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John 18:28-40, Jesus and Pilate

Sunday, March 11

What is Truth?

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Pilate asks the most profound question in this encounter, “What is truth?” Perhaps Pilate knew that truth is rarely fixed. What is truth for one may not be truth for another. And generally, there is no way to prove what is true, as truth is a product of experience, perspective, and belief.

The religious leaders’ truth was that Jesus was a blasphemer and a dangerous criminal. Pilate’s truth was that he could find no grounds for execution, but also that he was in a precarious position. He needed to appease the high priests to keep the peace and prove that he was a capable and effective ruler, lest he be removed from his post. Jesus’ truth was knowledge of things that we will never know. All of these truths clashed and crashed into one another, so that the only outcome was the death of Jesus.

It is human nature to believe that our own truths are the only truths, and that everyone else is wrong. There is incredible maturity in acknowledging that my truth might be different from yours, and that both can live in the same space, even as they disagree.

I will not likely change your mind. You will not likely change mine. But we can find the truths that we share, and build upon those to work together to do God’s work in this world – the work of justice, equality, and peace.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 18:28-40

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.