“What is truth?”

John 18 does not dwell on Thursday evening of Passion Week, after the Last Supper, skipping the Garden of Gethsemane, but goes to the arrest and trial of Jesus. 

  • Judas leads the mob to the place where he knows Jesus goes to pray, the Garden of Gethsemane, and identifies Jesus with a kiss.  What is truth for Judas, friendship or traitor?
  •  Most of the disciples have fled but Peter actually has his moment of trial as he stands nearby at Jesus’ first trial before the High Priest.  Peter is recognized three times and three times denies his relationship with Jesus.  What is the truth governing Peter at that hour? 
  • The High Priest takes Jesus to Pilate because the death sentence was sought but the leaders stand outside so as not to defile themselves by entering a Roman building.  What is the truth governing the religious leaders at that hour?
  • Pilate questions Jesus and finds no fault in him but is disturbed when he hears the leaders claim that Jesus claims to be king of the Jews.  What is the truth to governing Pilate who asks Jesus, “What is truth?”

That question has echoed through history not only in this story but in every trial since.  There seems to be perceived truth from events unfolding – Judas kisses, Peter denies, the High Priest acts, and Pilate questions.  But under these actions we see a deeper layer of truth.  The kiss is betrayal.  The denial turns Peter around to commitment as he deals with himself.  The High Priest sells out Jesus but does not save the Jews from dispersion and Pilate must live with a guilty conscience. 

         Jesus is the one who claims in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Eventually we must all decide what we think the truth about Jesus is and how we will respond to his claims on our lives.  Judas hung himself.  Peter repented and went on to be a leader in the early church.  Both Pilate and the High Priest died.  How will we respond?

         Perhaps our “trial” will not be as dramatic as Jesus before the leaders and Pilate but that does not mean it is any less real.  How we handle little things like traffic signals, owning up to mistakes we make, or even the use of little white lies to cover over our slips, all form our character and reputation.  Truth seems so impacted by our understanding and our values.  We see the argument in the news over masks and everything else.  It is a comfort that even though we do not see everything clearly that we know Jesus is ultimate truth that is real, living, and caring about us and we can go to him at any time.  He does not charge and he welcomes our questions.  Blessings as you seek to live a life of integrity!

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