Imagine that you lived when Jesus walked on the earth. You had the privilege of meeting Him. At some point during the conversation, you asked Him “What is your life’s purpose?” Knowing what we know today, we might expect Him to say “to save people from their sins;” or “to bring in God’s kingdom reign.” Both of these would qualify as parts of His greater purpose.
Yet Pilate, the Roman Governor who was about to sign Jesus execution orders, asked a question which led Jesus to declare His purpose. Jesus’ answer might surprise us.
“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).
Now at first it seems Jesus says that his purpose was to be a king. But when we follow the text, we discover that the answer to the purpose question follows his statement “for this purpose I came into the world – To bear witness to the truth.” Though Jesus is the supreme king, he emphasizes truth here.
Why would He emphasize this when talking to the Roman Governor? Well it’s interesting that immediately following, Pilate replies with the question “What is truth?” He may have asked it because he grew up in a culture where lying and shading the truth became common practice. The Romans engaged in a death struggle with every other culture trying to prove that their gods and their society was the truth or the right way. Yet Pilate is not so sure.
We live in a similar culture. We are bombarded with half-truths and lies from the lips of leaders, advertisements, celebrities, our neighbors and ourselves. When Jesus bore witness to the truth, He exposed our own needs, vulnerability and sin. If we’re going to experience wholeness, we have to accept the truth about ourselves – we are sinners in need of a Savior.
But Jesus not only bore witness to the truth. A few minutes after this conversation with Pilate, Jesus would address the truth of our condition by going to the cross. “Everyone who is of the truth listens to me.” If we are willing to face the truth about ourselves, we can find wholeness through the one who told the truth and is the truth.
“Lord Jesus, we thank you for bearing witness to the truth. You lived a life of truth. You told the truth. You paid the price to deal with the truth of our lost condition. Thank you for your great gift! Yet we still like to shade the truth. We at times present an image of ourselves that is not the truth. We deny knowing you or we act is if we are not “of the truth.” Please forgive us and be our strength to walk in and live out the truth today.”