I don’t know about you, but in this era of “fake news” and “ideological narratives” I can’t help thinking about the “capital T” Truth that Jesus describes in our text today. (To read the text from the Gospel of John, click here.) Is the real force that gives rise to meaningful human actions merely the “truth of power”…. or is it the power of Truth?
In our text Jesus, the accused, is standing before the prefect, Pontius Pilate. Pilate, the legal authority in Judea for the Roman emperor Tiberius, would have enjoyed all the trappings of worldly power and authority as he interrogated Jesus. The likely location of the “Praetorium” was Herod’s Palace, where Pilate would have stayed when he visited Jerusalem during Passover. But Jesus, as anyone who has been reading the Gospel of John and paying attention knows, is the real King. Jesus has dodged and ducked the efforts of bread-hungry crowds to make him a worldly king who will give them what they want (see John 6:15). It is as Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep (10:15)…it is as Lord of life who calls the dead out of their tombs by name (11:43) that John’s Gospel will tell the story of “the King of Israel” entering Jerusalem (12:13)! Jesus is the Son of God with testimony about God’s love for the world (the Truth in question!) that will not leave the world unchanged. Pilate’s power results in him giving in to the demands of Jesus’ accusers. Pilate’s power ends in the prefect succumbing to his fear of Caesar should he not condemn the man Jesus to death. God’s plan to give God’s only Son for the life to the world is the Truth that wins. Jesus, the “criminal” who is truly innocent, is King. And the throne to which he has been “lifted up” is his cross, for the sins of the world.
No matter what power in the world seems to overwhelm you this week, the King, enthroned where God gave up His Son in love for the world, has testified to the Truth: “[Everything necessary to complete your salvation] is finished” (John 19:30). That Truth is where real power is found. Our king is lifted up. Our king reigns.