One of the most dramatic encounters in the entire Bible was between Jesus and Pilate, the Roman Governor. Jesus had been arrested by the Jewish religious leaders. Because the Jews were seeking the death penalty for Jesus, they had to have Him condemned and actually executed by the Romans. John records some of the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate. “You say that I am a king, and you are right,” Jesus said. “I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
What is the truth
“What is the truth?” Pilate asked.” (John 18:37-38)
Pilate’s question, “What is the truth?” is one that people have been asking throughout history. That question and another similar one, “Is there an ultimate truth?” are questions that philosophers still wrestle with. Can anyone really know what Truth is?
It is not surprising that this encounter between Jesus and Pilate was in the Gospel of John. The “truth” was one of the ideas that John developed in his book. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) It becomes very clear early on in this Gospel, that for John, Truth was personified in Jesus. The word “truth” appears over twenty times in this book, but the author understands that Truth is more than just having one’s facts straight.
Jesus often discussed the concept of “truth” in his conversations with people.
In his chat with the Samaritan woman, one of the things that they discussed was where the correct place to worship was. The Jews believed it was at the Temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans believed that was on Mount Gerizim. Jesus made it clear that is was not where people worshiped, but how they worshiped that was important. “For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) It seems that Jesus is saying here that there is an ultimate truth in how we worship. However, this “true” way to worship involves our hearts and not a location or a set of rituals.
John also highlights Jesus’ discussions with the Jewish religious leaders about truth. In one conversation, Jesus shows the contrast of the truth of His message with the false teaching of the Jewish authorities. He goes so far as to say that they were, “children of your father the devil…He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) The reason that the Jewish leaders did not accept Jesus was because they could not discern the Truth from the lies. YAHWEH was the author of Truth and Jesus was His Son. These Jewish leaders were actually children of the devil, the father of lies.
The clearest declaration of Jesus as the ultimate truth is found in John 14:6: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This statement came out of a discussion with His disciples in which He was trying to prepare them for His departure. He was letting them know that He would be returning one day and that in the meantime He would be preparing a place for them in Heaven.
This verse has caused many non-Christians to condemn Christianity as exclusive and judgmental.
Jesus makes the claim that He is the way to God, He is the ultimate truth, and life, true life, only comes from Him. The common thought found in many philosophies and world religions is that there is a common thread of truth running through all of them. A common thought seems to be that, “All religions are leading to the same ultimate truth. All paths are leading to the same destination.”
If what Jesus was saying is true, however, He dispels that notion of many different ways to God. He states clearly that He is the only way to God. While this thought might not be politically correct and is sure to offend people, at least there is a true way to God. If Jesus is the ultimate Truth and the only way to God, we can be thankful that God did provide humanity with a way to come into a relationship with Him.
Of course, many people would not agree with this and do not accept Jesus’ words as authoritative. One of the theological foundations of Christianity is that of the Free Will of Man. God gives people the right to choose whether or not they wish to accept the Way that He made through Christ. One might ask, “What gave Jesus the authority to make such outlandish claims? Who is He to say that His way is the only correct way to God?”
If Jesus was merely a man, this is a valid question. If He is just another prophet, then His words really don’t have any more authority than any of the other founders of the world’s religions. In Jesus’ case, however, His claim to be the ultimate Truth, as well as the way to God, does have one significant event that seems to confirm everything that He claimed. The Apostle Paul said that Jesus “was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)
In the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, God added His exclamation mark to every claim that Jesus made. To be sure, many do not accept the historicity of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. For Christians, though, the resurrection has been a central tenet of Christianity since the very beginning. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Paul provided a list of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. In raising Jesus from the dead, God declared to the world that Jesus was Truth personified.