It was Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, who asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Although Pilate was probably not asking with a genuine interest in knowing the truth, his question reflects one of the greatest needs of man. We need to know what truth is because of the power which both the truth and a lie have (John 8:32-34, 44; Genesis 3:1-4).
“I am the Truth”
Many view truth as being subjective, meaning that the content of truth depends to some extent upon the individual viewing it. Truth will vary from individual to individual just as experiences, feelings and prejudices form a unique background for each individual. According to this view, if truth does not find its source in the individual, it certainly is defined by the individual.
Others understand truth to be objective, i.e., it is not determined by the person viewing it; its source is outside of the person. It “reads” the same for every person who encounters it. It is this view of truth which is supported by the Word of God.
Truth does not depend upon man; it has its origin in deity. Jesus identified the source of truth when He told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Employing a similar figure, the apostle John wrote that God is love because love so perfectly describes the character of God. Jesus is so intimately connected to the truth that He claims to be the truth. John wrote in his gospel of this connection, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:14, 17).
The truth that Jesus taught was from the Father. Jesus told the Jews, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God…” (8:40). In His impassioned prayer to the Father on the night of His betrayal, Jesus said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Some would argue that Jesus desires a relationship with us, that we be His disciples rather than assent to a group of “facts.” The Lord Himself responded to this false view when He said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Jesus indeed seeks a relationship with us, but discipleship cannot be separated from the truth.
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Can We Know the Truth?
Jesus claimed that we can. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The truth makes men free from the bondage of sin by purifying them through belief in and obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18). Not only CAN we know the truth, but God desires and expects us to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
God’s truth is exactly that – HIS truth, objective and understandable by man. Thanks be to God for the indescribable gift of the truth and the privilege of knowing that truth which can set us free forever!