18:37 Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Truth. Some say there is no such thing as absolute truth. Pilate was clearly one such person. Pilate had one goal in life. He was driven. He wanted to climb as high as possible in the power structure of the Roman Empire. There are some who climb by virtue of the quality of person they are coupled with opportunity. Daniel was one such person. He was a man of integrity that even His enemies could find no fault in. His incredible and unusual work ethic and commitment to virtues of honesty and right combined with key opportunities that God placed before him propelled him into the highest ranks of the Babylonian Empire. Such leaders are rare and becoming more so in our ever more corrupt times.
Pilate was nothing like Daniel. He was more like the colleagues who tried to have Daniel killed. They belonged to the school of thought that all is fair in love and war and there is no truth and the only ethic is success. The strong survive. For this class of men the theory of evolution is not only appealing but vital. It is the dogma that drives them and helps them sleep better at night as they lie, manipulate, and weasel their way to the top. Life is a game and it's all about the survival of the fittest. My ability to out maneuver you is the proof that I deserve your position.
Pilate played in this school of thought. When Jesus calmly stood before him with a presence Pilate had never seen it was unsettling. He sensed in Jesus qualities and virtues he had never seen. In his own mind he knew this was no ordinary man. That's why Jesus asked him if the question about Him being a king was one he was asking out of his own thinking or if others had revealed it to him. It was as if Jesus could read his very thoughts. He tried to dodge the soul searching intrusion by distancing himself from all things Jewish but as a protector of Rome he had to know. If Pilate were to stand idly by while a new unsanctioned king started an uprising among the Jews it would destroy all the personal progress Pilate had made climbing the ladder of power. It was vital that he get this right not for Jesus' sake or ultimately Rome's sake. He had to get this right to save his own skin.
As he pushed Jesus on His identity as a king Jesus admits it fully with an answer that makes Pilate even more uneasy. Jesus says being a king is the reason He came into this world clearly implying His preexistence. Then He says why He had to come: "...to bear witness to the truth."
This is not an expression we use: 'to bear witness'. We think of a witness as someone who testifies in a court case. The Bible uses the term very differently. Witnessing in the Bible is not an activity. Witnessing is not something you do at all, it's what you are. Jesus came to BE a witness. The world would witness or see what truth is simply by seeing Him in action. Simply put Jesus is truth. If you want to know how to treat a Samaritan just watch Jesus. If you want to know how to treat women just watch Jesus. If you want to know how to treat those who believe differently or are foreigners or different in any way just watch Jesus. If you want to know what God is like Jesus is the answer. Jesus came from another Kingdom as a representative. You could even say He came from the Kingdom of Truth into the kingdom of lies to be a living, walking, talking, compassionate yet unbending witness to what the truth really is.
"Truth? What is truth?" asked Pilate. So long bought into the system of the kingdom of lying and manipulating and maneuvering that Pilate couldn't even conceive of such a thing as truth.
Our culture is moving in the same direction and fast.
At that moment Pilate had only one overwhelming desire and that was to flee from His presence. Light shone in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it. Pilate just wanted to turn the Light off. He wanted to escape the soul exposing eyes of Jesus. Immediately he went back out to the waiting Jews who couldn't come in or they would get "dirty" and said to them "I find no fault in this man". It was his first attempt at cutting himself out of the entire equation.
That's the thing though - there is no neutral ground. There is no place where we can exist that the Light won't come to us. Pilate can leave His presence but he can never leave His Voice. Love is relentless.