Jesus, in John 18:33-37, was led to the praetorum, a magnificent palace that Herod the Great built for himself, and that Roman Procurators or agents of the emperor used when they came to Jerusalem from Caesarea. It was the judgment hall. Christ was standing in this palace when Pilate entered and asked, “Are you the King?” (v. 33). Jesus, knowing that he was on his way to a death on the cross, answered that he was born a king. “My kingdom is not from this world” (v. 36). Pilate did not understand what Jesus was saying about his kingdom not being of this world.

Who is a king and what constitutes a kingship? In this passage the conversation between Jesus and Pilate revolves around this very issue. The narrative begins in verse 33 with Pilate summoning Jesus and asking him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate had experienced an uneasy relationship with the Jews. Pilate is asking a question we all have asked: “What is truth?” This question must be addressed before you can trust the Bible, or commit your life to the Lord it proclaims.

First, how can I know anything is true? There are several ways we gain information, or know something is true. Some things we learn through what our five senses experience. We learn some truths from what we see, touch, taste, smell, or hear. Some things we learn by figuring them out, such as through mathematics. Einstein didn’t see or touch the theory of relativity; he discerned it rationally. And some truth we can only know as God, reveals it to us. Jesus does not look like a king to Pilate, and it certainly isn’t logical. Since his kingdom is not of this world, Christ’s kingship is one of those truths that must be learned through revelation from the Bible.

Second, can we trust everything we know as truth? Our senses can fail us, or fool us. Everyone has seen an optical illusion that appears to be something it is not. Magicians rely on being able to fool your senses. Everything you know by experience, you know because you trust your senses, which can be fooled. Everything you know logically is faulty. Everything anybody knows about anything ultimately rests upon faith assumptions. Philosophers call these assumptions “pre-suppositions.”

Thirdly, how do we know which truth to trust? The Bible says Jesus walked on water, but experience and physics says that is impossible. The Bible says God loves you, but you don’t feel loved. Which source of information do you believe? Jesus told Pilate he came to bear witness to the truth. Elsewhere Jesus said he is “the way, truth, and the life.” Jesus reveals God’s truths to us. You can trust the Bible more than your experience on logic. The BIBLE stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!

Start with Jesus, the witness to the truth. Do what he requires; confess your sinfulness, turn from you sin, ask to be forgiven, become a follower of his and receive his gift of eternal life. Then you will know the truth, and it will set you free!

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J.B. Morris leads the St. Andrews United Methodist Church.