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What is Truth?

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:44
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Jesus has been handed over to his enemies here to be tried illegally, abused, mocked, beaten, flogged, and ultimately, crucified. And as he's on trial, he will be asked the ultimate question that has ever been asked: "What is truth?" And this is the question we're going to wrestle with today.
Turn to John 18:28-40
Remind them about Q & A
John 18:28–32 NLT

Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?”

“We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted.

“Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them.

“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.)

Interestingly, John doesn't record any details about Jesus' conversation with Caiaphas, the acting high priest that year. This is probably because John didn't have the same connections at Caiaphas' house as he did at Annas' house. So John simply records that the trial at Caiaphas's house ends in the early morning and then Jesus is sent to Pilate.
Now, it's important to note that Pilate is not particularly fond of the Jews. In fact, the Jews disliked Pilate as much as he did them- if it were legal without bringing down the force of the Roman empire upon themselves, the Pharisees would have executed Jesus without consulting with Pilate. But they hand him to Pilate and basically demand that he execute Jesus- claiming that he has done "evil" or "bad"- apparently bad enough to be executed by the Romans.
They're accusing Jesus of treason here. They're basically saying that Jesus is setting up a rival kingdom to the Roman empire. Were they wrong? Not exactly. Remember the dream in the book of Daniel? King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and Daniel tells him both what the dream was and what it means to prove that God can reveal anything:
Daniel 2:31–35 NLT

“In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

And then Daniel interprets the dream, saying:
Daniel 2:36–45 NLT

“That was the dream. Now we will tell the king what it means. Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

“But after your kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world. Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.

“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

The Jews believed that the Messiah was the catalyst for this giant rock, cut from a mountain that would crush the kingdoms of the world- and they were right- but again, they were looking for physicalness that we now know Jesus didn't intend to bring. And obviously, this vision is fulfilled in Jesus' work because the kingdom of God has spread over the whole earth as a result of what he accomplished, so take heart! Jesus has overcome the world!
But Pilate doesn't believe in Jewish "superstitions" and so his dislike of the Jews causes him to be skeptical of their motives from the beginning. But the Pharisees demand the blood of Jesus.
Everyone is implicated. We either join the world and demand Jesus' blood for daring to speak truth, or we join with two millennia of saints and cry out for our King's blood to cover our sins and make us holy. -And make no mistake, he is king.
John 18:33–36 NLT

Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him.

Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”

Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

This is the same sort of question that the Jews tried to nail Jesus with. It's a catch 22. If he says "No," then he denies his identity and work. If he says "Yes," Pilate would have cause to execute him immediately. This was the accusation of the pharisees to get Jesus before Pilate- he's a threat to the Roman empire because he's claiming to be an emporer, and of course, everyone knows that there's no king besides the emporer of Rome. Such a claim would have carried the death penalty swiftly. Therefore, Jesus answers ambiguously, making the logical assertion that if he was a king as such, his followers would have fought and that since he had not started a revolt at his arrest, there was no danger of insurrection coming from him or his followers.
This is perhaps a skill we should sharpen. I'm not good at it. But you'll notice that when asked questions, Jesus is rarely direct.
But Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world, meaning he has no interest in ruling over the world as it is. It would be similar to a king looking back at his life in his old age and saying that his greatest glory and purpose was fulfilled in playing in the mud as a boy. One might rightly say to such a king, that he had too low a view of the office of king.
And Jesus does not make that mistake. He has not interest in ruling the world as it is. He waits to manifest his glory until the world is made new. Kind of like Lion king- everything the light touches is was the kingdom of Mufasa. Do you see the allegory in that? Jesus is the light of the world. Everything he touches is made new, and everything that is made new is his kingdom.
And he begins with us:
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

But this doesn't bode well for those who call this world as it currently is, "home."
John 18:37–38 NLT

Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.

His is the kingdom of all that is true. And everyone on the side of truth has truth flowing out of them. Naturally, truth is the native tongue of the kingdom of God.
And Pilate asks curtly the famous question: what is truth? This is the question our world asks. Pilate asks cynically, the same as our world. Or perhaps you've heard it put a different and more hostile way: "There is no truth."
What is truth? In short, and I'll have a list of verses here if you want them, this is the truth that Jesus is talking about:

Believers must admit to “having sin” (1 Jn 1:8). They must keep the commands of God (1 Jn 2:4). They must not hate their fellow believers (1 Jn 2:8–11; 4:20) but instead love them with their actions (1 Jn 3:16–19; 2 Jn 1; 3 Jn 1). They must not deny that Jesus is the Messiah (1 Jn 2:20–22) and that he came in the flesh (1 Jn 4:1–3; cf. 2 Jn 7). They accept as true God’s testimony that he has given them eternal life through his Son (1 Jn 5:10–11).

The author assumes that truth can be known and discerned (2 Jn 1–2; cf. 1 Jn 4:6). The basis of truth is God (1 Jn 5:9–10), and the revealer and giver of truth is Jesus (1 Jn 5:20), who is described as the “true one” (1 Jn 5:20).

What is truth:
One theologian writes:
Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. That is the biblical meaning of truth. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological.
All truth comes from God. God is the necessary starting point for all truth. Truth cannot exist without God. Truth cannot be explained apart from God. And that same theologian (whose article I'll link in my notes) concludes:
If you reflect on the subject with any degree of sobriety, you will soon see that even the most fundamental moral distinctions—good and evil, right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, or honor and dishonor—cannot possibly have any true or constant meaning apart from God. That is because truth and knowledge themselves simply have no coherent significance apart from a fixed source, namely, God. How could they? God embodies the very definition of truth. Every truth claim apart from Him is preposterous.
Elaborate epistemologies (theories of knowledge and its origins, validity, and scope) have been proposed and methodically debunked one after another—like a long chain in which every previous link is broken. After thousands of years, the very best of human philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Marx, James, and others) have all utterly failed to account for truth and the origin of human knowledge apart from God.
In fact, the one most valuable lesson humanity ought to have learned from philosophy is that it is impossible to make sense of truth without acknowledging God as the necessary starting point.
Truth is not subjective, it is not a consensual cultural construct, and it is not an invalid, outdated, irrelevant concept. Truth is the self-expression of God. Truth is thus theological; it is the reality God has created and defined, and over which He rules. Truth is therefore a moral issue for every human being.
How each person responds to the truth God has revealed is an issue of eternal significance. To reject and rebel against the truth of God results in darkness, folly, sin, judgment, and the never-ending wrath of God. To accept and submit to the truth of God is to see clearly, to know with certainty, and to find life everlasting.
From, What is Truth?, August 4, 2009, John MacArthur. http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A379/what-is-truth
C.S. Lewis talked about those who reject truth. And how it rips the fabric of everything out from under their feet:
‎"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."
And without truth, rooted in God, we are lost. Adrift in a sea of nothing but opinions and guesses. Grasping at mist or fog. Trying to comprehend the vastness of the ocean by standing on its shores.
And hearing the answer of Jesus and the mission of His Kingdom, Pilate decides that Jesus is innocent, and tries half-heartedly to free Jesus from the snare in which has has allowed himself to get caught.
John 18:39–40 NLT

But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?”

But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

Barabbas is us.
Romans 11:30–31 NLT

Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy.

You've rebelled. I've rebelled. And he's given us grace. And this is why it's amazing. We sing, "amazing grace," but do you understand how amazing it really is? God owes us nothing. He would be perfectly justified in sending us all to hell.
What we've been given is grace. And it's free. And it's a gift. Jesus says that he is one who can give living water. We are desert wanderers who have no idea what water is, and grace is a fresh desert spring. We can dive into it, and drink deeply of it. It's refreshing and cool. It lifts our burdens of keeping the Law, and removes our stain of law-breaking. It brings joy and life, and power to do good works, and it costs us nothing. The price has been paid. Is it any wonder that we sing "amazing grace"?

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