Truth can be elusive in a large family. Growing up, it was just my dad and me, and we could usually get to the bottom of the big questions like, "Who broke this?" or "Why is the remote in a bag in the basement?" In a family of five, we have a little more difficulty tracking down the facts, and truth comes in multiples. There are at least five stories, often more, about any given event.
Today's passage cuts off Pilate's question, "What is truth?" It leaves us with the impression that truth is simple and easily found, if only we would listen. But Pilate speaks for us, voicing an anxiety that we all experience, in small "Who-hid-my-car-keys?" ways, and in much larger "Are-you-the-king-of-the-Jews?" ways.
We seek truth and find ourselves frustrated, like Pilate. But it seems that God's truth seeks us, becomes incarnate for us, and engages us in lively philosophical debates, if we have the ears to hear. Truth is a moving target, but it is one found in relationship, rather than in facts. And so God comes to us, lives among us, and invites us into relationship and truth.
John 18:33-37 (NRSV)
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"
34 Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?"
35 Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"
36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."
37 Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."