Back in 1998, the Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers released an album entitled This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. It was an album title which always intrigued me as it seemed to show truth as a fluid, subjective concept which was almost personal to the individual or specific circumstances, rather than an undeniable fact which is set in stone. The idea that two people can have a different truth is one which throws the whole idea of truth into question.
However, there is no doubt that truth is different for different people. Look at people’s views of certain politicians or parties. You may see a politician as benevolent, hard working, successful and good because, for your specific circumstance, their actions have improved your quality of life and that of your friends, neighbours and family. Someone in a different part of the country or the world, however, May think that particular politician is uncaring, unfeeling, unsympathetic and evil because their actions have brought deprivation to their area and great financial and social hardship to them and their loved ones. Both, to those individuals, would be true. But they would, in isolation, only tell part of the story. They are only a glimpse of the truth.
So, when Pontius Pilate asks Jesus “What is truth?”, he is asking a question we all need to ask.
Jesus’ followers saw him as a great teacher and God’s own son. The Messiah.
The crowds welcoming him into Jerusalem saw him as a great leader who would save them from oppression. The king.
The chief priests saw him as a dangerous subversive who threatened their power base and their legalistic approach to worshipping God. The revolutionary.
To those who saw Jesus, read the scriptures and interpreted the signs of the times, there was a different view of what the truth about him was. They all thought they knew the truth and acted accordingly.
So, which “truth” was Jesus speaking of when he said,
“You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37 NIV)
Well, he meant all three.
Jesus is the revolutionary. He has come to sweep away the self interested, legalistic approach to worshipping God with one easy idea. Love. Loving Jesus means loving God. Loving God means loving each other. Simple. He invites us to love and to live I’m that love. In his love. This isn’t about not helping people because of what day of the week it is. It’s not about condemning and stoning people for doing wrong. It’s not about ignoring groups in society because you see them as being worth less than others. It’s about loving and being transformed by that love.
Jesus is the king. Not in the way the Palm Sunday crowds though. He wasn’t the military ruler, come to overthrow the evil Roman occupation and free Israel. He is bringing God’s kingdom on Earth. Showing us how to live with him as our king, free from the shackles of the world and able to live alongside each other in him.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is God’s own son, come from the Father and part of the Father. He fulfils the roles of revolutionary and king by being Messiah, and the disciples were gradually learning this. They still had a way to go before they fully understood, that would happen over the next three days. But they knew that he came with the power, authority, love and grace of the one who created everything and is in everything. So much more than the nearest man in the sky of popular culture. The father, God, is all around us and inside us. Jesus came to show us and to help us to connect with that and have a relationship with the Father through him.
Finally, we see God. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
This is our truth. The only truth we need.