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.” (John 18:33-38)
Why was Jesus born? Why did Jesus come into this world? Jesus answered this question in His own testimony before Pontius Pilate. He said, “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.”
What truth was Jesus referring to? I would submit that the truth Jesus was speaking of is the truth or reality of the gospel which bears His name. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What are the essential components contained in the gospel? While we have examined these in the past, today’s text requires us to revisit them in the present.
There are four basic truths contained to what the Bible refers to as the gospel. They are (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) Salvation from sin exists; and (4) One Savior exists and Jesus Christ is that One and Only Savior. We see these four truths of the gospel not only proclaimed in John 1:1-18, but also throughout the Scriptures. The Apostle Peter preached them in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-39). The Apostle Paul also addressed all four truths when he spoke to the Athenians at Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34).
Jesus said that those who belong to the truth, that is the truth of the gospel, listen to the Lord’s voice. To listen means to pay attention to and obey.
Charles Spurgeon writes, “Let me dread a godliness as rapid in growth and as lacking in endurance as Jonah’s vine; let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus. Above all let me feel the energy of His Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul. If my mind remains as stubborn as it was by nature, the sun of trial will scorch, and my hard heart will help cast the heat the more terribly upon the ill-covered seed, and my religion will soon die, and my despair will be terrible.”
The truth of the gospel is the essential message of the kingdom of God. It is a rule and reign which is not of the fallen, rebellious and sinful world. It is a spiritual rule over the realm of the intellects, emotions and wills of the King’s disciples or followers. It is this kingdom in which Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “By this phrase, Jesus meant that his kingdom is not connected to earthly political and national entities, nor does it have its origin in the evil world system that is in rebellion against God. If his kingdom was of this world, he would have fought. The governments of this world protect their interests by fighting with force. Messiah’s kingdom does not originate in the efforts of man but with the Son of Man forcefully and decisively conquering sin in the lives of his people and someday conquering the evil world system at his second coming when he establishes the earthly form of his kingdom. His kingdom was no threat to the national identity of Israel or the political and military identity of Rome. It exists in the spiritual dimension until the end of the age (Rev. 11:15).”
Pontius Pilate’s response to Jesus remarks was the cynical question, “What is truth?” Pilate was not looking for an answer when he made this statement. He was convinced that there was no answer. He gave self-evidence that he was not part of the kingdom of God for he failed to recognize the four fundamental truths of the gospel of the kingdom. He truly belonged to the kingdom of this world.
Dr. R. C. Sproul states, “However, not everyone will submit to the truth to which Jesus bears witness. Only those who are “of the truth” listen—that is, follow Him (John 18:37). Here we see the necessity of regeneration and that it comes before faith. Before people will follow Jesus, they must be re-created to be “of the truth.” They must be given new hearts to believe the gospel and obey Jesus as Lord (3:3, 21).
Pilate then addressed the Jews and acknowledged that he found Jesus was not guilty of any crime. By making it clear that Jesus was not guilty of any sin or crime, John the Apostle is assuring his readers that the Jews and Rome were guilty of a severe injustice.
Today, there are many who say that it does not matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something and that you are sincere in that belief. Jesus’ comments about truth reveal to us that it is not about belief in anything that is important, but rather belief in the truth of the gospel which is paramount for people to hear and to obey.
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John that “the issue in our day in regard to truth is whether there is an objective reality that is true for everyone, no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do.”
Do you believe in the truth of gospel? May it be so.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!