Jesus answered, “… Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth? John 18:37–38
The truth exposes things. Because of this, not everyone likes it. People who came face to face with Jesus, the truth Himself, reacted in varying ways—most of them foolish. But the way we respond to the truth has huge ramifications for our lives.
Following the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples had made their way to the Mount of Olives. As they spent their last moments together, here came troops and officers, sent by the religious leaders of Israel, to arrest the Lord.
“We’re looking for Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. Jesus responded, “I am He.” Actually, in the original language, Jesus said simply, “I am,” once again taking unto Himself that name by which God was recognized among the Jews. Notice the response. When Jesus spoke, the soldiers fell backward to the ground. It is amazing that they continued their pursuit.
Peter, of course, reacted. He drew his sword “and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear” (John 18:10). This was Jesus they were arresting. Peter’s Messiah. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:11). The disciples wouldn’t understand until later that all this was the fulfillment of prophecy.
The officers bound Jesus and led Him away to the high priest. Peter and “another disciple”—John, no doubt—followed. As the two approached the high priest’s courtyard, Peter was about to be tested.
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You’re not one of His disciples, are you?” Peter quickly replied, “I am not” (John 18:17). Once inside, Peter was asked twice more if he was a disciple of Jesus, and twice he firmly replied, “I am not!” (John 18:25). Luke’s gospel tells us that at the moment Peter made his final denial, Jesus’ eyes met Peter’s (see Luke 22:61). We can imagine what went on in Peter’s heart as he looked into the eyes of the Lord.
As the high priest and the other leaders questioned Jesus, an officer struck Him. This action was against Jewish law, yet the religious leaders, who had arrested Jesus for supposedly breaking the Law, violated the Law throughout their confrontation with Him.
The Jews led Jesus to the Praetorium—the home of the Roman governor, Pilate. “But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover” (John 18:28). These men had no problem seeking a death sentence for an innocent man but were concerned about being ceremonially defiled. What blindness.
Pilate questioned Jesus: “Are You a king?” (John 18:37). Jesus affirmed that He was, but He made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world. Jesus explained, “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” (John 18:37).
In our day the existence of truth is blatantly denied. People say that there is no absolute truth. Jesus told us not only that truth exists but that He Himself is the truth, a fact rejected by those Christians who have drifted into liberal philosophical and emergent views.
What Is Truth?
Pilate, an obvious skeptic, said to Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). He could see that Jesus was not like the hypocritical religious leaders he so despised, but by this point he had become so disillusioned that, rather than inquiring further of Jesus, he seemed to have given up on the idea of truth entirely. Pilate knew that the Jewish leaders had delivered Jesus to him out of envy and that Jesus had done no wrong. Sadly, he was more concerned about his political well-being than the truth.
We too are confronted with the truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it requires a response. What is the proper response? Ultimately, it is to receive Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the truth.
What response does the truth produce in you? The guards were knocked down. The Pharisees were hateful. Pilate was indifferent. Only Peter, stung to the heart by conviction, went on to respond rightly to the truth. What is Jesus saying to you today, and how will you respond?