John 18:33-38a, Born for the Truth for those of the Truth
The greatest need for the church and the world today is the truth.
This need for truth is so great, that when placed on the stand before Pontius Pilate, when Jesus was so select with his words, the only thing he felt worthy to speak about was the truth (37). The need is so great that Jesus characterized the mission here on earth in terms of truth (37). The need is so great that John declared that this was the reason the Father sent the Son to take on flesh, to tell us the truth about the Father (1:18). God thought that truth was so important that he sent the son to take on flesh and dwell among us.
The Point of this passage today is to know the truth.
Today we live in a philosophical morass where individuals, students, and scholars alike question, “What is truth?” Like Pontius Pilate, who asked the rhetorical question, “What is truth?” (38). We do not really honestly ask about the truth, but mean by this phrase, “It is so complicated that I don’t even know what to say anymore!” Pilate probably waved his hand in utter frustration.
This is nothing new, men and women have wrestled with truth down through the ages. We, like Pilate, seek truth, but it is frustrating. We too throw up our hands, “I don’t get it!”
The official charge against Jesus was that he was a political threat to Rome because he claimed to be King. So Pilate asks about the kind of king Jesus was (33) . “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responded by telling him he is not just a regular King, but the God of the universe, the King of all creation, and that he took on flesh to testify to the truth of his kingship and salvation (36-37). Pilate then responds, “What is truth?”
As soon as Pilate confirmed his suspicion —that Jesus was not claiming to be a normal, earthly, king— He went out and spoke to the crowd (36-37). He realized Jesus claimed to be God, king of the universe (19:11). To Pilate Jesus was a preacher, but not a political enemy to Rome. So Pilate walked outside in verse 38 and said, “I find no guilt in him.”
Pilates personal thoughts are secret to his own mind. He may have thought, “Well Jesus is a religious nut, but he’s no threat to Rome.” “God in flesh? King of the universe? This is above my pay grade! — Divine incarnation is out of my jurisdiction.— He may be the king of all creation, but what does that have to do with me? He may be a good teacher of the truth about God, but I don’t even know what that truth means to me….”
FCF: Though, the truth stood right in front of him, he could not believe! Though Jesus claimed he was the truth bringer, God and King of the whole earth, and Pilate fully understood this claim, he was still frustrated and despondent. He still did not believe!
That is the plight of the whole human race. The truth could stand right in front of our face, we may analyze it intellectually, but never really believe it!
Why know the truth? Why is the greatest need of the world today Truth? Let’s key in on verse 37 for this. Notice three principles in this text. First, the purpose of his birth was to testify to the truth, and the irresistible pull of the truth upon those who are of the truth, and the precondition for that irresistible pull.
1. The Purpose of his Birth
Ill: I was blessed with two children in the last 16 months. Childbirth is an amazing thing because, though they derive their living bodies from me and my wife, God created them as living souls when they were conceived! Their non-physical spiritual nature was created by God. There was a time when my kids did not exist—–
In contrast, Jesus existed forever! God took on flesh! He was the eternal Word of God, who was with God and Is God! (1:1). Micah 5:2, tells us that the messiah’s origin would be “Ancient of days” –or from all eternity! He has no beginning or end! He is the infinite, almighty God!
There are several parts of Jesus’ mission… Why did Jesus take on flesh? Jesus could have keyed in on several other aspects like—redemption, to fulfill prophecy, make good on God’s promise, satisfy God’s justice—- but he is specific here—Truth! He came to preach!
37, He focused like a laser-beam on his role as Prophet! He came “to bear witness to the truth!” He is truth (John 14:6). He is God and there is none better to describe the truth than God himself (1:18). He focuses on truth. Jesus’ mission was to speak the truth.
App: Jesus’ mission to declare the truth was so weighty that he stood before Pilate and said, “That is why I came!” If Jesus focused on this, so should we!
Segue: Why does Jesus key in on the truth? Why did he focus on this aspect of his mission?
2. The Irresistible Pull of the Truth
Ill: The currents in the ocean pull irresistibly when they get rough. What is really strange is when you’re in the water and you see these massive dark silhouettes of whales or dolphins or various aquatic animals. They move swiftly and smoothly with almost no effort. You realize the moment you see them, you’re on their turf. You had better be careful.
Imagine walking a big dog on a leash on land. When it pulls you around, you can resist, pull back. Your feet are on the ground, so you stand still. Not so in the ocean. If a dolphin of whale or large turtle wanted to pull you down into the depths, it could take you wherever it wants. They did a study recently where they showed that on average 11 pounds of force from a fish pulling you under was enough to drown a grown man. An average grown man could not swim against it. This much force is generated by an average sea bass. You are on their turf, their territory, their domain! If they want to, they can pull you down to the depths irresistibly!
We move slowly and with trepidation in the waters of truth, but when we get into the water with Jesus, he is on his own turf. He pulls us where he wants.
In verse 37 he says you will “hear his voice!” —Hearing, in the Hebrew context does not just mean listening with the ear, but it means faith! The ear is the organ of faith. We learn as the soundwaves hit our ears. But it really means to “Hearken” or to listen in the sense of faith and conviction that it is true! “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
The truth of Jesus overpowers us! Jesus said that “the truth sets you free!” (8:32). Truth makes you born again (3:5), irresistibly like the wind (John 3:7-8). Truth breaks the bonds of sin. Truth actually works and pulls, and draws! It creates you again!
When unbelievers hear the truth, they believe the truth, because of the irresistible power of the truth! It is like that powerful animal in the water that can drag you under with tens of thousands of pounds of force with no resistance!
You need a miracle! Jesus does that miracle through the truth!
The elect believe inevitably, irresistibly! Jesus pulls them! Without God’s help- you’ll hear with your ears but not your hearts! Just like Pilate! We don’t choose Jesus, and then he gives us new life, breaks the bonds of sin, etc. No, Jesus does it with the truth irresistibly, the truth comes in a pulls us to believe!!
Segue Tension: But the reality is, some do not believe! It does not matter how much evidence, how much truth, they still don’t believe! The truth stood right in Pilates face, but he could not believe it!
Why? Why does the truth irresistibly draw some and not others?
Notice—— Jesus says we need to ….
3. Become Those Of The Truth
v. 37, Jesus told Pilate what those who follow him must be- “of the truth.” “Everyone of the truth hears my voice.” Being “of the truth” means created by the truth, pulled irresistibly by the truth to believe the truth! It means you hear the words of Christ and desire, and pursue it with faith!
By hearing the truth, you supernaturally become a person of the truth! You hear Jesus’ word with faith! This is a new nature!
Ill: This would be like being pulled underwater irresistibly by a whale—Imagine it chomps onto your leg and pulls you down to the depths….—You look up at the surface and its thousands of feet away—— and the only way you could survive is if you were of that water! —Your nature would have to be changed! From of the air to of the water!
In the waters of truth, Jesus is in his element! He is in his home turf. He will irresistibly pull you to new beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. He will break remaining bonds of sin. And He promises, “the Truth will set you free” (John 8:31)
The content of the truth Jesus preached was that Jesus took on flesh to take the penalty for our sins, that all who believe in him and turn from your life of sin will be absolved from all your sin!
Not only was truth Jesus’ mission then but also today. He still speaks the truth in his Word!
Point: We must become people of the truth!
That means —Learn the truth! Live the truth! Expect the truth to come with power! Hearken to God’s word week in and week out. We need to be about the truth! We need to seek the truth as families, individuals, young, old, and as a church body!
In v. 33, Pilate was looking for bare facts so he could go back to sleep at 3AM. He was seeking whether Jesus was in fact an insurrectionist or just a preacher who thought he was god. He was looking for bare truth…
In verse 34 Jesus asks Pilates about his motivation in the question. Is it from the heart? From a sincere desire for the truth? For a thirst for reconciliation to God almighty? “Do you ask on your own for your personal benefit for faith, and salvation from the bonds of sin?” Or was it because Pilate simply wanted information for the trial “What others say about me in the charges”?
Why? Because usually when someone wakes up at 3am and comes to Jesus and asks “Are you the king of the jews?” it means they’re looking for salvation! They’re restless all night. Cannot sleep because they realize the weight of sin!
Remember Nicodemus, he came to Jesus in the dead of night… Thinking, “I have to get this reconciled right now! I cannot go a moment longer without the truth. My soul thirsts for the Lord! I need him! I need to find out more about Jesus!”
Are you restless because you don’t know the truth? You know some truth but need more? Today, Jesus calls you to be “of the truth!” Pursue his word! Listen and believe! Drink deep of the word and be satisfied!
>>God calls all here today by his truth to be of the truth! I hope that all of you will hear Jesus with faith, because you are “of the truth!”