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MPC Lenten Journey - 40 Days with the Holy Spirit

Holy Week, Tuesday, Jordan Parr - Quid Est Veritas?

What is truth

Quid Est Veritas?

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. John 18:33-38

After a betrayal by one in his inner circle Jesus has been arrested and brought before the governor of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, to be judged. Pilate is a Roman patrician and has no regard for Jewish conceptions of blasphemy so he does not understand why the religious leaders insist this beggarly man be sentenced to the most excruciating punishment permitted under Roman law. They say it is because Jesus claims to be a king, a usurper of Caesar, and this rebel insurgent must be publicly crushed beneath the full weight of Rome's legal apparatus.

However these accusations do not seem to fit the rabbi standing before him so Pilate questions Jesus to see if he is indeed the troublemaker the Pharisees say he is. Pilate asks him plainly if he is a king and he answers with another question, a typical Jesus response. The Roman noble has little patience for this quintessentially Jewish custom of trading questions and demands to know what crime lead to his arrest. Jesus does not name any crime but instead explains that his disciples did not prevent his arrest because his kingdom is otherworldly. Pilate pounces on the word "kingdom" as proof Jesus does in fact claim to be a king and our Lord does not deny it. Jesus then boldly announces that "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me" leaving no doubt he speaks with royal authority.

For the brief moment Christ's words hang in the air the tables have turned; the accused Jew clad in rags and chains has upstaged the Roman prefect. Pilate cannot tolerate this upending of the worldly order so he retorts, not replies, but retorts with the famous words "Quid est veritas?" or "What is truth?" With this statement Pilate declares his allegiance to expediency at the expense of justice because he is saying he does not care whether Jesus is truly guilty of any crime. Pilate calls the entire idea of "truth" into question by speaking as if he does not even know what truth is. Pilate's ambivalence towards the truth is confirmed when he allows Christ's crucifixion despite finding "no basis for a charge against him." In choosing to ignore the truth, Pilate sinned.   

Our contemporary Western culture has also sinned by allowing relativism, the belief that there is no objective truth but only a cacophony of subjective opinions, to become the dominant ideology promoted by mainstream media and secular academia. Our cultural institutions are molding generations into Pilate's image; people who do not care what is true or even believe that truth exists at all. On the one hand it is understandable that so many have chosen this path because it was belief in the "truth" of various political systems (Fascism, Communism, Capitalism etc...) that lead to the most destructive wars in all of human history. In the wake of the 20th century Westerners are wary of anyone claiming to know universal transcendent truth out of fear that tyranny might be lurking beneath such a claim.

However, we, the church, must continue to affirm not only the existence of truth in the abstract but also its existence in the living Son of God. Earlier in John's Gospel Jesus revealed that he is "the way, the truth and the life" and he comissioned us to proclaim this good news to the ends of the earth. As we remember Christ's passion during Holy Week let us reflect on what the truth endured on our behalf. How the truth was mocked, tortured and buried within a tomb yet rose again more glorious than before. The truth lives eternally and we are called to bear witness to this fact in a world that needs it more than ever.

O Lord, teach us how to testify.

Jordan was pursuing a career in law before being convicted by the Holy Spirit and sentenced to four years of seminary. He is Saona's intern and honored to seek the truth in your midst.

A note from Saona, Director of Adult Ministries: If you are reading this far into our Lenten and Holy Week blog posts, and this far into today's blog post, I want to take a moment to thank Jordan Parr for his hard work on making this lenten devotional possible. You'll notice this is his third post! He covered when we had no one to write. There were a few times he even wrote posts in case we did not have a person to write, and those posts were never published but greatly appreciated. Behind the scenes, Jordan collected the posts, and helped edit, format, and upload them onto our website. Similarly, but more importantly, Jordan has faithfully served Malibu Presbyterian Church as an intern for nearly three years, and now that he is about to graduate from seminary and get married (to Cait whom he met in the MPC Christmas choir) we want to send him off with prayers and encouragement. In these three years I have not heard one complaint from Jordan and have not seen a task too small for Jordan to do joyfully and diligently. Jordan has a gift of knowledge and can teach on any scripture or topic. He has been a joy to work with and will make a great pastor, teacher, and theologian. Well done, Jordan! We thank God for you and we appreciate all of your love and service in our midst. You will be deeply missed but always have a home here at MPC. Please join me these next few weeks as MPC prayerfully sends-off Jordan to his next calling in ministry. Veritas Vos Liberabit!