I was fortunate enough to speak with a group of people a while back on the topic of violence. I remember looking around the room at a sea of about a hundred young faces. Their eyes filled with the wonder of this new world they were about to encounter. Most in the room were young college students preparing themselves for what they thought the world was going to hand them. As I spoke, I read the faces of these young people and it was obvious that many disagreed with me when it came to the topic of morality.
If the Bible can be reduced into two ideas they would be grace and truth, but sadly many Christians don’t understand either one of them. They are independent ideas, but they cannot exist apart from each other. Grace is the part that people think they like because its nice and flowery. Truth is the part that people don’t like because its controlling, and simply put within the Scriptural lens, it is damning. Grace, Scripturally speaking, can only come when one believes in truth, violates truth and is subject to something unpleasant by a higher power. Subsequently, this grace that people love to love comes only after consenting to truth. This is the part that people miss, especially within the church.
The night before Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha he was brought before Pontius Pilate who was the fifth prefect of the Judean province under Roman rule. A conversation ensues between the two and we read in John 18:33-38: “So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in him.’ ”
The most interesting part of this conversation between Jesus the Christ and Pontius Pilate is when Pilate says “What is truth?” I find this to be exceedingly interesting because he does not ask this question, but he says this question. A word typically used within the Greek to ask a question is ε͗περωτάω, but we don’t see that here. We see the word λέγω, which is used as an opening to direct speech. Pilate didn’t ask this question for an answer, he asked it rhetorically. He asked it without wanting an answer, and perhaps this is why the text does not record Jesus’ answer. Its probable Jesus didn’t say a word back to him. He let Pilate rest in his unbelief.
Pilate didn’t know what truth was even when he was looking truth in the eyes.
Going back to when I was speaking with this group of young people on the topic of violence, I vividly remember a young lady coming up to me after the event was concluded. She asked me if I had any ideas to help her narrow down her studies within the realm of societal morality. I responded that I didn’t believe in societal morality, but believed morality existed apart from all of us. What is right is right, no matter how I feel about it is a short way of saying it. She repeated the question almost to the letter again, as if to say she didn’t like my answer and I should try again. I did, and a third time she repeats the question almost to the letter. This was one of those times that we have all experienced in our lives. We think of better things to say after the conversation is over and our friends have left. I answered her third question by saying she should study the application of the case law system as begun by Christopher Columbus Langdell, but I have so many more answers for her today. I want to tell her that she should study the implications of man making his own judgments of what is right and wrong. I want to tell her to study the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. I want to tell her to study the horrible lynchings that occurred within the history of the world. I want to tell her to study mob mentality, and how mass chaos and riots harm innocent people. I want to tell her to study the lives of all the people who were brutally murdered because other people became illegitimately angered without checking themselves against a standard that should control us all. Most of all, I want her to conclude that society is not the center of the universe. I want her to conclude that societal trends are driven by human beings. I want her to conclude that human beings are not the center of the universe. I want her to conclude that God is.
We live in a world that is dark because people refuse to see the light, and people who have the light refuse to share it. Ladies and Gentlemen, morality is commanded by God. His morality is superior to mine in every facet of this life that He has given me. I encourage you to live as His morality is better than yours. Read the Scriptures and look at this person we call Jesus of Nazareth. Do what God has instructed us in His Word for a year, and your life will never be the same.
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John 18:37 – “Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’ ”