In the hours before his death, Jesus finds himself seated before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate appears to see no need to execute Jesus but caves for political purposes, fearing his poll numbers might drop and he’ll be replaced. He even puts Jesus’ fate to a vote.
“What is truth?” Pilate famously snorts during his conversation with Jesus (v. 38). With that, the pre-modern Pilate becomes perhaps the most famous believer in what we often label a post-modern theology: truth doesn’t really matter. It’s not that Pilate doesn’t know the truth or wishes to deny the truth. He doesn’t even care about truth. Only one thing matters: remaining popular with the people so he can keep his political power.
For Pilate the politician, truth isn’t merely inconvenient; it is irrelevant. Perhaps it doesn’t really exist. To adopt the perspective of Pilate isn’t to justify lying when it benefits us personally. It’s worse than that. It’s to suggest there isn’t even such a thing as a lie.
If there is no truth, then there are no lies. To call something a “lie” means one must admit truth exists. Advocating for a post-truth world tosses out the concepts of facts, truths, and lies completely. Admitting the reality of lies forces us to acknowledge our own sinfulness, and thus our own need for redemption. But to adopt Pilate’s dismissal of truth completely is to deny the need to repent, to reject the idea that we should attempt to lie less frequently as we strive to sin no more.
To dismiss the moral standards of truth and lies is to do what Pilate did: look right at the Messiah and deny the need to submit to him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Name a difficult truth about your life or work that you don’t like to admit. How can you lean into addressing this, rather than ignoring it?
God, help me to honestly recognize the ways I fall short of your standards. Give me the wisdom and strength to live more like you. Amen.