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?” John 18:37-38 (NRSV)
Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25 (NRSV)
Pilate is one of the more tragic characters in the Bible. In judging and condemning Jesus, Pilate was put into a situation he didn’t rightly understand. To his credit, at first he tried to do the right thing, but he ultimately got caught up in moral relativism (the philosophical assertion that truth is variable depending on its context, and upon who is discerning the truth) and went with what popular opinion dictated. He chose the action that was the most personally and politically expedient for him.
The thought that clearly immoral actions are fine as long as popular opinion supports them and peer pressure backs them up is as old as time itself. From the first original sin of the Garden, to the first murder, to the Holocaust and other abominable acts of human beings, denying the truth and substituting our own pride is at the core of sin.
Popular opinion is probably the furthest thing from truth that there is in many situations. When we follow the rumor mill we are tempted to pass judgment without knowing the entire story. We let our pride cloud our decisions and actions until the truth- which is an absolute, not a variable- becomes lost in a fog.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6) As His followers we know and hear His voice even though we don’t always respond to Him the way we know we should. The Holy Spirit constantly intervenes on our behalf, drawing us closer to Jesus and His voice, leading us to the Truth.
The Truth is that we are named, claimed and loved by God, and covered by the Blood of Jesus.
Pilate wasn’t able to extinguish the Truth. In fact, God transformed Pilate’s actions. The actions that lead to Jesus’ physical death paved the way to our eternal life.
It is good to remember that, “What is truth?,” should really be seen as, “Who IS Truth.”