“What is Truth?”—The Reality Factor
by Linda Rex
Sometimes I think that the average person has a concept of truth that nearly resembles that of the Greek governor, Pontius Pilate. Having studied, no doubt, the Greek philosophers of his day and being a learned man, he saw truth as being not merely the Hebraic understanding of moral perfection, but as being an ultimate reality of some kind.
So when Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:37–38) he was asking a deep philosophical question that was on the minds of the people around him. What exactly is truth?
According to my commentaries, the Synoptic Gospels tended toward the Hebraic meaning of the word, whereas John, in his gospel, leaned more toward the Greek usage. This is why we see John early on in the book begin to talk about Jesus being full of grace and truth. Jesus was the manifestation of the perfect realities—he was and is the personification of truth. He said he came to testify to the truth—he was the complete manifestation of his Father in human flesh.
King David, in his confessional psalm, noted that God desires truth in the innermost being. In the depths of our hearts and minds, God is seeking moral purity. But it is our human nature to try to create our own “truth.” We believe that truth is relative, and must be adjusted according to the circumstances and situations in which we find ourselves. We believe truth is transient and may change, depending upon what is culturally relevant and what the general population agrees is acceptable and unacceptable.
But if truth is not an ideal, and is not a set of moral laws, but is a Person, then we need to reconsider how we approach truth. If indeed, Jesus Christ is grace and truth, and he, by the Holy Spirit, lives within our hearts, then there is a measure of Truth in each of us.
The question then becomes not, “What is truth?”, but rather, “Who is Truth?” What does it mean to have the personification of truth living in us as Jesus by the Holy Spirit? Rather than being some set of external rules we have to follow, the Truth becomes a way of being—it, or he, becomes our very nature—a new nature that is different than the old one. Truth is a Person Who lives in us Who we begin to develop a relationship with and we begin to follow.
Truth, then, is for us the Counselor, who guides us in every changing circumstance and situation, and teaches us what we should or should not be doing and saying. Truth is the One who gives us the courage and faith to go against what is culturally relevant and popular and to do what is truly compassionate. He enables us to be faithful to who God created us to be in spite of changing public opinion. Truth opens the Word of God to us so that we can both understand it and live it out in a way that reflects the nature of Truth as revealed in Christ, who is the living Word of God.
That John so closely connects truth with grace is significant. How can we as human beings ever achieve moral perfection or reflect the nature of the Father on our own? How can we ever live every moment in accordance with the perfect realities that we find in Christ? We don’t and we can’t. It is Christ in us and for us that deals with our lack of truthfulness and our imperfections. He is full of grace and truth. And he fills us with his Presence, with his Grace and his Truth. It is Christ in us Who is the hope of glory.
Thank you, Holy Father, for giving us Jesus Christ who is full of grace and truth, and that by your Holy Spirit, your grace and truth live within us. Thank you that in Christ by the Spirit you lead us into all truth and that we can trust you to finish what you have begun in us. We praise you, Father, Son and Spirit, who are all Truth, all that is perfect, holy, just and good. Amen.
“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6 NASB
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:14–17 NASB