Back during the Holy Week in April, I hope you all went to church on Good Friday, where you would’ve heard the Passion of Jesus from the gospel of St. John. And it turns out that only John’s gospel gives us additional details of the conversation Jesus had with Pontius Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Judea during that time.
So, Jesus said to Pilate, “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth harkens to my voice.”
And Pilate replied with a question: “What is truth?”
But I’ve severally wondered exactly how Pilate said these words. Did he ask the question with sincere longing, kind of like, “Yeah, what is truth anyway? I really want to know.”
If so, then this means Pilate believed that there’s truth, that there is a final and accurate description of our situation here on earth, but it’s just very difficult to discover and understand.
Or Pilate may have asked the question with sarcastic laughter. “Truth? You’re kidding, right?” He may have meant, “It’s impossible to know the actual truth, at least not in this life, so why waste your time trying to figure it out?”
If this is actually how Pilate viewed the idea of truth, at least he believed that truth existed, even though in his opinion mere mortals doesn’t have way of really discovering it.
Or Pilate may have asked the question with a cynical sneer. “Truth? You actually said the word TRUTH?! Oh, what a fool. There’s nothing like truth!”
This last option was actually the way I suspect Pilate actually asked his famous question. From the information we got to know about Pontius Pilate, it seems quite likely that he was a typical pragmatic politician.
His greatest concern was to increase his personal power and influence, as at the same time avoid getting blamed when things went wrong. And as several politicians do recently, and this means changing opinions on various topics so as to fit whatever is in your best interest at that particular moment.
Various people in our modern world, not just politicians, claim that there is nothing as truth. As truth, in their view, is nothing more than personal opinion. Have you ever overheard someone say something like, “Well, if you believe that’s true, then it becomes true for you. But I believe the exact opposite, which is true for me.”
Claiming that truth is nothing but just a personal opinion is known as moral relativism. As many folks think this is a recent phenomenon. But as the Passion account in the Gospel of John indicates, Pontius Pilate seem to be one of the earliest moral relativists in history.
Just imagine the irony: that this Roman governor sneered at the concept of truth. And still, he was standing face to face with Truth itself. Cause, Jesus Christ referred to Himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” If He was who He says he is, the Divine Son of God, then He was and still remains the true Truth, for all people and for all time.
And Pilate was completely blind to that.
If you have not heard or you didn’t hear the Passion account from the Gospel of St. John on Good Friday, you need to look it up in your Bible or online. Ensure you read the fascinating interaction between Jesus and Pilate.
And whatever you do in life, don’t fall for the foolish claim that truth is just a personal opinion. Truth is real, and Truth has a name: which is Jesus.