What is truth? Part 3: In the doing

Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). He answers his own question moments earlier by pointing to the power of action; Pilate asks Jesus, “What have you done?” (John 18:35).

If Pilate wondered what the truth about Jesus was, he nailed it — perhaps instinctively — by laying this abstract question about truth firmly in the realm of behavior and action.

“They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love” goes the popular song. They will know who we are by what we do. The truth will be told more as a reflection of what is done than by what is believed or thought of.

Jesus healed the sick. Jesus spent time with the outcasts. Jesus crossed the boundaries of social norms to speak with women and touch lepers. Jesus broke laws which were stupid. Jesus spoke of God’s truth and love.

Truth is something we do. While intellectual truth can be stimulating, it does not fulfill all of our needs. God calls us beyond mere understanding and words and translate those thoughts into concrete action in the world. Meaningful engagement with the world is a prescription for truth-discovery.

What action stands foremost in Jesus’ encounter with Pilate? And how does this action reflect the truth about God? In this scene between Pilate and Jesus, Jesus invites Pilate to belong by listening to Jesus’ voice (John 18:37). We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? — Listening to Jesus’ voice …

Read John 10:1-16. There, Jesus describes himself as the loving shepherd who takes care of his sheep. He calls them by name, and they know his voice. Jesus is the good shepherd who wants his followers to have life, and have it abundantly.

Even to Pilate, Jesus gives himself to be his good shepherd. Even to the man who has power to condemn him to death. Even to those who hate and kill and are so lost in sin, Jesus offers himself in love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

This is always Jesus’ invitation to us, and to all people. Jesus invites us to belong to his community. Jesus invites us to the truth which we will know in his love, compassion and grace.

We will know that truth in the loving actions of those around us, belonging in community. And we will receive that truth when we come home to ourselves and face the truth about our lives. And we are called to live as active witnesses to the action of God in the world.

What do you see God doing in the world around you and in the lives of people you encounter today? And what does this action reveal about God’s truth?

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