“What is truth?” (John 18: 38)
For decades since the death of Herod in 4 BC, Pontius Pilate had battled revolutionaries in Judea. Herod was able to hold back the flow of revolutionary angst in the area around Jerusalem with a combination of brutality and audacious building programs. It was him that rebuilt the Temple in an even grander fashion than Ezra and Nehemiah in order to appease the Jewish leadership and bring them under his thumb.
Pilate was not so audacious. And, while being brutal, he was not brutal to the same level as Herod, who executed all babies below the age of 2 in Bethlehem in an effort to wipe out a potential future rival to his throne.
The dialogue between Jesus and Pilate happens within the context of regular uprisings in Judea which explains a lot about why Pilate did not just release Jesus since he was skeptical of the danger Jesus represented.
But, this conversation also represents the most important question we face and really anyone faces. The question is what do you think of Jesus? As you will see, there are really only three responses to this question.
This is foundational. It is the question we face in parenting. It is the question we face in difficulty and fear. It is the question we face in what we do daily.
It impacts the way we structure our day.
What holidays we celebrate.
What we do for a living.
How we respond to our children and wives and husbands?
This is the question in the backdrop of everything we do.
And, in relation to this question, there are only three types of responses that are represented by the way anyone might answer this question of who is Jesus?
The first group wants to kill Jesus. They are offended by him and want to do everything in their power to wipe him and his memory from the memory of the world.
This group can’t stand him. The thought of him. Their blood boils with anger at the pure mention of him, but then they are terrified when they come face to face with his genuine presence.
This first group is represented by the Jewish leaders and other Jews that screamed to Pilate that they wanted Barabbas released to them. Ironically, the name Barabbas sounds similar to the word that means son of the father in the original language. Which seems to suggest the incredible foolishness of the Jews that rejected the real Son of their Father for the fake son of the father who was really a thief and agitator. This also intimates a suggestion of the world’s foolishness in one day rejecting the redemption of Christ to follow wholeheartedly one day the anti-Christ or a fake.
Also, this group must have a Barabbas. There is never a vacuum. They will not reject Jesus and want to destroy him and then not rest their heart on nothing. They must turn their affection toward something or someone. That is because it is in our nature. The choice is never Jesus or nothing. It is always Jesus or a Barabbas.
This first group might seem at first thought to be rare and extreme, but actually they are all around us. They are in our homes and churches, in government positions. They are everywhere and one day we will live in a society in the future in which this group will dominate the popular thoughts and views. They are known and recognizable by their anger.
The second group is represented by Pilate with the question, “What is truth?” Pilate tried to do the right thing by releasing a man that he did not see as the threat that the Jewish leaders saw. Pilate actually perceived correctly that there was an injustice that was playing out in front of him. Yet, he was powerless to stop it because he lacked conviction and was much more interested in his own self-preservation.
In my mind, this group represents the majority of people on the planet, and many that are in this group may not even recognize that they are in this group.
Pilate asked the question that many in this world are asking, even those that are attending our churches, preaching in our pulpits, and teaching in our schools. There is just no conviction that Jesus is Who Jesus is. Therefore, they are powerless to change the trajectory of a drama set in motion by those with more conviction, namely, the Jewish leaders that hate Jesus.
As a result, they are accomplices to the hatred of the first group and not hindrances.
The last group is not perfect.
They are the disciples. Honestly, they did a lot that we would deem wrong.
They can be emotional and act on impulses as Peter did.
They could fight as the Sons of Thunder did.
They can mock as Nathanael did in asking if any good thing could come from Nazareth.
They could also doubt as Thomas did.
Sometimes, they could act in fear as all the disciples did when Jesus was arrested.
But, they all confessed that Jesus was Lord. They knew Who He was, and by the time Jesus rose from the dead, they knew what it meant. They also gave their lives for Jesus and turned the world upside down.
As Christian parents, this last group is who we are trying to raise up, and we will with God’s strength. But to achieve this, we have to be this. You reproduce who you are.
-Jewish leaders raise those that hate Jesus.
-Pilate’s raise those with no conviction and motivated by self- preservation.
-And, disciples raise up other disciples.
Even secular teachers know this. You will read this if you read the literature used to educate the teachers for our schools. Even they believe that you reproduce who you are in an education environment. The textbooks are not as important in our schools as the people that are teaching in the classroom.
But, this gets back to my point on the triumphal procession from the email last week.
-We are not the underdogs.
-We are not wrestling against a force more powerful than ourselves.
-We don’t have to try extra hard to convince our children of a fact that has all the evidence and proof against it.
On the contrary, we are participants in a triumphal procession that parades through the streets of this world announcing who Jesus is and what he has done. He is the king that has already conquered. Even the devices and plans and selfishness of the Jewish leaders and Pilate worked together for the redemption of the world.
There is a choice.
- Either you can be the Jewish leaders who sought to suppress and destroy the truth.
- Or, you are Pilate who constantly was seeking but never finding the truth and subsequently the peace that follows. And, even rejected the real truth for the sake of self-preservation and self-promotion.
- Or, you can be the disciples who were devoted wholeheartedly—sometimes imperfectly—to the truth of Who Jesus is and sold out to it.
Everyone is a member of one of these three groups.
Which do you want to be?
Which do you want your children to be?
What about your grandchildren?