Questions, questions: John 18 (Day 362)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.

Reflect

Daily reflection: John 18

This chapter is full of questions – count them! Some are answered with simple facts, some are answered with simple lies, and others are rhetorical, intended to make a point rather than asking for information. But when we come to the conversation between Pilate and Jesus, the questions enter another realm entirely.

Pilate first asks if Jesus is a king. He really only wants to know if he’s dealing with a threat to Roman political and military power. Jesus heads off the question by replying that if he is a king, his kingdom is ‘not from this world’ (verse 36, NRSV). On the surface, this is reassuring: Jesus’ followers are not fighting the Romans for control of territory. Satisfied, Pilate lets it drop – not imagining that in decades and centuries to come, this other-worldly kingdom is destined to overturn empires by capturing the allegiance of individual hearts, minds and spirits.

At last, though, when Jesus says, ‘Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’ (verse 37), Pilate raises one of those really big existential questions that have been debated from ancient times right up to the present day: ‘What is truth?’ (verse 38). Is truth deeper than what we perceive with our senses, or is it found only on the surface of things? Is it absolute or relative? If ‘truth’ exists, can we know it?

Pilate doesn’t wait for Jesus to give an answer to this bombshell of a question. Perhaps he doesn’t really want to know. In our own society, the widely accepted view is that what’s true for me might not be true for you – but there may have been a subtle shift in recent years as the dangers of misinformation through social media have become more obvious. People complain about being unable to trust the promises of our leaders. Perhaps, today, we really do want to know: ‘What is truth?’

Pray

Pray

‘You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart’ (Psalm 51.6, NRSV). Help us, Lord, to seek truth, speak truth and love truth. In Jesus’ name.

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