What is Truth?
Easter Sunday April 19, 1998
Introduction: John 18:28-40
Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” is basic to any human being ever born that has been capable of thought. And yet it is over his head. He stands in the presence of truth and asks Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” In Mt. 27:11, Jesus says, “Yes, it is as you say.” And then here Jesus asks him a question, “Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?” Each one must decide for himself who Jesus is. This is Pilate’s underlying question, “Who are you?” and “What do I do about it?”
Pilate’s response that he is not a Jew implies that the kingship of Jesus means nothing to him. But Jesus tells him that it should. He says his kingdom is not of this world. That should be enough to make anyone sit up and take notice. Pilate mockingly responds to this which opens the door for Jesus to share the gospel with him as it has so far been developed. He was born into this world from another world in order to bring the glories of that world to redeem this fallen one. But he is being rejected. The rest of the gospel is to be written shortly, that Jesus would die for the sins of mankind and rise from the dead.
He says that all who love the truth will follow the truth, and that he is truth. The gospels have a common phrase spoken by Jesus that attest to his truth. That statement is, “I tell you the truth ---,” found 30 times in Matthew, 13 in Mark, 9 in Luke, and 28 times in John. But then we have Pilate’s statement, “What is truth?” His question is grounded in political motivation, self-serving interests, expedience, and situational ethics. He has heard enough though that he takes a cautious approach and tries to persuade the Jews to back off from the death penalty. He tries a number of times, but in the end hands him over.
Acts 3:13 tells us that Pilate had decided to let Jesus go. But Pilate’s own statement in John 19:10 affirms that he had the power to do whatever he willed, and yet he didn’t let him go. The problem was that Pilate would rather be safe with the Jews than with Jesus. Jesus says that the Jews bear the greater sin, and that God’s sovereign will was over Pilate’s decision. But that does not let Pilate off the hook. Pilate has seen truth and ultimately rejected it. When we ask what truth is, we should embrace its reality.
But there was another man early in John’s gospel who sought truth and ultimately received it. His name was Nicodemus. His search holds promise for us and those to whom we witness about truth. For many it takes time to process. But if they seek they will find. And what they find is glorious.
I. The darkness of confusion. (Jn. 3:1-21)
(Wondering if truth is real.)
A. The necessity for the new birth. (vv. 1-5)
1. We become victims of position and circumstances. Truth is available to anyone. (v. 1)
2. We become trapped in fear of opinion. Truth may have timid beginnings. (v. 2a)
3. We need a framework for what we experience. Truth seeks to build upon what it knows. (v.2b)
4. We are limited in our world view. Truth requires a different world view. (v. 3)
5. We are victims of our fallen flesh. Truth can stand our doubts. (v. 4)
6. We cannot find our own way to God. Truth leads to God because it comes from God. (v. 5)
B. The nature of the new birth. (vv. 6-13)
1. The new birth is spiritual. (vv. 6-7)
2. The new birth is mysterious. (vv. 8-10)
3. The new birth is real. (v. 11)
4. The new birth is heavenly. (v. 12)
5. The new birth is through the Son of Man. (v. 13)
C. The basis for the new birth. (vv. 14-21)
1. Christ had to die. (vv. 14-17)
a. Man’s sin and its penalty. (v. 14)
b. God’s gift of a substitute. (v. 15)
c. God’s amazing love. (v. 16)
d. Christ’s acceptability. (v. 17)
2. Sinners have to believe. (vv. 18-21)
a. In order to escape hell. (v. 18)
b. In order to escape sin. (v. 19)
c. In order to escape fear. (v. 20)
d. In order to receive righteousness. (v. 21)
D. The confusion about the new birth. (vv. 22-36)
1. The question of baptism. (vv. 22-26)
[Perhaps Nicodemus - S. 5]
2. The question of authority. (vv. 27-30)
3. The question of pre-eminence. (vv. 31-34)
4. The question of faith. (vv. 35-36)
II. The dawn of conviction. (Jn. 7:45-53)
(Willing to give truth a chance.)
III. The daylight of confession. (Jn. 19:38-42)
(Walking in fullness with truth.)
A Word of Encouragement (Acts 13:13-15; 26-41)
Truth will find a way, and that way is faith in Jesus Christ. And our faith in Jesus Christ is in his resurrection from the dead. Eternal fact. Eternal good news. He always lives to intercede for us. Do you have anyone who cares for you like Jesus?
Joh 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Joh 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
1Jo 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true-- even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Joh 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Ps 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
The invitation is out to you to die to sin by faith in Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Come now and believe. Come and confess. Come and receive the lover of your eternal soul. Hell is not a good option. Heaven is much better. And heaven is Easter.
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