listening to sources that divide us and joining in the factions that are splitting up our society rather than spending time together listening to Jesus. Mainliners listen to and join in on one side. Conservative evangelicals listen to and join in on the other side. Perhaps none of us are spending enough time listening to Jesus. Perhaps this is a call for some of us to refocus and listen to Jesus. In him, we will both hear and belong to the truth. What is he saying to you and to us?